Have ever flown a kite and felt the freedom as you let it loose? We got to fly kites recently, spending a few days experiencing kampung life with a homestay in Sungai Pelek, Selangor. Sungai Pelek is a small Malaysian town about half an hour’s drive south of Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA). We experienced kampung life and enjoyed playing some popular games with local kids. The wind was perfect to fly kites, which we also learnt how to make, picking up the secrets of balance and keeping them in the air.
Go fly kites
Who: Pakcik Tulus, the kitemaker
Where: Banhruris Homestay Activity Centre
Kampung Ulu Chuchuh, Sungai Pelek, Selangor
Contact Details: 019-6497655 (En. Azizi Bin Haji Basir)
Email: [email protected]
We gathered at the Banhruris Homestay Activity Centre, where we met Pakcik Tulus. At 71, he’s had many years of experience making beautifully balanced kites and passing on his skills.
Wau kapal (boat kite), with a boat shaped lower section is one of the most popular kite styles in this area. Sungei Pelek is only a few kilometres from the Straits of Malacca and fresh fish is easy to get. Wau Bulan (moon kite) is popular throughout Malaysia.
The frame of the kite is made from bamboo, which must be shaped with a sharp knife to ensure it’s well balanced. The upper part is about a double arm-span wide. All the threads to support the covering are added when the finished frame is ready to be papered.
The paper is also very important.
- Our kitemakers used what looked like waxy tissue paper, making it much stronger than normal usual tissue paper.
- Normal tissue paper will stretch and tear easily when glued, this held the shape well.
- The paper must be crumpled first, then smoothed out. The crumpling helps the glue to stick better.
- Apply the glue to the frame before stretching the paper into shape.
- Ask a friend hold the paper as it’s placed on the frame to stretch it to the shape.
- Glue small pieces of paper where the strings cross, to support the paper against the wind and preventing tearing.
- Gluing a pre-cut design on the paper to cross the joins also helps prevent tearing.
Into the air
Important lessons on flying kites.
- Flying these kites is not easy.
- Because they are quite large, they catch the air easily and can be hard to hold.
- You must hold the kite correctly to launch it into the air and you need a second person to hold the string.
- The second person will have to get it safely into the air and then keep it flying.
- If the wind is strong, it will lift easily, but it’s more difficult to hold.
- Popular games to play with kites include making them sing.
- This is achieved with the addition of a stringed bow which makes a loud noise as it vibrates.
- Kite fights
- The string is covered the a mix of powdered glass and glue, to cut off the other person’s kite.
- Manoeuvring the kite to make sure the strings cross and then giving a quick tug to cut the other string, is not easy.
- The use of powdered glass is dangerous
- You can also cut your hands badly if you are careless, feeding out the string, or reeling it in.
Our group tried flying the different kites, including the Wau kapal, as well as a Wau Bulan with a noise maker attached. See how we fared!
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