My favorite festivals are multi-dimensional. We had found some scarce information about the Bali Kite Festival, but it really surpassed expectations. We knew it was going to be good when our driver’s face lit up when we told him we wanted to go to Padang Galak.
As Beth mentioned in her post the kites came with teams: 20 people to manage the incredible forces on the rope (not kite string) of these huge beauties, and 20 more to play the accompanying music. The camaraderie was readily apparent, and the fun was purely infectious. It reminded be a little bit of the NC State Fair, except that the main entertainment was provided by the creativity and enthusiasm of the attendees. Food and drink were on the side, not the main attraction.
Each kite style had its own competition and performance objective. The Bebean (fish) kites were put into the air for 20 minutes and judged by the pace and evenness of their “swim” from side to side. Meanwhile the Janggan (bird) kites have monstrously long tails and are judged by the flow of the tail. We missed the Pecukan (leaf) kites but did see some special creation kites, which included human-sized gods.
Equally impressive was all the logistics required, which included building large bamboo structures on the field launch them from, and driving them back and forth to each Bali village down narrow roads with oncoming traffic driving under them. It seemed like the festival gathered all the energy of Bali in a compelling grass-roots activity. And the whole thing started with the simplest of natural assets: wind.