Copyright ©: 2000 NFKA

Taipei County
International Kite Festival

by Brian Johnsen

Wed. 20th Sep.   At Sea-Tac Airport

   The plane broke, so we got to go clear off to another gate and plane.   Only 1:45 late.

   Met the L.A. contingent at LAX.   Still in time for our 14 hour China Airlines flight to Taipei.   Well.

Fri. 22nd Sep.   ( We lost a day there somewhere  ;)

Warm Life Hotel - Sheman, Taipei County Festival Hotel Sign

   We were met at the airport on time and we were taken on a scenic coastal tour to our hotel and installed by the manager with no hassle.    Richard, Bruce and I went down to the festival beach to reconoiter and found a very well developed site.   Richard and I flew in 10-12 winds for a few minutes just to say we did.   Richard donated a Yin-Yang fighter to the festival indoor display while Bruce and I met some of the first Hong Kong fighters to arrive.   The three of us went back to the hotel to freshen up before lunch.

Richard and Bruce at the beach  Sheman Interpretive Center

   After lunch, other international guests began to arrive.    Japanese, Germans, Australians and finally the Brittish and French arrived on a double-decker tour bus along with Ludo and the rest of the Manjha Club.

Michael Ayo and Richard Hurd  Ludo Petit and Basir Beria

  uh, Bruce Jarvie and John Gordon

   We had a very good dinner in the restaurant next door, then the bus left to take that group to stay overnight at a Buddist monestary on top of a mountain.

Kitemaking at the hotel

   We made kites with Hiromi Endo and other members of the Japanese team in the hotel restaurant and B-S'd with the remaining guests and locals.

   Oz-John, Peter and Ajay came up to our rooms and we talked kites the rest of the evening while trying on a bit of Hornitos for size.

Sat. 23rd Sep.   Festival Day 1

   I printed our names and e-mail addresses on the NFKA shirts that Basir had made up for each of us so that people would know who we were.

   After breakfast we got packed up to hit the beach for the manjha competition.   The festival provided shade tents for the guests along with water and a box lunch.

Team Shade Tents

   The Manjha Club competition began by dividing up into groups and picking spots on the beach to start cutting.   The group I was with took their time getting organized and missed out finding a spot to fly in the limited space and very strong winds.

   At 2:00 we had to stop to attend opening ceremonies at the festival stage where we were introduced and given speeches by the State Governor, the City Mayor and numerous others for a couple hours.

Basir and Drummers Festival Marquee Sheman Lions Club

Mr. Alfred Lee

   Afterward, my group was slow off the mark again and had to wait for a flying area to open up.   Mr Lee finally found us a place to fly after another group finished and agreed to referee for us.

   I won my first cut, but lost the second thru fourth.   On the fifth, I cut the other kite, but in the meanwhile my spool had taken off downwind and I went sprinting after it.

   Mr. Lee says: "And the winner is... oh.   Where'd he go?"   So I was disqualified for stepping out of the box  ;(

   I lost the sixth match as well, so I'm out of the competition.    All of the pulls I lost were due primarily to reel handling difficulties.   I've still got a lot more to learn about manageing reels and manjha line.   Whee... Tomorrow I can observe from the shade!

   At 6:00 we were all chased off the beach to the festival venue for a -Really Great Dinner- , entertainment and fireworks show.

   The dinner was a very lavish affair under tents on the edge of a bank overlooking the ocean.   We were offered everything from bamboo shoots and roast pig to watermellon and rich pastries & coffee for afters.

Dinner Spread Roast Pig

Sun. 24th Sep.   Festival Day 2

Ludo Petit    Sunday morning we took our time over breakfast talking with all the other guests who were slow getting going.

   When we finally got down to the beach, the wind was already quite strong following the same pattern as the previous day; NE rising all day and gradually turning to North as the day progressed, finally slowing after sunset.

Indonesian Team

   The final pulls began and worked down to the final between Indonesia and Hong Kong.   Hong Kong came up winners.

Team Pulls

   After the individual rounds had been decided, the Team Championship round began.   Two teams are called upon ( max 5 members for each team ).    First, two rounds of single kite fights are run.   After that, each team puts up three kites at once and the last kite in the sky wins that round for the team.   This format enforces co-operative flying because you want to cut the other teams' lines but not you own teams'.   It's harder than it looks.

   During our pull vs. Sinapore, one of their team walked through my manjha on the ground and broke it while I was flying a point.   Needless to say, our team lost that competition too.   All the ohter teams have a great deal more experience in the allowable tactics than we do.

   Hong Kong took thier first match vs. India when two of the Indians tried to take on one HK kite at once and were both cut themselves.

   Hong Kong won the overall team competition easily

Hong Kong Celebrates Ajay Prakesh congratulates Mr. So Chi Chiu Johnny assists Team Hong Kong recieve praise

   At 6:00 we went back to the restaurant next to the hotel for our final dinner in Sheman.   After dinner we all went back to the venue for an awards ceremony and "Party" where we were presented with another teams' trophy ( we got the 'Goldfish Kite Club' and they got ours ) which we all managed to re-distribute without too much difficulty, but not a few giggles.

Kite in Taiwan Chinese East meets West

   Then we were instructed to "Party Down!".   They supplied the beer, soft drinks and Bugles party mix, and expected us to boogie about to loud recorded music.   The male / female ratio was about ten to one, so some found it difficult to get up much enthusiasm   ;)

   We managed to get through all that and finally got to launch a paper hot air balloon powered by wax soaked "God Money" packets.    Our hotel proprietor and mentor throughout the weekend, Mr. Chen, was our Balloon Sensei.   He taught us how to arrange the God Money to get it to burn most efficiently ( fan it out around the center and fold back the corners like a crysanthemum ), light it, hold it down until the top is very warm and tight, then let go of the rim all at once.

   Our balloon went up perfectly to many cheers and our stunned amazement.

   A few of the teams had difficulties due to not enough heat to lift properly or being caught by a downdraft over the museum building.    One even caught fire when it tilted a bit too much and lit the paper skin.

Mon. 25th Sep.   Off to Taipei

   We all packed our gear, had breakfast and milled around the lobby exchanging warm feelings, farewells, cards and gifts to all and sundry.    Got a few shots of Manjha Club and Topica Listers.    Then we got on the bus to Taipei.   The bus dropped us off at the YMCA downtown next door to the tallest building in Taipei, so it was a good spot to find from anywhere in town.   We got our room assignments figured out and moved in.

John Gordon ( Oz John ), Peter Stauffer ( P-air ), Dieter Kohler 
 ( Moustache ) and Cutter

   Later, the NFKA team went on a walking tour of downtown sights.    We walked a few blocks down to the city park and around a museum ( closed ) and through motor traffic that seems to own the right of way.

Pagoda in the City Park Bell and Tallest Tower in Taipei

   On reaching the Chiang Kaishek memorial square, we found a rehersal for the Taiwan version of Fourth-of-July in progress.   Dancers, jugglers, tumblers, drill teams, drummers, marching bands, women with rifles ( Bruce was facinated ) and all sort of festivities were in evidence.

Gate into Chiang Kaishek Memorial Concert Hall Band on Review Tumblers leaping the Dragon Flag

   We sat down on some steps in front of the Theater in the shade to watch the drama.   Meanwhile Richard scaled the social heights to see what was going on ( we still thought it was all for our benefit ) and whangled an invitation to sit in with the high dignitaries at the top of the stairs.

   After the first run-through of the performance, we were allowed to have our
pictures taken with General See who was in charge of reviewing the rehersal.

General See was kind enough to allow us a photograph

   Then we went up to the memorial building to see the guards and downstairs to view the personal effects and writings of Chiang Kaishek in glass cases and on the walls.   No flash pictures are allowed so I didn't get any photos inside.   Later we took a walk around the grounds and fed the carp and turtles in the ponds.

Chiang Kaishek Memorial Turtles & Carp Heron onna rock

   On the way back we passed by the Presidential Palace where guards were posted to keep out non-essential personnel.   Richard was dissuaded from trying to get us in there for a tour as well by threatening to pitch him into the razor wire.   The guard looked a bit put off by Cutters' close approach and seemed to be debating with himself how much trouble he'd be in for thumping a group of forign devils wearing offical State Festival tee shirts  )

Meditation Pool Ferns growing in the mortar Scooter Parking in Taipei

   We wound back to the YMCA by way of the nearby streets and back alleys looking for local color and observing the motor scooters parked in every concievable spot.   After getting back, Richard wanted to go out dancing at the nightclubs, but I didn't want to go walking any further, and didnt' really feel like dancing besides   ;)   Nobody else did either, but R. did finally convince Johnny and Basir to go looking.    I'll let Richard tell about their journey into the heart of darkness.

Tue. 26th Sep.   Going Home

   I packed up the camera, so I didn't get any more pictures, but we were mostly around the hotel and at the airport.   I took a short walk around downtown to look for gifts to take back home.   We wound up at the train station take a look at the archetecture and shop stalls inside.    Then we all got a taxi-van to the airport for our flight back to LAX.   Only 12 hours back the other way with tail winds.

   I had an excellent experience for my first international kite flying trip and couldn't be more pleased by the warm reception by the people of Taiwan, the Festival organizers and helpers assigned to each of the teams.    This kite festival was first rate by any standard you'd care to name.

   The whole NFKA team wish to thank Mr. Alfred Lee, Ms. Angela Wu, Joyce, Peter Stauffer and all involved for allowing us to attend the First Taipei County Kite Festival.