A man flies a kite during the International Kite Festival in Bandar Seri Begawan, capital of Brunei on March 17, 2019. Brunei's Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah officially launched the International Kite Festival on Sunday with some 200 kiting enthusiasts expected to participate in the event. (Xinhua/Jeffrey Wong)
BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN, March 17 (Xinhua) -- Brunei's Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah officially launched the International Kite Festival on Sunday with some 200 kiting enthusiasts expected to participate in the event.
The Sultan made his way to the Taman Mahkota Jubli Emas, a riverfront public park in the capital, where he inaugurated the event before trying his hand at flying one kite. He also toured the exhibits and mingled with the crowd.
The International Kite Festival will run till Tuesday. Approximately 100 international representatives from about 30 countries, including those from China, Vietnam, and Columbia, among others, will take part in the event.
Some of the participants struggled to keep their kites aloft, saying the buildings and obstructions in the capital, along with unstable wind conditions, made flying their kites a difficult task.
Ireland's Bob Cruikshanks, however, disagreed, saying that the wind is "testing" but it was all a part of the kite flying experience.
"It is never the wrong wind, just the wrong kite. I have kites that can even fly indoors without any wind," he said.
"You will get 10 different opinions from 10 different people. Some people need larger spaces for their bigger kites. I am flying a smaller stick kite so I can walk around. This is a festival so I do want to walk around and interact with the people," he said.
He said that obstructions in the densely populated area were also not an issue.
"Ideally we would be flying our kites in a place with no trees or obstructions but we do not live in an ideal world," he said.
"Flying kites is a great way to relieve stress. My wife says I do not know the meaning of stress," he said, laughing.
Jairo Montoya from Columbia also found the conditions in Brunei to be ideal for kite flying.
"The weather is good and this is a very nice field. Kites can be flown everywhere," he said.
He, however, seemed more impressed by the beauty of the country and the hospitality of the people.
"Brunei is a wonderful and beautiful country. We also really like its food and the people have been great," he said.
Yuud, a local participant, said this was his first time flying a kite in more than 15 years.
"I used to fly kites with my friends in the kampong (village) all the time but we stopped doing that when more houses were built and more power lines were erected," he said.
Yuud bought a kite from a local vendor on Saturday so he could participate in the Sunday festivities with his 11-year-old son.
"The kites now are so advanced and durable. But they are a lot more expensive too. But seeing my kid smile is worth it. It is great that he can enjoy the same past time that I enjoyed growing up," he said.
"I hope Brunei can do more events like this to make kite flying popular again," he added.
Assistant Secretary of the Brunei International Kite Festival Badarudin Murni told Xinhua that kite flying was once regarded as Brunei's national past time but it has seen a decline in popularity due to airspace restrictions in the country.