Ray's World Adventures 2001
The Taipei County International Kite Festival
Taiwan - September 29-30, 2001
I have been to the orient a few times but this was my first time to Taiwan, and I thought what a great opportunity to see for myself the county that makes all those beautiful souvenirs for gift shops around the world.
Since I was also sponsored to Australia a week after the Taipei festival I had a wonderful brainstorm, why not go to Australia straight from Taiwan? I mean, its a lot closer than Vancouver, which would save me traveling all the way home and then a few days later leave for Australia. "Super Idea, right?" "Wrong!" It turned out to be a very long trip with waiting time with connecting flights around 35 hours of travelling each way. I asked myself many times on the way home, was it worth it and each time I came up with the same answer -- "You Betcha!" Yes indeed, worth all the long hours of travelling, every hour of waiting for connecting flights, transfering planes, and waiting for baggage.
I had a great time at the Taipei Country International Kite Festival there were kite flyers from 15 countries, showing there skills in sport and single line flying. The single line kites from Indoesia, Malaysia, India, China plus Taiwan were beautiful works of art. In spite of the rain and flooky wind, everyone was out there doing their thing to the best of their ability. Yes, we all got soaked to the skin, and we all looked like drowned rats with smilling faces, the rain was very warm and to me it was like taking a shower with my clothes on.
It was great to see so many of the kite flyers that I have already shared kite arenas with this year with in France, Italy, UK, and last August at Long Beach WA, as well as all the other kite flyers I was later to share the beaches in Mackay Australa with. It was also great to meet up with old friends that I had flown with in their respected countries like USA, UK, NZ, Germany, France, Malaysia, Japan, Thailand, and Indonesia.
Sport kite flying was very keen at this festival, in spite of the rain and yoyo winds the teams were out pacticing their hearts out for the Taiwan National Team Competition, which should have happened on the Saturday but was postponed until Sunday becaue of the rain and wind that was coming from just about every direction except off the ocean where the local flyers told us was where it usually came from.
Sunday came and it was still raining but the wind was still up and down from inland. All 8 teams were ready and the head judge, Dodd Gross, with his team of judges all dressed up in their clear plastic rain gear were ready. Dodd says "Right lets go for it." In spite of the bad conditions all the teams did a great job, with Team Rock & Roll taking first place.
The organizer, Angela Wu, did a fanastic job of organizing and reorganizing because of the weather conditions. We were all well looked after, great food and lodgings, in the Flamingo International Holiday Resort complex. Everyone was amazed at the energy this beautiful and talented lady had. She was on the go day and night, yet always had time to take care of anyones little problems. She also had a wonderful team of volunteers who did a tremendous job of taking care of all the international guests. They went way out of their way to help us in any way they could. They also spoke fluent English "which confused some of the Aussies at times" :)
It was very strange to see all the hundreds of spectators that were there suporting their festival, all dressed up in there summer clothes each one bearing an umbrella. I found them very appreciative and not a bit shy in asking all kinds of questions regarding kites and about other festivals that I have attended.
Just before the end of the festival I had packed all my kites away as the little bit of wind that was, dropped to zero. I said to one of the flyers who was also packing up, "Wouldn't it be great if we could really put on a show for all these spectators?" Then as if by some kind of magic the rain stopped and the wind blew off the ocean at 15 plus mph. "Good Stuff!" So with the help of my Aussie mates Baz & Gill Thrower, they helped me set up in record time. And at last myself and other flyers were able to really do what we had been sponsored to do.
Monday morning arrived with sunny weather and blue sky. Our host had arranged a great days tour including Yangmingshan National Park, which was a beautiful coach ride high up in the mountains which was very beautiful. I was talking to one of the guides and he told me that what this park provides for the people of Taipei is the chance to be their genuine, unadorned selves amid nature. Over-development is shunned, outside noise is banished, all they have to do is to leave behind all mechanical means of transport, and walk through tracts of undisturbed nature. Through their interaction with nature they come to appreciate the value of life its self. Archaeology has traced Yangmingshan National Park, and "the Taipei Basin" was inhabited in prehistoric times, between10,000 and 3,000 B.C.
Our next stop was the National Palace Museum. I could have spent all day just looking at the beautiful carvings from the Ming and Ch'ing Dynasties, in bamboo, wood, ivory, horn, fruit stone and nut shell carvings, dating back hundreds and hundreds of years.
Next was a tour of the Grand Hotel. It is like a huge Palace, one could easly get lost in. I will let the picture tell the story as it has to be seen to be believed. Even so, the camera can not capture what the eye can see, but it will give you an Idea of what I really can't explain.
To everyone's delight, our next stop was at the Master Kite Designer Buentio Huang work shop and home, in downtown Taipei. It was a chance of a lifetime to see his beautiful works of art. I was very intriged with his flying fish and his unique designed Wright Brothers plane kite. His attention to detail is amazing to say the least. Buentio had no secrets, he answered all the questions that were thrown at him. He was kept very busy in the couple of hours that we spent with him, he also gave each of us a gift of two beautiful hard covered books," Wings Of Dreams."
We finished the day with a farewell dinner, and everyone vowing to return next year.
As always I could ramble on for hours, but I'd like to take this opportunity to thank the sponsors, the organizer Angela Wu and her husband Johnathon, plus their Super Team of volunteers, thank you not only for the magnificent time I had, but most of all Angela for showing myself and every one else what "Made in Taiwan really means".
Thank you for listening.
PS: Angela came to my rescue few weeks later and saved me from spending a night locked in security at the Taipei airport on my return trip from Australia to Vancouver, "But that is another story"
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