20 May, Vietnam – ‘All Over The Place, Asia – part 2’

Until today, I had never flown a kite. I’m not quite sure how I’d managed to be on Earth so long without this happening, but I made up for it today by flying a flipping big one. We arrived this morning at the road side restaurant of a man who likes kites so much he built his 3 storey restaurant in the shape of one – specifically a flute kite, an important part of Vietnamese culture. It’s a kite about 6 foot across with a large wooden pan pipe type flute attached to it. If you fly several at the same time the different tones that the wind makes through the pipes is supposed to sound quite nice.

When we arrived a crowd of school children were beavering away making their own small versions, so Ricky and I joined them and got the competitive spirit of our main event started early seeing who could draw the best cartoons on them. Then it was time to take to the soggy buffalo pasture next door to practice on the grown up kites. There wasn’t much wind, but our assistants were very good at throwing them up into the air, and with a bit of running about you could keep them up for something approaching a minute. I crashed on one of my attempts so, after the lavish lunch that the very kind proprietor had laid on for us, I was a bit nervous about doing so again and torn up and down the field trying to keep the thing in the air, coming a little too close to a pylon for our instructors liking at one point, which he had a few words to say about (don’t worry kids, I had it all under control, honest). Ricky flew his far more smoothly and was crowned the victor at the end. As he said himself, it was the kite decision.

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