In central Sumatra after rice harvests, the empty paddies provide excellent areas to celebrate and play. Though famous for other festivals, the highland area around Bukittinggi is also home to kite competitions.
After most of a day exploring winding roads the width of western sidewalks, fertile mountain villages too nice for postcards, and striking crater-rim vistas, the sun was starting to set. And in the equatorial latitudes, sunsets don’t take long.
So I was heading home on my motorbike – 150 cubic centimeters of pure power – in warm light and refreshing mountain air. I suddenly saw an explosion of white winged creatures.
In the distance it looked like a flock of birds rocketing straight up into the sky. The only clues about their true nature were faint lines shimmering after them, converging in a distant rice paddy.
Finally tracking down the source I learned that everyone attending this kompetisi layang-layang was 50% participant, 50% spectator, and 100% hilarious. The organiser/announcer conversed with me casually while holding an activated megaphone to his mouth – regardless of how close we were standing or how uninterested others might be in his half of the conversation. The participants were all ages, and would take turns launching each other’s kites, and flying (or repairing) their own.
An hour later with the sun kissing the horizon, I was bid farewell by a familiar voice. Amplified by a megaphone.
[ Click photos to view full-screen. For the full story, don’t miss Minangkabau Motorbiking: A Tale of 3 Trips (Indonesia #10) ]