Thailand 21 March - 4 April 2002.
Thailand International Kite Festival was originally not in my round-the-world
trip schedule, but when I got the invitation while in Argentina I realized that the
dates, 23 - 24 March, would fit perfectly within the one-year-off frame. So I
decided to let the trip to Thailand be an overshoot of the full circle around the
Thailand International Kite Festival in 2002 was held in Hua Hin, a well known tourist destination on the Malay peninsula, a few hours drive south of Bangkok. It was exiting tolook up the intriguing names Phetchaburi and Prachuap Khirikhan on the map before I took off. The kite festival was held on a military exercise field, large enough for the many internationals kite fliers.
After the kite festival I stayed on for ten days in Thailand, spent a few days in Bangkok and then made a trip up to Chiangmay, doing some tourist things like visiting an elephant sanctuary, an orchid garden, a snake farm, going on a bamboo raft down a narrow river etc. I also took a short boat trip on the much larger river Mekong, the very same river that is floating through Xishuanabanna in China that I had visited seven months earlier. In the Mekong river, which is the border between Thailand and Laos, there are islands that belong to Laos and that have their own immigration office for tourists who want to make a one-hour visit to Laos.
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Italy in April and May 2002.Four kite festivals and a little week in Venice.
19 - 28 April
29 April - 1 May
3 - 5 May
7 - 10 May
11 - 12 May
In 2002 the Soccer World Cup was going to be held joint in South Korea and Japan,
and Korea Kite Association planned to organise an international kite festival
in conjunction with that, i. e. in early May. That would be outside my one-year
frame, but I told my boss that I had been invited as a representative for Sweden
to this important World Cup Soccer International Kite Festival, and I
asked politely if my leave could be extended to the middle of May. As there was a
bit of slack in the order line at the office this was not a problem and I got the
extra month and a half granted. Then the Korean international kite festival was
cancelled, so I used these extra weeks for the extension of the trip to
Thailand, after the kite festiav, and a coda with four kite festivals within
three weeks time in Italy, to which I boldly, with short notice, invited myself.
Cervia kite festival is my favourite kite festival, favourite because here I was 'kite born' in 1992. It is a ten day kite festival with wonderful kites, wonderful food and wonderful friendship. Since the kite festival is so long it is bound to be many days with the famous Cervia breeze. I remember two incidents, both involving Carlos 'Magaro' Filho from Brazil: First he filled a long black plastic tube with air and let it rest in the sun. As the air inside the tube warmed up the tube started to float up in the sky, higher and higher. Not much later the air force security arrived: the tube had disturbed the air space and Carlos was not allowed to repeat it. Secondly Carlos had a giant paper hot air balloon. It had just started to rise when a quick double sound was heard: poff-poff! Someone from a bit away had thrown a boomerang that efficiently went straight through the balloon paper! Ironically, the ballon had the text www.bumerangue.com printed on it.
Coloriamo el Cieli in Castiglione del Lago is a five day kite festival, partly overlapping Cervia. Taking an early train the day after Cervia had finished I hoped to get the best of the remaining three days of kite flying, but that was a period of daily strikes on the Italian train network, so I reached Castiglione del Lago only late in the evening. The kite field is a huge, I mean HUGE grass field on the foot of the town! The surroundings are very beautiful with the small, pretty medieval town (the name means "Small castle by the lake") on the hill, only accessible by pedestrians, just nearby. The wind was fairly weak, so I was not so succesful in flying my kites.
In Genova the club 30 kite club was organising their second kite festival in Pegli, "Le vele della fantasia" (The sails of fantasy). I took a train there (again with delays due to strikes) but arrived at Genova a couple of days before the kite festival. I had communicated with the club president Giancarlo Gisotti and he had given me detailed instructions on which train to take from Milano and at what station to alight. He also had booked a nice hotel for me in Pegli, just opposite the train station. I spent a couple of days roaming the old streets in Genova and then spent some time with Giancarlo and his family. Unfortunately the kite festival had to be cancelled due to bad weather, but I got a really good friend for life in Giancarlo.
After Genova there was a gap of five days to the last kite festival, the one in Chioggia, just outside Venice. This was perfect to thoroughly visit the beautiful Venice. Venice is, like Castiglione del Lago, only accessible by pedestrians, which suits me fine because I love to walk on foot in old cities.
Chioggia is a small town some 30 km south of Venice. The kite festival is a small cosy one, on the beach of the Adriatic Sea, but unfortunately also this festival was struck with bad weather the first day: it drizzled almost all through the day. The Sunday was much better with good wind and some sunshine.
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And thus ended the epic 407 days long tangoKites - the Pilgrimage.