Cultivating the kiting spirit
Enthusiasts gather every weekend to help each other get kites aloft at Marina Barrage
Focused eyes, hands gripping the reel, feet locked in position and arms straight and steady.
It takes concentration to fly a kite, but that does not mean you cannot have fun.
There are various factors that come into play for kite flying, such as wind condition and even humidity level.
Even for seasoned flyers, nothing can be done when the wind is too gentle or moving from the wrong direction.
But as local enthusiast Erich Chew, 48, tells The New Paper, all you really need is some help.
At the weekends, Marina Barrage is the go-to location for kite flyers, experts and amateurs alike. There is also a friendly community willing to help those looking to get their kites airborne.
Kite flyers gather at Marina Barrage on Sunday to fly big and small kites.
"During the weekend, when a lot of children cannot get their kites up, I always see people offering their help to set up the kite to help them have fun," said Mr Chew.
Last Sunday, many families and kite-flying enthusiasts gathered at the field next to the barrage carpark at 3pm, trying to get their kites in the air.
Unfortunately, the humid weather was not working in their favour.
Kite flying requires a certain amount of patience, for it was only after 4pm that the kites finally coloured the sky with the wind blowing constantly.
Every weekend, Mr Chew joins a group of kite flyers who come together to indulge in their hobby.
The previous week, they took a 60-metre-long octopus kite for a spin.
Mr Chew's video of that kite went viral on Facebook, and had more than 14.8 million views at the time of writing.
On Sunday, they had a 30-metre-long red octopus kite - merely half the length of the previous week's monster.
Mr William Yeo's 30-metre-long octopus kite, custom-made from China.
It took three people to launch the kite and after two hours, it soared into the sky.
From the short time TNP spent with the group, the camaraderie was obvious.
(From left) Mr Steven Swee, Mr Suparman Iban, Mr Ong Ah Huat, Mr Soh KH, Madam Maggie Mok, Mr Johnny Yap, Mr Erich Chew and Mr William Yeo, befriended one another through kiting.
"We work very closely, and we do everything together. We all play our part to work as a team," Mr Chew said.
Madam Maggie Mok, her husband Johnny Yap, and their 11-year-old son Yarden, run Show Kites Singapore, a non-profit group that aims to promote kite flying among Singaporeans.
There are a range of kites on display once the wind picks up. From the octopus and blue Pokemon-looking dinosaur, to smaller kites that move in a such a synchronised fashion you would think they were connected.
But you don't have to be a kiting expert to fly. Anybody visiting the barrage can purchase a kite of their own at the Barrage Cove convenience store. Depending on the kite's size and design, it costs $15 to $33.
Uncle Lim, 65, who works there, enjoys seeing people from all walks of life visit the store.
He says: "The beauty of the Marina Barrage is it has a vast area to accommodate different types of activities without interference or intruding on other group activities."
According to Madam Mok, the community here, while not as big as in other countries, is growing.
"When the wind is good at certain parts, people will travel to the same field. So we know each other, since we sometimes fly together. It's an exchange of kiting spirits when we meet. We'll talk kites and share kiting stories."
It's an exchange of kiting spirits when we meet. We'll talk kites and share kiting stories.
- Madam Maggie Mok on the camaraderie among kite flyers at Marina Barrage