The kite-flying season in Bangkok

The kite-flying season in Bangkok

The winds have come and Sanan Luang is the place to be, so tell the kids to put away their computers, tablets and mobile phones and let them have some real fun.

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A happy family at Sanam Luang. Photos by Pornprom Satrabhaya

Come fly with us

No longer hampered by last year's street protests, kite season at Sanam Luang is now fully open

Duangphat Sitthipat

Shoshi Bromley-Dulfano was taking a stroll one breezy evening at Sanam Luang when she came across a string of purple kites. To her, they looked like jellyfish suspended in the sky.

"I have never seen anything like this before," said Bromley-Dulfano, from the US state of Utah. "Where I come from, people don't just come out to fly kites on a normal day like this."

A spectacular backdrop for one of Thailand's traditional pastimes.

Such a scene — a sunset dotted with kites, backdropped by the grandeur of the Grand Palace — offers an exotic snapshot for tourists. At this time of year, with the scorching heat of April, comes the wind, ushering in high season for kite-flying.

In Thailand, kite season begins in winter but doesn't peak until summer, and lasts until the rainy season sets in, around July. During this time of year, a seasonal wind known as tapao goes from the south to the north of Thailand, making it perfect for flying kites. Though kite-flying may seem rather old-fashioned, it remains fairly popular among families and those searching for a simple and inexpensive outdoor activity.

It takes a bit of help from little sister to get this one in the air.

In addition to being a popular place for kite-flying, the 78 rai of Sanam Luang, which sit in front of the most famous temple in the country, is also popular with those who come to jog or picnic. Following an extensive renovation in 2011, Sanam Luang has never looked better, and now draws more daily and weekend visitors than ever before. There also appear to be fewer homeless people in the area.

"Sanam Luang is a legendary place for kite-flying," said Prinya Sukchid, a kite expert who has been coming out to Sanam Luang since he was eight years old.

"Many kings also have left their footsteps here watching kites."

The history of kite-flying in Thailand may date back to as far as the Sukhothai era, in the 13th century, when kites were flown to bring good luck and summon the wind. Flying kites as a recreational activity, however, dates back to the reign of King Rama IV, in the mid-19th century. At this time, commoners were allowed to fly kites in the field once preserved for royal ceremonies, such as cremation of members of the royal family.

The star-shaped Chula is for men.

People have been flying kites for fun at Sanam Luang ever since it opened to the public. Many of the more skilled kite-flyers also participate in aerial battles between the two most recognisable of Thai kites, the star-shaped chula kite, flown by males, and the snake-like pakpao kite, typically flown by females.

"People still come here because there are no better or more suitable places in Bangkok that can offer this much open space," Prinya said. "The kite scene in Sanam Luang this year also feels more active than the past few years, because the area is no longer affected by political protests."

Despite this, the number of kites above Sanam Luang still pales in comparison to the scenes that could be witnessed 30 years ago. The 70s and 80s, according to Prinya, were "the heyday of kite flying in Thailand".

As a young boy, he remembers seeing thousands of kites floating in the sky on windy days.

You can buy your kite ready-made from vendors at Sanam Luang.

To Tong-orn is a 59-year-old kite seller who has been handcrafting and selling kites at Sanam Luang for nearly 40 years. He remembers days when the sky above Sanam Luang was pocked with flashes of colour.

"The sky was crawling with kites, and an awful lot were also waiting to take off on the ground," To said. "Too bad there is no such thing anymore."

Part of the reason fewer people fly kites, To believes, is due to the increasing popularity of computers, tablets and mobile phones. "Only when parents realise that their kids need a day to run in the sunshine or need a break from looking at their computers will they come here," he said.

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  • aerial: in the air; done in the air - ซึ่งอยู่ในอากาศ
  • backdrop: everything that you can see behind the main thing that you are looking at - ฉากหลัง ภาพเบื้องหลัง
  • battle: a fight; serious disagreement, strong competition, etc. - การต่อสู้
  • break (noun): a short period of time when you stop what you are doing and rest, eat, etc. - พัก
  • breezy (adj): with the wind blowing quite strongly - มีลมพัด, มีลมเฉื่อยๆ
  • century: a period of one hundred years - ศตวรรษ
  • ceremony (noun): a formal public event - งานพิธี
  • come across (verb): to meet or find somebody/something by chance - พบโดยบังเอิญ
  • commoner: an ordinary person who is not a member of a royal family - สามัญชน
  • cremation: the burning of a dead body - การเผาศพ (งานพระราชทานเพลิงพระศพ)
  • dotted (verb): covered in dots; having many of a particular thing in an area - มีลายจุด
  • draw: to attract or interest somebody - ดึงดูดความสนใจ
  • due to: because of - เนื่องจาก
  • exotic: seeming exciting and unusual because it is connected with foreign countries or other historical periods - ผิดธรรมดา, มาจากต่างประเทศ, มาจากดินแดนอื่น, มาจากภูมิภาคอื่น
  • expert: someone who has a particular skill or who knows a lot about a particular subject - ผู้เชี่ยวชาญ
  • extensive: great in amount; covering a large area - กว้างขวาง
  • fairly: to some degree, but not completely or extremely - พอควร
  • famous: very well known - มีชื่อเสียง
  • female: being a woman or a girl - สตรี, ผู้หญิง, เพศหญิ
  • flash: something that shines very brightly for a short time - แสงวาบขึ้นมา
  • float: to cause to move slowly in the air or on water - ลอย
  • grandeur: an impressive quality that a place, object or occasion has - ความสง่างาม
  • hamper: to stop someone or something from making progress or developing; to hinder - ขัดขวาง, เป็นอุปสรรค
  • heyday: the time when somebody/something had most power or success, or was most popular - สมัยที่รุ่งเรืองที่สุด, ช่วงที่ประสบความสำเร็จที่สุด
  • homeless (adj): having no home - ไร้ที่อยู่
  • inexpensive: not expensive - มีราคาถูก
  • jellyfish (noun): a sea creature with a body like jelly and long thin parts called tentacles that can give a sharp sting - แมงกะพรุน
  • last: to continue for a particular length of time - กินเวลา
  • legendary: very famous or well known for a long time -
  • male: being a man or a boy - ผู้ชาย
  • normal (adj.): typical, usual or ordinary; what you would expect - ปกติ, ภาวะปกติ
  • offer (verb): to make something available or to provide the opportunity for something - ให้, เสนอ
  • old-fashioned: not modern; no longer fashionable - ที่ล้าสมัย
  • pale in comparison: is/are nothing when compared to ..... -
  • participate: to take part in something - เข้าร่วม
  • pastime (noun): a hobby; an activity that you do for pleasure when you are not working - งานอดิเรก
  • peak (adj): the time when something is at its highest or greatest level - ช่วงเวลาที่หนาแน่น, ช่วงเวลาที่พบมากที่สุด
  • perfect (noun): having everything that is necessary; complete and without faults or weaknesses - สมบูรณ์แบบ
  • pocked: have little holes, craters or indentations on it; like smallpox marks on the face -
  • popular (adj): a situation in which someone or something is liked by many people - เป็นที่นิยม, เป็นที่ชื่นชอบ
  • popularity: a situation in which someone or something is liked by many people - ความเป็นที่นิยม, ความเป็นที่ชื่นชอบ
  • preserve: to take care of a place or building in order to prevent it from being harmed or destroyed - สงวน, อนุรักษ์
  • protest: a strong complaint or disagreement - การประท้วง
  • ready-made (adj): prepared in advance so that you can use/eat it immediately - สำเร็จรูป
  • recognisable: easy to recognise or remember - เป็นที่รู้จักกัน, จำได้ง่าย
  • recreational: involving enjoyment - เกี่ยวการสันทนาการ
  • reign (noun): a period of time during when a king or queen rules a country - ช่วงเวลาครองราชย์
  • renovation: making something old look new again by repairing and improving it, especially a building - การปฏิสังขรณ์, การทำให้มีสภาพดีเหมือนเดิม, การบูรณะ, การซ่อมแซมใหม่
  • scene (noun): a particular area of activity or way of life and the people who are part of it - สิ่งแวดล้อม, เรื่องราว
  • scene: a view that you can see in a picture or from the place where you are - วิว,,ภาพ, ทิวทัศน์,ทัศนียภาพ
  • scorching: extremely hot - ร้อนมาก, ซึ่งทำให้แสบร้อน
  • search (verb): to look somewhere carefully in order to find someone/something - ค้นหา
  • season (noun): a period of time during the year - ฤดูกาล, ช่วงเวลา, ระยะเวลา
  • seasonal: typical of or suitable for the time of year - ตามฤดูกาล
  • simple: easy to understand; not complicated - ง่าย,ไม่ยุ่งยาก, ไม่ซับซ้อน
  • skilled: having enough ability, experience and knowledge to be able to do something well - มีทักษะ,
  • snapshot: a photograph, especially one taken quickly - ภาพถ่ายเร็ว
  • spectacular: very exciting to look at - น่าตื่นเต้น
  • stroll: walk in a slow relaxed manner, especially for pleasure - เดินเล่น
  • suitable: acceptable or right for someone or something - เหมาะสม
  • summon: to officially order someone to come to a place - เรียกตัว
  • sunset: the time of the evening when the sun is no longer seen - พระอาทิตย์ตกดิน
  • sunshine (noun): the light and heat of the sun - แสงอาทิตย์
  • suspended (verb): hanging - แขวนอยู่
  • the public: people in general - ประชาชน, สาธารณชน, มหาชน
  • traditional (adj): of a custom, a way of life or a way of doing things that has not changed for a long time - เป็นประเพณี, ตามธรรมเนียม, ตามที่ปฏิบัติกันมา
  • typically: usually; normally - อย่างเป็นแบบฉบับ
  • usher in: to be at the start of a new period, especially when important changes or new things happen, or to cause important changes to start happening - เริ่มต้น, นำเข้ามา
  • vendors: people who sell things, e.g., food or newspapers, usually outside on the street - พ่อค้าแม่่ค้าหาบแร่แผงลอย
  • witness (verb): to see something happen - มองเห็น, เป็นพยาน

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