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Ray's World Adventures 1997

Malaysia 1997
3rd International Kite Festival at Pasir Gudang, Johor, Malaysia

Was I dreaming or what? Not "One" but "Two" fully sponsored trips to Malaysia and Thailand and once again having the honor of representing Canada at these world class kite festivals. Also visits to Hong Kong and Singapore. "WoW" I thought I was lucky in 1996 having 16 sponsored trips, What a great start for 1997. I have all ready been to the UK and Hawaii and now the Orient. I thought "Please !! Don't pinch me just in case I am dreaming!"

My first article will be on Malaysia as there is to much to talk about to put the whole adventure into one article.

My first stop was Hong Kong. By the way if you have never traveled by Cathay Pacific do it next time, it is first class all the way. Any way Hong Kong was great. I could have spent more time there, I have never seen so many Chinese people in my life. I wonder why, as I thought most of them had moved to Vancouver to live.

My next stop was Singapore, and what a air port it is pure pleasure to spend time there. The pick up crew were waiting for me and were very friendly we had to wait a little while for the arrival of two Australian lady flyers, whom I had met a couple of times before in OZ and NZ. They were spending a few days in Singapore before going to Malaysia. Singapore is a City of many sights and is rich in colour and contrasts, it is located along the very active East-West sea lanes. This Island country is a tropical fantasy, where the old and new go hand in hand. I saw luxurious limousines and trishaws waiting together for the traffic lights to change, and all the bustling bazaars make it a shopper's paradise.

Malaysia is about 50 km from Singapore. It was a very interesting drive and soon we were through the Singapore and Malaysia customs. Our pick up crew took care of all the formalities and we are now on the Johore cause way. The wheels of progress seemed to have stood still here, it was like going back in time, as most of what I was seeing was exactly as it was subtle and beautiful. I came to love the people and was fascinated by their culture.

All the international guests stayed at the very modern Hotel Selesa where we were very well looked after. Good food, but a little to spicy for me, and the rooms were very comfortable and spacious.

We were picked up every morning by bus and taken to the festival site which was only 10 minutes away, and from start to finish the festival was super organized. Hats off to all, they did a fantastic job. The weather was very hot in the high 90's and the humidity was 100%. It was great seeing all the different flyers from around the world, most of which I had met before and others were easy to make new friends with.

The sport kite flyers were giving our own area to demonstrate in and once again I had the privilege of sharing the field with the esteemed Bay Area Sundowners. It is always a pleasure to work with these guys. Also sharing our field was David Brittain, and the new French 5 man Team "Keops", lead by Pierre Marzin a winner of titles at the highest level for several Years. With his leadership this Team will go far. Between all of us we kept the thousands of spectators spell bound. There were so many different events to keep the spectators happy from early morning till late evening every day, and thousands showed up for the night fly.

There was some great single line flying by the Malaysians using there traditional WAU kites and some of them were pieces of art, so beautifully made.

The day before the final day we had a dry run for demonstrations to His Royal Highness Sultan of Johor. Everything went smoothly, we had good winds and I was up first, then the French Team and the Sundowners and so on, we all were pre-briefed for the next days performance by international flyers. The next day at 3pm his Royal Highness arrived. They had gold carpets laid out. We were all standing at our own countries markers. The Sultan was sitting on his throne and he kind of looked at me. As you know, I read lips pretty good and I am not sure but I think he said while turning around to his wife "Look there's Ray Bethell", and I think she replied "Oh! Good Stuff!"

Then he came and presented each country with a gift and shook hands, and thanked us for coming to their festival. So let the demonstrations begin. I was first to give a demonstration and would you believe it not a whisper not a blade of grass moved. Thank god for the pro dancers, my music started and I was up and away and managed to get a couple of minutes in, then it was the French team's turn. They were up but had to run backwards 400 yards and then Christian Canus fell backwards on to a buggy and severely injured his back and was rushed to a hospital. On it's way the ambulance was in an accident and Pierre Marzin sustained injuries to his knee and spent two days at the hospital. Christian was operated on the next day. I have not heard but I hope he makes a full recovery and is back flying with the team real soon.

For the next two days our hosts took us on some fantastic tours and wined and dined us. Thank you Haji Hussin Bin Haron, Ismail Bin Mattaib and every one else involved in putting on and inviting me to your 3rd International Kite Festival at Pasir Gudang, Johor, Malaysia. I will remember your festival and your hospitality for many years to come.

Thank you for listening.


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