Go Fly a Kite
GO FLY A KITE
On my way home each day I pass along the river and then through the Thu Thiem Tunnel, the completion of which was one of the biggest events in recent Vietnamese history.
I study the route and never tire of it; young boys jumping off bridges into fetid canals; cranes rising above the ever-changing city; families of four on a motorbike weaving through rush hour traffic before I descend into the tunnel.
It isn’t long before I surface to a sea of greenery, tropical trees and mangroves as well as the signs that a new city is being planned for this location.
Along the side of the road kites are flying. Expertly manned by incredibly competent maestros they soar above the landscape, circling overhead, with close encounters with their neighbor kites. Images of dragons, birds, and unidentifiable creatures rise up from the earth magically and dot the sky; one, two, and then in multitudes.
Unlike the kites of Afghanistan featured in the book Kite Runner, the kites of Saigon are complementary and not in epic battles for supremacy. There is no political or social agenda but simply pleasure and artistry.
Crowds gather at sunset to watch in awe and envy as these kites launch and take to the sky guided by long lines of spring measuring several hundred feet. Some are elaborate in size and shape. Others are simple. They glide, swirl, zig and zag with precise acrobatics to the amazement of onlookers.
The Vietnamese are good at this. There are annual kite competitions around the country. The kites themselves are a kind of art form. And it is small wonder as versions of those same kites have flown over Vietnam for centuries as locals take advantage as the early spring winds kick into high gear.
The fading afternoon light, happy people of all ages, a warm breeze and the colorful cacophony of kites in the sky all add up to a great way to end another day in Saigon.