Kedah’s Kg Benua youths turn post-padi harvesting season into photo shoot & kite flying opportunities

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ALOR SETAR, Feb 17: The beauty of the verdant paddy field landscape, fields of straw bales and kites dotting the blue sky are among the new attractions for casual tourists to drive to Kampung Benua in Simpang Empat near here, as the school holidays chug along lazily.

The new pastime in the long, dry season comes from an initiative by the village youths, who for the past two months, improvised on turning ‘dried rice grain stalks into bales (of straw)’ to turn the village into a destination for camera-toting visitors to shoot the breeze in the laid-back scenery of sunsets.

One of them, Radzi Ahmad, 40, said at the beginning, he, along with several other villagers, congregated to fly kites in the padi fields to fill in their free time.

“We started playing kites about two months ago, at that time there were only 15 kites and curious people from the village came over to see … but soon after, people from other villages also came to fly their kites here and now around 30 kites are soaring up yonder into the blue every day,” he told Bernama here today.

He said the idea of straw bales as props popped into their heads about a month ago when one of their friends came to gather hay. 

“At that time, we got the notion to tie up strands of straw and from there we decided to use a machine to roll the bunch of straws into bales … 16 of these small bales of straw we took for ourselves while we requested six large rolled bales from the Muda Agricultural Development Board (MADA).

“ prepare this area of straw bales, it cost us about RM500 and we shared the cost with the youth in this village. After three weeks of this area being opened, many visitors have come to take pictures of the straw bales as well as to see colourful kites dancing in the sky,” he said.

Radzi said the windswept landscape of straw bales and kite-flying has become a festive phenomenon to woo crowds to Kampung Benua, in conjunction with the school holidays, as well as to engage the young and restless, to discourage youth from frittering time on useless and dangerous activities like illegal motorcycle racing.

Meanwhile, visitor Zulkarnaen Abdullah, 51, from Jengka, Pahang said he stumbled on the straw bales and kite-flying frenzy in Kampung Benua after being informed by his wife who saw a video about the fad pastime on social media.

“We are a family of six who came to Kedah to pick up our children who are studying in Kuala Nerang and we have been back to Kedah several times … as it so happens that we are already here, my wife helped me find interesting locations we could visit on social media before ending up with the kite-fest in Kampung Benua.

“I’m delighted because in Jengka (in Pahang) there is nothing but endless rows of oil palm and rubber trees, but it is also refreshing now to feel the wind in your hair, among the bales of hay, it’s the first time I’ve seen it, it’s different. Besides the bales of straw, kite-flying is a new thrill for tourists to head for Kedah and I hope the kite festivity can gather steam,” he said.

Meanwhile, a Sekolah Kebangsaan Kebun Pinang student here, Muhammad Amirul Ammar Mohd Shahrul Anuar, 10, said he comes to this new escapade every day with his friends to see folks flying kites.

“This place is fun, lively because there are many people, I come here every evening to see if I get lucky enough to fly a kite … those of you who stay far away, ‘meh la’ come to Kampung Benua to fly kites among the fields of straw here,” he beckoned.