Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Balloon Festival I

All week long, Mommy went on and on about hot air balloons and getting away from the city. Eventually, Daddy got nagged into doing the research and planning a little day trip to Ayutthaya for the Thailand International Balloon Festival 2009. Most of the regular car rental agencies were booked out, but ever the resourceful one, Daddy managed to get us a comfortable 8-seater deluxe Toyota Commuter van. After a simple but satisfying lunch at the nearby Chinese eatery, we embarked on our journey.

Ayutthaya is located just under 80km to the north of Bangkok. Once we got through the usual city traffic and onto the highway, it took us just over an hour - even with a toilet break along the way - to get to the ancient capital of Siam. It was mid afternoon and still some time away from the evening launch, but the site was already so congested that we had to leave the van behind and walk almost 1km to the fair grounds. The staging area was set among the ancient ruins of this UNESCO World Heritage city.

While waiting for the hot air balloons to be prepped, we laid out our picnic mat and took a little break. Janelle and Andre bought themselves some candy floss. I saw a Boston Terrier - the King was born in Massachusetts - but Daddy and Mommy only allowed me to look but not touch the cute little dog.

The teams were all very friendly, and they let us get really close, even touch the fabric, as long as our admiring caresses did not threaten to put any holes in the balloons.

We watched as the balloons were partially inflated with cold air from a gas-powered fan, before the propane burners were turned on for the final inflation. It was pretty amazing to witness lifeless cloth on the ground turn into majestic globes capable of flight within minutes. Most of them were colourful and quite a few sported corporate logos like Ford and MasterCard. I waited patiently until the last balloon finally got off the ground. As I waved goodbye to the prancing teddies on the Hallmark Balloon, we left the fair grounds, the entrance to which was fast becoming the site of a traffic nightmare a la Bangkok.

Which one is your favourite?


shopannies said...

what a great trip that must have been. We have a hot air balloon festival here about an hour from me each fall

Amy C said...

wow this looks incredible and I really love the poster too.

SandyCarlson said...

Extraordinary balloon shots. Great stuff.

Ann said...

The hot air balloon look fantastic. Next time you grow up and go in one?

Also, tell your mum and dad to come to Auckland, we celebrate the King's Borthday here also.