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Philippine Balloon Fiesta Part 2 : Balloons! Well, kind of.

by on March 13, 2008

I’d heard and wanted to check out the Philippine Balloon Fiesta for a long time, so when our February was empty of travel due to cost cutting measures, we decided to drive out the Clark Airbase to check it out. After checking in and resting at Swiss Chalet for a few minutes, we drove over to the airbase to check out the “Night Glow” Hot Air balloon flight. Unfortunately, due to George Dubya Bush’s complete disbelief of global warming, the weather conditions were not optimal for a balloon flight. Anyone who’s ever been to pampanga knows it just doesn’t get cold there. It just doesn’t. But that night I felt ridiculous in wearing just shorts and a t-shirt and the wind was so gusty the balloons were having a hard time lifting off. One balloon team valiantly tried but ultimately failed, generating a chorus of “aaaaawwwwwww…” from the crowd, as Aissa can attest to.


To compensate for their inability to fly, the teams put on a tiki flame show (it sounded something like that) in order to pacify the crowd. It was nice to watch, but ultimately not what we’d come there and paid fricking a hundred pesos for, so we left a little disappointed. Here’s where I go off into a bit of a rant. Look, I understand that people need to make money, and I’m glad that the team organizing this managed to get so many international balloon teams to show off their skills. But seriously, there ought to be some sort of discount for people who come in at night to see just half the show. I was a little annoyed at having to pay a hundred bucks that night, then having to shell out another hundred in the morning. If you’re paying a hundred for a full day’s worth of activities then it stands to reason that if you go in the evening you shouldn’t have to pay full price. Just knock 20% off or something, and I’d be a happy camper.


After a night of being kept awake by the shrieking laughter of GROs and having to plug tissue paper in my ears to get any semblance of sleep, I stumbled out bleary eyed at 5am to once again drive to the airfield to see the morning balloon flight. This time, even though the winds were still a little gusty, the balloons managed to take off, and it was a terrific sight to behold. My personal favorite’s the Tony the Tiger balloon. Gotta love those frosted flakes. They flew up higher and higher until finally floating off towards the horizon…and the parking area near the highway where if we’d stayed we’d have gotten to see the balloons for free.


Of course the balloons were just the first act, and we were treated to airplane aerobatics, paragliders, paratroopers, skydivers, kites, and all sorts of other aeronautical affairs. There was also plenty of military hardware around, including real rifles for the kids who wanted to have their pictures taken pretending they were playing counterstrike. There were also few Simba APCs ( you know, the ones that tore down the peninsula?) which Aissa and I were extremely tempted to climb, but as we’re averse to doing anything that would make us look silly (ie falling off the damn thing) we decided against it. All in all a whole day’s stay in Clark field is well worth the ticket price (aside from my earlier rant) and I’d encourage anyone with the slightest interest in things that fly to make it a point to visit next year. I believe its become an official calendar event for hot air balloon enthusiasts, so it’s definitely going to keep getting better as the years go by.

Part 1: Swiss Chalet, Part 2 : Balloons! Well, kind of., Part 3: Pet-watching, Part 4: Conclusion


From → Local, Travel

One Comment
  1. Wow, I look seriously retarded in that “awwww” picture.

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