Up up and away! (Philippine Hot Air Balloon Fiesta 2013)

This blog is slowly dying (just like my 52-week project), so here’s my attempt to revive it with one of the many entries I have sitting in my drafts folder.

Last February, the girls and I made plans to go to the Hot Air Balloon Fiesta in Clark, Pampanga. We initially planned to arrive early Sunday morning just in time for the balloon launch, but Aprille suggested that we travel the night before and find a place to stay so we don’t risk getting stuck in traffic and missing the whole thing.  So on Saturday evening, Aprille, Brinks, Jay and I drove all the way from Los Banos to Clark for the event.  (Well, Aprille, Jay and I drove from Los Banos.  We picked Brinks up at Megamall along the way, which was quite an experience by itself.  But that’s another story XD)

We stopped for dinner at one of the rest stations along NLEX.  We were craving breakfast food so we decided to grab a bite at The Pancake House.


Hungry kupo


With flat-haired me because I was wearing a cap for most of the day


Aprille and Jay (who was talking to his dad with a guilty smile in the background.  He didn’t tell his family that he’s going out of town that weekend.  They caught him because Brinks checked in on Foursquare and tagged all of us on Facebook XD)

I’m not sure if the Pancake House on NLEX adds a special ingredient to their mix or we were just starving at the time, but I had some of the best pancakes of my life that night.  (I asked Brinks what she thinks and she says it’s just the hungry monster inside of me talking…)

After filling up on carbs, we continued our roadtrip and finally reached our home for the next few hours – Daniela’s Place Apartelle.  Aprille and Brinks found it online and made reservations the week before.  The owner informed us that this was a good move on their part because all the hotels/inns around the area were booked because of the festival.


The place had a very home-y environment, with lots of couches, a reading corner and a water refilling station.  They even served pandesal and coffee in the morning for their guests


This was the room Brinks and I shared


It was bigger than I expected.  Not that it mattered because we were only going to be staying in it for about 4 hours.

We arrived at midnight and we had to be up by 3:30am so that we could leave by 4am to grab a good spot at the field.  The balloons were set to go up at around 6am and we had quite a bit of walking to do to get there.  (We decided to leave the car at the apartelle because we weren’t willing to spend 30 minutes looking for parking.)

Some pictures I took on our way over to the field:






Giant Canon Ixus 😀


And a polaroid guy 😀

We got to the field with about 20 minutes to spare, but finding a spot was NOT easy.  The place was packed!  A lot of people managed to grab good spots by spending the night there.  Some of them even had tents up.



There was no way I would have been able to get a good spot by myself.  I would have just looked at the crowd and said “Aw, what the heck~” and stood at the back while waiting for the balloons to rise high enough so I could see them.


Thank goodness I was with these people.  They viciously battled the crowd and slowly made their way over to the front while I followed closely behind.  By the time they were done, we could actually touch the fence that separated the balloons from the crowd.  That’s how close we were!


The festivities began with the Philippine national anthem, while this paraglider carried the Philippine flag


After that we watched the hot air balloons inflate


This was the “Hare” balloon.  (As in “Hound and Hare”).  It takes off before any of the other balloons and the rest of them have to go after it.  After it lands, the other balloons have to land as close to it as possible.  The closest balloon wins the competition.


The other balloons were starting to take shape.  We were standing in front of the tulip balloon, one of the biggest ones in the whole bunch


There goes the hare balloon


Quick (deformed) picture of Aprille and me with the balloons behind us.  The bright colors made us so happy~  (I wish I had my 18-135 lens with me that day, but I lent it to my dad who went on a business trip.  I used my wide angle lens for most of these pictures – which explains the deformation around the edges.)


There goes another balloon!


Soon, the others join it.  Including the tulip balloon.


This was one of my favorite balloons.  I can’t remember what it was called.  We just called it the Humpty Dumpty balloon


The sun was Brinks’s favorite because it looked like it was taunting the other balloons


There it goes!



Not sure whose camera this is.  But it reminds me that I should be thankful that the 60D (the camera I was using) has live view and a flip out/rotating LCD.  It made it so~ much easier to take photos above people’s heads, which was something I always had trouble with with my old 400D


Here’s the space shuttle balloon.  We were told that it was the largest balloon in the whole competition that day.


And here’s the sad little elephant balloon that couldn’t take flight.  It spent the entire morning filling up with hot air but it never managed to leave the ground, poor thing.


It stood there while the other balloons around it took off


Here it is watching a balloon go by with jealous eyes

All the balloons in the competition had to land by 8am, so by 7:50, the pink elephant gave up.  Sorry little fella.  Better luck next time.

After all the balloons were gone, we sat around and waited for the start of the Breitling Jet Show, which was set to begin at around 8:30 am.  This was the event that Jay was most excited about.   


We took pictures of ourselves while waiting


Aprille went and bought a whole Yellowcab pizza for us to munch on while we waited (since we haven’t had breakfast yet)

Pretty soon, the jet performance began.  It was amazing!  I wish I could show you a video, but I only managed to take a few clips.  I did get a few photos though.  (I used my dad’s 55-200mm lens for this, which he thankfully decided to leave behind when he went on his trip):



(I didn’t flip the photo in this shot – the jet really was flying upside down)


They had fireworks for the grand finale.  I wasn’t able to capture the whole view since my lens couldn’t zoom out that far

After the jet show, we were pretty much set.  They festival offered events the whole day, but we weren’t that interested to see the rest of them.  Besides, we were really tired and sweaty from fighting with the crowd, and the sun started to burn, so we decided to go shopping in Subic instead.  Before we left, we picked up some little hot air balloon replicas as souvenir:


(This was taken back in LB since I didn’t get to take a picture of it until then.)  I have Aprille to thank for this balloon.  The lineup for these things were crazy!  “Lineup” is actually a very optimistic word I think, because there wasn’t an actual line.  People was pushing and shoving and yelling out orders.  It was pure chaos!  Again, if it were me, I would have just taken a picture and hightailed it out of there.  (I’m not really good with crowds.)  But Aprille made her way over to the front and got balloons for all of us!  Yipeeee~

Anyway, we walked back to our apartelle (we found a shortcut so it didn’t take us that long this time) and took a quick nap before driving to Subic.




Our lovely navigator XD


These little guys kept Brinks and I company in the back seat




We found a place to grab some lunch (because we were starving once again) before heading to Pure Gold for some duty free shopping.


I’ve never been to Pure Gold in Subic before.  I was surprised to find that it looked very much like Costco


See what I mean?

I wasn’t planning on buying anything, but since we were there, I decided I might as well make the most of it.  I ended up spending way too much on junk food!   I mostly went with the imported stuff I don’t normally see in our regular groceries.

After this, we decided we should start heading back home since we all had work in the morning and we still had a long drive ahead of us.  We arrived back in LB at around 10pm that night. Still pretty early, but we were exhausted, especially since we only got about 3 hours of sleep the night before.  As soon as I got home, I scarfed down a quick dinner, hopped into the shower and collapsed on the bed.

It was a quick trip and we spent most of our time on the road, but I had a blast thanks to these girls (and Jay) 😀



Sa uulitin mga baks!

One thought on “Up up and away! (Philippine Hot Air Balloon Fiesta 2013)

  1. Pingback: What 2013 was like for me :D | What I have shown you is reality ...

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