Lubao International Hot Air Balloon festival (April 15,2016)– It was a view of Lubao, Pampanga in a different angle. With dusty blue sky, the horizon was given more life by the different shapes, colors and sizes of hot air balloons. Never had I imagined that I would be able to fly and ride this, and yet I did, and the experience is near to magical!
Lubao International Hot Air Balloon in Pradera Verde made a way for me to cross out one of my wish list – to fly and ride a Hot Air Balloon. Here is my first experience and a few tips for first time riders.
Lubao Hot Air Balloon at Pradera Verde
We were told to be at the venue around 5 in the morning, having said that, travelling from Manila to Lubao would require us to start around 2am. Our more or less 3-hour travel includes a few gasoline stopovers, coffee and wee-wee breaks plus occasionally losing our way.
This wasn’t my first time to see an International Hot Air Balloon festival. I’ve been able to witness a few events that happened at Clark before. I wasn’t able to ride before hence I wasn’t really expecting to do it this time around. Luckily it was more than what I expected.
We arrive at the venue on the dot and after having our breakfast, we headed straight to our assigned balloons.
We were on a hurry for most of the balloons are already inflated, including the one I suppose to ride. We were told that once the balloons were inflated, it will then just wait for it’s cue to fly. So I hurriedly went and talk to the frenchmen. I was assigned at balloon #6.
With Duane, Rod, MJ, Ruth & Rodel
It was called Astro-Lava one of the 41 balloons that was scheduled to fly this morning. My pilots came all the way from France. With our short introduction, I got a gist that they weren’t too verse in speaking english making myself a bit silent inside the vessel. The wicker basket was small that it can only hold 2-3 or maybe 4 persons inside. When I went in, the frenchmen decided to take down one propane tank outside the basket for it to be able to bring us up.
Photo-op before take off
A view on how small our space inside was
It was a mix of excitement and worrying at the same time. I was worrying that I might touch or hold something that would make my pilots angry, second, I was thinking about the possibility for it to fall or what if the balloon was accidentally burnt by fire? There are no parachutes, or life vest inside, but those things doesn’t stop me in trying it and worrying would just make the experience bad. I was just hoping then that God would not let anything bad happen.
I let the good vibes sink in, especially when they started to heat up the balloon and felt elevated. My friends and I were thinking that maybe we can shoot each other while flying. But we realised that it was impossible so that didn’t happen.
Five thousand meters above the ground, an experience way different from other forms of flying. At first it felt like I was riding a ferris wheel but once its up there it felt different. I was serene, quiet. Also, hot and dry, not windy (which is what I wasn’t expecting) for it was the perfect weather condition to fly the balloons. As to what I was told, the windier it gets the harder it is to maneuver. Does the dryer the better.
My pilots were conversing with hi tones, and I didn’t really understand any of it. So I decided to not bother them that much. I don’t want to hinder them in doing things and be the reason for any failures.
After we felt stable and far from the take off point I had the chance to get their attention for a short chitchat. I actually captured them in video using my newly bought action cam but unfortunately I was such an idiot that I set it up in time lapse mode. That was just so bad!
But to what I remember, I asked them where would be the best place to fly a hot air balloon and without hesitation they answered — France. They said that France got a nice view of the mountainous terrain. I realise, Lubao was already amazing what more if I would be riding there in France! Spectacular!
Along the way, some local kids where following us waving and shouting. My pilots wave back saying hello. They even asked me for the Filipino word for “Hello” and they shouted “Kamusta“. I was waving my hands as well feeling like a celebrity.
From Pradera in Lubao, Pampanga, we landed in Mambog, Hermosa in Bataan. People in the area flock in and took some photos of us. The frenchmen seems like celebrities who landed in their place and I become an instant photographer. But thats okay, I see that everybody was having fun!
That was a total of 45-awesome minutes up in the air, and as it ended I still cant believe that I was able to do it.
On my way back, the chasers told me that my pilots were one of the greatest for they know how to properly land their unit (which is near the roadside). Plus we did not tipple down when the basket reaches the ground. Good job guys!
Would you be willing to try next years Lubao Hot Air Balloon ride? Check out these few tips;
What to prepare when riding a Hot Air Balloon
- Wear light and comfy shirt for it’s way too hot anywhere specially in an open ground like Pradera
- Bring lots of water
- Don’t bring lots of stuff inside the balloon for flying is dependent on the weight of the people riding it.
- Secure phones and cameras and other belongings specially when up above. You don’t want to see it falling right? It’s best to bring an action cam instead to capture every moment. But don’t do the same thing I did that I accidentally set it to time lapse mode.
- Prepare Php 15,000 (initial cost) for the ride. A bit pricey but really worth it!
#Nognogwears: Oxygen (Shirt, Shorts, Cap); People Footwear
Enjoy the ride guys! Thanks Pradera Verde and Lubao Hot Air Balloon Festival for the opportunity.