My First Hot Air Balloon Ride | The Philippine International Hot Air Balloon Fiesta 2018!

Thursday, February 08, 2018

I love talking about your travels, it's just my thing! During yesterday's long road trip from Manila to Clark Freeport Zone in Pampanga for the 22nd Philippine International Hot Air Balloon Fiesta's opening day, we realized that time flew because we talked and talked. My friends said I was so hyper, haha! I was just interested with all your travel stories!!

One of my fave convos is when we talk about all the risky adventures aka "buwis buhay" things we've already done in this lifetime. I might not look like it, but I've done a lot of crazy stuff that someday I hope I can retell to my future children, hehehe. 

It's as if I've been collecting all these "buwis buhay" memories from physical activities like jumping high cliffs and any water or extreme sports, to unconventional stuff like solo traveling & living the hostel life, to taking the scariest theme park rides while I am still capable, young, and have a little courage left, haha! As Ruth puts it during that long car ride to Pampanga, "Parang habang tumatanda ka, mas nagiging matakutin ka!" which is true! I feel that a few more years I won't be this daredevil and so I am collecting the memories now while I can!

Back on the road! It took us less than 2 hours from Trinoma to Pampanga! Thank you Seph for the ride!!!

Php 299 unli Korean resto in Korea Town with all the blogger participants. So at home here!

Just this morning, everybody in the group woke up early for our 5am call time. We reached the venue before 6am, but the center area was already filled with a swarm of people! It was still dark, even the moon's still out, but I suddenly felt the excitement of being there.

The price list! There are hot air balloon rides, tandem skydiving, tandem paragliding, airplane and helicopter rides, and aerobatic flights – all supervised by expert aviators. Discovery flight tickets should be booked through the Fiesta’s official website prior to the Fiesta.

Hangout with my blog friends Ruth, Kuya Melo, Trice, and Seph:

And just after sunrise.....

NAGISING AKO DITO! I realized that it's the first time I saw people jump from nowhere and fly in the air with just their parachutes!!!! Hala para akong bata clapping! Hehehe! 😍

It's a Skydive Exhibition!

Even during the Philippine National Anthem, our flag was waved high in the sky and it was so beautiful!!!

Not seen in the photo, but I was pointing to the skydivers, mwahaha!

After a while, I signed a waiver for the highlight of my day: To finally ride a hot air balloon!

These were all deflated when we arrived at the venue, so it was quite overwhelming when I finally saw the hot air balloons all up! People started to take even more pictures, ang ganda nga namang backdrop! 😍

This year’s festivities showcased 26 colorful hot air balloons from all over the world, featuring a big number of new special-shaped balloons: Happy Heart, Matryoshka Russian Doll, Queen’s Guard, Giant Strawberry, Buddy Balloon, Captain Jack, Princess Nelly, Vostok Balloon, Master Yoda, Morris the Donkey, Bruno the Clown and Pepe the Hedgehog.

I was assigned to Princess Nelly aka the Pink Elephant, and we were even the chosen featured hot air balloon for a morning show!! 

My pilot Sir Peter explained the route and what to expect from the ride. After asking me if it's my first time to ride a hot air balloon, he said that it's also his first.... For the day! Hehehehe.

I am sooo excitedddd! 😁

And with the right direction of wind and blow of more fire, our tiny basket just detached from the ground as we flyyyy hiiiigher and higher! I was holding on to a pole the whole time and did not even dare take out my phone, mwahaha.

Riding a hot air balloon is like living your childhood story book fantasy. Earlier, it kind of reminded me a bit of Pixar's UP because of all the colors and the blue sky as backdrop!!

What to do when you're already up in the air? First of all, Pilot Peter warned me that a hot air balloon flight may take as short as 15 minutes to as long as 2 hours. "You will never know, it depends on the wind!" But I did not realized this at that time-- 48 minutes literally flew when you're there!

How I spent those few minutes of suspension? I took pictures! I answered the shouts and waves from the locals who were all waiting for the first flight of the hot air balloon this year. Pilot Peter was also very informative and entertaining, telling tidbits about navigation and the direction of the wind. It was all amusing and complicated, so I replied with, "There's so much science involved!" Haha! Nakaka bilib guys, coz when you think of it, I was just inside this small basket with a pink balloon and four tanks to keep it up!!

A farmer waving at us, Pilot Peter will wave back and shout GOOD MORNING!

 There's a whole school chanting at us!

Carabaos were jumpy, what are those giant flying objects!? Hahaha.

Families all watching and taking photos from their backyards:

Uniformed houses look like toys from our view point:
Everything from tiny pools to abandoned structures entertained me!

And if you're wondering who took my solo pictures while Pilot Peter was busy with navigation and keeping our balloon floating?

Seph was supposed to ride this, but at the last minute...

We shared Princess Nelly!! Yey for good company while up in the air! :)

Pilot Peter while staring out, taking in the view: "This is why I do this!"
Ahhh to be passionate over something and do it for many years is still the best feeling in the world. :)

Again, I did not even feel that 48 minutes already went by. Like a game, Pilot Peter even asked for our help to spot for the red X mark where all balloons aimed to land (a mini competition among the pilots), and eventually we went down alongside the other deflated hot air balloons:

When I was able to go down from the basket, I saw Seph talking to the friendly locals who were all waiting at the landing site. He treated all of us with taho, and when our new friends left, Seph and I waited inside a 4x4 as a whole team arrived for the quick and neat pack up of the Princess Nelly. Is the experience worth it? I'd say it's a nice big CHECK in my never ending bucket list, and a nice addition to my "future story to tell"! Haha! Seriously, a hot air balloon ride is something you should do at least once in your life! 💛


Btw, it will be nonstop flying till Sunday, and this includes paragliding, skydiving, aerobatic exhibitions, formation flights, balloon bursting competitions and kite flying!

Here's the complete schedule of the Philippine International Hot Air Balloon Fiesta 2018:

If you only plan to stay on-ground, you will still enjoy the fiesta with all the musical and flying shows, and activities such as archery, horseback riding, camel-riding, and animal feeding. Of course, taking OOTDs with the hot air balloons is a cute summer post for the 'gram! 😋

Entrance is at Php 500 each, a percentage of which goes to the PIHABF Foundation Scholarship Fund, granting scholarships to underprivileged but deserving students who want to pursue a career in aviation.

Tickets are available through the Fiesta’s website, Ticketnet outlets, or at the event gates. For more details, visit, follow @philballoonfest on Twitter and Instagram, and like @PIHABF on Facebook.  

Special thanks to Ms. Millet for inviting me and for taking care of us during our short trip! And to Sir Peter of Princess Nelly for the memorable hot air balloon ride! It's now my own version of UP! 

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