The long weekend that we had been waiting for finally arrived. Two festivals, two cities, no expectations, what could go wrong with that?
Back in February, me and my friends originally planned to just go up north to Baguio for the Panagbenga Festival, but somewhere along the way, we decided to check out the Hot Air Balloon Fiesta at Clark, Pampanga as well.
We were in luck, because although the weather forecast was more chances of rainfall over the latter part of the week, it didn’t during the time of the event. Prayers do work if you sincerely mean them.
Me and one of my two friends headed off first. We left Manila at roughly 3:30 am and went straight ahead to the venue with our heavy backpacks for the 4-day off. Finding ourselves the best view was tricky one, because we wanted to get a good view of all the balloons. At around 5:30 am, participants started to inflate their balloons. Just in time I took out my camera, the most unexpectedly stupid thing happened: there was no SD card. Well, did I say perfect? Almost. My camera phone had to do the trick for the time being while I wait for my other friend’s arrival later in the afternoon.
It was pretty amazing to see the balloons inflate here and there. Everyone was excited! Eye-candies such as a bouquet of tulips, the sun-smiley, the fire truck, the upside-down man, and the other typical yet colorful balloons started to grow bigger and bigger.
At around 7am, they flew one by one… that was the loveliest part! Seeing them from eye level until they go up above your head was really exciting. We waved and even jumped out of excitement as the balloons pass over our heads! Seeing them wave back at us gave us a more childish behavior. It was fun and funny both at the same time.
And here’s everyone’s favorite, the fire truck! You could just imagine how everyone went crazy when this baby flew!
Some of the favorites weren’t able to fly such as the sun-smiley and the bouquet of tulips. It was all good, because as per schedule, there would be a “fly in” before the sun sets.
It was gonna be a long, dusty day and taking photos was part of the deal to let time pass by. Here’s Sheri and myself for the photo op.
There wasn’t really much to do after after the balloons flew away, except to go to the nearby mall or hangout inside the venue proper. It was hot and dusty and the succeeding activities weren’t that exciting. They were mostly paragliding exhibitions, jet flying tricks, and parachute competitions. Kite flying and people watching are among other things that could be done in the venue.
These para-gliders were the “sign” that the day was about to conclude and that the hot air balloon that flew early in the morning are about to come back.
It was only during this time of the day that my other friend, Kathy arrived. There were a few balloons that were inflated and attempted to fly out again, however, it failed again.
After a whole day of waiting for the conclusion of the event, everyone got excited upon seeing a balloon flying back in. However, this was the only balloon that made it due to the inevitable problems/delay that the rest of the balloons encountered somewhere along the way. It was getting dark as well and they decided to conclude the event by 6 pm.
The following day, Kathy and I decided to watch the hot air balloons againdeparting for our Baguio trip before lunch. Upon seeing a balloon depart, we bought our tickets but to our dismay, only a few were trying to inflate because of the unpleasant rainy weather.
This was being inflated when we arrived. We waited for this balloon (from Sweden which I called the “Swedish House Mafia”) to fly but they eventually ran out of gas and stopped inflating it.
Just when we were leaving, the yellow balloon quickly inflated and immediately flew away. We were surprised and excited. But, it was time to go.
Here are your hopefuls: myself and Kathy.
This 2013, the Hot Air Balloon Fiesta opened on the 3rd week of February (21-24th). Years before that, it was usually the Valentine’s week. It was a perfect getaway for us because it was the same week as the Panagbenga Festival in Baguio City which is just hours away from Clark, Pampanga. 😉
So now, here are a few tips for the day based on my experience:
1. Make sure you have a complete gear for taking photos: camera with charged battery and an SD card.
2. Arrive early. Atleast by 5 am if you want to witness the balloons being inflated and catch them fly up and away.
3. Wear tons of sunblock. It is an open area and the sun rays are pretty aggressive when it comes to giving you a tan.
4. Bring a change of clothes, it could get hot, sweaty, and dusty for a whole day affair.
5. Pray really hard for a pleasant weather. The event could be cancelled if it risks the safety of the balloons flying. Tickets are not refundable.
1. Entrance (by 2013) is Php 250/day. It could be bought at the venue or beforehand as well.
2. Snacks are allowed, but you could bring food at the venue as well.
3. There’s usually an after event concert/party on weekends.
There are several ways going to the Venue (Clark Field, Pamapanga). For those commuters out there, there are bus companies that could take you to the nearest bus terminal in Clark.
1. Take the bus from Cubao to Dau. Fare as of May 2013 is Php 139, one way. It is roughly a 1.5 hour ride from Cubao to Dau. The trip interval for Dagupan Bus Co. is every 15 minutes. For Victory Liner, it is hourly. (There are also trips coming from Pasay, Lawton in Manila, and Espanya).
2. At Dau Terminal, go out of the terminal and walk towards your left. You’ll pass by a series of fast food chains (Jollibee, KFC). Once you reach the intersection, cross towards the other side of the street.
3. Ride a jeep to SM Clark.
4. At SM Clark, ride a jeep to Clark Field.
5. Ask the driver to drop you at the venue for the hot air balloon fiesta, and they FOR SURE will drop you there to the nearest stop. 😉
If you have your own ride, better carpool to minimize your carbon footprint, and of course, for a cheaper and fun ride with friends!
For more info, visit the following sites:
From a dusty yet fun day, peace out and see you on my next blog post about our trip to Baguio and the Panagbenga Festival.
**Want to read more about other festivities? Read other posts on Festivals that might interest you**