Riding a hot air balloon has been on my bucket list. The good news is that I do not have to travel all the way to Turkey to ride one! There is no better way to enjoy the breathtaking panoramic view of Chiang Mai than from the vantage point of a hot air balloon. Without have a second thought, I booked the flight with Balloon Adventure Thailand. Advanced booking is preferred especially during the Chiang Mai winter season in December. The flight booking includes a 2 way transfer from hotel to the launch site at Horizon Village & Resort. The pick up can be as early as 5.30am to bring you to the launch site.
Lucky for me, I am staying at Horizon Village & Resort. The launch site is just right infront of my room. At 6.30am, the crew has started to prepare the balloon for the flight.
There are only 2 flights per day. One basket can hold up to 6 person but most of the time there will be 1 pilot and 4 passengers. You may book the whole balloon for special occasion such as engagement or anniversary.
Refreshments were served while waiting for the balloon to be ready.
The first flight up.
Preparing for the next balloon. Once the envelope (or rather balloon) is being laid out. The crew will inflate the balloon with cold air using a powerful fan before heating using the burner flame.
While the fan fills the envelope with cold-air, another member of the crew fix the parachute valve at the top of the balloon and maintains the crown line tensed in order to allow a smooth and controlled inflation.
The pilot will then turn on the burner and gradually the balloon will rise.
Once ready to fly, Karthik the Pilot for this flight, explain the safety measures that we should observed at all times. He is only in the early 20s and already holding on to a flying license!
Few minutes later, voila! we are up in the sky.
Fly over the countryside and witness a breathtaking sunrise with the backdrop of mountains & terraced rice paddies. Truly, the main highlights of my Chiang Mai trip.
Good Morning, Chiang Mai!
Picturesque view of sunrise in Chiang Mai from above. Occasionally the tranquil morning was broken by the burner as Karthik propelled the hot air up into the balloon.
Worthwhile view of the neighborhood.
The wind direction drift the balloon to an undetermined destination. If you are wondering why balloon flights take place in the early morning; Balloons need cool and stable conditions in order operate safely & the period at sunrise is the most suitable.
Reflection of the balloon.
Do balloons has a specific landing site? In fact, the landing site is a mystery. After an hour of flight, the pilot will chose an accessible area for the rescue vehicle which is constantly looking after the balloon direction. According to Karthik, the best landing site is a flat surface without any obstacles. My best bet; the empty rice field.
When the balloon about the hit the ground, you are required to bend your knees to absorb the impact but Karthik made it a smooth landing. I got the chance to pull the balloon while waiting for the ground crew to arrived.
If site is not favourable for packing, the ground crew pulls it along the ground to a better spot.
The ground crew will first set the ground tarp to protect the balloon from wear and tear. The pilot will then open the parachute valve to let the air escape out from the top of the balloon. Thereafter, they pull the envelope over onto the tarp.
Once the envelope is down on the ground, the crew begin pushing the air out and packed it into the stuff sack.
With the pilot of the day.
At the end of the journey, a common tradition among balloonists is to have a champagne toast upon landing followed by issuing of flight certificate. If you don’t drink, you can always request for a non alcoholic sparkling drink.
I am proud to say; One more off the bucket list.
Chiang Mai Travel Series | lonelytravelog.com