Rewind 2010: Â I attended the Hot Air Balloon Festival in Clark, Pampanga with blogger friends. I was the only girl in the group and we’re all first-timers. All we were warned about is that the festival can be crowded, we might ran out of tickets and there’s a big possibility that we’ll have a hard time leaving Clark since people can be pushy and on the rush to get out of Pampanga ASAP.
We’re happy to take lots of pictures and even recorded some videos. Since we were left with no choice, we stayed the whole day and witnessed the event that fateful Saturday. My friend Winston even won in a photo contest beating the ‘professionals’. I’m so proud of him. It simply shows that the ability to take a snapshot on the most genuine moments wins!
It’s been three years since I set my foot on the Hot Air Balloon Festival grounds. Late last year, I received an invitation from Byaheng Victory, a collaborative travel project between Travel Factor and Victory Liner and I was asked to choose from their destinations. I didn’t reply right away, but I wanted to take the Tuguegarao-Kalinga trip. One time, my grandfather told me that he wants to attend the Hot Air Balloon Festival. Hmmm…
One of the advantages of availing the tour package from Byaheng Victory is that you don’t need to worry about the transportation before and after the event. You get to see the program highlights in the morning and leave Clark before lunch time.
I went to the Byaheng VictoryÂ website to register a trip for my lolo. I’m glad that they allow Paypal payments online. Booking a trip is as easy as 1, 2, 3! I received a confirmation code on my email afterwards. The Hot Air Balloon package is Php950 per passenger which includes transportation fees, ids, festival pass and travel insurance. No need to worry much!
My lolo and I arrived at the Victory Liner Cubao station at 1:30AM (too early for the calltime lol). At 2:30AM, we met Mark and Leyna, the designated tour guides for the trip. Byaheng Victory booked two tourist buses for the Hot Air Balloon event alone. The observant in me can’t help but look around. Some passengers were waiting for the Baguio trips (Panagbenga Festival) while I got a bit surprised upon seeing the jampacked Dagupan-bound bus. Some passengers were on standing position already! Perhaps at least 1/4 of the bus passengers for that trip are bound for Dau and will take the jeep trip to Clark base.
On our bus alone, I saw a number of families, lovers and group of friends. It’s pretty exciting to go on a tour bus trip with my Lolo Peping. I am not used to it, to be honest. He usually drives for the family and he loves long roadtrips. I often go with him on bus trips to Dagupan though. Availing a tour package with an older family members is different. I am excited yet a bit worried at the same time.
The organizers launched a small game while we’re on our way to Clark. Five Sanuk neck pillows were given away. Too bad I didn’t win one 0_0.
I tried to sleep, but I couldn’t. We were warned beforehand that the distance of the drop-off/parking lot area is quite far compared to the previous years. Attendees need to walk approximately 200 to 300 meters to the event area. We were also advised to bring hats, scarf and mats.
We arrived at around 4:10 AM. Still dark. I kept my eye on my lolo because there were not enough lights on some parts of the walkway. It’s funny to think that when I was a little girl, he is the one looking after me. Now, it’s my turn to guide him.
Lolo and I settled in an area that is a bit near the exhibition area. We placed the mats right away and seated comfortably. I should’ve brought a small chair or stool for him. The hungry girl that I am, I went to the hotdog stand right away. Hotdog sticks served as our early breakfast. We need some energy once the sun is up!
Loved the cool weather that morning. Some attendees were setting up their tents, some were just like us who brought mats. We were surrounded mostly by families who even brought some home-cooked meals. This is one big family picnic day!
The 18th Hot Air Balloon Fiesta theme – A Weekend of Everything that Flies. If I remember it right, there were 31 giant balloon participants from different parts of the world. My top 3 favorites are the Tulips, Starship and Upside Down Man.
All the giant balloons took off except for the Pink Giant Elephant. He is one lazy Belgian lol. Too bad he failed to fly and join his ‘friends’ up in the air. Some were saying that it is one of the cutest balloons this year.
I also managed to record a few clips. Sorry for the low quality of pictures and videos! I still need to get a new camera. The most important is I remember this event clearly 🙂
It is already past 8AM and the Pink Belgian Elephant Balloon is still on the ground. Time’s up!
Hotdog stalls must’ve made thousands of pesos or even millions with the high demand during the Hot Air Balloon Weekend. I should’ve hoarded a lot of hotdogs early on.
I asked permission if I can roam around to look for food (I am always hungry. Sorry about it!)I then saw a strip of restaurants in one side. There’s JT’s Manukan, Mang Inasal, McDonald’s, Chowking and so on. I end up purchasing food from a stall that offers breakfast meals.
I went back to our pwesto at the right time since the Breitling Jets Show is about to start. I am thrilled watching the choreography and at the back of my mind, I was thinking it takes a lot of strength and perseverance to be control whatever the pilots are controlling. The crowd were really entertained as the jets form several formations. It’s like you’re playing a video game. There were moments wherein we all feel the jets will collide or something. Woah, galing!
We didn’t bring any umbrella and the Breitling Jets Show ended at 9:30AM. My lolo and I decided to go back to the parking lot and wait for the other tourists on the bus. Again, we did a 200-300 walkathon. This time, under the sun!
On our way out of the venue, some visitors were still coming in. When we arrived at our designated bus, some of our tour bus mates were there already. Time to eat my packed Tocilog!
The rest of our tour mates arrived shortly. By 10:30AM, we’re already on our way back to Manila. Looking back in 2010, me and my opted to stay the whole day due to the heavy number of guests coming in and out of Clark. Now, I appreciate the comfort of going in and out of Clark on the peak of the Hot Air Balloon Fiesta with less hassle.
The walking is quite tiring, but we definitely had fun watching the giant balloons fly and the jet exhibition. Lolo is an aviation fan and I do think he had a great time! Solo and trips with friends is good, but you must also travel with the family 😀