Thailand International balloon festival

Kids as everywhere look on as their parents do the work
Fisherman on flooded lake
Welcome large field on fast flight

While we can only see a few meters skywards in freezing fog our colleagues are basking in Thailand’s clear sunny heat. Early December is the traditional slot in the hot air ballooning calendar for their international meet see www.thailandadventuresports.com

 Most major ballooning nations are represented including America, Australia and the other Europeans but the largest contingent are invariably from the UK. Probably because the balloonist in the organizing team is expectorate English.

 I was too busy with http://www.southdownsballooning.co.uk to go. But did absorb the delights of this event in 2007. Amazingly friendly crowds and apparently open people.

 Hard to describe how comfortable you can feel in Thailand. Guess from the affinity of the gap year kids with this place I may be the last to know. Perhaps some examples will help:

 Finished our first balloon ride in what looked like a dry paddy field. Within minutes the whole village has turned out. Don’t know much about rice and there are green shoots sprouting out from the mounds. Using what probably appeared to them to be hilarious sign language I ask if we have caused damage to their food. Through the same medium they replied “we are not cows. We don’t eat grass”.

 Fast evening balloon flight into required, welcoming open fields. The other pilots recognize the opportunity and follow us in. Farmer and his family cooking over their open fire are enthralled by the colours, sounds and commotion. All moon shaped smiles and glittering eyes until one over enthusiastic retrieve driver does not see a flimsy fence and drive straight through it tearing up half the compound. Suddenly the poor guy’s world appears to collapse around him. A quick thinking balloon pilot named Mark hands over what to us is a couple of quid and again we are treated to angelic smiles.

 A morning flight with a guest Banker from Bangkok over the flooded edge of the lake. I wanted to know what fish the locals were catching so asked “what are they fishing for”. He replied in far better English “for subsistence”.

 People, foliage and food I will take a hot air balloon back there some day, probably soon.

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