[Clark, Pampanga] ~ Love is in the Air and Sea : Philippine International Hot Air Balloon Fiesta (1 of 2)

Not only because it was Valentine’s Day.  – 02.14.15

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Pardon me for the cheesy title but this entry (and the trip) was not intended to be in celebration of Hearts’ Day but simply another weekend of going places together. This time a “lagari” to an odd combo of a festival of everything that flies and a let’s-push-this trip to the beach. 20150214_063342

First the air!

This festival has been running for years and I have always wanted to go. For some reason though, I kept on missing it – finding out about it too late. It was quite stupid (I know) as I should have known when most likely this will happen as this is a yearly event. For this year, I just got lucky that while doing my random browsing at a deal site, I came across a package – which I did not avail, by the way. It was just an FYI of this festival.

It was originally a solo trip (and yes, it did not come to me that it was Valentine’s Day when I got my ticket months back) but Allen’s schedule worked for him that he was able to go. Voila then, an instant date on the 14th! And since we were already somewhere north, it was his suggestion that we go to some beach after the festival. This turned out to be the best plan because we realized a day at the fiesta is too much that we had to be someplace else as early as mid-morning.

After some chaos, we were lucky to be at the festival ground at the right time. Gladly too, there was almost none of the lining up that we were both anticipating. People were there that early but we were able to find a comfortable spot. It was only after an hour though before we found the drive to set up camp. We just sat there first people-watching and eating our breakfast hotdogs (yep, there were just too many hotdog stalls scattered in the venue I couldn’t recall whether we were really hungry or we were just joining the fad :D)

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Tad many early birds

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What separates the moon and her

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This from another angle

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Someone being techy busy

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Family day

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Day officially started with sky divers, one of which was carrying the flag. It was personally an amuse to watch but it was hard to capture in photo (as you can see in below, they look like dots in the sky). What followed was some music which was kind of tribal that I had to endure some minutes of Allen monkey dancing :D. They started inflating the balloons right after – quite subtly that Allen even had to point out to me whenever there was one being prepared for flight.

Before we knew it, there were many but not enough as what i expected. I was a bit disappointed too because I thought they would be afloat for a long time. It happened too fast for us though that we were in some sort of panic taking photos of us with the balloons in the background. It also did not help that the balloons naturally (I think) tend to go in an area farther from where its spot where most people can see. Nonetheless, if only for the festive mood everyone was in just staring at the sky or posing while holding their monopods, it was already an interesting morning.

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How little can they get

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Flag up

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Smartphone overload

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They were building a house

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Apparently a barn

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That evil look

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From this side of town

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Dog : Sun-kiss my ass 😀

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Balloon head

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Distracted by that man on right

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Still distracted. And oh that cute girl

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Look who’s wearing red

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Selfie fail. What is background

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He’s obviously better at this

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Unprepared

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This balloon I just couldn’t say what was

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Decided to come closer but hello, crowd block

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What a look, dog

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Sorry for capturing your couple selfie moment

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Another evil look.

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Crazy

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Couple!

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IMG_9544 Byeeee.

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When most of balloons wandered off somewhere far, I decided I had to force myself to pee. (That was quite a non sequitur but yeah, just telling a story. Too much info even 😀 but might be helpful to those about to visit in the next years ). I thought it would be a hassle if I do it later so had to find courage to take the portalet. It was during my quick walk there that I realized how crowd has increased exponentially since that early morning. It was also only about 8AM but it was starting to get hot. True enough, when I was back at our tent, I was ‘welcomed’ by Allen’s ‘it’s-so-hot’ face.

For almost an hour, we hid from the sun and busied ourselves observing families, mostly kids, around us. It seemed like a Sunday picnic for most – with the adults just lying down, preparing food while the kids immerse in their own worlds. Allen even pointed to me one who was peeing in front of a younger one. Our favorite though is this little bossy man whose ‘camp’ is in front our ours. He just kept on walking around with this bossy aura, occasionally pausing to play with his parents who were equally cool as they were seemingly enjoying their me-time while letting their kid do his whatnot.

There were other activities but we were hardly paying attention similar to most who were either flying their kites or making their rounds at the food stalls. We agreed to stay until we get bored and when we feel there was no longer much to miss. When we started noticing the commentator’s words, that was it for us. We knew it was time for another version of heat by the beach. Little did we know the misadventures in between. That I shall write in my next entry.

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Finding refuge inside the tent

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… and watching this adorable neighbor

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Tantrums

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Stolen family playtime

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VERY CUTE.

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I want more!

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Now a campsite

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Artificial birds

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So this is where they buy those kites

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Stamped

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How We Got There:

Ride a Victory Liner bound for Dau, Pampanga. Go down at Dau Terminal. It’s a common terminal so there are several bus liners there so don’t get overwhelmed.

There’s a tourism office somewhere in the middle which can take you to the festival ground via a shared jeepney for Php70/head.

Others

Make sure to be in the area early in the morning if you want to catch the first batch of balloons. I think they have one in the afternoon or evening. They do release a detailed event calendar to keep one guided. Am not sure whether they still allow the short-time ride but a full ride to one costs Php12,000.

Event is most ideal for families. Personally, I think a lesson on kite-flying could be a good parent-kid bonding.

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