14th Hot Air Balloon Festival

Monday, February 16, 2009

Spent a great couple of days in Clark Airfield, Pampanga, watching the 14th Hot Air Balloon Festival and airshow – and having a third honeymoon on the side.  As seems usual with our travels, Cat and I don’t have a single picture together.  Again.  But we did get great weather and some very nice and colorful subjects, thanks to DPP and Caltex.  (And thanks to TechTrends for my new memory cards).


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Getting passes for Feb 12, the first day of the festival, proved to be a mixed blessing – though in hindsight, much more on the positive than otherwise.  On the downside, glitches led to the delay of the morning inflation and liftoff of the balloons, so I wasn’t able to get a lot of the dramatic fire shots I wanted.  On the upside, it seems we got the best weather of the four days of the festival.  Bright and clear – and hot! If it weren’t for my lactose intolerance I’m sure I could’ve eaten my way through half a gallon of ice cream by myself.  From shots posted by later photogs, the weekends looked badly overcast.

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This was my first time to see hot air balloons firsthand, and they were impressive.  You don’t realize how big they are until you get close to one. And they look so serene lifting off, reminding me of luminous deep sea jellyfish – but in the sky.  Also reminiscent of sea life were the many advanced kites dancing above the field the whole day, their bright colors against the blue making them like reef fish in the sea.  The commonest design also made me think of a stingray that got too friendly with an angelfish, and the consequences thereof:



The almost uniform blue of the sky also revealed something irritating: I have dust on my sensor.  Grm!

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There were also skydiving exhibitions at intervals throughout the day, and in the late afternoon the powergliders went up for a jaunt.  The `chutes look great when backlighted, so it was a matter of chasing around the field to get a good angle with the sun shining through the fabric.


With our passes for Thursday morning, and knowing we had to be at the site by 4am, Cat and I opted to leave Manila Wednesday morning and spend the afternoon and evening lazing around, rather than do an evening trip and arrive exhausted.  As it turned out, this was exactly the right thing to do as we shot the whole day.

We stayed at the Holiday Inn, inside the Mimosa Country Club.  The room was nice and comfy, and the food at the Mequeni Restaurant was really good – specially after a session of ping pong and swimming.  I of course had to order Sisig, just to taste it the way it was cooked in its home province, while Cat went for a Seafood Risotto that turned out just right.  My only beef with the hotel: apparently they’d just installed new carpeting, and for some strange reason the drying glue had the smell of old socks.  Or as Cat says, kachichas!  (New word for me!)

Also intriguing, though we didn’t get to try it, was the new SCTEX highway and its quick access to Subic.  Specially after all those kites made me think of reef fish and diving.  Wish we’d had the time do do a Subic side trip for another day or two.  And for a visit to Aling Lucing’s for her legendary sisig …