Posted in Exploring Chiang Mai, Exploring Thailand

Thailand’s International balloon festival!

Hot air balloons are fascinating aren’t they? I loved growing up as a child and gazing at hot air balloons in the sky. I’d always dreamt of going on one but being terrified of heights, never thought I would. My parents surprised me on my 16th birthday with a balloon flight and it was one of the best experiences I’ve had! Strangely, looking down out of the hot air balloon didn’t feel like we were high, it was picturesque to say the least!

When I heard about the International balloon festival arriving in Chiang Mai where I live, we just had to go and take a look!  Getting up really early, we drove in the dark to Payap University where the two day event was taking place. Arriving at 6am, we were amazed to see around a dozen hot air balloons being blown up, it was lovely and hot surrounded by the flames from the balloons. Expats, locals and tourists gathered for the mass balloon release at sunrise. It was an amazing thing to see!

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Preparing for the mass launch at 6am
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Mass balloon launch

After the launch, it was time for the kids to have some fun. Hot air balloons with all different shapes and sizes started to arrive, one shaped as an elephant, another as a fox and a tiny rainbow coloured one too! The owner of the fox balloon was playing with all the kids at the event, chasing them with the fox. It was lovely to see!

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Character balloons!

The event continued throughout the day, but we decided to go home and return in the evening. Arriving at 8 o’clock we gazed around the numerous food stalls set up by different hotels in Chiang Mai. Sampling the food and taking a walk, we were soon surrounded by kids we teach. Chiang Mai is relatively small so at any event in the city, your bound to see some of the kids and other teachers too! It’s lovely to be spotted out and parents can’t wait to take a photo of their children and their teachers together!

At the end of the night, it was time for the Lanna orchestra to perform with the huge hot air balloons joining in with the performance. Positioning ourselves on the floor in the centre of the action, surrounded by mosquitoes, we watched an amazing performance. Some of the musicians were playing along inside the various hot air balloons and the balloons lit up in time to the music. Lee, my boyfriend, even managed to skype his brother in England and show him how amazing it was! There were even fireworks at the end to add an extra surprise to the night. It was an experience I will never forget and definitely worth attending if you’re ever in Chiang Mai when the International balloon festival arrives.

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