Venue: Monumen Alaf baru in Precinct 2, Putrajaya
Date: 18th -21th March 2010
Time: ~ 7am to ~ 9pm
It was an excitement filled day for me at the Putrajaya International Hot Air Balloon Fiesta. This was my first year being at the carnival. When we arrived at around 9 am the crowd was already huge and it was difficult to find parking. Colourful eye-catching balloons adorned the sky marking the first showcase of the hot air balloons from various participating countries across the globe. Participating countries are Japan, Belgium, Switzerland, New Zealand, South Korea, The Netherlands, the United States, France and Malaysia. Some of the very unique designs include a pair of floating levi's jeans, the Darth Vader of Star Wars as well as the yummy orange fruit shaped balloon.
Showcase of Hot Air Balloon from different countries
Area of the Hot Air Balloon Rides for the Public
Apart from that, there are other ongoing side programmes, such as photography competition for the photography enthusiasts, remote controlled aircraft display, paramotor showcare, helicopter rides, auto show and petting zoo.
Families were seen taking in the sights and some had picnics at the spot. Some preferred to enjoy the view instead on a beautiful Saturday morning.
There was 5 hot air balloon opened to the public for thethered rides that floated 20 m (according to the official site) above ground. We started queing for the tickets at 2.30pm. Although the ticket selling booth only opens at 6pm, there was already a crowd. By 4pm, the amount of people lining up was overwhelming. Tickets were also limited per day.
We took turns queing. I got to walk around the fiesta and took these interesting photos.
Spectators and photography enthusiasts gathered around the Hot Air Balloon area to take photos of unique hot air balloon during the showcase of balloons from participating countries.
Here's a look of the basket before attaching to the parachute
Stainless steel fuel tank wrapped in red insulating covers
Finally, it was our turn after 7 hours (2.30pm - 9.30pm, delayed to 9.30 due to technical difficulties) of painstaking queuing; we got into our hot air balloon basket. It was important to balance the weight of the basket to maintain the hot air balloon at ground level. One in one out, I climbed into the basket as one particiapnt came out while my friend waited to go in as another came out after me. It was hot as the fire was ignited from the burner to induce hot air into the balloon. Nearly burned the head of my tall friend. Just kidding, but the heat felt the greatest for him as he was so close to the fire on top of his head.
As it rises, there was this sudden adrenaline rush. Then, the balloon stopped. We got to experience a bird's eye view. The scenery of Putrajaya at night was breathtaking. Nevertheless, it was too fast. In 10 minutes we were back to ground. Strangely enough, it didnt felt vert high. I feel like as if I was standing from a fifth floor condominium balcony.
Wish we sustained longer in the air. Only regret was there were these strings attached. How I wished that I could cut it and set my balloon free flying higher and higher into the sky.
Anyways, it costs RM 10 for adults and RM 5 for children at two sessions - 8am to 11am and 6pm to 9pm. For those wondering how heavy can the balloon load at any one time, a maximum of 200 kg include the pilot was allowed. So, you can go up as a couple, or a group of three (combination of three girls, or parent with one or two young kids)
For those who missed the boat but still wanted to try out for the rides next year, here are some useful tips:
Normally, hot air balloon enthusiats will start queuing at 5am for the 1st session. The crowd for the 2nd session starts at 2.30pm.
Bring an umbrella, cap, or fan along. Maybe even a portable chair can be handy?
If you missed the first session, the second one is going to be extremely hot. The area for queing was not shaded. By the time we arrived, the tickets for first session were already sold out. We strated queiuing for tickets at 2.30pm and endured a torturous 3 and a half hour wait under the red hot fiery sun. I was pretty lucky tough.. I found a chair!!
Be alert and fast:
There will be two queues, one for the tickets and another for the hot air balloon rides after you bought the tickets. The queue for the hot air balloon ride starts at 6pm. But be elart where the queue starts and you shall start choosing which balloon of the 5 you want to go up in. Remember that the same crowd who bought the ticket, are going for the hot air balloon as well. Or else, suffer the curse of the long queue again!
Beware of night photography!
There were services offered to take photos of you while on the hot air balloon. But they may not be professional photographers although there are in fact using a dslr. I personally had a very bad experience of my first hot air balloon photo. We had paid Rm 25 for our photos taken. Sadly it turned out to be totally black and I meant it literally although it was the best among the 20 pictures taken by the photograher there. We can't see a thing or recognize our faces in the printed 4R photo. Absolutely terrible! Nonetheless, we were cool anyways as it was for charity. Otherwise, the day photography was of acceptable quality.
Do not cut queue or help to cut queue!
We all learnt good manners and civic mindedness in school. While we were queuing, so many had approached us asking for help to buy them one or two tickets. We just couldnt do it. Think about, the rest of the people behind us who endured the hot sun for 4 hours and ended up without tickets. Are we really doing a favour or causing misery to so many others? Tickets are limited per day.
There was this young mother with two kids who had not only cut in once but twice. Once when buying the ticket and second time during the queue for the hot air balloon ride. It cause a commotion among the crowd. Heated arguments broke in. The worst was she insisted she was right in front of her kids, reason being she had asked one of the stranger in the front row to buy her tickets. Likewise, she shall be queuing right behind her ignoring the rest of the crowd. Bad example lady! The authories had to come in to settle the dispute in the end.
Beware of bad weather!
If the weather is not right (raining, going to be heavy rain) maybe you should consider not queuing tickets or even buy them? There are friends of mine who were there, bought the tickets, but don't have the chance to experience the balloon ride as the weather was just bad. Not sure weather they got their money refunded.
Later at night, there was a marching band performance. The highlight of this spectacular event was the special night-glow display where all the balloons glowed like light bulbs, giving a brilliant display of illuminated light in the sky followed.
Highlight of the night, glowing Hot Air Balloons
The night ended with an array of fireworks display.
Amazing fireworks display.