I know the 4th Putrajaya International Hot Air Balloon Fiesta 2012 event happened nearly 2 months ago but I still want to share my hot air balloon ride experience with you guys. Remember my blog post last year and my rants about some miscommunication from the organizer who wasted my precious time? Finally this year I get to ride the Hot Air Balloon. Not just any hot air balloon but the one that takes off from Launching Site A at Monumen Alaf Baru, Precint 2 and lands at another place. Yiiiha!
I was so happy to get the message from @myballoonfiesta few weeks before the event (shows they remember their promise last year) and was informed that my scheduled day is on Friday, March 16th, at Monumen Alaf Baru, Precint 2, Putrajaya. So, in order to NOT repeat last’s years problem, my brother and I arrived at Monumen Alaf Baru at 6.45am even though they said the balloons will only take off at 7.40am. *kiasu mode*
It was an awesome experience to fly with Filip Audenaert, our pilot from Belgium in the Michelin balloon. Filip didn’t talk much but I have a feeling he is a very competitive guy. His balloon was the first to take off that morning because he wants to win the “Hare & Hound” game that goes on every morning throughout the event. How does the “Hare & Hound” game work?
- Pilots must fly to a spot marked “X” at a point after the Putrajaya lake.
- Pilots will have to throw their own marker at the “X” point.
- Marks are given according to the distance of the marker and the “X” point.
Filip said that he won first place the day before, which is the first time they tried the “Hare & Hound” game. So, even though on that day the balloon was quite far from the “X” spot, he still threw his marker so that he can collect the points. At the end of the four-day event, the balloonist that collected highest point in the “Hare & Hound” game will win. Although Filip does not know what the prize is, he still wouldn’t give up.
I managed to take a video of some of our flying moments including when we were so high up (we went as high as 750ft) and also when we were only inches above the lake surface. I felt a tinge bit of fear when we were so close to the water and this was what I said :
Me : Filip, we’re so close to the water. Is this safe?
Filip : Can you swim?
Me : No.
Filip : Uh-ohhh..
LOL! Cheeky pilot.
Filip is a very skilled pilot. He wanted us to see Putrajaya as he sees it. He even pointed out the Prime Minister’s house (which I, as a Malaysian, didn’t even know!). Since pilots can only depend on the wind to manoeuvre the balloon, I am especially glad that Filip is my pilot. I certainly do not want to crash into the trees or something. Even the landing was smooth and easy.
Although we had to wait quite a long while for the pickups to come to us at our landing spot, I was happy to experience this. I wish the ride was longer and the hot air balloon was bigger. Filip says piloting hot air balloons is his full time job and in Belgium, he pilots hot air balloons that can carry 10-12 people at once. The Michelin balloon and all the other hot air balloons at the Putrajaya event can only take 4 people at once.
Unexpectedly, after we have landed, Filip actually handed 2 certificates for my brother and I. I was surprised at this additional goody and was so pleased to receive it. It would be a great reminder of our awesome experience! I hope next year’s Hot Air Balloon Fiesta will open balloon flights to the public. I sure will find my way to the fiesta again then.
There are other activities at the 4th Putrajaya International Hot Air Balloon Fiesta too such as zorbing, helicopter rides, paramotor and so much more. So, if you missed out on this year’s event, make sure you join in on all the fun next year guys!
P/S : Finally met Mye at the fiesta that morning. Hope you had as much fun with the flight as I did sweetie!