The trickiest part of Hot Air Balloon rides involves finding a good landing spot (video). The local villagers had already begun flooding and irrigating the rice fields and Woot kept scanning the countryside until he found, what he thought, was the best place available. Down so very smoothly to land on the ground without a bump but with a problem instead. A locked gate surrounded the property and the chase crew couldn’t get into the field to pack up the balloon and big basket. Nothing for it but to take off again and land a short distance away on a small patch of land near the road close to shrubs and buildings. This landing was a little rougher but even so, the basket never tipped over (one of my worries was being thrown out of the basket). Down on land, we waited while the crew came running and secured the basket before climbing out one by one.
This long-awaited adventure was incredible. So much fun, and an experience that Travels With Sheila is anxious to repeat if money doesn’t get in the way. Hot air balloon rides anywhere in the world are expensive. If we ever get to the Serengeti for the annual Wildebeest migration, this is going to be a “must do” no matter what the cost is. Can you imagine floating above approximately 1.8 million Wildebeests? Mind boggling…
Bubbling over with the thrill of the ride, breakfast was served in the field. Sandwiches, fruit, cakes and then came even more “Bubbly.” Wout…View image… told us the true story about the origins of ballooning before popping open a bottle of champagne. (video below)
The brothers, Montgolfier, are credited with building the first hot air balloon used to carry human passengers. They experimented with animals and unmanned balloons before bringing this novel way of flying to King Louis XVI. King Louis XVI had originally decreed that the Montgolfiers could use condemned criminals as human passengers. After all, what did they have to lose? They were condemned to death and if they died in the hot air balloon, the King certainly didn’t care… Instead of the criminals, Jean-Francois Pilatre de Rozier and Francois d’Arlandes petitioned King Louis XVI for the honor which he granted. A successful flight on November 21, 1783, no one died, and there you have it. Hot air ballooning in France is still referred to as Montgolfier, not a hot air balloon.
With this story over, Wout christened us with a little champagne on the head and named Steve and I the Duke and Duchess of…whatever spot we had landed today (and, yes, no objection to being called Duchess Sheila), before presenting the four of us with certificates certifying the flight and attesting to the fact, we had landed safely.
Chit chat in the field, exchanged e-mail addresses and headed back to Chiang Mai. Why do all the good things in life pass by in a flash?
Save up to 40% off last minute fares with low Hotwire Hot-Rates!