It was only seconds before ever so gently, the balloon lifted off the ground. It moved so quietly and slowly that it was only when we saw several inches of ground receding, it dawned that we were ascending. There wasn’t even one little waft of breeze in the early morning air. Complete silence with the exception of the burners firing up occasionally. Pilot, Woot said that Chiang Mai has almost ideal weather conditions for Hot Air Ballooning. He flies passengers daily in the morning before the turbulence begins.
Up, up and away in our beautiful red balloon while the yellow one-passenger balloon slowly ascended in the distance…View image. Sometimes parallel with ours. Other times below us…View image… and finally out of sight. A cacophony of sound from the fields and houses below each time Wout hit the burner. Cows running, flocks of egrets scared by the noise and trying to decide which way to fly…View image, and dogs barking their heads off.
One cow stood stock still in a field, looked up at us and seemed content to enjoy the sight of a balloon floating over it.
We drifted West, North, over the newly flooded rice fields…View image, warehouses, homes…View image, temples and pagodas…View image. The outline of Chiang Mai in the distance, mountains in the mist…View image, locals looking up to wave…View image.
Clever Wout had a camera rigged outside the Hot Air Balloon that took the “official picture”…View image. I’m embarrassed to tell you how long it took before I even noticed the camera suspended in air. Today’s flight covered more distance than usual because there was a lot of wind. A hot air balloon usually covers only around one kilometer/half mile over the hour flight but, Jay (the other passenger), had his handy-dandy GPS with him…View image, and calculated we flew about 7-8 kms/4-5 miles. The locals below were just as excited to see the Hot Air Balloon as we were to be in it. Woot never knows what direction the balloon will head on the air current or land and that makes it an unusual occasion for the locals.