On the road
Gates open at 5:30 in the morning, while the first flight of the hot air balloons for the day will be at 6:30AM. We woke up at 2:00AM and by 3:00AM we were already on the road backpacker style. It was really early, I thought we had enough travel time to make it to the first balloon flight. But of course, at 4:30AM, it was already traffic in the express way. How can there be no traffic at 4 in the morning, right? To our luck, the bus we we're riding on got held up by a traffic enforcer just as we we're about to exit a toll. Our driver really sucked at negotiations, he just stayed there in his seat cursing the officer outside, unwilling to surrender his license. Big thanks to that one passenger that helped and convinced the driver talk to the officer to let us go and out bus driver got a ticket instead.
8:00AM. We arrived at a very very bad time. Despite the fact that we were not able to witness the first flight of the hot air balloons, we entered the Freeport while everyone who came only for the damn balloons were already exiting the grounds. Imagine the hassle, the heat of the sun and the crowd of people. The organizers did a really crappy job at the gates. I saw two gates, and people are coming in and out on only one gate. It made a very long line, huge traffic of people, and a very angry crowd to that too. At 9:30AM we finally got inside and set our camp.
But worry not, you're not going to die of boredom inside while you wait for the balloons to fly. There were plenty of activities for us to enjoy. There's paragliding, aircraft flights, and skydiving! But I have to tell you, it is not cheap. We didn't try any of those, it was way out of our budget! Haha. But I definitely enjoyed myself watching people do the activities themselves.
There are also booths inside where you can play games and win prizes! That we participated in. I won a shirt from the Manila Bulletin booth. There are also lot of food stalls there so don't you worry about your hunger fam, food is everywhere. There's also fast food chain stalls inside, like Jollibee, KFC, Bon Chon, Shakeys, and many more. So you have a wide selection of food. I packed ourselves something for lunch, but we ate/bought a lot of food inside as well. Especially cold drinks, because it was scorching in there!
We mostly stayed in the tent because of the heat. Eventually we got bored and obviously we had nothing better to do, so we bought a kite and flew one along with everybody else. The kite costs P80 and up depending on the design. There are various designs to choose from! From a plain old kites, cartoon characters, birds, and planes.
As soon as it got cloudy, we started to watch the event shows. It inlcudes Aerobatic Exhibitions, Balloon Bursting, Formation Flyung, Gliding and Microlight & Ultralight Flying. Balloon Bursting was my favorite! Criteria is, someone from the ground will release a balloon and the one's riding an aircraft needs to pop it with the tip of it's phalange* . And there was an event where a helicopter is racing an SUV, which is always won by the SUV btw. What I was excited about was the Drift event. I'm a huge Fast & Furious fan so watching live drifting excites me! Too bad they had to perform on a runway only, it would have been so cool if they had like a track or something! They chose about 10 lucky winners to ride shotgun with the drifters, they we're so lucky! :)
At 5:30PM, the winds were still strong. We had to wait until the wind rate is low before they blow up the balloons. The hot air balloon show started at 7:30 in the evening and it was fantastic, I am just out of words. I don't know if it was the same with the morning flight, but I prefer the one at night. Though I didn't think so because it kinda looked like a light show in the evening! Although they did not actually flew them up in the air, they just blew them up. It was amazing all the same, it was quite the sight!
- Go as early as you can. We left at 3AM but it was still not enough. It may be faster if you're not commuting. Still, the earlier the better.
- Do not wear white anything. It's like a dessert in there, so expect to get a bit dirty. I wore a white sneakers and a white shirt. My shoes were almost brown when I got home.
- It is super hot out there, so bring or be ready for any kind of refreshments. Bring sunblock and an umbrella!
- Manila Water's booth was free drinking water for everyone. Plus it's cold too!
- Bring a face mask. It's sandy, so expect a lot of dust around.
- Ladies, there are only portable comfort rooms. Ya'll need to bring lot of tissues and wipes if you'll ever need to pee. Be brave, haha.
Most of the people said that it was not worth it to go to the said event but if you love like aircrafts and flying, it's going to be worth it. We truly enjoyed ourselves. If you have enough money, you can try their activities and I'm sure you're going to love it. It's not going to be the last for the Philippine International Hot Air Balloon Fiesta (PIHABF), they announced that we'll definitely see them again next year! I will probably go back, but just to take photos of the first balloon flights because revenge.
Thank you all for reading! How about you, are you planning to go on the next PIHABF? Or we're you able to experience the fun already? Tell me about it on the comment box below :)