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Friday, February 18, 2011

It’s not the Hindenburg, its the Hot Air Balloon Festival at Clark


Even before the Wright Brothers invented airplanes, man have been obsessed about flying in a balloon-type capsule. The "Aerostat Reveillon" was launched into the air in 1783 by Pilatre de Rozier who decided it was dangerous for him to ride it, so he instead put a duck, a rooster and a sheep as its passenger. The balloon went flying in the air for 15 minutes before it crashed back down to the ground. The animals went unscathed but with bit of shock. 

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The "Hindenburg" wasn't classified as a hot air balloon because it uses Hydrogen to make it lift into the air. But its the first thing that comes to mind when someone mentions flying balloons. I first saw the footage of the "Hindenburg" disaster when I was in elementary one day after school when I was watching a documentary on TV. The Hindenburg was a passenger airship which caught fire and exploded as it was making its landing in New York in 1937.  Prior to the tragedy, it has made 10 successful voyage from America to Europe and back. 

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The whole tragedy was captured on news reel accompanied by the famous commentary by Herbert Morrison , it has since became one of the most played audio/video reporting in history as Morrison, with his shaking voice and emotionally charged commentary tried to describe the ensuing inferno happening on the Hindenburg - which took the lives of 35 people.

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The commentary went on as "Oh, the humanity! And all the passengers, screaming around here. I told you; it-I can't even talk to people, their friends are out there! ah! It's......it...it's a...ah!...I..." - Herbert Morrison.

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After the Hindenburg tragedy, the use of hydrogen was replaced by helium and after that Balloon flying re-appeared and gained popularity when the 'Double Eagle II' successfully crossed the Atlantic in 1978, thus becoming the first balloon to achieve such a feat. Soon, other adventurers which include British billionaire entrepreneur Richard Branson and Per Lindstrand became the first to cross the Atlantic aboard a "Hot Air Balloon" instead of a helium filled balloon in 1987.

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When man have realized the safety of hot air balloon even in long haul ass flights, it even reached another level of popularity reaching the Philippines in the mid 1990's when the first Hot Air Balloon Festival was held at Clark field in Pampanga.

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Last week, I was able to attend the 16th Hot Air Balloon Festival at Clark for the first time and I found myself staring up at the sky at the different colorful hot air balloons. It was a sight to behold, gone are the shock of the Hindenburg image that I saw when I was young.

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Others flew in the sky shaped like ovals while others shaped like a house, a mushroom, a beer keg and even a snowman and a Darth Vader. Many people started to line up on the fence surrounding the field. We positioned ourselves near the fence to get a good look at the hot air balloons being set up for their flight in the air.

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We bought tickets priced at 150.00 pesos to get inside where food stalls and other exhibits are located. Most of the people went there with their families, some pitched tents in the vast field planning to stay until the night to witness the hot air balloons parading in the dark sky with only its lights illuminating it. I missed that one since we left just after lunch time and only arrived early dusk of that day.

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I went with my friends Cai, Josh and Darwin and Cai's friend from work. I wasn't supposed to come since I came tired from Saturday but decided at the last minute to board a Dau bound bus in Cubao at the wee hours of Sunday and I was glad I did because I really enjoyed that Sunday seeing all those Hot Air Balloons and wondering what it was like being on it up there in the sky. 

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I had three things on my bucket list that Sunday, one is to ride a hot air balloon, two is to experience sky diving and three is to fly a small plane.  To echo Morrison's "Oh the Humanity" commentary on the Hindenburg disaster, I'll say it with a different meaning this time. "Oh the humanity" has advanced technology far and wide with complex theories on how each things works, but the best thing about those hot air balloons flying over Clark field that day, it isn't really perplexing at they seem, simple things can make a thing fly up in the air as simple as heating it up.

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And simple things like traveling and experiencing new things is what makes my zest for life fly high.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Pyrolympics at the Mall of Asia


It was my first time to witness then Pyro Olympics at the Mall of Asia last Saturday. I've heard a lot about it but was only able to come after an invite from a fellow blogger Melo came about. I went with other travel bloggers who've I've met previously from some trips and gatherings in the past like Patricia, Cedric, Angel and Gael the "Pinay Solo Backpacker". We were given VIP tickets, yeah to think when someone mentions "VIP" all I could imagine was a mirror filled room, with two female dancers shaking their booty and - but that was a different kind of VIP. The ones given to us was a free set of dinner plus a great seat in front of the Music Hall of Mall of Asia that gave us a better view of the fireworks display that night.

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The night's participants were the countries of South Korea and Spain. Good thing it wasn't North Korea or they'd probably launch nuclear fireworks. South Korea kicked off the festivities by launching into the air a wide array of fireworks that scattered in the sky upon detonation, massive trails of lights that left the dark sky with a myriad of painting-like strokes as if coming from the brushes of the late pop-art  genius Andy Warhol.

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The fireworks went on full display and I found myself clicking away to take photographs but my not so steady hands proved to be a disappointment as  most of the shots I took ended up blurry and lacking fine quality. Anyway, it was a sight to behold as I've to momentarily forget that fireworks do contribute to global warming hehe. Not to be a killjoy I set that thought aside and hope that we could still continue offsetting whatever harm it may cause to the atmosphere. It might be a bit of a bad news to the environment, but it was surely a blast for the people who went at Mall of Asia to witness the spectacle. It was a great bonding moment wherein people sat on the chairs, some on the grounds over their picnic cloth and  I saw many kids ending up delighted to no end. Priceless! seeing kids faces lit up at the sight of these fireworks. 

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Next up was Spain, which to my recollection displayed the better set of fireworks among the two countries. Guess, they're the team to beat in the next round. Their set was more explosive and features more out of the ordinary fireworks formation. I saw circles and other shapes accompanied by a more assorted colors that matches with the beat of their musical score.

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The whole thing lasted a couple of hours and it was over-all a great idea to spend one's Saturday plus I got to bond with my fellow bloggers right after and end up talking about the time frame of when we're all going to quit our jobs and just spend the rest of our days traveling and working odd online jobs to support our passion. Cedric says in 5 years time all of us will be totally living the "Nomadic Lifestyle" which, crossing my fingers would become a reality.

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I can't remember the last time I found myself at Mall of Asia. Located beside the Manila Bay, I was transfixed at its surroundings and thought to myself, it aint such a bad thing to hang out in this mall. Now I know why James of JourneyingJames.com considers this as his second home. 

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In Mall of Asia, there's awesome fireworks and the best of em all, there's lots of beautiful and gorgeous ladies around. :)

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Stake-out shot of a pretty girl from afar.

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 I expect to come back on March 12, 2010 as this year's Pyro Olympics will run from February 12 to March 12, 2011.

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Cedric, Patricia, Angel, Gael and Me