So I always hear about the hot air balloon fiesta that takes place annually in Putrajaya. Of all the many years it has been held, I had only been there once, and even then all I did was just stand afar and take photos of the hot air balloons in the middle of the day in the hot sun, so that wasn’t much fun.
This time, for the first time, the My Balloon Fiesta decided to have its festival outside Putrajaya — in Desa Parkcity, which is really much nearer for me to travel to!
This year, the My Balloon Fiesta was held over the weekend from 10th to 12th March 2017 (Friday to Sunday).
General admission to the evening session, where one can watch the evening balloon display and night glow show ranged between RM16-30 per adult and RM11-20 per child, depending on when you purchased your ticket:
And this time, I decided that it’s time I lived a little. I managed to convince my friend Chooi Ling to join me on a tethered balloon ride.
To go on the tethered balloon ride, we had to buy a My Balloon Club ticket at RM300 (not including online payment processing fees). It may sound pricey, but it wasn’t too bad, when you look at what you would be getting, which would include:
- One complimentary tethered hot air balloon ride
- One complimentary general admission ticket (to the evening session on the same day)
- Gourmet buffet breakfast
- Live jazz performance
I have to admit though, a tethered balloon ride does sound a little lame, for an adrenaline junkie like me. Tethered means that it would be tied down to the ground, and typically only goes up about 50-80 feet. That’s about 5-8 storeys high.
But I have never been on a hot air balloon, and now is a good time as any to give it a try.
And it was only after I read the email that they sent to us with the itinerary and ticket that I realised that there were free flying hot air balloon rides available in Putrajaya. Darn! Oh well, I already paid for this ticket, so I might as well start with a tethered balloon ride first, just so I can say that I have been up in one.
Hot air balloons were only allowed to go up early morning or late evening, and in this case, My Balloon Club had chosen the morning time for the hot air balloon rides.
Why are hot air balloons only allowed to go up early morning or late evening? Here is what Google says. Someday I will give a clearer explanation on my PhysicsRox website.
LET’S GO UP ON A HOT AIR BALLOON
Chooi Ling and I had signed up for the ride on Saturday morning, 11th March 2017. The suggested itinerary we received via email advised us to arrive by 7:30am, but we got there about 8am. There was no strict timing actually… people were trickling in at different hours, and we had to take turns to go up on the hot air balloon anyway.
Parking was free at the Arcadia Mall, just for the My Balloon Fiesta. It was just across the road from the entrance to the fiesta. We walked in and redeemed our online tickets, getting a wristband and hot air balloon ride vouchers (we only get ONE ride each).
When we walked into the fiesta zone, none of the stalls were opened yet, of course. Only the field was teeming with people – the My Balloon Club members, who were there for the breakfast and the hot air balloon ride. The field was quite muddy due to the rain the day before, and the organisers had placed walkways of wood and/or tarpaulin to make it easier and safer for us to walk.
There were only three hot air balloons there, and not very attractive ones… they were there for the tethered rides.
Chooi Ling and I were both really hungry as we hadn’t had anything to eat yet, so we decided to have breakfast first before going on the hot air balloon.
The food, which was prepared by D’Tandoor, was quite delicious, and there was quite a wide selection of food. It reminds me of a hotel buffet, hehehe. Just that it was outdoors this time.
Chooi Ling and I had our breakfast, enjoying the meal and the teh tarik before sitting under the canopy to wait for our turn.
We didn’t have that long to wait – we were seated for about 20 minutes before it was our turn. We were initially asked to go into a group of 4 into the basket, but then the balloon guys allowed us to go in our individual groups. So Chooi Ling and I had the basket to ourselves (with the guy handling the burner, of course) when it came to our turn.
We helped the group before and after us take photos, and they returned the favour, so we had plenty of shots both from within the basket (with my phone camera), and from the ground (with Chooi Ling’s phone camera)!
As for the actual experience… well, if you have a fear of heights, of course it will be a little scary, even though it wasn’t that high from the ground. But it was still pretty high, when you look over the side, with no support beneath you. The basket was very secure and safe, but if you are in it for the first time, it can feel a little unsteady. I thoroughly enjoyed myself, although the only thing I was afraid of was dropping my phone over the side, so I had to make sure my phone hand was always within the basket at all times.
And the first time we went in, we had a mild shock from the heat of the burners. The balloon guide pulled on the burners to make them flame up, and the sudden heat on our heads startled us. Haha! We felt a little bit fried as we were going up in the air, but then you get used to it.
We didn’t stay up for very long; it was only a few minutes, before we descended to allow the next group their turn.
Chooi Ling and I didn’t stay for the Zumba or yoga class. We also had free tickets for the night entry, but we already had our own respective plans for the rest of the day. Plus it rained a little in the evening, and I was too lazy to go all the way there again to look at balloons.
So… it was enjoyable, albeit a little lame considering it was tethered. Next time I am going for the free flying hot air balloon!