One day I’ll go up in one of these. 🙂
Okay, I just completely carbon dated myself with that title. Haha. 😀
More from the digital baul/digital spring cleaning series. I found this series of photos that I shot back in 2010 at the Clark Hot Air Balloon Festival. J. called me at 1am and asked me if I’d be interested in joining her and her friend on a road trip to see the hot air balloons in Pampanga, but the catch was that I had to be at the meeting place in two hours.
But I figured, hey, why the heck not, since I hadn’t been on a road trip in ages. I took a quick shower, packed my bags, and ran out the door. I made it to the venue in record time, and after fortifying ourselves with fast-food coffee, we were off.
Clark in Pampanga used to be a US military base before Mt. Pinatubo erupted in 1991, reducing most of the area to fields of lahar as far as the eye could see. These days, Clark is slowly being transformed into a tourist attraction, with its own international airport, duty free shopping, wide vistas, and the mountain looming over everything and everyone. The mountain feels like a living being, a heavy and forbidding presence even when you’re standing in the middle of a flat open field. Maybe I’m just not a mountain person; I much prefer the feel of the open sea.
That said, Clark was the perfect venue to hold the festival, as the flat land made it easier to accommodate all those balloons.
The main event started at around 5am, with hordes of people jostling each other for space at the safety cordon so they could take photos of the launch. Luckily, we made good time and got there in time to find a decent spot to hang out.
This flying barn was one of my favorite balloons that day. I like how it looks like it’s surrounded by its babies in this shot.
And yes, it came complete with animals and a farmer, too. 🙂
The obligatory solo-balloon-silhouetted-against-the-dawn-sky shot. 😀
And lastly, my favorite balloon of the day. I must have taken more than a dozen shots of this one, trying to get a steady shot without a tripod. I think I ended up half lying on the hood of JR’s car to stabilize myself for this shot. The very hot and very dusty hood of JR’s car, I should say. Good times. 🙂
All of these photos were taken using my old Lumix TZ3, which was already ancient by the time my dad gave it to me as a hand me down. Most of these are also straight out of camera, except for one image which I cropped just a tiny bit. The details are a bit soft, but for an older model, it’s not bad.
The unseasonably hot and humid weather plus the fluctuating electricity did have one positive effect: we had more opportunities to interact with our fellow guests who, like us, could not sleep soundly because of the heat. This was how we met and became travel buddies with RC, an outdoor buff and mountain climber who was traveling solo and staying at our lodgings. R., A., and I had just come in from a tour when we ran into RC at the veranda. We asked him and a couple of other travelers to join us for dinner and a chat while the lights were still on.
R. and A.mentioned to the others that they had plans to go hiking up Mr. Iraya the next day. They’d asked me to go along, but my bad knee precluded hiking anywhere for that long. They were worried that I’d be at loose ends for the rest of the day despite my assurances that I could entertain myself quite well for a few hours, so they tried to come up with alternative activities for me. RC mentioned that he was going to Valugan Beach at 4:00am to catch the sunrise, so R. and A. encouraged me to go with him. I said I was game if I woke up in time.
Of course, the electricity decided to cut out again at around 1:00 am, and the heat was making it impossible to sleep yet again. Rather than spend the time futilely tossing and turning in my sweat-soaked bed, I ended up half asleep and scrambling over boulders at 4:30 in the morning, wondering if I was going to slip and end up breaking my neck in the pre-dawn dark. 😛 Luckily, the view made up for the early call time.
RC was so absorbed in getting the perfect shot that he set up his gear a little too close to the water’s edge. Of course, that’s when a friendly wave decided to come up to say hello…
…and drench him (and his non-waterproof camera) from head to toe.
And in case you were wondering, nope, the camera didn’t make it.