The 22nd Philippine International Hot Air Balloon Fiesta

I love early morning bus rides. It is, for me, therapeutic – that feeling that I will be able to escape, even just for a while, from my daily routine and from my ever-so-familiar surroundings and become just another stranger in an unfamiliar environment.

The 22nd Philippine International Hot Air Balloon Fiesta at Clark, Pampanga, however, was a shy away from my usual rural immersion as the event was full of tourists wanting to witness the hot air balloon exhibition and air show.

Crowded events aren’t my thing, but the hot air balloon fiesta was something I couldn’t say no to because it was a trip with a niece and a nephew. A bonding of sorts.

We arrived at the Mabalacat terminal at a little before 3:00 AM that Sunday, the last day of the show.

After a quick tummy fix at Jollibee, we hired a tricycle that we thought would take us to the hot air balloon fiesta venue so we agreed to pay a hundred pesos for the ride.

But lo and behold, our hundred bucks only took us to the Clark terminal where we had to ride another jeepney to get to the venue.

Jeepney fare was normally eight pesos but because the jeep was not yet full, we agreed to pay twenty bucks each so we could leave ASAP.

A long line greeted us outside the venue, but the gates opened just as we found the end of the queu.

Excitement was in the air, exuding from the crowd that came from all over.

Waiting for the show to start, however, was a little uncomfortable because you have to sit on the ground, plus the show started past the advertised 5 AM.

It was worth the wait, though, especially for first-timers.

The hot air balloon exhibition that morning, though, was very short. I guess it was the weather that day.

And then it got very hot at the venue at around 9 AM that we decided to just leave.

We had our arms marked in case we’d decide to come back later that day, but we decided to just go around the nearby town of San Fernando City (the provincial capital of Pampanga) before going home.

If there’s something I won’t forget about this trip, it’s the sunrise at Clark. It was truly captivating.

Check out my video of our 22nd Philippine International Hot Air Balloon Fiesta experience below.

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