Today is the day we got to ride in a hot air balloon in Laos. This is another of our bucket list items and neither of us ever thought we would be doing this in Laos of all places. We looked into the particulars and found it costs about $65 USD each for one hour. A little steep in price, however cheaper than the US for the same thing and we have the opportunity to do this in an absolutely gorgeous place at sunset! Needless to say we woke today... excited!
Starting our Hot Air Balloon Adventure
Lazy Days in Vang Vieng
We took a nap today and woke about 3:30pm for our balloon ride at 4pm. They picked us up out front of our Guesthouse and drove us by car to the launch point after picking up two girls from Germany at another place. When we got to the launch pad, it was an open area in town and two Aussie guys went with as well.We had been pretty lazy day, all day. The weather was cloudy and cool today. Our friends from Belgium Sam and his son who we met at our guesthouse, took off today to continue their trip. Sam is 71 and his son and him motorbiked to Vang Vieng. Sam is done riding, but his son is moving on to Luang Prabang. They will meet up soon in Thailand. Sam was on his way to Vientiane today.
Going Up at Sunset
Going Up in the Balloon
I would have to say, the butterflies were starting to brew as they began to blowup the balloon with two fans. I couldn't help but wonder if it would hold all of us comfortably and safely. Two pilots and all 6 of us loaded up in the basket once the balloon had been filled and began to rise and lift the basket back on its bottom.
Suddenly we rose and were off. Almost immediately there was this feeling of "no turning back now", although I wouldn't have done so. We rose and drifted south of town with the town growing smaller and smaller as we rose. It was almost alarming how fast we gained altitude. We also dropped down low above the village below a few times and hit a height of 530 meters. That's 1500 feet or so! The world was so peaceful below, and seemed to almost be in frozen animation along the Nam Song River.
Going Up at Sunset
Touching the Clouds
It was peaceful in the balloon and quiet when the Aussies weren't shot-gunning beers and acting the fool. They were nice guys, just a little to party hardy for my tastes. The weather improved just before launching and it was a beautiful day for a balloon ride. Temperatures were mild and I had my hoodie up some of the time due to the balloon burners being right above my head. Hadn't I worn my hood, my newly shaved scalp would have been singed.
Landing In The Field
We drifted over a rice paddy and could see the crew below us anticipating our drop. We had been flying for nearly and hour and touched down in the rice paddy south of town just as the sun was dropping below the mountains. The basket comes down a lot faster than you realize it will and when we touched down, we lifted back up again after a rather hard hit. We flew another few hundred feet and hit the ground again and slid to stop relieved we didn't die in Laos. The chase truck was there to pick us up right at sunset.
Watching Family Guy and Getting Some Chocolate
Catching a Bite to Eat with Family Guy
After going back to check on Buddha in the guesthouse and let him out, we went to one of the restaurants here that shows Family Guy. There are two types of restaurants in Vang Vieng, not all play American sitcoms or cartoons, but about 10 of them either show Friends looped by seasons, or Family Guy. We sat and ate dinner at a Family Guy place and dropped by the Luang Prabang Bakery and picked up some chocolate treats for desert. What a great day!
Change in Perspective
Nothing changes your physical perspective more than soaring above a city in a balloon. It was amazing to see the town below and wonder how the people we spied on lived. We were scared to do this initially because of the country we were in. Somehow we felt that being in a third world country is somehow less safe than if we had done it in the US. It's a prejudice that we create in our head that our country is more developed in some ways, so it must be more developed in all ways. This is simply not true and we had a spectacular time and felt safe the entire trip.
We snapped some fantastic pictures of the trip and between the two of us have 150 pictures of one of the most remarkable things we have done in our lives. We will always remember this day and the balloon ride above Laos.