Taiwan Hot Air Balloon Festival (臺灣國際熱氣球嘉年華) [Taiwan Day 1037: Utopia Part 2 "Flying Machines" - July 3, 2016] | Travel in Asia

Monday, July 4, 2016

Taiwan Hot Air Balloon Festival (臺灣國際熱氣球嘉年華) [Taiwan Day 1037: Utopia Part 2 "Flying Machines" - July 3, 2016]


2018 Taiwan International Balloon Festival: June 30 to Aug 13
Colorful and lighter than air. These were the words that can best describe the hot air balloons in Taitung. Every summer people flock to town of Luye to watch these flying machines soar high in the sky. Do you want to see them? 

I woke up at 3:00 am just to catch the earliest shuttle bus going to Luye Gaotai. A woman from the Taitung Visitor Center told me that I could only see the hot air balloons twice a day for two hours each. The morning session was at 5:00 am and the other one was at 5:00 pm. It was already the summer season in Taiwan and it would be too hot to have the flying activity in the middle of the day.

Choosing to see the event during sunrise was a great decision. The Luye Gaotai was located on a plateau and I was surprised to see a sea of clouds covering the Luye valley. The sun was also starting to rise at that time of my visit and I felt that I was really lucky on that day. For paragliding addicts, Luye is the starting point for a great flying adventure. Are you ready? Prepare yourself when you jump off the cliff with a working parachute tightly fastened around your body.

After taking photos of myself with the white fluffy clouds, I started to walk near the hot air balloons that were just starting to be inflated. Until I saw a familiar yellow sun. The Philippines! There was a hot air balloon representing my country. I really wanted to talk to the flight crew but going near to them was not allowed so I just watched them with my attentive eye. The men looked like Filipinos except for one American looking guy. I was not really sure if he was the pilot or not. Anyway, I got a photo of the Philippine hot air balloon when it was full of heated gas. 

People were sitting on the slopes of a hill and I joined them in watching as each hot air balloon started to fly in the air. There was a balloon with a red heart on it. EVA Air's green plaid balloon was one of the first balloons to fly while Taitung's aboriginal balloon was one of the last balloons to soar high. People were screaming with excitement when many hot air balloons were already up with some pilots even making fun of the visitors. They would drove their balloons above the audience to let the spectators feel the hotness of the fire that blew out of their burners.

Out of the many hot air balloons in the festival was this one in which no basket hangs below the torch. A man was just sitting below his balloon with the amazement of the audience. I don't how to feel but it was scary at the same time thrilling. What if the something went wrong with the string of his “basket”? Nah! I knew I was in Utopia and this was a place of happiness so I was very confident that everything would be fine. 

Aside from the standard balloons were the ones with a special shape. There was a kiwi balloon, a lucky cat balloon and even a panda. The audience loved the panda and much to their delight when it started to float in the air. The specially designed balloons were just there to give fun to the audience especially the kids. 

If I only had the money then I would ride one these hot air balloons and travel above the scenic valley of Luye. But it was very expensive! A 20-minute ride would cost me NTD 9,000 so I just satisfied myself with watching the balloons. Maybe someday I would have the chance to ride one of these inflatable flying machines.

Venue:  Luye Gaotai (鹿野高台)
How to get here:  Board Bus 8168A (Taiwan Tour Bus East Rift Valley Route) at Taitung Bus Station (Visitor Information Center) [Google Map], TRA Taitung Station or TRA Luye Station.  Get off the bus at Luye Gaotai.  

There are two hot air balloon sessions during the event period.  Early in the morning at 5:00 am before sunrise and before sunset at around 5:00 pm.  Shuttle buses are scheduled according to the program of the festival.  

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