When we heard there was an International Hot Air Balloon Festival in Chiang the same weekend we had arrived, we knew we were definitely putting it on our itinerary!  We had thoroughly enjoyed our visit to the Festival Internacional de Globos in Leon, Mexico last year, and so we convinced some of our friends to join us at dawn for the magic of watching the balloons being laid out and inflated.

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Ella and Maiya quickly made new friends with some of the children of another family that is currently living in Bali!

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The early morning crew….

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We had never seen mini-balloons before, and Ethan was quite intrigued.

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Nope, not pooping…just contemplating the meaning of balloons and life…

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Ethan was also embarrassed to be asked to get his photo so many times.  He rarely looks up for strangers…

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And there was no shortage of people who wanted his photo.

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It wasn’t nearly as magical or awe-inspiring as the bigger festival we had seen in Mexico, but we still had a great time!

After the morning balloons had lifted off, we went into town to a vegetarian restaurant for breakfast. We jumped into a songthaew…

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…which makes every foreign adventure seem a tiny bit more foreign and exciting Smile

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We got out in the old town of Chiang Mai.

Ethan has a habit of “picking” on Jared when he gets a rooftop ride…

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Jared loved the bamboo house construction…

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The restaurant, Blue Diamond, was delicious. More curry for breakfast…who can complain?!

Miss I and Ethan were on their first date…

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The babes all enjoyed the gigantic fish on the property…

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A fruit plate included some new fruit for me—Santol and Passion Fruit! Passion Fruit is great!

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So is Khao soi curry!

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We were convinced to buy some some beautiful little fragrant flower do-dads that I’ve seen hung around tuk tuks, etc.

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Not sure what they’re supposed to be for, but the girls put them on as necklaces (which meant they had a very short life…but they were beautiful)!

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My $4 dish also gave me enough leftovers for 2 more meals! Gotta love their takeout bags!

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We trekked back through Chiang Mai old town…

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Then we all loaded up on another songtheaw and drove out to our neighborhood to enjoy the community pool (for a small per-use fee). It was our first time to the pool, and we were highly impressed by the beautiful, large space!

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Unfortunately, our arrival coincided with the arrival of a German fellow who was either not right in the head, or he was seriously drunk. After some odd behavior observed by Jared and our other friend, we determined we wanted to steer clear of him. “Don’t engage him…you’ll never get rid of him,” Jared warned.

It was just us and him in this big pool.  He immediately was interested showing off for the kids, and proceeded to do belly flops off of fake rocks that lined the pool. The kids were laughing at the crazy guy, and happily taking turns jumping in. Before we knew it, however, the German guy was becoming quite more involved, and he grabbed several of the girls from our group by the wrists (we had 9 kids with us), and threw them into the pool. He reached for the G, my friend Sabina’s son, and G pulled back—not wanting to be touched by the stranger. Sadly, the German guy’s grip was still enough that it pulled G into a headfirst free-fall into the pool, right where there was an underwater rock. It was one of those awful moments you play back in your mind in slow-motion, wishing you could stop it.

Let’s just say it wasn’t pretty…there was blood involved, there was yelling at the German guy who wouldn’t leave our party alone, and while the rest of the group handled that, another parent and I ran through the huge clubhouse, shocked to find all offices were empty (lunch break?). I finally resorted to running out to the street where the front security guard gate was nearby. I’m sure the guards were probably horrified, worrying that a drowning had perhaps occurred. You know…an American women (wet and in a swimsuit) running and pantomiming that a child had a bleeding head can come across many different ways. There were 5 or so men around, and none of them spoke English. However, they got the drift of an emergency and took over the calling of someone to help. I ran back to the crowd at the pool, and found my girlfriend trying to comfort her son. Not long after, a Thai EMT show up and clean up G’s head, and we also had the help of a young employee who had returned from lunch assisted us in translating. The EMT requested that G go to the hospital for stitches, but the bleeding had already stopped, and G was adamantly horrified at the idea of visiting a doctor. So, we kindly thanked the EMT for our services, and decided to manage without the surgery. The EMT showed no emotion and didn’t try to push us, and quietly packed up his stuff. We were told by the translator that we didn’t need to pay him, and shouldn’t even tip him—how nice is that?! We were definitely impressed with such a prompt and professional service to a foreigner!

Next, we returned to our home where we promptly glued G’s head wound together with crazy glue. I carry crazy glue with us exactly for that reason. Have you glued a wound before?  Oh, it’s good stuff…and that’s how we roll…

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Instead of letting the day end badly, we ended up relaxing with the three families at our house for several hours, and we let the kids get over the trauma/drama of the afternoon. Luckily we had stocked up on a few groceries the night before, so at least I had rice and potatoes to offer the kids. I pulled out a small bag of salt I had purchased and we sprinkled it on. Sabina suggested, “um…this doesn’t taste like salt!”…and upon further inspection we realized it wasn’t salt at all…but MSG!  Can you believe they add it to food, here?!

Night time rolled around, and we got a taxi to return us to the Hot Air Balloon Festival. There was live music, many great food vendors, and some pretty spiffy hot air balloons being lit up. It wasn’t as magical as Mexico’s night balloon show…but we still had a wonderful time!

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The kids located mini burgers, and I found a fantastic salad!

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Some fireworks topped off the evening, and the kids enjoyed boogying to some very tasteful live music! Now that is something that can be hard to come by in Mexico!

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What a day!

3 Responses to “Hot Air Balloon Festival in Chiang Mai”

  1. love the Buddhist flowers on the girls even if they aren’t intended for that.:)

  2. poor Ethan! Maybe you should draw or do make-up of fake sores all over his face/arms. LOL And I’m curious, did the mini balloons just fly off into the sunset? Perhaps they tethered them to the bigger balloons? I really liked the night-time pic of the balloons!

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