‘di na babalik

Just a friendly reminder that not everything is as good in real life as it is in social media.

Travel is such a hip thing nowadays it’s impossible to scroll through my newsfeed without coming across someone on a holiday. And since one of the ways we are tempted is through our eyes, I’ve been a victim of these too-good-in-pictures-just-meh-in-real-life posts. This experience, however, is one of the worst.

I’m sure you’re familiar with the Philippine Hot Air Balloon Festival. With thousands of carefully curated and filtered pictures online, it has crossed your mind to go and visit. I’m warning you, unless you’re going to ride the balloon or go skydiving, spare yourself the disappointment.

Looking back, maybe the circumstances surrounding our visit — no sleep, had to stand in the bus during the 2-hour trip to Pampanga, etc — aggravated the situation but still, it’s not worth anyone’s effort unless you like being trapped in an open field with thousands of people under the heat of the sun.

Good thing I was with Fae, who doesn’t let minor (and sometimes major) things get in the way of our quality time together. So thankful that we were in the company of each other because we’ve been through worse. Imagine if I went with people I’m still building relationships with, I’m sure there’s nothing left to build afterwards hahaha.

Being fond of DIY trips, we decided to walk-in and not avail of those travel deals abundant online. As with everything, there’s a downside. We overlooked the fact that the festival is attended by hordes of people and all trips would be fully booked. Hence, we took our chance and went to the Victory Bus Liner terminal in Pasay at 2AM. The lines were already long and you can actually tell that majority were headed to Clark for the same purpose. Anyway, that was one hell of a bus ride. I was sleepy AND standing. At some point I didn’t care anymore and just lay down the floor.

When we arrived it was still dark and cool. Pero ang dami ng tao kaloka! We had siomai and noodles for breakfast because it was one of the very few stalls already open.IMG_3335IMG_3336IMG_3481Nakangiti pa kami rito, kung alam lang namin…IMG_3489Based on the schedule of events we were given, the hot air balloon flights will only be held twice. One in the early morning and another before dusk since temperature plays a vital role. If you want to know how these thingamajigs work, just remember something you learned in 4th or 5th grade: warm air rises, cold air sinks 🙂

And I rarely get to see sunrise so every single one is appreciated ❤IMG_3568Before the hot air balloons, there were sky exhibitions of some sort which I really couldn’t appreciate save for this one with the Philippine flag. The others were a mixture of “ano na ginagawa nila?” and “nasaan sila hindi ko makita” hehe.IMG_3585Our excitement grew while the balloons were filled with hot air. And Jollibee stopped by to make things better. Gets ko yung ngiti ni kuyang naka shades.IMG_3379One by one they started rising in the air. It was still cool at this time and for 10 minutes or so, I appreciated the view and clicked away at my phone.

Was it a pretty sight? Of course.

Will I travel for 4 hours round trip and pay 350 pesos for it? Hell, no.

Okay, once. But not again unless it’s free and I get to ride the balloon. The #goal is Cappadocia in Turkey!IMG_3388IMG_3437Everyone was asking everyone else to take their pictures, pang IG.IMG_3634“Fly or fly not, there is no try.”IMG_3637And before I knew it, it was over. The balloons didn’t even rose at the same time. Some were already far while others were still flat on the ground. If there’s one thing I liked most about that festival, it’s the sight of everyone looking up to the skies.

After the short-lived spectacle, the crowds were at a loss on what to do next. By this time, it was starting to get warmer despite it being February. Cza and I roamed around and had our picture taken in an overpriced photobooth with bad editing skills. Anuna bes?IMG_3550There were a lot of food stalls, mostly the same things we see in shopping malls so we really didn’t feel like eating there. Yup, I was wearing pajamas dahil wala lang, fresh off the bed ang peg ko that day. This picture was taken before the balloon flight. Now, look at the ground and imagine a thousand pair of feet walking through it. I thought the smog in Manila has toughened me up pero iba ‘to. Literal na “Dust in the Wind”. I may be over reacting but everything was brown I was reminded of the sandstorm scene in Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol!IMG_3531It became too crowded especially towards the exit. You know it’s bad when people are itching to leave even though it’s not even 9AM. This ice cone got me through that ordeal.IMG_3467After walking for close to an hour because vehicles were in a standstill and paying 50 pesos for a tricycle ride that didn’t even last 5 minutes and 2 kilometers, we arrived at SM Clark only to be told that we had to wait till 10 AM before the mall opens. HAHAHA could this day get any worse?

Fae and I sat at the parking lot, agreed this trip was a fail, laughed at ourselves, and thought of things to be thankful for. We came up with three. First, that it’s a good thing we didn’t join tour groups because there’s no way we’re staying there till afternoon. Second, that we were a little closer to home and our beds. And third — what I’ve been telling since the third paragraph — that we’re thankful we experienced it once but we aren’t coming back.IMG_3475After eating Chinese food from a mediocre restaurant inside the mall and catching the earliest bus leaving Dau Terminal for Manila, we went home and put this all behind. Another story to tell. We’re giving it some time, hoping it’d be funny in the future. But right now, four months on, it’s not quite there yet.

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