September 8, 2016

Written by Junita Hood

Buffet breakfast started at 6.30am, and we only had 15 minutes to eat before we head of to the school. We were queueing even before the lights were switched on (and when it did everyone sprinted to the egg counter.)  There were a lot of food to choose from so we made sure we had good protein intake as we were going to do a lot of heavy lifting. 

Ballooning requires A LOT of heavy lifting. The whole balloon system is around 600 kilograms. Carrying the full cylinder tanks, the wicker basket, unloading it from the back of the Ford Ranger is quite a feat. When you start inflating the envelope, you will have to make sure it is spread out evenly. Then when it’s time to blow hot air in, you’ve got to give your all, making sure the mouth of the envelope stays open while the pilot blasts the burners. 

The same kind of strength is needed even when a flight is done. A whole team is needed to make sure the balloon doesn’t fly off again. When it comes to packing the envelope and letting the hot air out, just imagine doing TRX in a sauna. It’s a complete adrenaline rush and a high intensity work out for all of us. 

Alhamdulillah, the weather was PERFECT during the balloon workshop. It was a little cloudy and not too windy, great for the balloon and even better for the students who might not be able to stand the heat. The air smelt like roasted coffee beans, a familiar scent while I was studying because there was a coffee factory nearby. God, I felt 13 all over gain.

The balloon workshop proceeded along well, and this time we managed to tether some of the teachers in our balloon. I think more than anyone, I was the happiest. Like the saying goes, something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue. My old school, my new life, a borrowed experience to share with the rest together with a white and blue balloon. 

While the workshop was meant for Form 1 students, almost the whole school came down to see the balloon for themselves. We could even see students from nearby schools peeking from their windows. The workshop ended and we were treated with breakfast at the canteen. We were joined by the principal who probably conquered his fear of heights that day, before making our way back to the field to refuel our gas cylinders.

That night, I brought the team to this cosy italian restaurant called Crocodile Rock. This charming little restaurant is situated in an old house and decorated with a lot of paintings by a local artists. The food was amazing as always, and we came back to the hotel contented. 

Tomorrow is our free-flying flight. This is usually the most exciting / nerve wrecking part since we are flying in unfamiliar territories. Even our usual flying spot in Putrajaya, we can only predict everything to a certain extent. For the rest, you just got to have faith.