Mike S

 

Michael has been a friend for several years and I've followed him from his plans to retire in Thailand, until now where he's retired and living the good life.  I remember telling him once "Michael, with your job in the defense industries and with all the major travel, it seems a shame not to properly photograph every step of your journey."  (or something like that)  He's been using small point and shoots for ages and just recently has moved up to a entry level DSLR.  What's interesting is that he's self-teaching and doing a great job of it.  He hasn't asked me a single question which is a bit unusual.  As a result I actually look forward to his submissions and seeing his  current photographs.  I can only predict great things coming from his venture into photography.

 

6 December 2009

Trip Report:  Thailand International Hot Air Balloon Festival in Ayutthaya, Khlong Sa Bua Floating Market in Ayutthaya, and Sun Flower Festival in Phatthana Nikom District

 

Steve,

Greetings! Our previous discussion kind of set the stage for my submission of this narrative and photographic trip report. This report is intended to be as much of an entertainment piece for those photographers and those interested in Thai travel experiences as it is for presenting a status of my personal photographic level.

I’ll qualify here in this opening statement that I’m still learning the finer details of the use of my new Canon DSLR camera, that my photography skills are still in the developmental stage, that some of the photos were taken by my charming spouse with either my DSLR or her Sony point and click, and that my narrative descriptions are a result of my observations and insight rather than any profound technological knowledge of hot air balloons, Thai geography, travel or history, or any subject matter discussed.

We left Ban Chang, Rayong Province on Friday morning and headed up the BKK-Chun Buri Motorway for the quick 1 hour and 45 min drive to Bangkok’s north end. Had lunch with the father-in-law at the SCB plaza Sizzler Steak House. My treat since Saturday was Father’s Day. Sizzler Steak House has a real nice salad bar these days with a nice variety of fresh veggies and there is fish, pork and steak on the menu so everyone can have what they want.

With lunch finished, we were on the road to Ayutthaya. Through my internet research we learned that this is the 3rd Thailand International Hot Air Balloon Festival and knew that the Festival was in the historic area of Wat Maheyong (GPS coordinates: N14°21.817’ E100°35.652’) and that the preparation of the balloons for the evening launch was scheduled for 1600 hrs with the actual launch time of flight time 1630-1700. Plenty of time to get there. Upon arrival, there was as usual, local police directing traffic to designated parking areas. Parking was full at the immediate park grounds so we parked at a field converted to a parking lot for 40 baht and took a 5 baht motorcycle taxi about 700 meters to the entrance of the festival. Entrance to the festival was 50 baht per person. 

 

Thailand International Balloon Festival 2009

Entrance ticket to the 3rd Thailand International Hot Air Balloon

 

Air Balloon Festival activities were located at the Wat Maheyong Historic Park

Canon Rebel XTi DSLR, 17-85 mm lens f/4-5.6 @f10 1/200 shutter speed, ISO 400

 

Air Balloon Festival activities were located at the Wat Maheyong Historic Park (GPS coordinates: N14°21.817’ E100°35.652’). 

 

Air Balloon Festival activities were located at the Wat Maheyong Historic Park

Sony Cyber-shot @f/10 1/200 shutter speed, ISO 100

 

Hot Air Balloon Components. Basic “Hot Air Balloon” components are the Basket or Gondola (usually made of rattan and willow woven together) where passengers and/or equipment can be carried; the Envelope or Gas Bag, usually spherical is shape and made of a woven non-porous non-expandable material, usually a combination of nylon and Dacron (polyester); and Burners which are positioned above the basket and below the Envelope which heat the air. Balloon lift is controlled by adjusting the burning rate of the gas that heats the air. A valve at the top of the balloon has a rope attached so that passengers can control descent.  A rip cord and rip panel allow the rapid release of gas on landing to prevent the dragging of the load on impact.

 

Hot Air Balloon Components. Basic “Hot Air Balloon” components are the Basket or Gondola

Canon Rebel XTi DSLR, 17-85 mm lens f/4-5.6 @f11 1/250 shutter speed, ISO 400

 

Hot Air Balloon being transported to and from launch site by truck.. In the case at this Hot Air Balloon Festival, the balloons were brought to the launch site by pickup trucks. After unloading the balloon and basket with components, the truck was in standby mode until after the balloons were in flight and then the trucks scurried after the balloons tracking their flight paths and potential landing sites where the balloons would be picked up and loaded back into the trucks then brought back to the original launch site.

 

Hot Air Balloon Festival, the balloons were brought to the launch site

Canon Rebel XTi DSLR, 17-85 mm lens f/4-5.6 @f5.6 1/100 shutter speed, ISO 400

 

Hot Air Balloon Basket on its side. Usually a crew of 4 or 5 is sufficient for the balloon to be inflated and prepared for flight. To inflate the balloon the basket is laid out on its side. The envelope is connected to the basket and spread out over the ground. A few crew members hold open the mouth of the balloon open while a fan partially inflates a balloon with cold air.

 

Usually a crew of 4 or 5 is sufficient for the balloon to be inflated and prepared for flight

Canon Rebel XTi DSLR, 17-85 mm lens f/4-5.6 @ 10 1/200 shutter speed, ISO 400

 

Hot Air Balloon on its side with envelope being secured to basket with appropriate tie downs. Support tie town belts are used to connect the basket to the envelope.

 

Hot Air Balloon on its side with envelope being secured to basket with appropriate tie downs.

Canon Rebel XTi DSLR, 17-85 mm lens f/4-5.6 @f13 1/250 shutter speed, ISO 400

 

Hot Air Balloon Envelope being spread open by Balloon Crew. With the envelope being spread out over the ground to prepare for inflation, it can be inspect3d for tears in the fabric. One can see from this picture that the colors of this balloon are very colorful.

 

Ayuttaya, With the envelope being spread out over the ground to prepare for inflation

Canon Rebel XTi DSLR, 17-85 mm lens f/4-5.6 @ 14 1/320 shutter speed, ISO 400

 

Hot Air Balloon Envelope being inflated by fan. At this point, the baskets of the balloon are still on their sides while the fans blow air into the envelope to begin the inflation process. This was an up close and personal festival and the spectators were able to get as close to the balloons and assembly/inflation process as they choose.

 

personal festival and the spectators were able to get as close to the balloons and assembly/inflation process as they choose

Canon Rebel XTi DSLR, 17-85 mm lens f/4-5.6 @ 14 1/400 shutter speed, ISO 400

 

Hot Air Balloons inflated and beginning flight. Here the balloons in the picture are fully inflated, the baskets are now upright and the burners are light to begin heating the air in the envelope. Almost ready for flight. It was really a sight to see the balloons and historic ruins of Ayutthaya side by side.

 

the baskets are now upright and the burners are light to begin heating the air in the envelope

Canon Rebel XTi DSLR, 17-85 mm lens f/4-5.6 @f14 1/400 shutter speed, ISO 400

 

Hot Air Balloons inflated and beginning flight with historic ruins in the foreground. More balloons almost finalized for the flight.

 

More balloons almost finalized for the flight

Canon Rebel XTi DSLR, 17-85 mm lens f/4-5.6 @f14 1/400 shutter speed, ISO 400

 

Hot Air Balloons inflated and in full flight. Liftoff! The beginning of the mass liftoff of the balloons was initiated and occurred between 1630 and 1700 hours.

 

Two balloons

Canon Rebel XTi DSLR, 17-85 mm lens f/4-5.6 @f14 1/320 shutter speed, ISO 400

 

Hot Air Balloons inflated and in full flight with historic ruins in the foreground.

 

Historic ruins of Ayuttaya, hot air balloons in the sky

Canon Rebel XTi DSLR, 17-85 mm lens f/4-5.6 @f14 1/320 shutter speed, ISO 400

 

Hot Air Balloons inflated and in full flight with historic ruins in the foreground.

 

Hot air balllons, colorful, line the sky

Canon Rebel XTi DSLR, 17-85 mm lens f/4-5.6 @f14 1/400 shutter speed, ISO 400

 

Hot Air Balloons inflated and in full flight with historic ruins in the foreground.

 

Hot Air Balloon Festival.  Ayuttaya Thailand

Canon Rebel XTi DSLR, 17-85 mm lens f/4-5.6 @f14 1/400 shutter speed, ISO 400

 

Hot Air Balloons inflated and in full flight with historic ruins in the foreground.

 

Canon Rebel XTi DSLR, 17-85 mm lens f/4-5.6 @f14 1/400 shutter speed, ISO 400

Canon Rebel XTi DSLR, 17-85 mm lens f/4-5.6 @f14 1/400 shutter speed, ISO 400

 

Hot Air Balloons inflated and in full flight with historic ruins in the foreground.

 

Ayuttaya Thailand

Canon Rebel XTi DSLR, 17-85 mm lens f/4-5.6 @f14 1/400 shutter speed, ISO 400

 

Hot Air Balloons inflated and in full flight with historic ruins in the foreground.

 

Colorful reflections, hot air balloons inflated and in full flgith over historic ruins.  Ayuttaya

anon Rebel XTi DSLR, 17-85 mm lens f/4-5.6 @f14 1/320 shutter speed, ISO 400

 

Hot Air Balloons inflated and in full flight with historic ruins in the foreground.

 

Reflections Ayutthaya, Hot Air Balloons

Canon Rebel XTi DSLR, 17-85 mm lens f/4-5.6 @f13 1/320 shutter speed, ISO 400

 

Hot Air Balloons inflated and in full flight with historic ruins in the foreground.

 

Reflection Ayutthaya, Hot Air Balloons inflated and in full flight with historic ruins in the foreground 

Canon Rebel XTi DSLR, 17-85 mm lens f/4-5.6 @f10 1/200 shutter speed, ISO 400

 

Hot Air Balloons inflated and in full flight with historic ruins in the foreground.

 

A lonely balloon

Canon Rebel XTi DSLR, 17-85 mm lens f/4-5.6 @f20 1/200 shutter speed, ISO 400

 

Hot Air Balloons inflated and in full flight with historic ruins in the foreground.

 

Hot Air Balloons inflated and in full flight with historic ruins in the foreground

Canon Rebel XTi DSLR, 17-85 mm lens f/4-5.6 @f11 1/200 shutter speed, ISO 400

 

Hot Air Balloons inflated and in full flight with historic ruins in the foreground.

 

Canon Rebel XTi DSLR, 17-85 mm lens f/4-5.6 @f13 1/420 shutter speed, ISO 400

Canon Rebel XTi DSLR, 17-85 mm lens f/4-5.6 @f13 1/420 shutter speed, ISO 400

 

Hot Air Balloons inflated and in full flight with historic ruins in the foreground.

 

Hot Air Balloons inflated and in full flight with historic ruins in the foreground

Canon Rebel XTi DSLR, 17-85 mm lens f/4-5.6 @f13 1/320 shutter speed, ISO 400

 

Hot Air Balloons inflated and in full flight with historic ruins in the foreground. The balloons could be seen drifting across the lake for an estimated time of ½ hour and of a distance (as the crow flies) of approximately 7-10 kilos.

 

The colors were spectacular. This display lasted for 1.2 hour.

Canon Rebel XTi DSLR, 17-85 mm lens f/4-5.6 @f4 1/30 shutter speed, ISO 400

 

Hot Air Balloons being fired up for the “Night Glow.”   Between 1830 and 1900 hours, the balloons were again at the festival site and set up for an inflation and burn of the burners to heat and fill the envelope. With music playing in the background, the balloons were fired up for the “night glow.” The colors were spectacular. This display lasted for 1.2 hour. The heat from the use of the burners could be felt from 15 meters away. Wow, what a sight.

 

Jitwilai, Hot Air Balloons being fired up for the “Night Glow.”

Canon Rebel XTi DSLR, 17-85 mm lens f/4-5.6 @f4 1/60 shutter speed, ISO 400

 

Hot Air Balloons being fired up for the “Night Glow.” With the flights and night glow of the balloons over for the day, we proceeded to a local hotel. The hotel was totally no frills but had all the necessary accoutrements. Safe area not far from the historic areas of Ayutthaya, auto parking, clean bed, hot shower with towels and TV.  I’d recommend it if these basic accoutrements are all that are necessary for an overnight rest stopover. 450 baht. Jitwilai Place @ GPS coordinates N14°21.679’ E100°34.769’. Since there was a morning balloon launch and mass lift scheduled for the following morning at between 0600 and 0630 hours, felt it necessary to stay somewhere close and arrive at the site to watch the balloon set up preparations and get some nice morning shots of the balloons in flight.

 

Early morning set assembly and preparation of balloon for flight, Ayutthaya

Canon Rebel XTi DSLR, 17-85 mm lens f/4-5.6 @f4 1/13 shutter speed, ISO 400

 

Early morning set assembly and preparation of balloon for flight. The next series of pictures (#’s 28, 29, 30 and 31) clearly demonstrate some of the potential dangers of flying hot air balloons. 

 

Balloon lifting off and immediately drifting toward a nearby tree

Canon Rebel XTi DSLR, 17-85 mm lens f/4-5.6 @f4 1/8 shutter speed, ISO 400

 

Balloon lifting off and immediately drifting toward a nearby tree.

 

Balloon drifting into and getting caught in tree at lift off

Canon Rebel XTi DSLR, 17-85 mm lens f/4-5.6 @f4 1/6 shutter speed, ISO 400

 

Balloon drifting into and getting caught in tree at lift off.

 

Balloon pilot activating the burners to full open burn

Canon Rebel XTi DSLR, 17-85 mm lens f/4-5.6 @f4 1/30 shutter speed, ISO 400

 

Balloon pilot activating the burners to full open burn to provide lift needed for balloon to release itself from the grasps of the tree.

 

Balloon lifting out and away from the tree

Canon Rebel XTi DSLR, 17-85 mm lens f/4-5.6 @f4 1/25 shutter speed, ISO 400

 

Balloon lifting out and away from the tree that it was stuck in. The next series of 3 pictures (picture #’s 31, 32 and 33) show the early morning flight of some of the balloons with historic ruins of Ayutthaya. The flight path which is totally dependent on the direction that the wind is blowing at the altitude of the balloon was different than the flight of the previous evening. Consequently, different historic ruins in the pictures.

 

Burners lit and liftoff of the first balloon of the morning flight

Canon Rebel XTi DSLR, 17-85 mm lens f/4-5.6 @f4 1/8 shutter speed, ISO 400

 

Burners lit and liftoff of the first balloon of the morning flight.

 

Balloons across the skis of Ayutthaya

Canon Rebel XTi DSLR, 17-85 mm lens f/4-5.6 @f4 1/40 shutter speed, ISO 400

 

Balloons across the skis of Ayutthaya.

 

Balloons across the skis of Ayutthaya with historic ruins in the foreground

Canon Rebel XTi DSLR, 17-85 mm lens f/4-5.6 @f5 1/60 shutter speed, ISO 400

 

Balloons across the skis of Ayutthaya with historic ruins in the foreground. With the early morning flight of the balloons no longer visible, I turned my attention to capturing some sun rise shots with included the historic ruins. I’ll limit my post to 2 of my favorites of all that I took as pictures of the internet are full of such pictures.

 

Sun rise in Ayutthaya

Canon Rebel XTi DSLR, 17-85 mm lens f/4-5.6 @f9 1/125 shutter speed, ISO 400

 

Sun rise in Ayutthaya.

 

Ayutthaya, ruins, sunset

Canon Rebel XTi DSLR, 17-85 mm lens f/4-5.6 @f4.5 1/8 shutter speed, ISO 400

 

My favorite picture of the road trip… if for no particular reason, the light and shadows of the historic ruins make it interesting. With the balloon festival sights completed and a schedule to maintain, we then headed off down the road about 6 kilo to the Khlong Sa Bua Floating Market @ GPS coordinates N14°51.522’ E101°01.316’. Follow the signs in the following picture to the parking areas for the floating market.

 

Khlong Sa Bua Floating Market

Canon Rebel XTi DSLR, 17-85 mm lens f/4-5.6 @f10 1/160 shutter speed, ISO 400

 

Directional signs to the parking areas of Floating Market. The market has plenty of free parking and the grounds are well maintained. The walkway to entrance and around the floating market is actually an elevated bamboo and concrete walkway that is slightly above and over the manmade lake. Vendors are all around on the outside perimeter of the walkway and there are some vendors floating in boats in the lake. There is plenty of seating capacity between where the vendors are and the lake so when the show is going on it can be viewed easily. The shows begin at 1100 and are at various times during the day. While we were there, we saw 2 of the shows and they were distinctly different. The shows actually take place on a slightly submerged stage and series of bamboo walkways within the lake. There is plenty of food at very reasonable prices, there are shaded areas to eat and rest, boat rentals that can be paddled in the klong near the lake, and the shows was free. A very enjoyable outing. Highly recommended if you are in the Ayutthaya area.

 

Ayutthaya, Khlong, along the rivers edge

Canon Rebel XTi DSLR, 17-85 mm lens f/4-5.6 @f11 1/250 shutter speed, ISO 400

 

Walkway entrance from the parking lot to the Floating Market. . The curved lines of the walkway and the shadows and reflections in the water are what attracted my attention to taking this shot.

 

Sampans on the khlong

Canon Rebel XTi DSLR, 17-85 mm lens f/4-5.6 @f10 1/200 shutter speed, ISO 400

 

Klong boats used by the floating market vendors. These particular boats can be rented for 20 baht.

 

Klong dancers

Canon Rebel XTi DSLR, 17-85 mm lens f/4-5.6 @f14 1/320 shutter speed, ISO 400

 

One of the more noted Thai fictional stories being played out in this show. Note the submerged walkways that the show actors/actresses are utilizing. It has a nice affect of walking on water.

 

Dancers on the water

Canon Rebel XTi DSLR, 17-85 mm lens f/4-5.6 @f14 1/320 shutter speed, ISO 400

 

The show.

 

Dancing on the water show

Canon Rebel XTi DSLR, 17-85 mm lens f/4-5.6 @f13 1/400 shutter speed, ISO 400

 

One of the supporting female dancer in the show.

 

Female dancer, Thailand

Sony Cyber-shot @ 10 1/200 shutter speed, ISO 100

 

The lead female dancer of the show. 

 

Fire breather, Thailand

Canon Rebel XTi DSLR, 17-85 mm lens f/4-5.6 @f13 1/250 shutter speed, ISO 400

 

Actor spitting fire out of his mouth as part of the show. Not only was one of the male actors spitting fire but 5 or 6 of them were. It was a good part of the show and very entertaining. All the actors and actresses tried to make the audience enjoy the shows by adding typical Thai comic humor to them.

 

Thai actresses

Canon Rebel XTi DSLR, 17-85 mm lens f/4-5.6 @f10 1/160 shutter speed, ISO 400

 

Show actress after the show.

 

Sampan vendor a tthe floating market

Canon Rebel XTi DSLR, 17-85 mm lens f/4-5.6 @f7.1 1/200 shutter speed, ISO 400

 

Boat vendor at floating market. This particular vendor took extra special care when serving her customers. She took 2 pieces of banana leaves and placed them in the woven wicker basket prior to placing 4 or 5 pork balls with cabbage into the basket and on top of the leaves. She then added some sauce on top of the pork balls and then some sliced cucumbers. All very colorful. It was easy to see that the vendor took pride in what she was doing.

 

Thai style houses along the walkway ar elined with flowers

Rebel XTi DSLR, 17-85 mm lens f/4-5.6 @f14 1/125 shutter speed, ISO 1600

 

Actors quarters. Canon. I am always attracted to Thai style houses on the klong and this one with the walkway to the house and the colorful flowers with the reflections in the water caught my attention enough to take this picture.

 

Historic Ruins Thailand

Canon Rebel XTi DSLR, 17-85 mm lens f/4-5.6 @f13 1/400 shutter speed, ISO 400

 

Historic Ruins along the lank and klong just outside the floating market.

 

Historic Ruins, Bang Chang Thailand

Sony Cyber-shot @f5.6 1/320 shutter speed, ISO 100

 

Historic Ruins along the lank and klong just outside the floating market. 

 

Sun flower festival

Canon Rebel XTi DSLR, 17-85 mm lens f/4-5.6 @f14 1/200 shutter speed, ISO 400

 

Sunflower Festival. . The “Sunflower Festival” is an annual event from December through February. Along the highway 21 and nearby roads of Phatthana Nikom and vicinity there are numerous sunflower fields and vendors selling sunflower seeds, sunflower pins and other paraphernalia, wine, honey, Thai food, and drinks. We stopped at several of the fields to take in the sights. N14°51.522’ E101°01.316’ was a location that we stopped at that had a nice field of sunflowers. Many of the sunflower fields have an elevated viewing stand and elephant rides. All in all, having the opportunity to view and walk in the huge and endless sunflower fields was a wonderful sight and event.

 

Sun Flowers, Ban Chang Rayong

Canon Rebel XTi DSLR, 17-85 mm lens f/4-5.6 @f14 1/320 shutter speed, ISO 400

 

Sunflowers with mountains in the background.

 

Sun Flowers, Ban Chang Rayong

Canon Rebel XTi DSLR, 17-85 mm lens f/4-5.6 @f11 1/400 shutter speed, ISO 400

 

Sunflowers with mountains in the background. 

 

Sun Flowers, Ban Chang Rayong

Canon Rebel XTi DSLR, 17-85 mm lens f/4-5.6 @f4 1/20 shutter speed, ISO 400

 

Sunflowers at dusk. At dusk with the sun setting and the sunflowers all lined up evenly in a row made what I thought an interesting photo shot. With the sun going down and a few hours to travel to get home we moved out in the direction of Ban Chang, Rayong Province. The trip was enjoyable but is always a good feeling to return home and be sleeping in your own bed. 

 

Mikes Home

Sony Cyber-shot @f5.6 1/160 shutter speed, ISO 100

 

Home. Now for the planning of the next road trip begins. In the time being take those pictures and improve those photography skills. Ciao!

 

Thank you Michael!  This is a great first effort and really takes the reader on a real journey of the area.  Impressive!   Steve