18 April 2020
In November 2019 I returned to Myanmar for the third time for a fortnights holiday. For me to return to a holiday destination within a year and a half is pretty unusual. On the last visit to Myanmar my guide Thwin showed me photos of this annual balloon festival held in November . Apparently all the surrounding villages compete making balloons out of paper. These are propelled by hot air. There are two types of balloons. During the day there are animal shapes. At night spherical balloons with different images painted on them. These balloons carry cargo consisting of either candles or home made fireworks. The balloons looked amazing and not many Westerners go to this event. So I thought I got to see it before it is stopped or diluted. Also I’m getting too old to carry all that heavy photography gear so I had better do it soon.
Why diluted ? Well how does a stack of home made fireworks , no crowd control, and naked flame sound? I mean sometimes I think OSH (occupational safety and health) can be a bit over the top, but here we have the other extreme. Apparently it is not uncommon to have accidents and people even dying at these events. Villages have even blown up with the fire works production. The animal balloons are particularly prone to fire because of the odd shapes. You have to create hot air without the flames touching the paper. Hence the term massacre . A lot of animals were destroyed making this movie…… Balloons on fire crash into nearby buildings or even the crowds. Fortunately we didn’t get injured but Thwin was watching my back when I was taking some risky photos with fire everywhere. He was a great wing man. We did get hit by raining ashes and debris from the incinerating balloons in the sky though. As mentioned before no crowd control. This also meant no traffic control. On leaving the festival it took 2 hours to advance 200m! But I got my photos, had my Kindle to read, and great company to share the experience with, so I didn’t mind. Sometimes you have to perservere for a once in a lifetime event! I will let you be the judge on whether it was worth it.
1. 9 Nov 2019
9. Sponsored advertising spot. Want to buy something from her?
11. Preparing the candles
18. Crash into the civilian population.
19. Home made fireworks made by each village. Battlestar Galactica.
24. Raining down phosphorus and ashes.