Every year around March, the skies of the Malaysian administrative capital Putrajaya lights up with colourful sights as visitors usher in the Putrajaya Hot Air Balloon Fiesta. Held for the 8th year running, the festival has more than just balloons  – turning the city into a three-day long festival hub with loads of activities, food stalls, bazaars, performances and more. This year, they had 20 balloons, including quirky ones like Mr Zee the Zebra, Bobo the Happy Lobster and the Yellow Jacket Bee, flown by 14 pilots from all over the world.

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I covered the event as a member of the media on the last day of the festival. The place was already packed by 10am, despite the sweltering heat. It’s been really hot in Peninsula Malaysia these past few days due to a heat wave.

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Our booth was at the Red Zone, smack in the middle of everything. There was a section called Wonderful Indonesia: Pop of Paradise which showcased all things Indonesian, from dance to cultural performances, Indonesian food like Ayam Penyet (fried chicken), bakmie (chicken noodles) and more.

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Since it was afternoon, most of the balloons had been let down (they float them up twice a day: early morning and late evening), but there were still a few on for show. Visitors can also go on tethered rides for a fee.

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I received a complimentary pass into the Cold Inflation area, where visitors can walk inside an inflated balloon. We had to take off our shoes, but the ground underneath the thin balloon was gravelly and full of pebbles, so it hurt my feet ._. The balloon looked old and faded.. not as pretty as they put in promotional materials. Still, a nice place for selfies and whatnot.

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There were many activities for the kids, whether fun or more adventurous – like rock climbing, archery, plastic rodeo, and zorbing.

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Inflatable playgrounds. If only the weather wasn’t so hot…

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Over at the bazaar area, stalls sold everything from dreamcatchers to toys, fabric, clothing, accessories and more.

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Of course, no festival would be complete without food, and there were loads of them at the PHABF. The smell of some just had me salivating.

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Roast meats fresh off the charcoal grill.

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A pirated version of Starbucks. They’re even called Pirate Coffee 😛

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A visitor playing with bubbles. She looks so happy 🙂

The fiesta was fun, but I wish the weather had been better because it was really hot – can’t be good for the kids.  Now that it’s over, we’ll have to wait a whole year for the next installment, but hopefully it will be bigger and better.