Amid the tight schedule of visiting places of great historical and cultural importance, while learning the Dravidian and other Indian cultural influences in Siem Reap, there are still other experiences to hold the traveler’s attention. One should also try the experience of ballooning which provides you with an exciting aerial opportunity to explore the country, from high..
The ballooning drome or center is close or rather a few kilometers on the main road leading west, from the main attraction of Siem Reap the Angkor Watt. The drome was crowded with guided tour buses, tri rickshaws and cars. I noticed that it is clean and well maintained. There a waiting room with courteous staff to help you through the ticketing and boarding process.
The evening is when the people flock to ride and watch the sun set, as also get to understand the architecture of Angkor watt and the large moat surrounding it. The flight is only for ten minutes and it costs only a few US dollars. The balloon is static and it is not a free flight. It is attached by a steel chord to the drome base. However the chord is controlled by a winch motor and an engineer.
The ascent and descent is steady and slow. When breezy, it wobbles like our globe and may give you a scare. Not to worry, the tethered flight is safe as the sides of the basket are cordoned by a steel mesh. You can walk around in the basket during the flight and in case you lose balance you can hold on to the handles for support.
An aerial view of Angkor watt, the largest moat in the world, its other temples, monuments, endless panorama of jungles, agrarian villages, marshes and buffaloes glowing in the sunset was a new experience gained from the balloon. This modern contraption adds another dimension to the mystical make up of Siem Reap.
Whether ballooning is a must do or not is entirely a personal choice. I would suggest a first time ballooner to make it if they can. For those who have already been up on the sky on a free flying balloon, just a word of caution. It is sure going to be a drab affair unless they are interested to view the countryside from 200 meters above the sky standing in a caged basket tethered to the ground.
“Give it a try, while on tour ” was the last word on my mind before I made it . To tell you the end result, I now am not afraid of ballooning, ready and longing to take the free flying hot air balloon experience where ever it is offered.