Inle Lake - the third highlight of our Myanmar travel. And what a highlight it was.. My boyfriend and I got the chance to actually see the gorgeous lake at sunrise from above (not from a mountain nearby, or airplane, but: from a balloon!). We were so excited, this would be our first balloon flight ever!

4:15 AM: wake up time! Half an hour later we were picked up from our hotel by the staff of Oriental Ballooning. A kind Minglabar (hello in Burmese) came our way from the crew. A short drive with a van took us to the harbour of Nyaung Shwe. One of the boats of Oriental Ballooning was there waiting for us. A 45-minute cold boat drive took us to the headquarters (we were so thankful to the staff to prepare warm blankets for us!). Actually being on the lake in the complete dark with the sun slowly rising was a great experience on itself!

At the headquarters there was a nice breakfast waiting for us. After having a cup of coffee, fresh fruits and a quick snack we together with a group of 10 others walked to the two balloons that were prepared for us. After a quick briefing of our Australian balloon captain Donna Tasker (her professionalism, kindness and calmness were very accommodating!) we and four others entered our balloon.

We quickly got in our take-off positions (sitting down and holding tight), before Donna released big flames into the balloon, and off we went! After a few minutes we could stand up, and what a magical view we got there, it was so beautiful!

After catching a bit of height we flew over one of the nearby floating villages (the villages built on wooden constructions in the water). It was funny to see everybody looking out of their windows waving at us, yelling Minglabar! The floating gardens are a beauty, watched from the lake, but from the sky they look even better - what an astonishing sight. This must have been one of the most incredible views I have ever seen in my life. 

While enjoying the amazing view one of the other guests in the balloon asked me if i could stand back a little so he could stretch his leg. But what he did was not stretching his leg, but actually he bended the knee and turned towards his (future!) wife. What a perfect spot for a proposal - so cute and romantic!

After one hour of circling around the lake, Donna watched for a proper spot to land (meaning putting the balloon on solid ground, although Oriental Ballooning is even able to land a balloon on a boat she told us). We flew on a pretty low altitude past a few villages, in which the people all looked up and asked themselves: where is this thing going to touch the ground?!

After a few minutes we found a nice spot to land and so we did, ofcourse, after holding tight. Within a few moments we were circled by kids from the nearby village who all came close very fast at first, but, while being close to the balloon, were also shy and a bit scared by the size of the balloon and its flames. One by one Donna asked us to step out of balloon. The staff kindly guided us to a shadow spot where champagne (a lovely tradition) and fresh fruits (yummy!) were waiting for us. 
While we watched how the balloon was being carried away by the staff, we toasted on our successful balloon flight and ofcourse the future man and wife!

Thank you Oriental Ballooning for this amazing experience. A balloon flight is certainly by far the coolest way to explore Inle Lake!

Love, Anne

For more information check out their website: www.orientalballooning.com

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