Myanmar has never stopped enticing the quintessential Indian traveller with its versatile charm and traditional events; the Taunggyi Hot Air Balloon Festival in the eastern state of Shan is set to present a spectacular example.
The secluded, mystic fields of the Shan state in Myanmar celebrate a yearly festival which has longed to get bigger and better. Although, the entire nation celebrates Tazaungdaing, the Festival of Lights, in the middle of November, the revelry in Taunggyi, the capital of Shan state promises to be more magnificent than ever.
According to the Myanmar Tourism Marketing, the organisers of the festival, huge papier-mâché hot air balloons in different shapes and sizes will be launched in the afternoon from the festival grounds near Taunggyi from November 8-15. It is the evening show that draws the most attention; around 8pm each evening, when the fire balloons are launched. Once the balloons reach a height of about 20 metres, the fireworks attached to the balloons explode vibrantly.
This is a fun and enthralling carnival that a tourist must experience at least once while in Myanmar.Myanmar Tourism Marketing confirmed that there will be special areas for foreign tourists to watch the launching of the balloons from a safe distance. Walking around the festival field is also fun, as thousands of Shan people join in for food, drinks and games.
In a country where 84 pc of the households have no electricity, it’s no surprise that many activities at the festival run without electricity. A man-powered Ferris wheel is one example.The festival has been running for many decades and the Shan people are keen to keep the balloon tradition alive. When the balloons are lit up, it’s a magical sight unlike any other firework display you’re likely to have ever seen.
If you’re not in the Taunggyi area (which is near the famous tourist destination of Inle Lake) in November, it’s still a great time to travel in Myanmar. The monsoon rains are gone. Their legacy is the lush greenery all over the country. It’s the time when yellow robes and many other accessories are offered to monks around the country. During the days leading up to the festival, you will see bamboo poles with donations (including banknotes folded in beautiful shapes) around towns and villages.
During the festival, hot air balloons are launched throughout the country, although on a smaller scale than Taunggyi. Most temples organise weaving competitions. It’s a good time to be in any upcountry town in Myanmar.