Sunday, February 21, 2010

Phil Mish Mish

Phil Mish Mish is Arabic for 'In Your Dreams' & the day after Valentines day I realised one of mine. For as long as I can remember I've wanted to have a go in a Hot Air Balloon :O)

The day started at 5:30 am when we were picked up and taken from the hotel to the banks of the Nile. We boarded one of the boats and as we were ferried across to the other side, Ali, the Hot Air Balloon pilot, gave us a safety briefing. When we reached the West bank we were taken by mini bus to the launch site. It was just starting to get light & I was surprised how warm it was. When we arrived, they had already started to inflate the 8 or so balloons. The basket carries 21 people. Each quarter had 5 people in it plus the pilot in the middle. We had the multi coloured balloon :O) As we floated up into the air the dozen or so Egyptian men, who had been holding the basket, started to beat out a rhythm on a bongo drum while the others clapped & sang. Ali explained that it was to wish us good luck & a safe flight. I love stuff like that.

We took jumpers with us thinking it would be cold but they don't call it a hot air balloon for nothing. It was roasty toasty under the flames. The balloon was so slow & gentle it was amazing. We saw the Colossi of Memnon below us and then floated into the desert over the Temple of Hatshepsut. We could see the Valley of the Kings & the Valley of the Queens as well as fields of sugar cane. We watched the sun rise over the Nile, beautiful. At one point we went up to 2500 ft & not once did we feel unsafe. (The Empire State Building is 1250 feet tall!) It was fantastic & well worth doing. An hour later we were landing & it was just as gentle as the take off. Ali explained that he opened the top of the balloon to descend. We had to stay in the basket and act as ballast whilst the men wrestled with the balloon. They soon had it deflated and afterwards helped everyone out. We had to sing & dance again to say thanks for bringing us back to the ground safely. What an amazing experience, one I'll never forget.

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