Putrajaya International Hot Air Balloon Fiesta 2009

Hot air balloons are almost never seen here in Malaysia. So when we heard that there was going to be a hot air balloon fiesta at Putrajaya we jumped at the chance to witness the “lighter-than-air” flying machines in action. Lighter-than-air because they rely on buoyancy to stay afloat instead of engine power.

Our initial plan was to be the first 50 to arrive that morning to be eligible to ride on the balloons for RM10. But then it turned out there were already tons of people at 7am and balloon rides today (Sunday) were only for the orphans. So I wasn’t too disappointed since it’s for a good cause. And the morning light was so perfect. The only time when I had such lovely lighting was when I’m at home with my flashes.

A balloon before being inflated. This portion of the balloon is called the envelope.

The balloons are transported to the site with their envelope neatly folded up. To begin inflating the balloon, they unfold the envelope and blow cold air into it using a gas-powered blower. This will blow cold air into the balloon and slowly inflate the envelope.

The inside of a balloon being inflated.

I asked permission from one of the crew if I could take a quick look inside the balloon while it was being inflated because I didn’t want to get cooked when they fire the burners. She said yes and the above is what you’ll see when you’re inside the envelope when it is being inflated. Air will be blowing from behind you. This is the peacock-shaped balloon by the way.

Firing up the burners to heat up the air inside the balloon. You can seriously feel the heat when you’re standing near it.

Once the envelope has inflated satisfactory by the gas-powered blowers (usually takes around 15-20 minutes depending on the size of the balloon), the burners are fired up to heat the cold air inside the balloon. At this stage, the balloon envelope is still resting on the ground so the burners are fired at an angle into the balloon as seen from the photo above.

Burners firing to maintain the heat in the envelope.

The heated air inside the envelope will slowly cause it to rise. Soon the balloon will be in the vertical position and the balloon is now ready for take off.

The balloons here have already been successfully inflated and are just waiting for clearance to take off.

Flying a balloon requires a CPL (commercial pilot license). They have simple onboard instruments to tell them things like altitude, vertical speed, balloon air temperature, ambient air temperature and maybe a GPS for guidance.

This two-seater balloon is getting ready to take off. The burners are adjusted constantly to maintain the balloon’s buoyancy.

Taking off is simple. The marshals will give the all clear and the burners will be fired up and the balloon will rise up and move in whichever direction the wind is blowing. Actually the thought of flying something without any form of control (except going up and down) is scary to me since I’m a control freak.

Hot air balloons going up.

This is the peacock-shaped balloon that was being inflated just now.

A clown shaped balloon. It’s :) on one side and :( on the other.

The balloons left pretty quickly.

Soon all the balloons were in the air and by 8:45am we left for breakfast and went on to shoot the rest of Putrajaya. This was indeed a very interesting event (as expected) and hopefully there will be more to come. Always good to have something new to learn and experience.

Next: Putrajaya Shoot. Continue reading

Dyno'ing a Boeing 777

Remember I dyno-ed an Airbus A330 a while back? I was recently able to fly on a Boeing 777 so here are the dyno results:

The 0-100kmh time is very similar to the A330.


The HP figures are slightly more realistic than the A330′s because I asked Alvin to check out the actual max takeoff weight of the aircraft. The A330′s weight was just simply guessed. But then again you can’t exactly calculate an aircraft engine horsepower this way. It’s just for comparison. So please ignore the HP values.

As usual, the HP graph goes off the scale pretty fast.

Next: Dyno’ing a bicycle. Continue reading

Port Dickson Trip 2009

I was at the beach last weekend with Zoe Yve for a picnic. Not at the Port Dickson beach with all the banana boats but at the Tanjung Tuan beach.


Tanjung Tuan was unusually packed that day but the beach was pretty much deserted. Everyone’s probably going up to the lighthouse to have a glimpse of Sumatera which was indeed visible on that day due to the clear skies. Sumatera is just 38km away from the Tanjung Tuan lighthouse by the way. And we fed some monkeys on the way up.

This is what real sand looks like. Very coarse and you can see that they are made out of tiny broken sea shells. Not the silky smooth white “Sahara desert” kind of artificial sand you find elsewhere.


The Tanjung Tuan beach is a great place to find lots of sea shells. Zoe spent most of her time picking up the hermit crabs and then apologizing profusely every time she drops them. Which is like 100% of the time. She almost got me believing that hermit crabs understand English.

A hermit crab being evicted/tortured.

A hermit crab without its shell.

Miss Evil watching them suffer.

Hermit crabs will find a new home once they lose their old shells. So it’s OK to force them out of their pretty shells. They’ll survive. Disclaimer: it is NOT OK to force them out of their shells.

Smallest complete shell found.

A cow-patterned shell.

Found hidden treasure bricks.

The Aquarius. Replace the sand with water.

This almost felt like a shoot at the beach with so many photos of her :S But the afternoon lighting was pretty harsh and I didn’t bring my Nikons along.

I have like 20 similar photos because girls become very trigger-happy when handed a dSLR.

I got quite sun burnt because of the afternoon sun but my skin color was nowhere near “the same color as my shirt”.

Zoe’s ring fetish.

And toe rings too. This kick is gonna hurt.

We made our way to the commercialized Port Dickson in the evening because I wanted to catch the sunset. It was packed.

Sunset by the beach. Straight from camera with slight levels adjustment. Used a Cokin P198 filter.

Pretty relaxing weekend. Thanks Zoe for the company! Continue reading

Melbourne International Motor Show 2009: More Cars

Here are some more cars from the Melbourne International Motor Show 2009.

Audi A4 TDI Quattro.

The “TDI” stands for Turbocharged Direct Injection. This Audi A4 has a turbocharged 3.0 liter V6 diesel engine that gives out 240hp and is on full-time 4WD. I’ve always been a big fan of diesel engines because they run cleaner, has more torque and are cheaper to run because diesel is slightly cheaper than petrol. It’s disappointing that we don’t get many diesel models here in Malaysia.

Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution: Ralliart Edition.

Comes with different styling than the normal version and also included is a Twin Clutch-SST gearbox from the Evo X MR. 235hp on tap.

Hummer H2.

Hummers look big on the outside but it’s actually not as spacious as it looks from the inside. Goes amazingly well with 40″ bling bling wheels.

Bentley Continental Flying Spur Speed.

As the name implies, the Spur Speed is all about speed. With 600hp from its V12 engine, it goes from 0-100kmh in 4.5 seconds. Keep in mind that this is a luxury saloon car weighing over 2.4 tons. And it can easily out-gun a Porsche 911.

Mazda Miata MX-5.

The Mazda Miata MX-5 is the world’s best selling 2-seater roadster. Introduced in 1989, till date over 800,000 have been sold. The one above is the third generation model, sporting a retractable hardtop roof.

Subaru Impreza WRX STI.

There are many variants of the Subaru Impreza, and the WRX STI is the highest spec Impreza that is available in the market.

And now for come concepts:

DSC_0211Honda Insight Concept.

This is the second generation Honda Insight hybrid vehicle. It has a 70hp 1-liter 3-cylinder engine and a 10kw electric motor. It will do 4.1L/100km. Comparatively, my car does about 10.7L/100km. The lower the number the better.

Honda Insight Concept’s dashboard. Very futuristic.

Toyota Camry Hybrid.

Not exactly a concept because it has been in production since 2007. Has a more powerful engine than the Honda Insight Concept. With a 147hp engine and 29kw electric motor, the Camry manages about 5.8L/100km.

Body is based on the Camry.

Drag car. Look at those distributors (red cylinders) and the gigantic supercharger (belt driven) and those crazy butterfly intakes at the top! 2000hp easily. Top fuel dragsters have over 6000hp. Interesting read on drag racing.

Click here to see more photos from the show.

Previous: Melbourne International Motor Show 2009: My Picks Continue reading