austin_dern (austin_dern) wrote,
austin_dern
austin_dern

We'll find a cloud to hide us

Back around August someone started selling DHL hot air balloon rides, and I finally took one. The cashier asked if a 4:20 ticket was all right. Since I didn't know what time it was, that seemed fine. (It was about 4:00.) So I wandered around to take in ambiance and read a poster in which DHL claims to give faster delivery to most of the world than hot air balloons do. After a couple minutes they made an inaudible announcement. Some people got on to the balloon, but they had the entrance walk roped off, so I didn't know how they got on. Finally a ticket-taker -- whose watch said 4:10 -- asked if I needed anything, and I said I had a ticket for the 4:20 ride, and he said I was the one they were calling with the inaudible announcement.

The launch site is an open patch near Bugis Junction, a mall made by enclosing several small streets and reopening them as air-conditioned pedestrian replicas of themselves. It is also adjacent to the famous New Seventh Storey Hotel, which is nine storeys tall and fifty years old. I noticed the dinner tables were making a getaway. The balloon was tethered but got up to about 150 meters high, if you believe the posters, and I don't see much reason to argue it, though this picture is the sort of shot that made me wonder if this was a really wise idea.

I tried to get a good panoramic view, starting from the upper levels of Parkview Square, where Batman of Singapore lives. North of Bugis is Rochor, part of Little India. More eastern is The Gateway, and the Kallang Basin, and East Coast Parkway over it. More southerly is Suntec City, location of about half my anecdotes, a group of five skyscrapers with a mall base. And more directly west, photographing into the sun and haze, is the City Hall and Raffles Place areas, and the central downtown.

The chopstick-like towers are the center of War Memorial Park, and past that are the Recreation Club and Cricket Club, which if I'm not mistaken is where the first plane to land in Singapore touched down. (If I am mistaken then it was Farrer Park, which isn't in this picture.) Somewhere under the ground are outstretches of the CityLink Mall. Raffles Hotel is the red-topped building at the lower center-right of this picture, with Raffles City above it. As the balloon descended I got a better view of downtown. And a view from the ground gives some comparisons for the size of Suntec City.

Trivia: Railroad companies in England were made responsible for their passengers' health and safety in 1864. Source: The Railway Journey, Wolfgang Schivelbusch.

Currently Reading: The City: A Global History, Joel Kotkin.

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