There is very little sound to be heard other than the cooing and wowing of other people in the basket. Oh, and the ferocious sound of the gas burners firing. When you hear a balloon go overhead, it's little more than a gentle 'pffff'. Up close and personal it's a sudden noisy blast which is accompanied by an incredibly warm feeling on your face, despite the heat shields that surround the nozzle.

We continue to rise - perhaps 20 feet now - and head towards one of the many peculiar rocky structures. It's column-shaped with a soft ice-cream cone on top, and we're about to crash into it. At least that's what it feels like, but even as we move toward it, we continue to rise - we're tracing the sloping curve of the rocky structure perfectly, as if there is a force-field a few inches thick keeping us from scraping along the rock. Lars is looking very relaxed, and I remind myself that he has done this thousands of times before. He makes it look a doddle.

Collage of balloon shots
Different views of 'the other balloon'.

We continue over one of the many valleys on towards the first place that Lars intends to show us up close - 'Love Valley'. Here we see the first major concentration of 'fairy chimneys' - this being the name given to the peculiar-shaped (and by that I mean 'Phallic') columns which probably should have been given a far more ruder name. One look at these structures, and you would probably agree that 'Lust Valley' is more appropriate.