Riding across a distance of 340 km to the east of Bagan, I head to Taunggyi, the capital city of Shan State. There, I want to see first-hand the country's biggest hot air balloon festival, which takes place between late October and early November. Beneath the faint blue sky are rice fields stretching all around. I am entering Shan State when an undulating panorama slowly emerges, announcing my arrival at a mountain range. Beyond its ridge in the far distance appears white cumulus clouds. The slope gets increasingly steep, and the road gets winding and narrow along the contours and folds of the hills. At every single corner, I am reminded just how agile the Yamaha really is with its small turning radius. As I climb on, houses and huts begin to show up in my field of vision. The roads also start to open up, so I know that I am approaching the city – this is Taunggyi. I head straight to the site of the festival to be met with the spectacle of floating pandas, horses, and other uniquely shaped hot air balloons rising up in to the air. What I don't realise until later is that this was just a teaser for what was to come. The sun sets, and by 7pm it gets dark. This would usually be the cue to pull out my jumper to wrap myself up, but today I don't need it as I stand in the middle of large crowds of spectators that have gathered, smouldering with a radiance of jittery anticipation that I hadn't felt around me earlier in the day. At the centre of the site is a particularly large hot air balloon waiting for its moment: A huge flaming torch is put in and the balloon quickly inflates. Still tied to the ground, it grows bigger and bigger, getting closer to the brim. "It's going to burst," I say to myself, and I nearly shut my eyes in dread when the gigantic monster finally gets released. As it slowly ascends in to the night sky, and the sheer scale of the balloon comes into view, it suddenly dawns on me what the crowds have been waiting for. Under the massive central balloon, dozens of smaller ones dangle down, from which, much to my shock and amazement, fireworks begin to launch downwards, in the direction of the ground below. The crowd's faces light up, and they start running frantically away from the overhead explosions in a state of frenzied hilarity. The night continues in this way well past midnight with a series of such balloons taking off each hour. Getting a bit exhausted from all the excitement, I realise that the last bus has long gone so I decide to make a move, thankful I came on my bike. Under the shadow of yet another balloon launched into the night sky, I ride off towards the hotel. "It's going to take a while to actually get to sleep tonight" I say to myself, in a state of delirium, the glowing engine of the Yamaha seeming to echo my rapture as the bike tears through the November night chill.