We glide southwards over horses, cattle, the odd yak and a pack of dogs that bark furiously as the huge red translucent globe passes above them.
Early-rising schoolchildren stare at the apparition in the sky.
Most of the 45 staff, even the masseurs, are villagers trained from scratch and delightfully eager to please.
Because the aviation inspectors arrived late, Hannah and I had to spend more days than we bargained for in this luxurious retreat, which was certainly no hardship.
Save for a single rifle shooter, Bhutan has sent only archers to the Olympics, but has never won a medal because Olympic targets are only half that distance.
We explored the courtyards and temples of the ancient monastery as monks performed rituals with horns, drums and a mournful pipe called a , made from human thigh bones.
A balloon could not take off or be retrieved on the rocky plateaux and snowfields of Bhutan’s highest peaks, or in its dense southern jungles.
Finally Cary Crawley, a professional balloon pilot from England, lands us on a meadow sandwiched between the river and a tilled field, the wicker basket bumping three times along the frosty grass before it comes to rest on its side. Khin Omar Win, one of the trip’s organisers, beams and asks rhetorically: “How exciting was that?
From the outside, it resembles two Bhutanese farmhouses connected by a low barn.
Inside, however, floor-to-ceiling windows offer sublime views of the cloud-wreathed valley below.
It also gave us more time to explore a valley rich in unexpected delights.
We watched maroon-robed boy monks hurling foot-long homemade darts at a distant target in a game called and using bamboo bows, the archers regularly hit a small wooden post 140 metres away, prompting celebratory dances and songs from their teammates.