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Fire balloon competition lights up Myanmar's Shan State

Modernity meets tradition -- and a bit of danger -- at the annual festival

Team members try to save a squirrel balloon. (Photo by Steve Gilmore)

TAUNGGYI, Myanmar A huge blue squirrel is in trouble, sagging and listing awkwardly from side to side while its red and yellow peers rise smoothly into a clear sky. But the teams that enter the fire balloon competition in Taunggyi -- capital of Myanmar's Shan State -- have been doing this for years, and no one lets a balloon go down without a fight.

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