Thursday, August 1, 2013

A Taal Tale: The Advineture

A beautiful view.
What a marvel nature is. This is the view of the crater of Taal from inside the volcano. Getting there isn't exactly rainbows and butterflies, though, and I tried to capture some of it with the great new app called Vine. Instagram has the same thing now too, but I don't know.. this one is still easier to use and is easier to place in the blog. Check out our very first advineture! :)

We started the journey from the Taal Lake Yacht Club in Talisay, Batangas. It was sad that Alvie wasn't feeling well that day and had to stay behind. She brought a couple of books to pass the time and planned to wait at the club. Well, let's just say the place wasn't as we expected based on the name. It was mostly just a group of huts, not exactly the venue for lounging around and being pampered while waiting. Ultimately, she did still stay behind, and took to one of the huts for some literary "me" time. Bye for now!

The boat ride was longer than I expected at about 20 minutes. Still, the air of excitement did not dissipate and office friends, Derek, Joyce, Lee and I enjoyed the refreshing breeze. There was an instance where the engine died due to lumot or seaweed getting all up in the rudder, but we were quickly back on track. The tour guide was very nice throughout the trip. Before long, we hit land and started a'trekkin.

There was a small village where we landed and that's where we started hiking from. One of us decided to take a horse along for the journey back, a wise decision. To begin with, there were strangely four horses following us, likely in case we needed them. A ways into the hike, Joyce started using her horse and the three others gave up and headed back.

After about 30 minutes of travelling upwards, we were at the "peak" of the volcano. We took a few moments to catch our breath and take in the beautiful view. Oh, and yes, pictures.

Next, comes the hard part: Walking down the steep path towards the lake at the center.

It took a lot of hiking and sliding, and grabbing rocks and vines to stay on my feet along the steep and narrow trail, but about 40 minutes later, we got much closer and the trail got much easier.

Finally at the crater and giddy like little children about how cool it all was. Not literally cool though, the place emanated a geothermal warmth and smelled as sulfuric as a chemistry lab gone wrong. It was all still very awesome scenery. How often can you say you  were at a volcano crater lake? This is actually my second time, my first experience was at Pinatubo, where we even took a long swim. This was before I read that Pinatubo's lake had lots of harmful chemicals. Haha. 

Compared to Pinatubo, Taal is surprisingly active. Pinatubo was all lahar and stagnant waters. Taal is full of heat, steam, and sulfur. Check out that boiling bowl of water. Our tour guide said some tourists even bring eggs to boil in there. I think I'll pass on the sulfur eggs, thanks.

More strolling around the lake and more boiling water and steam being spewed. The thought did cross my mind, what if the volcano suddenly erupted? I kept aware of the general heat of the place to make a quick getaway, but figured, It'd be too late to run away, anyway, so I just enjoyed the moment and shut that all out. Haha.

It was also so interesting to find out that all this is going on in the volcano, while we stare at it from afar when we eat at Leslie's. We did exactly that for lunch later in the day, but from now on, I can say I've been there!

This was me frolicking around the side of the lake. The ground was very, very soft and even collapsed under our feet in some areas. It wasn't dangerous (I think) and it was all fun, though. I felt like I was in a videogame (always a great feeling).

The others jumped in for a quick swim. I did not want to get moist (or moister) so I just hung out and rested for the climb back. I wouldn't pass an opportunity to check-in on Foursquare, too!

I had one dumb move for this trek, and that was forgetting to bring water. I managed to get all the way down, but I was feeling very dehydrated after. Despite a few sips of water from my gracious companions, I became very exhausted trekking the very steep path back up to the peak. After 2 or 3 breaks to catch my breath, I barely made it to the top. It felt like heaven to be back up there again, where I bought and drank my fill of water. Got a bit of sugary energy from a piece of gum, too. 

I'm on a horse. Joyce did not want to use the tiny horse on the journey back to the boat and I did not let a good ride go to waste. Haha. I was still a bit tired and it was also a huge help. I had only ridden horses on flat ground prior to this and it's a very different experience. I enjoyed the rocky trail (I'm not sure the horse did, though) and I felt like I was in Westeros.

The great thing about riding the horse is you can take your eyes off your feet and where you're going, and really appreciate the view of the place. It was remarkable. I would prefer trekking on my feet for a more real experience but I'd take the horse for the view.

It felt so good to be back on a boat, on the way back to the yacht club and a very, very bored Alvie. Water splashed on my face as I waited, and it felt amazing. Beyond the fatigue, it was a very awesome and memorable experience. I should go on more adventures.

In case you were wondering, it cost the four of us about 900 pesos each for the entire trek, including the boat and the tour guide. There was only an additional cost for the horse, which was 750 pesos. The trail we took was the secret trail posted here. It is more expensive and way more difficult. Taking a horse is highly recommended.

Lovely nourishment.
Finally at Leslie's, where we feasted on the usual bulalo and crispy kangkong. Too bad I was too tired to even think about blogging it!

Part 1:
A Taal Tale: Cafe Breton



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