Hobbits, Trekking, and the Ring we must destroy
Trip Start Feb 01, 2008
8Trip End Apr 07, 2008
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with my family, but this time with much more hiking in mind. (Eileen stayed
behind that day to study). When you arrive in Tagaytay, you are on a ridge,
overlooking Taal lake, with a few islands in the middle. Once, that lake itself
was a great volcano, and the ridge we were on was the crater's edge. Now, only
the volcanic activity has decreased to a few spots in the middle islands. "Taal
Volcano" is the Philippines smallest and most active volcano, recently erupting
in Feb 2000. Our hike was to take us up Taal, and then into its mouth.
We woke up that morning at around 5, hoping to leave for
6/6:30. We were fortunate to have a driver, because we got the extra Z's we
needed on the 2 hour drive up there. (It worked out really well actually. We
woke up, got in the car, fell back asleep, and there we were!)
To get to the lake, you need to take a long and extremely
steep path down to the water level. We decided to walk this road to wake us up
and to keep our van away from the engine-exhausting climb it would have to
endure to get us back up. It took about an hour and a half, but we reached the
bottom and began looking for the best deal we could find for a boat to take us
over to the island.
By the time we arrived, we were already pretty tired and
parched. The sun was beginning to make its way through the clouds, and there
was not much (if any) room for shade on this path. We made our way up to the
top, to view the glorious mouth of Taal Volcano. From the top, you can see the
crater's lake, filled with sulfuric acid from the volcano's residue of gasses.
We decided to hike down, sizing up the potential trek, and
thinking nothing of it. The locals couldn't seem to grasp that we DID NOT want
a Trekking guide... we just wanted to go on our own and avoid the unnecessary
expense. And with the language barrier, it seemed to them that we were arguing "how
much we should pay for a guide," when really we were trying to tell them "we
don't need a guide in the first place!"
They eventually got it, and warned us of the many paths that
may get us lost. They seemed to be snickering as we went off, probably putting
up bets on whether we'd make it or not..... "I say the darker one makes it, but
the white one's doomed."
As we made our way across the ridge, through the thick
grass, we began our decent to the lake at the bottom. We soon realized why they were so adamant about the
Guide. It was no path for a Sunday walk. This was a trek!
Gradually, we made our way to the bottom. As we approached
the lake, we walked towards a Geyser (which we saw steaming from the top),
bubbling a grayish liquid, and fumigating various gasses and smells. It was
upon our approach to this distinct hotspot that I reveled my true intention for
A few days beforehand, I had let go of something that has
been a part of me for 6 years. Something that has been attached to my body
without removal for 5 strait years.... My lip-Ring. To me, this lip-ring has
become a symbol of my life within the time it has been a part of me. And taking
it off was like letting go of this time in my life, and moving on.
Like I said, it was a few days before that I had woken up
one morning, and decided that it was just time. I hadn't previously thought too
much into it, and as I always presumed, it would just take the little voice in
my head to whisper, "its time to let it go." So that morning I looked into the
mirror, heard the voice, and took it off. Surprisingly, it was not strange to
look at myself in the mirror and see a "pure" face for the first time in 6
years. It felt right, and I was happy. At that moment I decided to make an epic
journey out of the ring... to cast it off in ceremony. Like Froto Baggins, I took
the ring with me as my mission, and sought out an active volcano in which to
cast it away into.
It was at that moment, as we approached the mouth of the
active volcano, bubbling and spewing, which I recited my thoughts on the ring
to Ryan. I stood as close as I could get to the boiling liquid, and released
the ring unto its destiny. Along with it, I released the tensions of my past,
and a large chunk of my ego.
We then went on to have lunch by the lake, which we had
packed along with us. We were alone in the ancient crater. My Cousin Ryan and
I.... something we could only imagine doing together while sharing our time and
friendship together at camp as youngsters. Trekking....?... Phillipines...?..
Volcano's...?... maybe we wouldn't have imagined it.. but there we were!
We came all that way down and it would have been a shame to
not jump in for a dip. So although "sulfuric acid" doesn't sound like any place
for humans, it was like a lake sized hot spring waiting for us. There were some
spots that were too hot to swim, but we were advised prior exactly where we
could jump in. Even though we knew there couldn't be any life under that water,
something was very eerrie about unknown beneath us.... Maybe it was the murkiness
of the water, or perhaps just knowing that we were in a place, directly
connected to the center of the earth... ? ... Whatever it was, we didn't stay in
too long because of it.
The hard part was getting back out of that crater. The path
was steep.. and I mean steeeep! And the real problem was that we were running
dangerously low on water. So low, that the headaches started at the bottom! By
the time we made it to the top, we were both dehydrated, in poor condition, and
near collapse. We had carefully rationed out what water we had left, and
managed to take on the last km with none..... But we made it. When we got to the
top, there was a small station selling coconuts and water, set up by the locals
We then made our way down towards the (big) lake to jump
back on our boat to get back across. We were kind of worried that our driver
had left us, since it had been about 6 hours since we last saw him. (Usually,
most tourists go up and then back down... about an hour or 2 hour trip) But good
old Jeffrey was there waiting....
As we cruised back across the lake, we caught a reflection
of the sunset in the cloudy sky. We thought to ourselves that if it wasn't for
those clouds that day, we may have not made it. It was a strenuous day, and I
was happy to have taken it on with Ryan. We had a good time and I wouldn't
rather have anyone else present for that release than him.... It's funny really:
The last time I saw him before this trip, I had no lip ring. Over 6 years of
teenage growth, and there we stood face to face. It was only fitting that with
our re-connection, I let go of the past 6 years....
Tomorrow, Eileen and I are going to explore one of the
worlds great wonders. Famed by the
Filipino people are there ancient Rice Terraces of the north. UNESCO
placed the fabled "Rice Terraces of Ifugao" on the World Heritage site. We'll
drop another Entry write up when we return. Ifugao is a region in the north of
Luzon (main Island in Philippines). Anyone who's seen my room in the last 5
years has bound to have noticed a large selection of tribal edifices which
where all made from this region. We're on to a 4/5 day adventure, and we'll be
back by Fri when our dear friends Helen and Steven Cipes come to visit with us
here in Manila.
We will be posting more pics on this trip when we get back from the north. So check up again in this entry when you see that is has been updated.
For now, adu,
Daniel & Eileen