Trekking Up The Worlds Smallest Volcano
Trip Start Oct 06, 2011
8Trip End Oct 10, 2011
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However, once I touched down and cleared immigration and customs which did not take too long, I met my driver Mr. Jojo waiting for me at the receiving area. Once I met him, I had to excuse myself to go to the washroom and brush my teeth. Well, in the Philippines, the toilet is known as comfort room.
After settling my ablutions, I headed out while waiting for Jojo to get the car. There, the first stalker came up to me and gave me a long story as to how he has seen me in Singapore before and wanted some money as he had a major problem and was not allowed to board the flight until he paid the money. Somehow, I managed to excuse myself and got into the car.
From my observation, daylight in Philippines starts around 5 am and the sun sets again at 5 pm. Quite early compared to Malaysia. By 5 am, the traffic on the roads in Manila start to build up and gets to its worst around 7 am where 5 kilometers of distance can take around 2 hours.
That much being said, we head south of Manila to one of the highways and got a long drive out to the town of Talisay where the Taal Lake and Volcano were. Just to give a brief introduction, Taal volcano was once the second highest volcano in the world and over the centuries, the eruptions had spilt larva into the lake and thus the water level has risen drastically. Today, it is the smallest volcano in the world due to the rising water levels. However, this is still an active volcano. The last eruption being in 1976 and it had killed around 3000 people then. In the past few months, the volcano has shown some activities again and it is expected to erupt anytime soon as well.
The town of Taal and Tagaytay are hill stations, though Tagaytay is higher which I would be visiting later today. Taal itself was very cool and had a gentle breeze. The scenery was beautiful as it was a small town with a lot of fishermen and also people who have purchased houses here as resort homes, right beside the Taal Lake.
First, we stopped somewhere along the way at a scenic curve of the road to get some good photographs of the lake and volcano. Then, we headed a few kilometers and we were met by the boat owner. We gave him a ride to a village and then we boarded a small boat which ferried us across the Tall Lake.
Until before the last eruption, the Taal Lake had sharks in its waters I was told. Luckily today, there arent anymore. Here, life was very simple and the entire boat journey was simply beautiful. One could just sit back and enjoythe beautiful breeze and view.
The boat ride took about an hour and then we came to the volcanic island. As for the people living in this island, they are very very poor and their main source of income is the horse rental which trekkers like myself could hire to go up the volcano right up to the crater. Of course, the fee is not much, around 700 pesos.
The moment I arrived, I was swarmed by many people trying to sell me various things but I just smiled at them and walked away. Unlike other Asian countries, the poeple here gave up pretty fast and within a short time, moved away from me and continued with their own chores. We stopped for a short coffee here as I had not had my breakfast yet and then the horse ride up the vomcano started.
All throughout the way, there was steam sprewing out from the rocks and I was just hoping that no severe activity would happen while I am there. Hehehe. The trek up took around 2 hours on horseback and there were quite a few who trekked up on foot. Not an easy trke though. But the horse ride was very interesting too.
Once on the top, stayed there for about an hour and enjoyed the view of the crater. Previously, people were allowed to go into the crater and have a swim but now, after the commencement of the activities, all swimming in the crater has been prohibited by the authorities. In some parts, you could see the water is at a boiling temperature too. After the rest up the crater, we decided to come down back to the village.
Interesting ride down and it was more difficult to handle the horses. Once down, of course, you would get the usual phrases.....Tips please Sir!!!!.....Tips for horse Sir!!!!...I just wondered why in the world would the horse need tips when I have already paid a hefty sum (by Philippino standards) for the horse ride.
I also paid for another horse for the guide as I prefered having him with me all along the way too. Then, we took the boat back to the village across the lake and then dropped the boat owner somewhere in the middle of Talisay town. By the time we did this, it was already 11 am. Talisay town is also a very laid back town, but definitely better than many of the towns which we had passed this morning to arrive her. It was organised and surely had signs that it is someway quite modern. Also, noted that many of the Filipino peoples houses here were quite decent, unline the shacks that I had seen in the previous town. I was told that most of the familes here, have children and family members working overseas and they are considered quite wealthy compared to other Filipino people.
On the whole, I would strongly recommend this experience to all travellers. Although this place is a few hundred kilometers from Manila, it is worth the effort.