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Wednesday, 30 March 2011

February 27, 2011: Taal Volcano Trek

While my Ate Richie was here on vacation, we set out to Talisay, Batangas to visit the smallest volcano in the world, Taal Volcano. From Sta. Rosa, Laguna, we drove to Tagaytay to reach Talisay. We weren't aware that you can access Talisay at the Star Tollway. Pfft! However, that is where the adventure began. :D But you should be careful because the road from Tagaytay is pretty steep.

To reach the volcano, you must travel by boat. There are actually a lot of boat rentals within the area. Originally, we were supposed to rent a boat in Taal Yacht Club but there had been slight problems with our pick-up truck so we opted to rent in a nearby cooperative that is recognized by the Talisay Tourism Office for only P1,500 pesos. Those guys have an ID to prove it. And I'm happy to say that the comfort room in the terminal is really clean.

Me, Christopher and Charmaine on the way to the boat

You'd think that cooperative boats are ghastly and staff are not friendly but I must say that they are the best tour guides because they know their stuff. I was told by one kuya that the "Taal Volcano" that we see on postcards and on Tagaytay is just a part of the actual Taal Volcano. Okay, so my basic Philippine geography was corrected after how many years. LOL. The guide said that Taal Volcano is actually a complex volcano, meaning the volcano has many craters. So that Tagaytay view Volcano is just one of those craters, and its name is Binintiang Malaki.

I asked where we were going and he said that we are off to the Main Crater. Cool. And he said to watch out for Vulcan Point, which is the "island" on the Main Crater Lake. Sounds dangerous, Daddy wouldn't approve. Oh and BTW, the lake water that will splash on your face is clean. You'd also see occasional jet skiers on the lake.

Upon reaching the other side, there are horse rentals. It's kind of expensive but if you're up for the experience, it costs 800 pesos. But mind you, the horses are well taken cared of and really clean. A guide will also be available for you, especially in times that your horse goes lazy. And don't worry, they are all trained to handle horses. You can reach the crater rim by horse in 30 minutes or so. You can also go on foot, which will take you about 1 hour to reach your destination. We opted to rent a horse because we rarely get to ride a horse anyway. Say hello to a horse.

Hello there. O, you look at them when you say hello there.

The way to the crater rim is really dusty so I suggest that you bring your own mask or whatever device you have that you can use to cover your nose. I didn't use one because I figured that the dust is no match to the TB-infected air in the hospitals I've been exposed to. As you go up, you will appreciate the diverse flora and fauna present in the volcano. Actually, you won't think that you are stepping on an actual volcano while you're going up. You'll also see few portions of land where steam comes out.

Sizzling hawt on the right

When you reach the rim, you'll need to park your horse and climb up a few flights of stairs to see this amazing view.

That island over there is Vulcan Point

According to Tourism Philippines, the lake may have medicinal properties and people actually swim on it and some have even scuba dived on it. iWant! However, there has been mild activity noted since last year so swimming and scuba diving has been prohibited. Anyway, when you lean closer to the railings, you'll note highly sulfuric smell and the yellowish deposits (sulfur) on the lake shore.

Sulfur on the lake shore; green plastic bag = eyesore 

You can actually go down on the crater but it will take you hours to reach it from the crater rim because its route is on the other side of the island. But if you're up for the view, the conventional route that we took will do. Anyway, traversing the entire crater rim is already an adventure in itself because you'll see different colors of soil in there. There are parts that have clay, and others with the usual topsoil. But for the thrill seekers, the route to the Main Crater is the place to go.

Group picture on the crater rim: Ate Richie, Christopher, Me, Mommy and Charmaine

If you go hungry, there are mini stores there that sells water, sodas, buko juice, snacks and souvenir items. But as in all tourist destinations, stuff are expensive so if you're on a tight budget, you can bring your own food and drinks. But make sure to bring only what you can carry if you're travelling by foot. We brought our own water but forgot to bring along some crackers with us. Hrhr. But if you're going to eat there, make sure to throw your garbage at the trash bins provided so it wouldn't be an eyesore.

And in true blue student fashion, I studied for the next day's Introduction To Clinics exam on the crater rim. Nah, just messing around. I'm too lazy to remove that reviewer on my bag and I really have no intention of studying there. 

Taking nerdiness to new heights. NOT!

After a few more minutes, we set out to go down the volcano. The travel back down to the lake seems faster than it was going up.

Before going up the boat

What I didn't like is the ride back to the mainland. Since we're going against the waves, there are massive splashes that left us wet. Luckily, I brought extra clothes because my brother and I were set to go back to Manila after this. And I swear, those kuyas are really nice because they helped us with our pick-up truck and taught us the way back to Sta. Rosa via the alternate route to the Star Tollway.

But withstanding the wet shirt episode after the trip, this experience is really fun for us because we got to step into the crater of one of the Philippines' active volcanoes and that we're able to bond as a family before I spend the week, answering my exams. :)

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