The Roughest Drive of My Life
Tarlac Travel Blog› entry 2 of 3 › view all entries
March 30th, 2008 – by: JeAr
We arrived at our destination at exactly 7AM. The trip took less time than what we've originally anticipated. Since we took the bus going to Baguio, we were just dropped off at a Caltex gas station along the national road somewhere in Capas, Tarlac where we need to take a tricycle to get to Santa Juliana Spa Town. There were several tricycles there waiting for passengers, and one of them came to us and offered a ride for P300. What?!? No way, Jose! Or whatever his name was lol. So I called the center and asked them how much the normal tricycle fare would be to get there, and the lady said around P250 (still expensive to me).
So, we took off for Sta. Juliana. The ride was smooth most of the time. However, we noticed that in some areas, there were few-meter, un-paved gaps between the paved parts of the road. Weird. Then, as we began to notice that our butts were starting to ache, I looked at my watch and realized that we've been sitting/crouching in the tricycle for more than 30 minutes! Wow! Twenty minutes later, we got to our destination. No wonder the fare's expensive! So, being good people that we are (sometimes), we decided to pay the driver an extra P20. Hehehe :D
Sta. Juliana Spa Town is owned by Korean businessmen, and as far as I know, is the only place where you can organize a trek to the volcano.
The day-tour package costs P1,500 per person if there's 3 or more of you. But, in our case, since we're only 2, we had to pay P2,000. Boating across the crater lake costs an additional P250 per head, and since we wanted to do that as well, we asked them if there were other tourists going in 2's who's willing to share a 4x4 with us so we can save on money and go boating.
At 9AM, the 2 tourists arrived. Since I heard them speak in French, I tried to practice my French with them. I failed miserably. Oh crap. Well, at least I tried hehehe. Anyway, it turned out that they, Laurent and Stephan, were from Switzerland, and it ws their first time here. They were really nice for letting us go with them. However, just when we're about to leave the center, some commotion happened. Apparently, the driver who took the Swiss guys from Angeles City to the center wasn't aware that we paid the center, and since the Swiss paid for a 4x4 for themselves, the driver insisted that we should get our own (despite assurances from the guys that it's okay for us to join them).
And so we left. Wooohoo! After several meters, the narrow, paved road gave way to an un-paved one that leads to what they call Crow Valley. It was a dramatic change of scenery, a picture of contrasts. The vast, open space looks all barren and lifeless save from a few grasses and shrubs growing here and there. From a distance, you see the green mountains standing like great barriers separating the lahar-covered area from the rest of the country.
Whoa whoa whoa wait a minute: Mordor? Yes! That's it! I felt like we're hobbits traipsing the land of the enemy towards our own destruction. I loved it! I was discovering a whole new world. I was seeing things I've never seen before with my own eyes.
Another bummer was that it was sooo difficult to take pics! We were driving too fast for such a rough 'road', plus it was hot and dusty. Damn! We all really wanted to capture those views.
So, after an hour of driving through the moon-like terrain, passing through some streams and creeks, and doing an almost-literal rollercoaster ride through the mountains (and I really mean almost-literal), we made it to the end of our drive, dusty, sweaty, but still feeling good and of course, excited for the actual trek!!!
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