Two Meet Ups within Two Hours. Why Sleep?? (Taal and Pagsanjan Falls)
Manila Travel Blog› entry 83 of 121 › view all entries
Sleep really wasnâ€™t a viable option at this point, so I started watching a film until Naj rolled in. I got a quick shower as well only to find her crashed out on the bed. Errr no madam, that wasnâ€™t happening! Once dry and changed, I climbed up and over her with one leg either side, and bounced her awake shouting â€˜Come on Naj, we canâ€™t sleep nowâ€™ and reluctantly she got up and ready. Once changed we went in search of the 24 hour McDonalds we were all supposed to meet at.
During a very, very sluggish breakfast, we sat and waited with Reychel and Jerry for everyone else to brave the pre-sunrise hour. It wasnâ€™t a long waiting time, and in rolled JeAr, RJ, Jegs, Winnie, Aureli, Apo, and Jenneth, and we all squashed into the a minivan destined for Taal Volcano.
It was only a three hour ride to the lake, but the bumps did prevent sleep (despite me being sat in the more spacious front), and we actually arrived before the boat station had even opened (it was 6:30am and the station was due to open at 7am).
The time seemed to fly by, and we were the first visitors of the day to traverse the lake and climb to the summit. That, for me, was perfect. Weâ€™d be missing the bulk of the Manila day trippers and enjoy the unopposed views in relative solitude.
Taal is still an active volcano and you can actually feel the molten heat beneath your feet. The vents actually release sulphurous smoke along the path you are walking up.
We were all breaking a sweat, but plodded on upwards in the morning heat, and Iâ€™m sure I echo everyoneâ€™s opinions when I say the views made it all worth while. Thankfully none of us were overweight, though I was carrying a little bit of â€˜holiday weightâ€™ and thus unlikely to trigger any untimely seismic activity, but thatâ€™s not to say it wasnâ€™t tiring. The arduous trek to the top seemed to give an additive to the rewarding feeling at the summit whilst overlooking the crater lake. Weâ€™d managed to get there even before the stalls at the top were open to sell much needed refreshments! I can remember being incredibly thirsty and believing someone was lying by saying it wasnâ€™t even 9am! It had already felt like an entire days metabolic expense had been used up; I didnâ€™t now how much was left in the reserve of my ectomorphic frame. Anyhow, with being total in awe of Mother Natureâ€™s ability to produce such places of spectacular beauty, we all started the more rapid departure downhill, just in time to meet the first of the day trippers at the base!
Back across the lake, and with a couple of bottles of water washed down, we set off for Pagsanjan Falls and Part II of our day. I can remember being grateful for the carbohydrate overload from the night before. Iâ€™d be needed that slow-release enjoy (well in truth, I didnâ€™t, but maybe if I wasnâ€™t so selfish, I could have shared some with the guides who had to row our lazy selves upstream against rapids).
We actually decided to get some lunch pretty soon after we got back to the main town from Taal, and Reychel and Jenneth ordered a huge selection of Philippino food for the table to share. It was lovely, and sometimes after food, and youâ€™re really full, thereâ€™s just that little bit of room for Starbucks. We all got back into the minibus and hit the main road, before someone, possibly me, suggested we get some. There was actually a Starbucks right by the restaurant where we had just eaten, so we quickly turned to go back. After go past the coffee shop, we U-turned once more and found it; any longer or any more twists and screams to turn and the driver my have imploded from stress.
A refreshing cup of wake-up juice later and we were back on the now familiar road to Pagsanjan Falls. It was here (on the Lagaslas Rapids) that Apocalypse Now was filmed.
Myself, Najiah, and Jay got onboard one of the boats (we all had to branch out into smaller groups of three) and our two guides took us upstream to the main fall. They werenâ€™t exactly old guys, but certainly werenâ€™t spring chickens either! There were moments where they have to get out of the kayak and pull the boat containing us three up the rocks and back into the water. I actually felt pretty guilty letting them do this, but obviously not guilty enough to get out and actually lend a helping hand! They had been doing this all day long for the tourist tours from Manila and now we were the last arrivals of the day; the poor guys looked shattered.
As we were rowed up the rapids, myself and Naj (we were sat in the front positions) heard this occasional wail, and I thought what the hell is that? I turned to see a sniggering Naj and terrified Jay (he has a bit of a phobia towards water). We werenâ€™t exactly kind and instead of offering reassurance, we filmed the episode. I think one of the worst traits man is called Schadenfreude, which means laughing at anotherâ€™s misfortune, but we seemed to have it in absolute abundance!
There are a few relatively weaker falls on the way up to the main powerful gush of water. Itâ€™s not a tall waterfall, but the propulsion of the water is incredible. It sends out huge ripples, almost waves, from where it breaks the surface of its self-created pool. We all piled onto a raft and got pulled into the splash pool for a little swim around and play in the undercut cave. It was at around this point that it started raining. We were all wet and down to minimal clothes anyway that it really didnâ€™t worry anyone. Weâ€™d had a brilliant clear morning for the volcano, and now a little drizzle whilst we were in the water, but it really didnâ€™t matter; on the contrary, it was quite fitting in a way. Once off the raft and out of the water it was a different tale though. I can remember being reasonably quiet and slightly cold as with drifted with the current back downstream to the start point where we could all dry off before regrouping in the minivan and squeezing back up for the trip back to Manila.
One last stop of for some Jollibee, and we played a few guessing games to pass the time on the three hour trip back to Manila (though it wasnâ€™t long until the vast majority of the bus had passed out). We pulled in at around 12am and we were all totally flaked out. Myself and Najiah went back to the hotel to finally get a nightâ€™s sleep. It had been an amazing day and everyone had been fabulous company. How can you not love the Philippines when it offers days like this?