Thursday, September 24, 2015

Trekking Mount Pinatubo

The amazing Mount Pinatubo is located Northwest of Manila. It's last volcanic eruption was on 1991. Since the eruption pumped up a huge volume of ash and lava, these are now visible when you visit the place since it has piled up into gigantic walls of mountains. It is famous for its turquoise-colored crater lake. I have seen photos before we went and the landscapes are just effortless. This is the very first Mountain I trekked. I never thought I'd add up one more in my bucket list but I did. I'll be posting real soon about my Indonesia mountain discovery trip.


Anyway, Camille was the one who researched and organised this trip and she happened to check out TriPinas. Facebook link is on the hyperlink. 

Pinatubo Tour Package Inclusion:

* Aircon land transfer (Manila-Pinatubo base camp-Manila) inclusive of toll fee and gas
* 4x4 wheel drive adventure 
* Local guide for the trek
* All applicable fees (conservation, local pinatubo guide)
* Certificate of Conquest
* Tour coordinator from TRIPinas travel and tour ventures


Their prices has just increased from 2090 to Php2120. You wouldn't believe the guide, Mr Tee is French! He is very approachable and gave enough information especially on the Do's and Dont's. He also knows the history of the place, he was carrying around a bulky folder with old photos of Pinatubo. 


So as the itinerary goes, at 2:30am. We were at El Pueblo McDonald's at Julia Vargas for the meet-up. Thank God there was no traffic that early because we woke up late. Like 1:45AM -- late. I was still able to shower in 2 minutes and off we went. At around 5:15AM ETA, we were at Brgy. Sta. Juliana (base camp) to board to our designated 4x4 jeep. We were 6 in the group and divided into 2 jeeps. Started trekking around 7:30AM, estimated time to arrive at the crater was in 2 hours. We might have exceeded a little but we were right on track.


The view is just WOW. That's all I can say at first glance. Truly astonishing with its blue and green colored lake. It was inviting but the cold breeze will discourage you. Plus we didn't bring additional clothes. And they prohibit swimming, kind of confused there when I saw some foreigners had a dip into the water. The color of the lake probably depends on its season because some of the photos I saw of the lake was turquoise. The landscape is just unbelievably nature and I love the cold breeze. You would love to sunbathe with your clothes on. :P


At around 11:30AM, we all started the return trek and back to the base camp probably by 2:30PM to freshen up. There is a pay toilet 5Php but you have to line up and wait. The rest of us found a local pump and we asked a local if we could freshen up. The locals gladly lent us their tabo and there is what I call ligong kambing. I only bathe my head and our wet towel did its purpose.

Around 6-6:30PM we realised we were in Manila as we welcomed the homegrown traffic. It was a tiresome trek since we trekked it longer than expected. We probably missed an hour but it was also fun, the landscapes are not to miss!

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Donsol - Whaleshark Diving and 2 Friendly French

That moment when I realized that going to Catanduanes isn't a good plan for 2 days to hunt for Bote Island, we opted to see the whale sharks instead since it's pretty close. It was about a week before Holyweek. 

We were all set just a few minutes passed 5:30am. Tyo Sam was driving and had announced a rough estimate of 2 hours from Tabaco. I let JR seat at the passenger's seat while I enjoyed going back to sleep at the back of the seats. We were on a car capable of riding 10 passengers and yes, I owned the second row.


I woke up when we arrived in Legazpi and next thing I know, were already in Sorsogon at around 6:30am. We decided to eat breakfast in Jollibee. How original. It was the crack of dawn so I don't think an unrivaled eatery or restaurant would be open. 


As soon as we arrived at the vicinity, we called the contact. He is one of the tour guides with a Tourism badge hanging on chest when he approached us. We immediately went to the crowd of white people trying to pay for the charges and registration. Unfortunately, our contact was not permitted to guide us since we were already assigned to a boat, they said. We didn't mind and Manong was a total sport with that. We bid him goodbye and a promise for a next time. 


One boat costs 3500php, you can own the boat for the whole tour of course if you can afford it. Since we cant, we were assigned to a boat of six people. 3500 / 6 = 583.33php x 2 = Total of 1166.67 for Jr and me. Our crowd were 2 Danish, 2 French and us, 2 Pinoy. After the payment, we went to this introduction room where everyone is being informed on the Do's and Don'ts


Photos shown above is an eatery, the toilet and changing room. The right side is an equipment store where you can rent or buy some swimming gear, including goggles, flippers and board shorts. This also serves as a souvenir shops selling keychains.


We had a long chat with Kuya but I am sorry to have forgotten his name. He was getting ready as the other crew roared up the boat's motor. As a review, he was very approachable and gave us a full detail on this trip. Informative details as well like where to stay, what areas to explore and definitely gave us safety instructions on how we can fully enjoy this dive with the butandings. The current was quite strong so Jr and I opted to wear our life vests. Kuya was always there to team up with us since the Europeans have enacted comfort swimming without a lifeline. 

I ended up chatting with the French Smail who speaks very good English. He was eager to see what my camera caught in action so I had him sneaked a couple of videos. He was with ---- They're both divers and since I am friendly I offered them a ride to Legazpi. We ate at a local eatery, the food was definitely to be proud of especially their crispy pata and as the day approaches to a near end we were able to suggest a cheap but a nice hotel near the airport and ended up at Legazpi  Market where Smail is looking for small souvenirs to bring home. Hope to bump into you two somewhere. Merci for the postcard you sent me and I'll be sending mine soon!

Whale sharks are huge fish and these ones you are seeing on the videos sized up as big as a tourist bus. Kuya said it was probably 8-9meters long and the weight of approximately  (40-47,000 lbs). I was totally at awe when we saw it swam passed us, it has a relatively smaller mouth but I did find it sooo cute. Like it was smiling while it opens its mouth. The size is enormous and the feeling is surreal while we were floating above patterned gray and white creature. We probably dove 5 times but never encountered the same whale. 

Although whale sharks are docile fish, divers are not supposed to go closer than 4 feet. Those small finishes that swims underneath this friendly creature are absolutely adorable to watch. They are commonly seen underneath its gill slits and pectoral fins. They all seemed to be hitching a ride or probably get eaten.

Too bad the water was not clear even it was summer time. I've seen photos from Oslob and the water is better. I will probably get a photo with it when I go there. The experience was amazing and I could tell my eyes never was as big as that feeling when I saw this lovely creature. If you're up for an adventure, you should try diving/swimming with the whale sharks!

Trivia: It has been estimated that whale sharks may live up to 100 - 150 years.