A Volcano like a Russian doll
If there's one thing I've discovered from my numerous trips around the world, especially in South East Asia, it's learning how to adapt not only to the environment but as well to the culture, the weather, topography, whatever comes to your mind.
You have to accept and at times respecting differences, knowing how to read the weather, finding new ways of saying something, or, in my case, telling my adventures in the Philippines.
In line with my new project to take out my analog gear much more and to share my wonderous explorations with you, my dear readers, I thought it best to deliver my latest endeavor south of Manila with as little effort as possible.
So from here on, Analog Adventures will be my theme in most of the upcoming posts. In between, there might be some other posts, but Philippine Adventures will be undoubtedly the main articles you will see. So I start off with my packed story about the trip to the not so distant volcano in Taal.
There are so many various attractions and scenic views of the Philippines, and most everyone carries a unique tale of mystery. The beauty of each charm is rooted in legends. That's the same with Taal Volcano one of the famous tourist spots in Southern Luzon.
Taal Volcano’s famed beauty is believed to come from an old saga.
It tells the story of a wise old man and the town of people he tried to guide ....
or to others, it is a saga about
... there once a princess name Taalita who were given a special gift from her King father. A gold ring which according to King Balindo .....
According to volcanologists, it's considered one of the world's most dangerous active volcanoes. Nevertheless, it is a sight to behold with its unique form and magnificent scenery.
Just 55 kilometers south of Manila, the Volcano has erupted 30 times since the 16th century. The overall death toll accounts to more than 5,000 people. Hundreds of other tourists and I are climbing up daily. Perhaps, as it is the smallest active volcano in the world - just 311 meters tall - makes Taal sound relatively unintimidating. There are many offerings from different agencies to take the route to Tagaytay, one big holiday town at the Taal Lake. So as many are coming here, it wasn't an easy decision to go there.
After arriving in Tagaytay, the first step is to take an outrigger boat across the deep blue waters of Taal Lake to Volcano Island. For this 15-minute trip, you can hire a boat yourself or join a group tour from Tagaytay. Once you arrive at the main jetty on Volcano Island, you can choose whether to do a 30 to 40-minute hike up its slope or complete the ascent on horseback.
If you're a skilled barterer, you can certainly get a good deal. Getting to the Volcano Island was an easy task, and surprisingly I had a Russian Guide to tell me something about the history of the volcano and show me the right path up to the rim.
Due to the Russian Guide and the unique setting:
Tiny Vulcan Point Island sits inside Crater Lake, which lies inside the Taal Volcano, which is inside Taal Lake. All are contained within Taal Caldera.
A massive volcanic crater created hundreds of thousands of years ago by a gigantic eruption.
It reminded me of a Russian doll.
Despite the rough, bumpy dirt path, which leads up to the volcano rim, it was an enchanting experience. The slope is relatively gentle, making it a relatively easy hike for people even with a low level of fitness.
The higher you ascend, the more striking the views beyond the island and the waters of Taal Lake. Hiking shoes or jogging shoes are advised -- the dirt path is generally uneven and unstable. Climbing up you can detect acid, chemical odor. The acrid fumes or strong sulfuric scents of the active volcano.
The volcano is only closed to visitors on the rare occasion that Filipino authorities upgrade it from an "Alert Level 0" to an "Alert Level 1," which means there's no threat of imminent eruption but that the volcano is behaving abnormally.
Climbing up you will be soaking in sweat, that's the payoff of scaling the volcanos sprawling views of the crater, its lake and beyond. The waters of the Crater Lake are gently bubbling in specific areas, while other patches are stained white by sulfur.
If you come early and are adventurous, you can hike around the rim. There are two trails, both about a kilometer long, which head in opposite directions around the edge.
Like the path up the mountain, I was told that they are rugged and the going is slow. These paths are quite narrow, with abrupt drops on one side, so attention is required. The vapor, rising from the earth near sections of these trails, gives a hint of the volcano's deadly power.
So is it worthwhile coming here? YES!