First up was our introduction to ‘The Jeepney’ an elongated jeep usually in polished silver metal with various sometimes gaudy paintings on the side, the name of the jeep and/or sometimes references to God, lastly lots of things on the dashboards to lower the driver’s field of vision. We later found out that having a ‘field of vision’ was not a necessity as the driver seems to spend a lot of his time either talking to or obtaining money from, his passengers behind him. The ride itself was quite uncomfortable but as we were only going a couple of stops this did not really matter. Once at our stop, we got onto the hotel’s guide trike and were off down into the caldera to catch our boat to the volcano.
Whilst the ride was bumpy and it took quite a while to get to our destination it was all good as it was a fine day and whereas others were engaged in hard work repairing the roads we were travelling on, we had the very good fortune of being on a trip out – much, much better. Our boat was the good ship Euro Star and we jumped in and were off over the lake formed around the volcano. We thought we were heading for what to us looked like a volcano but it turned out we were wrong, this was a false volcano and dead (Sacre Bleu! La Volcano dest mort! [Fr]) and we carried on towards another island in the lake which looked far less volcanoey.
The island (volcano) we were dropped at was hot and dusty and after paying our Volcano fees – you know, for the upkeep of the volcano and to enable the authorities to purchase more magma! – we were off walking up the trail. This was not before we were asked quite a few times if we wanted to ride a horse to the top as ‘we may get lost along the way’, such were the twists and turns in the path. Tempting though this was, we were here to walk and we had been told the way up was relatively easy. The way up did turn out to be straightforward (Thanks honest horse-taxi touts – I hate you all!) and ‘relatively’ easy if a little hot and dusty.
Along the way we were often accosted by women and children selling souvenirs but this did not last long as, because we were walking, they already seemed to deem us mad and not to be spoken to. Unperturbed we continued up and the views of the surrounding lake in the caldera were stunning you could see the town we had left from and it looked a very long way up – the scale of these things always takes my breath away. At the top there were more souvenir shops, a viewing platform and … a golf club.
Well not necessarily a golf club but there were sellers (in gaudy clothes) with clubs selling shots into the volcano which was full of water. There were also a great deal of Japanese tourists there in golf style trousers – i.e. sickly colours/patterns – so the scene was all set and to be honest there must have been some golfers amongst them as one guy in particular seemed to be able to ‘ace it’ every time and get the ball into the water which seemed a considerable distance away. The view into the volcano was as good as the view outside and steam was rising from the water edge and bubbles rising to the surface near the edge too.
We refreshed ourselves went to a loo which pulled no punches when outlining its charging policy (see photo) and then proceeded to take the long walk back down.
Going down we noticed one or two vents which seemed to be giving off steam and as my hand neared the hole you could tell this was red hot – well steaming hot anyhow – oh for a kettle, teabag, sugar, possibly scones with clotted cream and jam too!
We continued on once again being accosted by women and children to buy their wares, as we did not purchase anything some of the kids gave us some lip but it does not really bother me. Down and back to our boat we went and the return trip was as good as the first crossing.
When we reached ‘civilisation’ – at the top of the caldera – we decided to try a small grubby cafe we had seen earlier for a spot of lunch. This was excellent both taste-wise and price-wise, so what was there not to love. Back to our digs for a siesta and to discuss our route for the following morning on to Legazpi then back out for the night and eats. We found a bar with reasonably priced food and an unreasonably sounding live band. The band composed of one camp male singer, one tarty female singer and a backing group, the drummer of which appeared to be disabled in the arm area – had two but one looked somewhat withered, still his drumming was far better than the male singer’s singing.
After trying to listen to there warblings for some time – they even played a request from Liz for free – locals had to pay – we went as we knew tomorrow would be a long, long day but at this point we had no idea just how right we would be.