Trekking the craters of Taal Volcano

One of my Bucket lists is to explore the crater of Taal Volcano and during our recent trip  last month in Philippines I managed to get some extra time to explore it with my backpacking friends.

While my daughter was still past asleep, I woke up around 4:30am and started our trip to Talisay, Batangas to explore the craters of Taal Volcano.

This beautiful, small & yet mysterious Volacano is  among the world’s 16 Decade Volcanoes as classified by the International Association of Volcanology and Chemistry of the Earth’s Interior. Decade Volcanoes bring the attention of the scientific community due to their large, catastrophic, and frequent eruptions and their proximity to large populated areas.

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Majestic view of Taal Volcano and its dreamy crater-lake waters.
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Binintiang-Malaki viewed from Picnic Grove.

The photo above of the view of Taal volcano  where Binintiang Malaki is seen is my fondest memory of the frequent trips to Tagaytay. We always go here because it has a very nice cool weather compared to other places in Ph. It’s the summer getaway in the Southern Tagalog region. I have always thought that it was the crater, but I was mistaken. I have learned that its only one of the 47 Craters that this volcano have.Yes, 47 craters!And I thought that the crater lake is the only attraction but I was wrong.It’s so much more.

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The crater lake of Taal

A closer look at the Crater Lake 

The crater lake on Volcano island is the largest lake on an island in the world.Moreover, this lake contains Vulcan Point, a small rocky island that projects from the surface of the crater lake, which was the remnant of the old crater floor that is now surrounded by the 2-kilometre (1.2 mi) wide lake, now referred to as the Main Crater Lake. Vulcan Point is often cited as the largest third-order island (island in a lake on an island in a lake on an island) in the world, though this is also claimed to be an unnamed Canadian island located within Victoria island.

We set off to drive to Talisay to meet our tour guide-Bryan .He gave us a very warm welcome in his place and did the orientation. We were given Buri Hats, orientation and briefing on how the tour will be done. Then He brought us to his boats and we have a nice, quiet boat ride to the Crater lake.The boat were colorful , unique and is of typical of this place.

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Blue-Boats

I could see seaweeds from the clear waters of the lake and I knew from the boatman that Taal Lake is home to the only known species of sea snake that inhabits fresh water, Hydrophis semperi. The lake itself has a sulfur content that is higher than normal, and it is good for swimming.The weather is not that 100% clear when we go and I frequently hoped that It won’t rain.

As we neared Volcano Island, we had a clear view of Binintiang Malaki (Big Leg, in English). This is a large parasitic cone that erupted violently in 1707 and 1715. Today, it is dormant; but Mother Nature is unpredictable.

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After we arrived at Barangay Look,we registered to the local municipality and Tourist registration office and immediately our horses arrived with our Guides are waiting for us. It was a very nice and one-of a kind experience to horseback riding in the coarse terrain going up to the steep and hilly path going to the crater. Some people prefer to walk but it was so dusty & hot and we have elderly persons with us so we chose to take the horse with us.

The easiest way to reach the core of Volcano Island is via Daang Kastila, The trek up the crater can be a hot and dusty one via Daang Kastila which takes 45mins to 1.5 hours. Hiking on foot is relatively easy, yet there are options to get to the crater on a horseback. Pack your sunscreen, sunglasses, hat or umbrella, snack and enough water for the hike.  Be aware that although this is the easiest route to the crater, recent volcanic activity has been noted in this area

I had seen the volcanic fumes coming out from the rocks and smell the sulfur. We need to pass the 14 station in order to get into the summit and reach the crater. There are other route/treks that can be accessed by tourists . It all depends on your choices and experience. I recommend to always go with a guide for safety reasons .

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We managed to get into the crater in time and was overwhelmed by the scenic views we passed through our horseback riding.It is worth all the dust, heat , sweat, and bumpy ride to be able to see this majestic view.The skies were a bit cloudy and yet we managed to see foaming bubbles that said to be burning sulfur.

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I highly recommend to explore this place. You’ll never regret it.It is a small and yet a big nature wonder hidden.

When you visit Taal Volcano, make sure to bring water, hats and plenty of sun screen lotion. Wear light clothes for it can get very hot, it being located in a tropical country. It is most recommended you get a head start early in the morning. You can either take a hike or ride on horseback to go up the ridge and see the beautiful Crater Lake.

Our guide was very helpful,and informative and If ever I would visit Taal once again and bring friends, I would definitely go with Bryan once again and for sure I would love to bring along some eggs to boil in the boiling waters of the crater!

What’s the off the beaten path thing you have done lately?

 

 

 

Malcapuya Island-Accidentally In love

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Island Hopping in Malcapuya Island

I fell in love at first sight to this island. Accidentally!

Malcapuya island is part of  the Calamianes group of islands and basically one of the hottest tourist spot in Palawan. Malcapuya island, together with the other islands of Calamianes, was a site of the Spanish politico-militar Provincio de Calamianes during the reign of the Spaniards. Later, it was dissolved by the American occupation forces and Calamianes was later joined to the Province of Palawan.

We were supposed to be going to the Banana island but our guide informed us that for some reasons, the island is not accessible and we are going to another beach as part of our Island Hopping trip. I visited Palawan with 3 or my girlfriends and we are so glad that we have made the decision to choose this place. It was beautiful. I couldn’t find any more words to describe this place. Just look at these photos . A real paradise tucked away in an endless horizon of azure,peaceful scenery.

 

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Malcapuya Island is one of the Island destination if you visited Coron,Philippines. This private island can only be accessed through the island trip arranged by the tour company and approximately 1.5 hours away from Coron. This island is owned by the Hennan Group of Resorts and regarded as the ultimate virgin beach, and it’s white sand beach can rival Boracay’s very own. The water that surrounds the island is crystal clear and almost like the morning sky with plenty of coral reef and offers a good  marine biodiversity where one can have the most enjoyable snorkeling destination. It has a very fine white sand ( better than Boracay!) and has the image of a virgin, untouched & genuine beach landscape. While you can enjoy the beach up to sky is the limit, the landscapes around Malcapuya could also leave you breathless. You can do a short hike & trek along its rough cliff and edges where you can have a great view overlooking the sea.

I could live in this place. It’s pure bliss just to look how blue the waters is against the cloudless skies.

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This little tree that managed to thrive on the edge of the cliff overlooking the Malcapuya beach. A real stunner. This is the most photographed part of the cliff.

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White and fine as a powder sand shores in Malcapuya

We stayed in a beach cottage with a hammock where we have a direct access of the beachfront. We enjoyed our lunch and just lazed around admiring our amazing view.  If you wanted to stay overnight, they have nipa hut cottages or you can bring your own tent to set up.

There are two restrooms with open air showers a few meters away from the huts.The island does not have electricity, but they have a generator which provides light and electricity at night.There are outlets in the huts where you can charge phones and camera batteries.You can also opt to stay in a simple house-for-rent on an elevated portion a few meters from the shoreline, which has a single room, basic yet comfortable beds, and a decent restroom.

For backpackers, Here are your must-haves when visiting this island : insect-repellent lotion, a hammock, beach blanket, flashlight, basic toiletries, sunblock, snacks, drinking water. Make sure to stash these items in your backpack.

There’s a small sari-sari store on the island where chips, drinks & beer are sold. However, it’s best to bring your own food for cooking for dinner if you’re staying overnight.The best meal of our whole trip  was the freshly grilled fish,  on the beach prepared by our guide from Mt.Tapyas Hotel along with a freshly picked coconut with its juice.

Fell in love accidentally-it could happen to you, just like a travel bug hits me. When you return to your home, everything seems strange, then you start to look forward for your next trip.

This is my  entry for Day- 5  on the challenge posed to me by Stella of the Blog SimpleDimple in response to her 7-Days Nature photo challenge. Stella  has always been bubbly &, spreading warm love in the great community here in WP. If you have time, please do pass by her page & get to know her through her soulful posts.

Stella, Thank you once again for  mentioning me in your post and giving this challenge.

*The rule of this challenge is quite simple: Post a nature photo and nominate someone else per day for 7 days.

For today, I wanted to nominate on this Nature photo challenge  my gorgeous Blogger friend, Minaxi of GameplanhappilyeverAfter. Yes, even her name is so unique!

She is one of the Expat Bloggers that I met here that really shares her bubbly adventures along with his hubby. Fairy tale love still exists and her love story is one living example.She takes you to a light tone on her creative approach in life, travelling, relationships & living the most of her life. Even without this challenge, I would always look up to her page and would recommend for you to give time to check her awesome but dreamy Blog.

She makes me smile with her kind comments & provocative posts, so I know she’s a keeper!

To Minaxi, I know time is precious in our world, but if you would take on this challenge, I would appreciate it so much.If not, I still want you to know how much I appreciate you.

Thank you and I hope you have fun & enjoy the next 7-days writing about nature.

 

 

Corregidor : Gibraltar of the East

Do you like seeing war ruins? or old battlegrounds?

Stories about war are never aesthetically appealing but very emotionally moving. When I watch clips about the WWII in Europe particularly in Germany ,my heart & my mind cannot comprehend well enough why things such as these happened. It’s heartbreaking.It is sad. War ruins are always gloomy . But learning from history is good. This is the reason why I made a choice to visit one important war battleground in Philippines.

This fascinating trip I have made in Philippines is touring Corregidor island. Its one-hour boat trip away from Manila. Corregidor is a small rocky island in the Philippines about 48 kilometers west of Manila which is strategically located at the entrance of Manila Bay. This island fortress stands as a memorial for the courage, valor, and heroism of its Filipino and American defenders who bravely held their ground against the overwhelming number of invading Japanese forces during World War II.Seeing this place in real  is indeed better than what I have read from books in school when we study History.

Officially named Fort Mills, was the largest of four fortified islands protecting the mouth of Manila Bay from attack and was fortified prior to World War I with powerful coastal artillery.

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A very scenic sight in Corregidor Lighthouse

Corregidor is a Spanish term which means corregir“to correct”. The Spanish lighthouse and the marker nearby, as well as the flagpole at Topside taken from a Spanish warship, are witnesses to the fact that before Spain ceded the Philippines to the United States in 1898, after the Spanish-American War, Corregidor Island used to be a checkpoint for vessels entering Manila Bay. A marker reads in part: “Corregidor Island became a part of the Spanish Crown on May  19, 1571 after its occupation by the dauntless Miguel Lopez de Legaspi, who found the City of Manila. Due to its strategic position, Corregidor, which was a Spanish island for 327 years until May 2, 1898, served as a fortress, guarding Manila Bay.”

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Corregidor offers majestic views of the sea as viewed on top of the Corregidor Lighthouse

Also known as “the Rock,” it was a key bastion of the Allies during the war. When the Japanese invaded the Philippines in December 1941, the military force under the command of Gen. Douglas MacArthur carried out a delaying action at Bataan. Corregidor became the headquarters of the Allied forces and also the seat of the Philippine Commonwealth government. It was from Corregidor that Philippine President Manuel Quezon and General MacArthur left for Australia in February 1942, leaving behind Lt. Gen. Jonathan M. Wainwright in command.

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Ruins of the War
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Mile long Barracks : So much history in the Ruins,if only they will speak

Although Bataan fell on April 9, 1942, the Philippine and American forces held out at Corregidor for 27 days against great odds. On May 6, 1942, their rations depleted, the Allied forces were forced to surrender Corregidor to Lt. Gen. Homma Masaharu of the Japanese Imperial Army after having successfully halted the Japanese advance on Australia. It was only two years and ten months later in March 1945 when the Allied forces under the command of General MacArthur recaptured Corregidor .

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Lying in Ruins,the tales of courageous Soldiers who fought the war

 

 

 

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So much History to tell,war ruins.
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Giant Batteries: Corregidor  Giant memoirs of War

Mortars at Corregidor’s Battery Way could be rotated to fire in any direction.

It had been firing for 11 straight hours amidst constant heavy firing from the Japanese, killing over 70% of those manning the station and seriously wounding Major Massello. He is thought to be the most decorated soldier of the Philippine campaign.

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Corregidor ‘s memoirs of War

Batteries of Corregidor : Battery Way, with its four 12-inch mortars, was constructed between 1904 and completed in 1914. It can fire up to 8.3 miles (13.135 kms) in any direction.

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Mile long Barracks Ruins

The Middleside barracks could accommodate 3,000 soldiers—1,000 on each of its three levels.

These big guns of Corregidor are now silent and the ruins of buildings, structures, and tunnels in the island tell a very moving story of a war that has claimed so many lives. A visit to this former battleground is a memorable experience especially for those who cherish and value peace and freedom.I am not a war buff or an avid historian, but looking at these ruins and learning the story behind it makes me grateful that I am a free Filipino now and I have this privilege of freedom. This place speaks so much of the brave men who fought for my country and with that I have great respect to any war-zone-torn down places.

A daytrip to Corregidor is being arranged by various tour companies. We opted to get Sun Cruises and we were not disappointed. The boat trip was a swift,calm journey. The whole program of the tour itinerary caters to everything that we needed to know & see in this island. We were taken care of very well & the sumptous lunch served in Corregidor Inn was also delightful. This trip offers a lot so if you are interested to explore this place, you can check out their packages & offers Here.

Does war memories fascinates you?

Cube Houses in Rotterdam

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Kubuswoningen in Rotterdam, The Netherlands

Have you’ve been to Rotterdam? The Cube Houses is one of this city’s iconic landmark and pride of the Netherlands.

Imagine living in a square tilted Cube House with  walls and windows that are angled at 54.7 degrees, with only a  total area of around 100 square meters, but around a quarter of the space is unusable because of the walls that are under the angled ceilings.

And everytime you look up, it seems that the ceiling is just touching your head,and all you can see is corners? As I explore more of the rooms, I was thinking that this house needed special furnitures and the thought of living above a pedestrian bridge is overlwhelming!

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Great view because of the sloping windows.

Structurally, the cubes sit tilted on a hexagonal pole. They are made up of concrete floors, concrete pillars and wooden framing. Inside, the houses are divided into three levels accessed via a narrow staircase. The lower level is a triangular area used as the living room. The middle level houses the sleeping and bathing area, and the highest level is a spare area used either as a second bedroom or another living area.

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Kubuswoningen

This is my impression when I was inside of the model Cube House when I visited Rotterdam in Netherlands. Outside it was a striking structure, more of like an eye-candy, totally unique & brilliantly made.

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“Living as an Urban Roof ” – Piet Blom

This is the concept behind the “Kubuswoningen “or locally known as Cube Houses in Rotterdam, Netherlands designed by Dutch Architect Piet Blom.  It was  built in 1982 and was completed in 1984 which is a perfect example of “Structuralism”. He tilted the cube of a conventional house 45 degrees, and rested it upon a hexagon-shaped pylon. His design represents a village within a city, where each house represents a tree, and all the houses together, a forest.

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Cube Houses in Overblaak Street in Rotterdam,Netherlands.

There are 38 small Cube houses and so-called  2 super-cubes attached to each other. If you want to experience what is it like to live on top of a tree trunk,  ( in an Archetypical way) then make sure not to miss this when you visit Rotterdam.

Do you want to Visit the Cube Houses?

There are three ways to see the interior of a Cube House:

  • By making friends with a resident (not very practical, unless you get lucky with a “Looking for a Cube House buddy” ad on Craigslist).
  • By booking a bed at Stayokay Hostel Rotterdam, a Hostelling International youth hostel that opened in the Kubuswoningen in 2009.
  • By paying a small fee to visit the Kijk-Kubus, or “Show-Cube,” a model dwelling outfitted with custom furniture (designed by the museum director) and several exhibits about the project and its history.

The Kijk-Kubus or Show Cube is open daily from 11 a.m.to 5 p.m. Follow the signs to the entrance, which is simply a doorway beneath one of the cubes. (Be prepared to climb a steep flight of Dutch-style steps; at the top of the stairs, you’ll enter the cube dwelling’s living room, where you can buy a ticket for a few euros.)

For more information, Click Here.

What is the most interesting piece of architecture you have seen lately? How was your experience?

 

 

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