Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Camping at Taal Lake - My Daughter's Birthday Celebration for '06

From Ikee's birthd...

We reached the Taal Lake Yacht Club at 5:30 pm. It was fairly easy to locate it since the description about getting there on the website is very accurate. However, noone was there when we arrived and when we finally met someone from the place, we were told that we should come back the following day since office hours end at 5. Since it was getting dark and having no place to spend the night, we decided to leave. But just as we were walking to the car, a lady (whose name is Tonya, I later learned) came to meet us who quickly said that it is ok for us to camp there that night and that perhaps this guy does not really know how the club really works. The TLYC is a sailing club such that for you to be a member, you need to know how to sail first. There are no rooms in the place but they encourage guests to bring their own tent and camp there. Alternatively, you may rent their tent at 400 pesos per night. They don't have food for you to order. However, they can assist you with ordering food. You just need to arrange with them in advance. This was one of the horrors which struck me right there when we arrived. I realized that it did explicitly say in their website that we had to bring our own food. Yes, we were ready to sleep the night over but were not ready to cook our own food. I had walked to the 2 adjacent resorts but they were either close or had no food available for us. Mama mia! It was good that we were met by Joe Hagedorn, the TLYC Manager, and was told that he could have a barbecue grill set up for us but that we'd have to buy our meat and condiments/seasonings at the nearby market. No sooner than he had said that, we found ourselves heading to the local market approximately 2 km away. I managed to cook up a grilled pork meal with some tomatoes and salted eggs on the side, rice and some pineapple for dessert. Of course we didn't have a cake. Boyet made the plastic forks stand on the pineapple to imitate a cake and simulate a cake blowing ceremony. hehe
The fees to pay at TLYC were the 100 pesos entrance per person, 100 pesos per tent to pitch it, and 400 pesos for the use of the cabana which is actually optional. The resort has about 7 or 8 cabanas and the camping site would be anywhere between them or in the open area at the far right. Huge trees intertwine that create the shade underneath them practically covering the whole cabana area. The club's main purpose is to get as many people to learn to sail so they can become members. This is why they allow non-members to go to the resort. They have shower and toilets available for use of campers and other guests. They offer hobie cat rentals, kayak, boating, etc. But they will assess who they can allow to use the facilities to prevent accidents from happening. Fair enough eh?
anyways, so we did get to sleep there. There were no other campers that night. I didn't get to sleep well because I heard some footsteps almost every hour that started around 12 midnight. By 5:30 I decided to get up and to scout for food - from the nearby resorts, that is. It is truly wonderful to wake to the site of the lake and the volcano. We had breakfast at the cabana with food brought to us from the next resort.
After our meal, we set off for the crater. The boat ride took about 20 minutes with Greg, our captain, occasionally stopping to give us some information about the trip. The trail to the crater starts from the shore where the horses are also stationed. Initially, boyet did not want to take the horse to the crater but did anyway as the crater was still 3.5 - 4 km away from where we were . So all three of us went by horse with a guide for each person.
The scenery at the trail was amazing. I thought it was a little scary yet thrilling to see some geysers along the way. The path had deep queer markings on them which the guides said were made by the horses themselves. There were a few trees but the residents, who were the main benefactors of the area's tourism, managed to put a few rest areas. When we got to the crater, a number of vendors noisily offered drinks to us or our guides but which we had to pay for at about 3 times their original market price. Well, if you had walked 4 km I'm sure you wouldn't mind paying even 5 times the price. But we had wisely brought some water with us so we bought drinks for our guides instead.
The crater looked like a pot of boiling water. From about 200 feet above, you'd see the steam come up through the water. We spotted about 3 geysers around the lake. The area smelled like sulfur which reminded me of my soap. Would have been nice to take a dip there but Joe had warned us that it was not a good idea to go down because of the recent volcanic activity.
At 10:30 it was getting hot. The place was starting to get a little crowded since some foreign nationals arrived. I was also getting a little wary because I saw the steam from the geysers getting to be thick. We headed down and rode our boat to the resort. 4 more hours later we were homeward bound. But the desire to go back to visit the Taal Lake Yacht Club is so strong that we probably will do it again before the year ends... hopefully.

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