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Sunsets and Volcanoes

The Best Beer

PHILIPPINES | Wednesday, 27 May 2015 | Views [638] | Scholarship Entry

This is the best beer I have ever had in my life. I am sipping a cold bottle of San Miguel as I look out over Main Crater Lake on the summit of Taal Volcano at sunset. It doesn’t matter that every muscle in my body hurts from clinging onto a donkey or that I am traumatised from a death defying tricycle ride down. That I have been freezing cold and soaking wet then sunburned and dehydrated. This is what travel experiences are all about. Reaching the destination you set out to achieve, having an adventure on the way and then taking a breath to enjoy the moment.
8 hours ago I was sat admiring the view of Taal Volcano rising out of Lake Taal from my balcony. I was quite happy to sit and appreciate the stunning view from afar. Until I found out that there is a lake in the volcano crater which houses a small island known as “an island, within a lake, in a volcano, in a lake, on an island” and you can only see it by surmounting the volcano. The active volcano.
Off we go!
The guidebook may say it’s an easy trip, but they don’t recommend starting out in a jeepney (post war American jeep pimped out into a bus) to set your nerves on edge before getting on a tricycle (a motorbike with a bench and a roof acting as a sidecar). They don’t warn you that instead of a horse you might get a stubborn donkey, and they don’t tell you to watch out for ankle bashing rock crevices that line the “well-worn trail”. And they don’t always make it clear that by boat they don’t mean ferry, they mean a traditional barca – a narrow wooden boat on what look like skis and offer no protection from waves spraying over the sides.
I’ve never been so grateful for a cold beer as when we arrived at the top of that volcano, it was the best beer I have ever had in my life.
To recreate this sense of volcano beer euphoria steer clear of anything that looks like a safe, organised tour, take advantage of local transport, embrace your sense of adventure and cling on for dear life (oh and don’t believe everything you read in a guidebook!)
• Skip the queues for organised tour guides at Tagaytay Rotunda, walk out to the main road to flag down a tricycle.
• Arrive in time for lunch, grab some food and hopefully be preyed upon by local tour guides. If not go round knocking on doors where you see a sign for a boat, (or in our case, a boat in the garden) and negotiate like hell.
• Take a waterproof jacket for the boat.
• Take a flashlight for the descent after sunset, it’s pitch dark.
• Enjoy the beer.

Tags: 2015 Writing Scholarship

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