June 07, 2014

Swimming in a Volcano

About two hours south of Manila, there's a volcano that has another volcano inside it.  It's pretty cool and a great day trip.

First we headed south from Manila and then headed east towards the town of Tagaytay - on the rim of the bigger volcano.  We drove through a bunch of small towns.  It's great to see the countryside.

We saw some water buffalo walking through town.

Eventually we got to the first volcano. It has a big lake in the middle of the crater and there are lots of boating places along the lake.  We had heard great things about the Lake Taal Yacht Club so we went there to arrange for our volcano tour.

The tour takes you across the lake to the island in the middle - which is another volcano.  We got to ride in these boats across the lake.

The lake is huge and there are a number of fish farms in it - tilapia.

There were also people living in the island / volcano in the middle of the lake.

Eventually we reached our landing spot.

We followed our guide through the settlement, passing some more water buffalo.

We kept hiking up and up.  Even though we were there first thing in the morning (8 AM), it was super hot and dusty.  I kept thinking at the top of the next ridge would be the edge of the volcano - but that happened about 7 times!

It was beautiful though.

And the views as we climbed up were great.

Eventually we reached the top and could look down into the second volcano - which also had a lake in the middle.

There was a nice place to rest and cool off a bit before hiking down in to the volcano.

Heading down in to the second volcano.  It was much easier climbing down - as opposed to up.

The shores of the second volcanic lake.

First we hiked a bit in one direction to see where the lava and steam vents were.

There were so many minerals on the ground - lots of different colors.

And a canyon with big steam vents coming out.

And lots of cracks in the ground with steam coming out.  It was very hot - not just from the sun up above - but from the ground. It was like walking on a griddle.

And then there were the places where the water was boiling.  You could have cooked an egg!

All the minerals made for some beautiful colors.

Away from the big vents, the water got a bit cooler - so you could swim in it - although the guide said to only stay in for 15 minutes.

It was warm and mineral-ly smelling. But nice too.

The hike up to the volcano was so long and hot and dusty, we decided to ride horses back.  A very good decision!  The horses on the island are small - more like ponies. But it was nice to not have to hike all the way up the to the top again - and then back down.  The heat was pretty intense.

Great view of the smaller lake with the bigger lake beyond.

Lots of water buffalo.

And a nice cooling boat ride back!

A great day!

April 29, 2014

A Presidential Visit

We had the Big Boss visit this week and it was a pretty amazing experience.

There is a huge amount of preparation that goes in to a presidential visit and the small glimpse that I got to see was incredibly impressive.  There are people from the White House and people from the Embassy organizing every possible detail. They investigate and prepare and practice so that it all goes smoothly.  I am in awe of all those moving parts coming together so seamlessly.

I got to be on the team at the event at Fort Bonifacio.

It was wonderful to be able to be a part of it all and I had a great time with my teammates - even though it was super hot in that space.

Luckily my colleague had a fan that she let me borrow.

It was a pretty cool experience!