Wednesday, December 8, 2010

The Philippines: Mount Makiling Forest Reserve and Hot Springs

A friend of mine, Joey, who I had met when I was in the Philippines back in May while visiting Banaue and its famous rice terraces, invited Sheila and I to his home. It’s always great to revisit friends that I’ve made during my travels; and I was especially excited for Sheila to meet him. Joey lives in the city of Los Banos in the province of Laguna, south of Metro Manila. After receiving his PhD from the University of Florida he moved back to the Philippines where he’s now a professor at the University of the Philippines Los Banos (UPLB).

After a long drive due to traffic and rain, we arrived at Joey’s home. It was great to see him again. I couldn’t believe that it had been six months already. Sheila and Joey got acquainted over a delicious meal that Joey prepared for us. As I had expected, they got along amazingly well – as if they had known each other forever.

Joey’s home is conveniently located near Mount Makiling Forest Reserve. He literally lives a stones throw away from the campus of UPLB, the foot of Mt. Makiling.

We spent the day hiking through the rainforest. The park had an abundance of beautiful wildlife and lush green vegetation.

While hiking the main trail up Mt. Makiling, we had to be mindful of bicycle enthusiasts who, without a moments notice, would quickly pedal their way past us and down the unpaved, rugged mountain.

Eventually we made it to the mystical looking Mud Spring where a cloud of smoke hovered over the boiling pool of mud. According to the informative sign adjacent to the Mud Spring, "A mud pot is a type of hot spring that is formed when due to volcanic heat, sulfuric acid breaks down surrounding rocks into clay. The clay mixes with water to form mud that is very hot (80 C/176 F)."

As we descended back down the mountain, we stopped at an area located within a relatively dry riverbed, called the Flat Rocks.

Our day ended with a dip in one of the many hot spring resorts in the city. And it should go without saying, being in a musically crazed country and all, that karaoke was involved.

Sheila and I had a great time hanging out with Joey, and invited him to join us the following week to Zambales, a province northwest of Metro Manila to go island hopping with us.


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