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.

taal volcano-binintiang malaki
Majestic view of Taal Volcano and its dreamy crater-lake waters.
taal-volcano
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.

IMG_7553
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.

IMG_7506
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.

IMG_7519

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 .

IMG_7610

IMG_7605

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.

IMG_7552

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?

 

 

 

The mills of Kinderdijk (A Dutch icon)

Do you know the old  tale about the windmills in the famous Kinderdijk in Holland?

The name Kinderdijk is Dutch for “Children dike”. In 1421, during the Saint Elizabeth flood of 1421, the Grote Hollandse Waard flooded, but the Alblasserwaard polder stayed unflooded. It is said that when the terrible storm had subsided, someone went on to the dike between these two areas, to see what could be saved. In the distance, he saw a wooden cradle floating on the waters. As it came nearer, some movement was detected. A cat was seen in the cradle trying to keep it in balance by jumping back and forth so that no water could get into it. As the cradle eventually came close enough to the dike for a bystander to pick up the cradle, he saw that a baby was quietly sleeping inside it, nice and dry. The cat had kept the cradle balanced and afloat. This folktale and legend has been published as “The Cat and the Cradle” in English

[ Excerpt derived courtesy of Wikipedia ]

IMG_1396
Cycling in Kinderdijk

This is one of the fascinating things I have learned about mills & Kinderdijk  when I explore Netherlands. Seeing these original, iconic & wonderful windmills for real and up close  is really a great experience with my daughter & our  family. This is absolutely a top family destination, definitely a place for young & old to enjoy cycling, biking, hiking or just have a lazy stroll while learning about the mills’s history. It has complete amenities such as tourist vessels, water buses, group tour arrangements, restaurants, museums, restrooms & souvenir shops. I am  sure your kids will thank you for exposing them to world-class  sights such as these.

If you come during winter, they have a special threat to warm you up. In the souvenir shop “De Molenhoek” of Kinderdijk you always can eat or drink something you like plus
they will  serve delicious warm pea soup. This is the time to experience another Dutch gastronomical delight, the typical Dutch pea soup.

13840bb0867b2b6efd8e0ec6c36d2403
Dutch Pea soup  (Photo courtesy of Kinderdijk)
ad56d4823abdc1a085cba2557804f004
UNESCO World Heritage Site , Kinderdijk in Holland (photo courtesy of Kinderdijk)

When it comes to beauty, the 19 polder draining windmills of the Kinderdijk are top one. Kinderdijk is a UNESCO World Heritage site and a masterpiece of water management in a typical Dutch landscape. In 1997, the windmill complex of Kinderdijk was added to the prestigious UNESCO World Heritage list because of its unique character. UNESCO considers the polder area with its dykes, boezems, mills and pumping stations to be proof of human inventiveness in reclaiming and protecting the land.This is worldwide recognition of the fact that this unique area must be preserved for the future.

IMG_1411--
A journey through time with the mills.

The nineteen (19) mills in Kinderdijk  were constructed around 1740 as part of a larger water management system which prevented floods. Now they’re a symbol of Dutch water management.

c1590de36a0d416de572d62ade441927
Old photograph of the mills in Kinderdijk (photo credit : Kinderdijk)

We got inside the Museum Windmill Nederwaard and we are so grateful that we did because we learned a lot how a real Miller works, let alone seeing a REAL one!  There is a short film about the history of it and inside it was a full-blooded miller and we are able to explore the mill, which has been preserved in its original state, from the inside and from the outside. If there is sufficient wind, the mill might even be set in motion! Fortunately my daughter was just busy tumbling down the chairs and doesn’t mind the loud noise from the movie. It was dim inside because of the film so we were not able to took some photos. There is a distinct motor sound that would really identify a working mill. I could still hear it in my ears. When we got inside the real windmill in the Museum Mill, we are able to see what’s  in an authentic Windmill which can be traced from 1950’s. There is a steep ladder going to the top, and I was able to climb only up to the 2nd floor because I wear my baby in a sling & I find it difficult to enter the small passageway with other people trying to get in. The original bedspace areas, or called “Bedstede” (alcove bed ) was still preserved. We were even lucky to see the local Miller, and he’s wearing Dutch clogs of course!

11af978d5057448bfea0a0f6b0f55cb2
Old, yet still standing through time: Kinderdijk Mills  (photo credit :Kinderdijk)

I have dreamt of seeing a windmill someday. When I was young, I used to daydream that I would be able to visit Holland and see a real one. My dream came true. Finally, seeing it for real is even more meaningful because I have learned an important culture of the Dutch people. Before I only see it as a landmark, I have no clue that it has an important function, Re: preventing floods. When I knew about this, my mind was opened and appreciate its beauty even more. I have great respect for the pioneer who engineered these masterpiece.

There is so much more to say and write about Kinderdijk and mills, but its all up to you to see it for yourself and create your own story.A visit to the Netherlands won’t be complete without seeing this. If you wanna know more about Kinderdijk and how to explore this place, they have a wonderful website with all the information such as the tickets, opening times, location etc that you need to know. You can check it Here.

Do you want to experience the life of a Miller?

If you are adventurous enough , then in Kinderdijk  you can have the chance to  get an exclusive look into the construction and maintenance of windmills. You will also get to know more about the profession of a miller such as how to build a windmill,maintain it or what is it a day in a life of a Miller? You can really be in a real threat because It’s an unforgettable experience in a typical Dutch environment.

What’s in your Bucket List?

What was the last Unesco World Heritage Site you’ve visited?

Hope you have a wonderful time making your dreams a reality just like I did. Thank you for reading & Safe travels!

 

 

Crossing Borders and taking the Leap!

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

The other day, February 29 is a Leap Year Day!  Have you known? I asked this because I have a funny trip to Memory Lane unconsciously…Sometimes I really need to check the calendar what date it is, or what is what on a particular day.

Yes, this year we have 366 days as opposed to a common year which has only 365 days.

Were you aware that in our present year 2016, we have an entire extra 24 hours? Oh how I wished I have this extra 24 hours to make up on sleep. For new Mamas out there, I know you can relate to this. Really,I’m telling you, Sleep has never been the same since I had my daughter 🙂 But this post is not about sleep- deprived mothers or calendar tracking. This is about Taking the leap & crossing Borders.

Now there is a long-winded, mathematical explanation why we need Leap years to keep our modern day Gregorian calendar in alignment with the earth’s revolution around the sun.Because seasons and astronomical events do not repeat in the equivalent of 24 hours period, calendars that have the same number of days in each year  drift over time.

Imagine, if we don’t have an extra day in February every 4 years , then after only 100 years our calendar would be inaccurate by 24 days!

IMG_2006
Border stone between Nederland & Deutschland

I resonate  the nostalgic feeling of a Leap day  when Crossing borders. Crossing Borders meaning that you are physically taking a step into boundaries. It is a whole state of yourself being in two places at a given time. Its the frozen moment that you want to hold as a memory. A leap that you have made. In Metaphysics, the theory of Impenetrability does not coincide in this where in quality of matter whereby two bodies cannot occupy the same space at the same time. When we try to incorporate science in our daily sane lives, it gets a bit complicated so I’ll just stock to my own account of events.

In my experience, I was really thrilled when I did the ” crossing borders”. I find it fascinating. It  takes a courageous heart to do so. There is a sense of haste as you go through the journey. A hype feeling knowing you have the liberty to roam around, without limit, without control.

IMG_2004
The path along the long journey  into taking small steps into  Leaps.

The journey maybe a long-winding road, but it could also be the most worthwhile ride you can have. Personally, I did not focus on the length of the journey, rather, I  linger on the beautiful scenery that we passed along. I let my eyes feast on it. The towering trees and the shadows it casted, the unusual plants & the blooming flowers ,  that distinct character and detail I have seen in the local neighborhood such as the post with a different paint, or a beautiful detail in the roof of the houses ,  I record everything in my mind and created a mental slideshow. The smell of the woods. The footprints in the ground. A memory.

IMG_5095
Signpost : Do not forget where you came from and where you want to go.

Now a border stone, pillar or obelisk can stand as a hurdle in your life that you need to struggle to make a leap. A border fence is somewhat a present day barrier that confines you and make you less free to wander.

Do you ever felt you are trapped?

Do you see your weakness as Border stones that can never be overcome? and making you hesitant to take the step to leap on?

I knew this feeling.I have been there many times. I felt like my life is only moving sideways,and not moving forward. But I took the chance, the risk, and I overcame.

IMG_5096
What struggles have you won  or leaped to ?

In Crossing borders and taking a one step leap , the possibilities are endless. The best thing about what I have learned from this approach is that you won’t be losing any precious times. Crossing borders means going out from your comfort zone, taking chances & risks, and overcoming a struggle. A leap is the first step you do to make these things happen. This two goes hand in hand. Your heart, your mind and your body working in harmony.

Have you tick something in your Bucket List  lately? (something that can be done in 24 hours , or a long weekend)

When was the last time you have enjoyed a long, lazy brunch with your family or close friends ? This is the best and precious gift we can give to those we love. (Bonus : leave your phone silent, inside your purse and don’t make a selfie )

Have you thought about paying a visit to someone you haven’t seen for ages?

Have you tried sending a meaningful snail mail to someone you knew who lived miles away from you?

I wish you all the best in making the first steps to make a Leap, and crossing that Border.