As I previously mentioned in my January Roster I had swapped onto a Manilla flight from Jakarta. It was my first time in the Philippines and I was excited to visit a new country after I had seen many beautiful pictures from my other cabin crew friends. It was a late departure out of Dubai at 5pm, I more often than not seem to have early morning or afternoon departures, so the nice lie in was appreciated before work! Landing into Ninoy Aquino International Airport at 5am, a few of us had decided on visiting Taal Volcano and had arranged with a tour guide to pick us up at 9:30am. After checking in, getting to my amazing room (good job with the hotel choice Emirates) and getting into bed, I managed a 90 minute nap before it was time to wake up again.
Waking up, not feeling that refreshed, I changed and went to meet the others in the lobby. We first had to drive two hours where we had a quick stop for coconut water, and local bread with home made peanut butter (the best peanut butter I have ever tasted) and coconut jam before we embarked on the next part of the journey.
The next part of the journey was by boat to the base of the volcano, it took around 30 minutes to get across but gave the most amazing views as we drove over. The only issue was that there was a lot of spray from the boat, and as we were sat at the front I kept getting hit in the face making it difficult to see.
Arriving at the base we walked over to the horse paddock where we picked the horse we wanted to ride up to the top of the volcano. The trek up took around 40 minutes and we were given a guide who would lead us up there as well. I haven’t ridden a horse probably since I was around 11, so I was feeling a little nervous at first and glad of the guide. My guide was a local guy, who I would say was around 40? His english was basic but he was trying so hard to chat to me and give me information on the volcano. He kept making me laugh as he kept saying goodbye in the middle of our conversations. He informed me that the horses name was Ashleigh, she was a girl and she was five. At one point he told me he was married with a young boy called Alto, and when he asked if I was married, to which I replied no. He told me he was also single and it was his birthday today, when I asked how old he was, he told me 20. He gave me a real giggle all the way to the top. Such a sweetie.
At the top, my guide helped me down and also followed me round acting as my personal photographer and he kept saying “close close” to my bag if I ever left it open. I couldn’t have asked for a better guide!
Taal Volcano is part of a chain of volcanoes along the island of Luzon, which were formed by two tectonic plates colliding over 500,000 years ago. Since the formation of this large caldera (Taal Lake), subsequent eruptions created another volcanic island, within Taal Lake, known as Volcano Island.
I was completely blown away how gorgeous it was, and how crazy that this was an ACTIVE volcano, yet it was filled with water creating a lake that looked so so peaceful. After many a photo opportunity and a chance to buy a couple of souvenirs, it was time to trek back down the incredibly steep mountain. I was actually really scared at how this horse was going to manage and also how I was going to stay on its back.
At the bottom, I said goodbye to my guide and thanked him for my entertaining journey and made our way back to the boat. Walking over, I spotted a local guy wearing a University of Kansas shirt (a uni that I attended during my study abroad semester) which I couldn’t believe in the middle of the Philippines!!
The journey back consisted of getting soaked due to the amount of water being thrown over the side of the boat, so I’m glad I brought a change of outfit with me cause I looked like I had swam back rather than taken the boat!
It was now time for lunch and our tour guide had arranged for a traditional Philippinian lunch to try out the local cuisines. It was really nice, and we had a lovely soup which reminded me of a watery Thai green curry, I would definitely have it again along with the pork belly.
After a long and exhausting day combined with little sleep and a long night flight, I slept the whole way back to the hotel and then crashed out when I got back to the hotel too. It seems I went to bed too early though as I woke up at midnight, 4 and a half hours before our wake up call. After an hour of tossing and turning I decided to order room service which I hoped would cure my rumbling stomach and send me back to sleep, however I managed to fall asleep 10 minutes before the phone rang which I think made me feel ten times worse… the sleeping pattern of cabin crew, eh?
The flight back was a full load and rather busy, however in between services a passenger came into the galley and was chatting away to us. He was telling me how he’d been on his friends book tour and even gave me one of her books which I was laughing away at reading on the metro home from work. I think it was the nicest thing a passenger has ever done for me! Great to meet you Hugh!
A wonderful trip to the Philippines, its made me want to explore this beautiful country even more, fingers crossed to see our other Philipinnian destinations on my future rosters!