Tuesday, March 31, 2015

I've only been able to admire the beauty of Taal Volcano from a distance. I usually go to Leslie's, Starbucks or Dencio's to get a good view of the volcano. One thing I haven't done is to go to the island and climb the volcano. So when my bestfriend invited me to celebrate her birthday on top of Taal, I immediately said yes.

The drive to the edge of the lake was a bit longer than we expected. We then took a 20-minute boat ride to the island. I actually hate boat rides because they're always boring. I felt we were on it for more than 2 hours.

Upon arrival at the island, we were greeted by all vendors - dust masks, ginormous hats, souvenir photos, drinks, etc. I understand why some foreigners would feel this is a tourist trap. Some locals were a bit aggressive in selling their products. For example, the guide was adamant that I remove my mask at one point only to find out that there was a photographer lurking and waiting to snap a photo.

We rode a horse to the top of the volcano. I have to say it was the most uncomfortable ride I've ever had. The horse was obviously too tired that day that it almost threw me off the cliff. Good thing the guide was there to help.

When we reached the top, the spectacular views took my breath away.

Experiencing the Other Side: Climbing Taal Volcano

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

I'll be the first to admit that my fitness level is... well... non-existent. So on a very low Saturday morning, I decided to do something physical. I decided to go hiking! On my list of things to visit was the Maitland Bay Beach, a secluded beach located at the Bouddi National Park.

The websites I visited did warn that the place was very, very secluded and that it would be a long hike. I was foolish to think that it would be a pretty easy one. I made some pretty serious rookie mistakes. First, I left my water bottle in the car. Second, I wore the wrong shoes. Last and most importantly, why did I decide to go hiking alone?

Halfway through the long path, I almost quit. But I forced myself to go all the way to the beach.

And I am glad I did because it was all worth it.

The beach kinda reminded me of the search for 'Heaven's Mouth' in the movie 'Y Tu mama Tambien'. There were only a few people on the beach. It's actually perfect if you'd love to spend a quiet afternoon.

I only stayed for about 20 minutes because it was already 4pm. The last thing I want to happen is to get stuck in the bushes. For some reason, I decided to use a different path, thinking I would end up on the same place where I parked my car.

I was WRONG. I ended up on the other side of the road - about 3 kilometers away from the parking lot. After almost two hours of hiking without water, I found myself walking on an empty road, with only the sound of loud chirping of birds. Good thing my phone still had juice and I sent my location to a friend. I told her if she doesn't hear from me the next day, I'm probably dead or eaten alive or bitten my a snake.

In the end, I got to my car around 6pm. I drank the entire bottle (1 litre) of water to rehydrate myself quickly. It was tiring as shit but it was overall a great experience.

Aussie Adventures: The day I went hiking and almost died

Thursday, January 15, 2015

In my 3-month stay in the Australia, I never ran out of things to do on weekends. I can either go on pub crawls in Sydney or discover the amazing coastlines on the Central Coast.

One one very low Saturday, I decided to go to Norah Head where a famous lighthouse is located. It's about 30 minutes away from my apartment. The views were breathtaking:

Aussie Adventures: Norah Head Lighthouse

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

What would a trip to Australia be like without seeing kangaroos and koalas? Our host was kind enough to drive us around the Central Coast. He took us to Lake Macquarie where us to Lake Macquarie where I got to meet the kangaroos. They seemed harmless and nice but they tend to hop away as we tried to get out of the car.

We had better luck when we went to the famous Australian Reptile Park. There were kangaroos which were literally sitting on the grass. People were taking photos with them - except me. Animals scare the shit out of me (except our dog).

My companions were forcing me to stand behind the kangaroo and touch its head. I politely declined after seeing a 5-year-old Aussie kid get kicked by a kangaroo when he accidentally touched its tail. Poor kid.

And of course, the cutest animals are the koalas. They're simply adorable! The park attendant warned us that they have sharp claws and they tend to scratch visitors. I was satisfied with simply admiring them from a distance.

And there were other interesting creatures:

Aussie Adventures: Australian Reptile Park