The original plan was for me to stay in Bicol for four days and three nights. I wanted to do the ATV in Mayon Volcano, swim with the whalesharks in Donsol, Sorsogon and go island hopping in Masbate. But as they say, always have a Plan A or even a Plan C when planning a trip. Due to health reasons, I almost cancelled this trip. Plus something came up with work that made me think twice about pushing through with this trip. I also inquired from hostels in Donsol about the whalesharks and all were in unison in telling me that it was not peak season and the chances of seeing whalesharks was very slim.
But it seemed that this trip was destined to happen. So at the last minute, after work at 11pm on a Friday, I went home, packed my backpack, rested for two hours and proceeded to the airport to catch my 5am Saturday flight.
As with all my other travels for 2017, I bought a round trip ticket to Legazpi, Albay way back August 2016 during a seat sale, for P1,600. But since I had to return to Manila for work on Sunday, I bought a plane ticket via Cebu Pacific for P1,800. It was a severe case of wanderlust indeed.
Instead of four days, I was to discover Legazpi City and the surrounding towns of Albay for 12 hours. Armed with a bullet point itinerary and a thirst for adventure, my Albay adventure began.
6am – Arrived at Legazpi Airport
While approaching the airport, I was constantly looking out the window plane hoping to get a glimpse of Mayon Volcano. But I was disappointed. No Mayon.
The seatbelt sign went off, and all the other passengers stood up and got their bags from the overhead bins and started to disembarked. I did the same.
When I stepped out of the plane, I could see the other passengers congregating behind the plane. I turned to my left, and there she was – Mayon Volcano in full splendor. There were no streaks of cloud around her. I could clearly see her, every detail of her mound, the crevices and gorges of past lava flows and the green vegetation at her base.
The people of Albay has a belief that Mayon will only show herself to travellers with pure and kind hearts. I guess one of my co-passengers had that kind of heart haha!
From the airport, I was picked up by “Monkey”, one of the staff of the ATV provider. I already made an advance booking with Your Brother ATV Tours and availed of the Basecamp to Lava Wall Trail, with a single 150cc ATV, for a promo price of P999.
During the ride to the basecamp, I asked monkey if he knows of any habal habal that can tour me around Legazpi and the other places that I wanted to go. Luckily there was, he called a certain Albert and we agreed that for P1,200, we will visit all the places that were included in my itinerary.
7am – Start of the ATV Lava Trail Tour
At the basecamp, a short video was shown to inform me of the do’s and dont’s of riding the ATV. I was then introduced to my tour guide, who also acted as my photographer.
Let me start by saying that this adventure was not as easy as it seemed based on the photos that I saw over the internet. It was a butt numbing and back breaking 3 hours ride that passed by streams, lava rocks, dusty and bumpy roads, and quarry sites. The awesome view of Mayon during the ride and the cool fresh air, totally made up for the “hardships” that the trail threw at me.
Also, be ready to get wet when passing through the streams and small rivers!
8am – Lava Wall
The lava wall was created during the 2006 explosion of Mayon. Molten lava traversed from the crater up to this site with a distance of 6 kilometres, killing every living thing in its path. It took another two years for these rocks to cool down.
There is an entrance fee of P50. A different tour guide will be assigned. To reach the lava wall, we had to trek for a few meters. And I saw another breath taking view of Mayon Volcano.
After a few minutes, we went back to the ATV and started our way back to the basecamp.
At the basecamp, I was given a cold towel to wipe away the dust and to cool me down since the sun was up during the entire trail. Albert, the habal habal driver/tour guide was already waiting for me when I arrived.
After a few minutes, I hopped on the motorcycle and we were on our way to tour the countryside of Albay.
10:30am – Quitinday Greenhills of Camalig, Albay
First stop was the answer of Bicol to the Chocolate Hills of Bohol. It took us an hour to reach this place. There is an entrance fee of P20.
Indeed, the hills were somewhat similar to those in Bohol. But these hills were green and was not a perfect round mound like the ones in Bohol. However, with Mayon as the background, these hills offer another spectacular view of nature.
12pm – Sumlang Lake
There is an entrance fee of P30.
I am not sure if this lake is man-made. There are several things that you can do in this place. Take a ride on the bamboo rafts, do kayaking, take photos with Mayon as the backdrop, eat in the shops around the area and buy some native products.
12:30pm – The Ruins of Cagsawa Church
This is the poster boy of Albay if not the entire Bicol Region. Tourists and shops abound in its vicinity. It was funny looking at tourists doing wacky poses as directed by their tour guides for some trick shots.
1:30pm – Daraga Church
I wanted to visit this church because it looked so grand in photos. Well, it does look grandiose because of the limestones on its façade and the intricate designs on its columns. But at the time of my visit, there was an ongoing road construction at the left side of the church. Mayon was already covered with clouds at the time of my visit.
3pm – Busay Waterfall in Malilipot
The town of Malilipot is also one hour away from Legazpi City. There is an entrance fee of P15. It is a popular place among the locals. I rented a cottage for P150 so I can take a nap since I was already tired and sleepy. After my short nap, I went for a dip and was refreshed by the cool water of the falls.
4:30pm – Legazpi Boulevard
By the time I went back to Legazpi, the clouds around Mayon already cleared up and offered another surreal view. We went to one of the restaurants and I ordered Bicol express and kinilaw na tuna. This place reminded me of the place in Dumaguete also called the boulevard.
5pm – Legazpi Bus Terminal
Albert suggested that I buy pasalubong stuff in this place. It is the central hub of vans and buses that ply the different routes in the Bicol region.
6pm – Legazpi Airport bound for Manila
Albert was kind enough to bring me to the airport even if it was not part of the deal. He was also insisting earlier that we go to the Jovellar Underground River and the new Mayon Sky Park but I was already tired. There is always a next time.
Whew! So that concludes one of the craziest travel I ever had! … 12 hours in Albay!
Albert Lodana (0977) 493 5481 (driver/tour guide)