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Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Trekking Around Lake Bulusan

It was February 2008 when me and my friend Jules went on a backpacking adventure in the Bicol region.
Armed with our backpacks and several pages of printed information straight off the internet, we set off to explore Sorsogon and Albay. Our primary target was to head to the open sea and swim with the whale sharks - but that’s another story.
One of the places we visited that weren’t part of the plan was Lake Bulusan in the province of Sorsogon. This is found near the base of a volcano with the same name . Seeing this lake for the very first time was like entering another dimension – a place of solitude and beauty. I took several pictures but it’s not enough to capture the beauty of this place (and it's also because I'm not much of a photographer, hehe)
We were the only visitors there when we arrived at around 8 in the morning. From Villa Luisa Celeste where we checked in the previous night, we hitched a ride with the resort owner’s dad. He took us all the way to the entrance of the lake instead of letting us walk several kilometers from the main road. We were grateful that we were able to save time since we were heading for Donsol the same day. The ride from the resort to Lake Bulusan took around 45 minutes.
Several meters from the entrance was a scene that made me feel like I'm in a painting. There were several men fishing around the lake with their small, old-fashioned boats. There was fog hovering over the lake. Surrounding the lake was a thick forest where you can go around to get a full view of the lake from all angles.
The scene was quite surreal. At first we were a bit confused where to go since there weren’t any signboards. As we were looking around, we found a path to our right where we excitedly made our way to start our trek. Once we entered the forest, we lost our cellphone signal and our mini trekking escapade began.
After our trek, we met Eileen – one of the custodians of Lake Bulusan. We chatted with her and her companion for several minutes and she told us all about the people who visit lake Bulusan. According to her, lots of foreigners visit and camp in the area - some even travel solo, while some were on bicycles, scooters and on foot. Though the area was pretty remote, it was nice to know that even non-Filipinos appreciate the beauty of the place.
After our short hike, we paid this guy to give us a ride on his motorbike to the nearest tricycle terminal. We had no choice because it was a long walk from where we were and aside from the caretaker and some locals, there was no one!  It took only about 10 minutes from Lake Bulusan to the nearest trike terminal but it felt like forever for me. I was praying very hard (as in very hard!)  as we zipped down the mountains. I just hate motorbikes! :P  Prayers worked and we got down safely. I'm just so grateful I didn't pee in my shorts! Haha!
There are several lodges along the area near the municipal hall. You can just ask the tricycle drivers when you get there but I would recommend staying where we went – Villa Luisa Celeste.
Rates at Villa Luisa Celeste as of Feb 2008 :
800 pesos net per room (cheapest room available which is good for 2-3 persons; air-conditioned; has own private toilet and bath; bigger rooms available at a higher price;) Other amenities : own beach front; swimming pool;
85 pesos/set meal (one main dish; big serving of rice; dessert) – you have to give a heads up as soon as you check in so they can prepare for it.

My Experience : the owners especially Luisa Frayna, were very warm and accommodating. Her dad was the one who gave us a ride to Lake Bulusan. The accommodations were clean and their meals are well-proportioned; taste is good, it’s made for international pallet.

CONTACT INFORMATION : Celeste Frayna -- +63920-9077950 Luisa Frayna -- +63920-9060969Villa Luisa Celeste -- +63910-6512447

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