a journal on hiking and traveling around the Philippines

Thursday, May 23, 2013

The Sleeping Lion and the Wide-Eyed Wanderer

Hazy Sunday morning at the pier
I woke up from my hotel bed feeling uneasy. The sun had just risen but the windowless room remained as dim as it did when I dived under the covers the night before. Breakfast buffet, one of the things I look forward to when staying in hotels was starting in 30 minutes but today, my head’s occupied with something else. 

Sleeping Lion, also called Kapuntukan Hill is located just across Embarcadero de Legazpi, a mall by the pier that offers a scenic view of Mt. Mayon, an active volcano shaped like a perfect cone and one of Bicol region’s greatest natural attractions. 

My friends and I had just attempted a hike to its crater rim  the previous day. (Read about it here) However, due to bad weather, we had to abort after four hours of trekking. Now I’m back in Legazpi with my flight back to Manila taking off in a few hours. Despite lacking sleep, I’m feeling restless and yearning for one last hike. 

I packed a sling bag with mints, towel and calamansi juice, the only refreshment I could grab as I had depleted my supplies from the hike the day before. I had no fresh clothes left and what I had on where the same one I came home in. :P

The foot of the hill is just on the side across the building of Ellis Ecotel where I checked in. It took less than 10 minutes to get there. The trail up fits one person and is a very clean and straight-forward mild ascent on a dirt road. 

Boulevard near the pier. 
After another 15 minutes, I passed a shed. Two guys stood and approached me. I struggled with talking as I was panting from the short hike. I was informed that I was passing through a private property. Didn’t I see the signages? As I had approached the hill from another side, I missed the markers that have been placed in the area. Fortunately, I didn’t even have to lie and say I didn’t see any of it. Also, none of the locals I asked on the way had told me that. I was embarrassingly clueless. 

I maintained a friendly approach and told them how I knew about the place, that I just saw a photo of it from the web. There were instructions how to get there giving me the impression that it was a tourist spot. The guys eventually let me through and was escorted towards the view deck. 

It was a short hike to get there and much less steep. My escort was quiet and maintained considerable distance. I guess he’s just doing his job. I was a trespasser turned unexpected visitor in a span of 30 minutes. I was grateful I had on my least threatening outfit – a striped blouse with the cartoon version of Audrey Hepburn printed at the front :P. It’s quite a convincing look that screams, “I’m just a harmless tourist.” 

Here's what I saw from the view deck
The clearing opened up with a view of Albay gulf, a massive body of water almost as reflective as a glass. I spotted Lignon Hill on the left side.  The imposing presence of Mt. Mayon was right across where I stood with clouds hovering just below its crater as if posing for a seductive shot. It’s a very exciting sight.  After marveling gleefully at the view, I made my way down quickly. The humidity of the morning grew. In no time, I was back in my room, drying sweat off my shirt before gorging out on a gratifying breakfast. 

How to get to Sleeping Lion/Kapuntukan Hill:
From the Cubao Provincial Bus terminal, take a bus to Legazpi or Sorsogon. The cheapest fair is Belleza bus departing at 8:00 PM (500 Pesos, aircon, one way). Be prepared for some discomfort during the 12 hour commute as the seats are quite slim. From Legazpi, take a jeep or tricycle (70 Pesos) to Embarcadero de Legazpi. As the view deck at Sleeping Lion is now a private property, the recommended and respectful way to hike it is to get a permit from the Administration office of Embarcadero de Legazpi. 

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