Waking up early was not a routine of my son Cymon and my daughter Axl. But this morning was different ’cause they are coming with me. Destination: Bulusan Lake. Dubbed as the “Switzerland of the Orient”.
Boarded a jeep at the terminal near the Sorsogon Cathedral (Sts. Peter and Paul Cathedral) to Irosin because there is no direct trip to Bulusan. It’s good that the jeepney left the terminal even we were only three adults and three children. But the jeep gets full by picking up passengers along the route. When we were at Irosin, there we feel bored while waiting for the jeep (to Bulusan) to get full of passengers. We waited I think thirty minutes. The driver of the jeep didn’t showed up until his jeepney was full. Along the way, there were still passengers being picked up and hopped in, even clinging and standing at the steps of the jeep. In the city, you could rarely see female hanging on the jeepney. But here in remote area, male, female, old or even young students have no choice ’cause there is only few jeep plying that route. And TAKE NOTE: the last trip back to Irosin is 3pm. I was sitting beside my kids (I paid their sits). On my lap was my back pack. One woman offered, or requested to hold Axl on her lap. When we approached the road under construction (very rough road) I noticed Axl’s face was so pale. I thought she feels dizzy because of zigzagging and bouncing ride. When there was an empty sit, Axl took it. I was worried she might vomit. But she didn’t. Later When I asked her what she feels on that woman’s lap, she said the woman was holding her so tightly on her tummy.
When we arrived at Bulusan proper, I just bought two liters of mineral water then hired a tricycle to take us to the lake. Actually, the jeep we rode passed by the entrance going to the lake. But we didn’t dropped by there because the lake was 2.5km from the hi-way and there were no tricycle at the entrance going in. We agreed to the amount of 150 pesos for taking us there. He tied my inflatable kayak at the roof of his trike. There was no chance of taking pictures along the way because of the road condition.
Bulusan lake was now different compared to ten years ago when I first saw it. It is now frequently visited by tourists often by the family of OFW’s. There are now kayaks for rent. The entrance fee at the lake is only ten pesos. While the rental for kayak is 200 pesos per hour (or was it per half our?). I asked the fee collector, if it’s okay if I use my own kayak. He didn’t got what I mean so I explained to him that we brought with us an inflatable kayak. Pointed to him the duffle bag beside my son. He explained to me that it’s okay but they will not be responsible if something happens to us in the lake. And I said I understood, and added that we brought our own PFD (personal floating device or life jackets). He asked a few more questions regarding my kayak. How much I purchased it, how and where etc. I think I was the first visitor who brought along kayak.
We took some souvenir photos and had our lunch. I prepared adobong manok as our baun. We were allowed to eat under the canopies of the trees at the foot of Virgin Mary grotto. After our lunch I started to inflate my Advanced Element kayak at the edge of the lake. As I was pumping the air, a man on his shorts, wearing t-shirt and a hat (similar to those scout rangers), and with a radio hanging on his hips approached us. “Sorry Sir pero next time wag na kayong magdadala niyan ha.” I was speechless to what I’ve heard. I just nodded voluntarily. But in my mind, i have a lot of scrambled words that I wished I could tell to this man. I want to tell him “you don’t want to bring us a kayak because you have kayaks for rent.” But instead, I continue inflating my boat. We need to hurry because we need to catch up the last trip going back to Irosin.
So there we are paddling in the Lake of Bulusan. Axl was in front, while Cymon in the middle. I paddled slowly towards the east. There were two motor boats at the lake. One was carrying a group of tourists, the other serves as a back-up. I snapped some photos from time to time. Finally we reached the other side of the lake. There was a pergola there. There is a hiking trail around the lake which I think I might try next time I come back without a kayak. After paddling and taking photos for an hour, we decided to go. There are no closed cottages by the lake but they allow campers overnight at the parking area. After I deflated the boat, we off to go. Unfortunately, we need to walk out of the lake area. No tricycles available. I told my kids, “it’s really more fun in the Philippines, but this is not funny anymore.” (Walking 2.5km with a back pack and a duffle bag on my shoulder.) My perspiration was dripping.
We waited at the highway for more than hour before the last jeep came. There was a resort beside the main entrance of the lake but there was no available room for overnight. The caretaker said, she still needs to clean it ’cause the owner had just left last night. If there was only a vacant room, we could spend our night there. Hoping, that would be available rooms next time….