I have always been a dependent traveller. Mostly because I have a very little sense of direction and one of my greatest fears in life is getting lost. I have this scenario in my mind wherein once I get lost, even if I ask the people, they will point me to the wrong way, making it worse, until I run out of cash then I become a taong grasa and nobody will find me ever and I will just grow old with a sickness and just die on the streets- something like that. Therefore, I see to it that when I travel, either I have someone with me, or at least I have a recipe of how to get a place in full details.
Sometimes though I realize that my fear of getting lost is hindering me from seeing the world. Because I am so anxious of getting to the destination, I somehow forget to enjoy the journey. This has to stop, and only I can solve this problem. I need to be brave and just let go of my worries (and try to block that scenario that keeps on building in my head).
Earlier this week, I went to Brgy. Sua, which lies within the 6km permanent danger zone of Mt. Mayon in Camalig Albay, to gather data for my research. Since I decided not to have a partner for my research, I had no choice but to do the data gathering alone. Why didn’t I accept that partnership a classmate offered?
After I collected that necessary data for my research, I thought it was yet too early to go home. Besides, I was already in a place where I have heard good stuff about. The weather was also pretty perfect for an escapade. But before that, my stomach needed some food. I tried looking for an air-conditioned restaurant (I had been walking in an oven for almost four hours already), unfortunately, there was none so I ended up in this 5-table eatery beside the municipal hall. While enjoying my lunch, I had a little chat with the owner and inquired about Quitinday hills. That was where I was planning to go. It’s like a local version of Bohol’s chocolate hills, only they were smaller. I was told that to get there, I needed to rent a tricycle with the usual rate of Php500. After hearing that, I realized that Quitinday hills and I weren’t going to meet that day. It was just too expensive for a solo traveller. Moreover, the owner kept on emphasizing that I shouldn’t go there alone, not that it’s unsafe or something, just because.
So much for planning a solo adventure. I needed a back-up plan so I went to the tourism office for more information about Camalig’s other destinations. They showed me a list and found out that it has more to offer (Hoyop-hoyopan cave, ancestral houses, old chapels, etc) and they also have this sort of tour where I can just rent a tricycle and it will bring me to all of the tourist destinations for a little less than a thousand bucks. I thought it was a good offer, unfortunately, my pockets weren’t prepared enough.
Just so the afternoon wouldn’t end up adventure-less, I chose to go to the nearest tourist spot which will cost me the least. To Sumlang lake it is. The tourism officer instructed me about the way. I listened carefully and noted everything he said. Good thing the place wasn’t actually that far (according to him), making my anxiety issues a little less. He told me to ride a jeepney and get off the boundary between Daraga and Camalig, where there was a monument of Pinangat, the municipality’s famous product. Then from there, he told me, I could just ask the locals for more directions.
A few minutes later, I was in a jeepney telling the driver to get me off the said boundary. Little did I know that not all jeepney drivers were familiar with the boundary and the Pinangat monument. Panick attack. I remembered the tourism officer that the boundary was only around two kilometers away from their office. After like three minutes (my seat wasn’t even warm yet), the driver pointed me to a corner where he said was a way to the lake. I asked him three times if he was sure, he nodded. Fine then, I got off and hoped that he was 100% sure of that nod. There was a sari-sari store at the corner and asked if that was really the way to the lake. I received an affirmation, however, they told me that it would have been better if I got off at the boundary and walked from there. Great, the famous boundary again. I didn’t want to waste another centavo and time to look for the boundary so I asked if I could still get to the lake from where I was currently standing. She said yes, and that was all I needed to hear. I asked her if I can walk from there to the lake but she suggested that I ride a tricycle. Tricycle it is. There were no tricycles around so I started walking. Some five minutes later, I asked a few locals if I was already near the lake. They said that it was still far and that I should just ride a tricycle. Silly hard-headed me. But there are no tricycles! A few seconds later, a tricycle magically appeared and the locals instructed the driver to bring me to the lake. Finally! Ten minutes later, the tricycle driver was asking another local of the way to the lake. Seriously? The locals pointed us the way. Good thing that there were many houses around and the barangay seemed alive; if it were not, and if it looked like a dead forest, I would have backed out. Another five minutes later, I was finally relieved to see the lake.
Sumlang lake wasn’t really the type that will put one in awe. The tourism officer said that this was the only body of water that catches Mt. Mayon’s perfect reflection. It wasn’t my luckiest day however because the sky and Mt. Mayon were covered with clouds and it started to become pretty gloomy. But I was happy, really happy that despite the odds, I still made it to the lake. It was somehow refreshing to arrive to the place with almost no people around, just a few children hanging out. Good, no crowd to ruin the solitude of my solo trip. For a few minutes, I watched the children play with the bamboo boat floating on the lake. They told me that I can ride the bamboo raft. Maybe later, I thought. For a few more minutes, I was just sitting on a bamboo bench thinking of anything I could think off.
It was actually a really good place to reflect on life. After around fifteen minutes of staring at the lake water, a group of local boys arrived. They approached and told me that they saw me while I was riding the tricycle and asking for direction. Normally, I would have just ignored them and pretended to hear nothing, but I realized that it wouldn’t hurt me to be friendly this time. Besides, the children know the group of boys so I guess it was fine to have a conversation with them. They asked me if I wanted to ride the bamboo raft. At first, I declined, afraid that it might rain while we were in the middle of the lake; but they insisted, so I agreed. Besides, they were offering the ride for free, which usually wasn’t according to the children. The boys maneuvered the raft so that we could go to the center of the lake (it was a small lake so it took no time getting there). They said that the waters of the lake used to be really clear and that its floor didn’t use to be muddy until Mayon volcano erupted some years ago. I somehow felt bad hearing that.
It was starting to get dark so I decided to leave the place. But I promised my new friends to go back so that I can see Mt. Mayon’s perfect reflection on the lake. Besides, they also promised to take me to the hill nearby.
I learned many things during this mini-adventure but I am not going to talk about them one by one for this post has already gotten pretty lengthy. Go figure. haha