Friday, May 12, 2006

cursed rains, blessed relief (Caliraya, Laguna)

I've just checked on the progress of typhoon Caloy. It seems to be passing over Manila as I write this. Sadly, summer in the Philippines is almost over I guess. I hear its met with mixed feelings as it gives manilenos a respite from the heat even if all those last minute vacationers are forced to stay home and sit this weekend out. It looks like its going to rain here in Tokyo tomorrow as well. Cold weather with some rains remind me of that wonderful camp site in Caliraya Lake. I've been going there a lot these past few years. I know it always rains there and its always windy but I really like this camping ground called Eco Saddle. I've gotten to know the main caretaker Mr.Benz Abenonar. He's a stocky fellow whom I believe actually cares deeply for the environment. I'd like to take one of his eco tours where you hike up for 4hours or so up one of the mountains closeby. Of course, I'd have to get in good shape for this as we are to bring all the camping gear by foot to and from the campsite in these mountains. (photos taken from Eco Saddle, Caliraya Lake 2005/07/31 -- upper left: Takai and mom, right: Allan-dawn on the lake, lower left: man selling black bass, lower right: 7am and most are still asleep)

I like this campsite because even if the toilets really suck (hey, this is the outdoors right?) the sight and smell and sound of nature all around is really invigorating. Waking up to the sound of birds chirping is theraputic at the least. The constant rustling of leaves and this cool breeze on my face lets me forget all the stench and despair of manila. Here, you bring your cooler, sit and down a couple of beers, swim a little and cook some barbeque over some hot charcoals. You can request the staff to bring wood for a bonfire. They charge you 150 for the wood and they would even light it up for you at your desired time. The best time to go is definitely during summer. Early March is best as the wind is cool and the ground dry. The water also recedes much further during this time and so you have a greater area to walk around on or play with your family or friends. There is a whole lake you can dip into when you feel hot but for those who don't feel like walking around on the soft mud that makes up the lake floor, you can opt to take a shower in the shower stalls beside the toilets. We always bring our bikes so that some can go around the lake or visit the Japanese gardens if they wish. Kulang ulam niyo? No problem, just go out and buy some black bass or tilapiya from the many sari-sari stores that line up the road.

(photos taken by Francis Atendido in Eco-Saddle Caliraya lake using a Panasonic Lumix FZ-20 2005/07/31 left: morning mist - view from eco saddle)

Eco-Saddle in Caliraya lake truly is a great place to bring friends or family. Just respect other people's rights to a quiet weekend and stop using your car boombox in this camp. After all, we're all after some peace and quite here right?

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