Yes, I’m aware that it’s already been 2 months since Valentine’s Day so this is kinda a super late post. I never had the chance to write about our trip to Mt. Makiling though since our old blog has been down, so I figured it’s never too late to post some new content!
We’ve got a bit of a tradition of doing slightly unusual things for Valentine’s Day since we got together. Last year(2014), we celebrated the day of love by getting matching couple’s tattoos!
This year, we once again skipped the traditional dinner date, flowers and chocolate, and decided to go for a hike! We, the Writers in Tandem, took off on our lovely bike, Maleficar(if you know what that means, you are awesome!), and headed for the literal hills. I mean come on, really, what’s more romantic than peeing in the woods together on Valentine’s Day?!
The drive from Quezon City to Los Banos, Laguna where the forest reserve is located was relatively fast. It took us about 3 hours to get there, and since we left our house around 5am that meant we were getting a really early start! We only stopped once for some breakfast at a local eatery, then it was on to the mountain and upwards we would go!
Even though we thought we were getting a pretty early start, it turns out by the time we checked in at the forest reserve we were too late to climb all the way to the summit as they have a cut-off time for that. But never fear, there are two other trails to tackle at Mt. Makiling – the Flat Rock riverbed and the Mudsprings.
The first trail start that we arrived at was to the Flat Rocks. Getting to the actual trails is a bit weird; the trails break off from an actual road, so you have to walk on the road for many kilometers to get to the individual trails. You can also rent a habal-habal for 75pesos per person to take you to the desired trail, but you can’t drive up the road yourself. It’s either pay or walk, and we chose to walk.
Once we were finally on the trail to see the Flat Rocks, we were much happier. The road to get there was pretty dull and we were looking forward to being on an actual trail. The trail was gorgeous, with beautiful plants everywhere and we even saw some interesting spiders, centipedes and lizards while we walked!
Having a break from the city rush was great. Throughout the whole day, our paths hardly ever crossed with anyone else’s so it was very peaceful and quiet, just us and the stunning sights and sounds of nature!
Finally, we arrived at the end of the first trail and were at the Flat Rocks. It was so serene there, listening to the rushing water. We were really tempted to kick off our shoes and put our feet in the river, but we did our research beforehand and learned that there were lots of leeches in the water, so it’s best not to. Even so, we still had an encounter with a leech later on, trying to burrow into David’s shirt! We have no idea how it got there, but we spent a good few minutes examining ourselves for leeches at that point! Fortunately, we didn’t find any more.
We had a lot of fun climbing over the rocks and looking down into the water. We were hoping to spot some living creatures in it, but we didn’t see anything of interest(although this is where we spotted the centipede!). We rested here for a while before heading back to the start of the trail, then onward up the mountain to the Mudspring.
The mudspring was a super cool place. Created by volcanic action miles below the surface, this steamy spot looked like something out of silent hill! There was a warm mist radiating towards us, and the muddy ground was bright orange, due to the mixture of mud and clay, in a lot of places. There’s a fence around the actual hot spring itself for the safety of visitors as the water beyond it is around 80 degrees Celsius and extremely acidic.
What I found especially amazing was that the water just outside of the fence, on our side of it, was cool to the touch! There is such a drastic difference of temperature in just a few yards’ distance. In fact, really nearby you will find a little creak flowing beyond the hot spring with turtles and crabs living in it! We sat here to enjoy the picnic lunch we had packed and shared a few pieces of bread with the turtle and crabs that we saw.
After our picnic lunch, it was time to head back down the mountain since it was far too late in the day to keep going to the peak. We’d walked a total of around 7 kilometers, which we were pretty proud of, taking into consideration how out of shape we both were! Once we got back to the road again, we decided to take the habal-habal back down the mountain and just pay the fee because we were already exhausted at this point.
We were brought back down to our motorcycle and we began our descent back into the city of Los Banos. We had plans to stay the night, so we scoured the city for a cheap place to crash. There are hundreds of resorts to choose from in Los Banos, so we were able to find one within our budget. Nothing fancy, just a place to sleep which is all we were after 🙂
Before crashing for the night though, we decided we’d earned ourselves a bit of a reward with all that exercise we had gotten, so we went in search of some cold, caffeinated cappuccinos. We found a small little cafe called Tabelle and stopped there. We enjoyed their deliciously cold frappes along with some nachos and cheesecake. Since it was Valentine’s Day, they also gave us a free heart shaped candy!
It was a perfect, calorie-filled cap to our wonderful day in nature, and we couldn’t have planned a more perfect Valentine’s Day if we had tried! Hopefully, we’ll head back to Mt. Makiling soon and we will tackle the trail to the summit next time! It’s just one of so many beautiful spots that the Philippines have to offer, so add it to your list of travel destinations 🙂