Wednesday, 27 July 2011

1998: Clark & Mt. Pinatubo, Pampanga

My first experience of hiking was when I was 8 years old. At that particular point in time, I had NO idea what it was all about. All I knew was that it was the first time I get to travel on my own so I readily agreed! I mean, what kind of kid wouldn't be compelled to join an outing with thoughts of seeing hot air balloons for the first time? Yep, I thought hiking was hot air balloon watching back then. Oh, how naive I was! I could've checked the dictionary first or something! Well, my cousin didn't lie to me or anything. Yes, we went to see the hot air balloons first BEFORE proceeding to the grueling hike on Mt. Pinatubo the next day. 

So anyway, I went to Clark, Pampanga first with my three cousins: Ate Joyce, Ate Kim and Gelo. We traveled at dawn and I was in awe of a lot of things specifically the thought of traveling at such a young age! I felt like an authentic traveler that early Saturday. I wasn't disappointed since the first hot air balloon experience I had was really amazing! Check out the photos! 

Oh, BTW, it's my cousin, Joyce Alcoreza who took all of these photos! As a child, I didn't own any gadgets, especially a camera!

Haha! Look at my hairdo here and my "baduy" get-up! I look like Dora the Explorer!

We kids weren't allowed to ride a hot air balloon at that time since only kids who were 12 years old and above were permitted to. It was only ate Joyce who got to ride one of the hot air balloons during the festival. Us kids had to do the 'tracking' part of the event. We rode one of the 4x4 wheel drives and 'chased' the balloon that ate Joyce was riding. It was loads of fun actually since we got to see a lot of fantastic 'lahar'- filled sights while on that road trip. If I thought that was exhilarating already, then I spoke too soon because next day proved to be more challenging. 

We hiked on a Sunday. I remember that perfectly since I had classes the next day and I dreaded the thought of not being able to go to my classes. Yes, I was already neurotic as a kid! Can you believe that? =)

 As you can see in the pictures below, I really had no idea what I was about to do. I was wearing a while Hello Kitty ensemble! Hello??? After I overcame the shock though, I suddenly became really really irritating. I remember asking the guide time and time again, "Is it already 10 km? How long have we been walking? How many kilometers have we covered so far? Is it still far? What am I gonna see up there?" Stuff like that, which I asked in Tagalog of course. I'm amazed that the guide was able to tolerate my irritating questions. 

I can still vividly recall the details of this experience. We hiked three hours nonstop going up while it took a lot longer going down since we followed a trail that was not so steep. That  took us around 6 hours or so. Overall, we started climbing it at around 6:00am until 6:00 pm. It was a really hard hike, which is probably the most difficult hike I had to do in this lifetime (which, I'm probably never going to repeat ever again unless I start to become fit again!) What made it so difficult?  For one, there's a lot of running streams that you  have to cross. It IS hard since some streams have really strong currents. Also, there's a lot of rocks. You wouldn't probably even be able to see the soil anymore since you're basically walking on large slabs of rocks. 

This experience was really worth remembering. Not only did I see surreal landscapes, I also almost died in this expedition. Why and how? Well, we were almost at the top of the volcano already and it was getting steeper and steeper. By that time, I was really exhausted already that I couldn't even stand up straight anymore. I leaned on a large rock that suddenly moved and fell down. I was glad that the guide was able to hold my hand before I fell down the craggy crevices. So see, this experience was really very enriching for me. It started my 'occupation' as a traveler and it was also the first time I had a near death experience. 

I'm proud to say that I accomplished this feat. When I was younger, some people asked me what my greatest accomplishment was, and I used to answer, "being able to climb Mt. Pinatubo" and not other generic answers like getting an award or something. Yes, this is probably one of my greatest life achievements that I would never be able repeat ever again and I am glad to have been given the opportunity to do this at a very young age when I was still quite athletic! I felt like this trip made my bond with nature stronger. I was able to see things in a different light and started to appreciate nature better.

Oh yeah, I just created a flickr account! Browse through a more complete set of my family's travel photos. Check it out by clicking this *link.*

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