Today was unforgettable. I flew a jet over Mount Pinatubo and its crater lake, we sloshed through the sulfuric hot springs and lahar canyons of Sapang Bato in 4X4s, took a nap completely buried in volcanic sand, and shared memorable moments with the indigenous Aetas.
After a lovely complimentary breakfast at Oasis Hotel, we headed to Omni Aviation for our aerial tour over Mount Pinatubo and the crater lake. Our pilot and tour guide Johnny were super cool and after some minor difficulties we took off on one of the world’s shortest runways. It was a beautiful clear day, and the view below was breathtaking. We rode the airwaves emitted by the mountains, and quickly gained altitude. Johnny told us that Mt Pinatubo had been a cloudy no-go for the past week, so when we got close to the clouds that loomed over the volcano it seemed to be a lost cause. One minute later, we emerged from the clouds and found a clear patch of air. Our daredevil pilot managed to avoid downdrafts and fly us directly over the crater lake and Pinatubo. The view was breath-taking. We were amazingly lucky.
After we flew out of cloud zone, our pilot handed over the controls completely to me after 3 minutes of coaching. As I steered the plane out of the mountainous regions and decreased altitude, he snapped pictures of us on his camera. I was shaky at first and quite flabbergasted he would entrust me with all controls over the plane, but I soon managed to get a hang of it after some…ah…turbulence. Hehe! And there I was, flying a jet over Mt Pinatubo. We were both nauseous and slightly dizzy by the time we landed back at the base (no thanks to my flying), but it was 1000000% worth it. Our pilot was super chill and awesome; he got us ice water and drove us back to our hotel for free. Almost every local we encountered on this trip was extremely hospitable and friendly.
After checking out, it was time for our next adventure: 4X4 Adventure through Sapang Bato.
Our 4X4 driver whisked us away from civilization through the back alleys of the Aetas people, through hard gravel roads, rivers, and rocky terrain to the Puning Hot Springs of Brgy. Inararo in Porac. The exotic scenery and crazy bumpy ride juxtaposed with our driver’s US Billboard Top Hits was exhilarating. We passed by Aetas children bathing in the springs and stuck our faces out of the 4X4 to enjoy the wind. After the amazing hot springs, we were buried in volcanic sand and hibernated in a subconscious state. I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves.
I love the Philippines!