There’s no direct way of getting from Caramoan to Legazpi so we endured the mission back to Naga but this time we took a jeepney from Sabang to Naga to avoid paying the extra for our bags because we really are that tight. It took a bit longer but you can’t really bitch over ₱100, and I am somewhat besotted with jeepneys. I love them, I wish to own one but I’m not sure any of the ones we’d been on so far would pass any manner of MOT in the UK. Anyway, once you’re back in Naga it’s just a case of wandering around the corner to the bus station and hopping on the next bus to Legazpi.
We checked into Mayon Backpackers, partially because it was one of the cheaper places we found, partially because breakfast was included and I fucking love breakfast, but they also boasted of views of the volcano you really can’t fucking miss pretty much as soon as you’re in the city. Mt Mayon, at least when viewed from this angle is a beautiful, almost perfect cone, but the explosive kind that could kill you in seconds and not the kind you’d put your ice cream in on a hot day. We located the nearest supermarket, stocked up on San Miguel and bolted to the roof for some stunning views.
So Mayon Backpackers offers a traditional Filipino breakfast every day and on our first morning they were cooking up tinapasilog which is fish (that’s the tinapa part of it), rice and egg (the silog, sinangag meaning fried rice and itlog meaning egg), but the fish is small and dried and still has its face. I’ll admit it, I’m a shit carnivore. I mean, I know where my food comes from, I know it used to be alive, I just don’t like to be reminded of this fact whilst I’m consuming its corpse. I’m not a huge fan of dried fish either to be fair. I shovelled egg and rice into my chops as the rest of my breakfast eyed me suspiciously.
Today we thought we’d take it a bit easy, just have a look a round, catch a couple of jeepneys to places. Nothing too early, nothing too epic, nothing that’d have us questioning our life choices by lunchtime. There’s a hill near the city where you can view the bigger hill everyone comes here for from a distance whilst making all the appropriate oohing and ahhing noises. There’s other shit to see and do around this hill, Ligñon Hill, such as a Japanese tunnel and I think there’s meant to be some manner of zip wire but we weren’t too bothered about checking them out. Maybe if it were high season and it didn’t look like it was about to bucket down. We’d caught the Legazpi-Daraga Loop 1 jeepney to the foot of the hill and walked up it and just chilled there in the cafe for a bit, drinking the 3-in-1 coffee that is ubiquitous here and that Tarrant had gotten so addicted to I thought I might need to enrol her in a twelve step program once we were back.
Whilst you’re up here you might as well have a butchers at the information board which tells you the legend behind the volcano, not that I even knew there was a legend behind the volcano. Long and convoluted story short, “Mayon” comes from the word “magayon” which means “beautiful”. Princess Magayon was meant to marry Prince Ulap but her dad was kidnapped by some dude called Linog who said she could have him back if she married Pagtuga, whoever he is. She refused and they went to war and though her father was rescued, she was killed. Ulap ran towards her and threw his arms around her but he was stabbed by Pagtuga. They were buried where they died and a great volcano sprung up, which as we all know is legit how volcanos are formed. The mountain, magayon, is often embraced by ulap which means clouds, but the jealousy of pagtuga, meaning “eruption”, is still evident to this day when accompanied by linog, which means “earthquake”.
But anyway, it definitely looked like ulan, which means rain. We’d spent a bit of time chatting to an older English bloke before making our excuses and leaving when it turned out he was a little bit racist (despite being married to a Filipina woman?!?), plus we wanted to get back down the hill before the heavens opened. Ha, no such fucking luck. We weren’t even half way when the skies dumped so much water on us we were instantly waterlogged. You know when your clothes are so drenched they physically can’t hold any more water so it just trickles down your person and fills your shoes? You could house small cetaceans in the contents of my footwear. Tarrant cut us a couple of leaves from the banana trees growing by the side of the road to use as umbrellas but it was futile and pretty much like putting the roof up after your convertible Mercedes Cabriolet had flooded. I think she just wanted to use banana leaves as umbrellas at least once while we were here.
The rain stopped for long enough for us to wait for a jeepney towards Daraga where we figured we’d check out the church but it returned with a vengeance as the jeepney rolled into the small town. We jumped out and took refuge in a cake shop to take stock of our currently sodden situation. Oh how very convenient. Well it’d be rude to use their roof and not purchase a few of their baked goods wouldn’t it? After applying enough sugar to our faceholes to set a coach full of toddlers off for a week we decided to call it a day. We had a few days here, we could check out the church another time, perhaps when the sky wasn’t trying to drown us.
Legazpi, Albay, Philippines
Stayed at: Mayon Backpackers
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