Bulusan lake and other sights along the way

I booked ‘a tour’  or rather a driver and a car with Fernando’s hotel, as during my two days of strolling through the city I hadn’t seen any other place to do so. Maybe I just missed it, but maybe there just were no travel agencies in Sorsogon. My hotel charged 4k PHP (about 65 Euro) for the driver and his car. Everything else, like entrance fees, guides, food etc., was extra.

Our first stop was the Rizal beach resort in Gubat. To access the beach, I had to enter through the resort and pay a small fee.

Rizal resort @Sorsogon

The beach was amazing, had white sand and was going on forever. I didn’t go swimming since it was still only 8:45 and I was more in the mood for coffee. Plus I found it weird that the driver followed me to the beach. So while I had brought my swim stuff, I decided neither to go in nor to drink a coffee.

white sandy beach @Rizal resort

We drove next to the Barcelona church and some ruins across the street. The St. Joseph parish church has been built in 1874, unlike the information from the driver who said it was from the 15th century. It did look old though, not sure if that is from the humidity or if it was built to look old. In any case humidity and heat are not really great for buildings here.

St. Joseph church @Barcelona

From the inside the church looked new and pretty. Best again were the birds singing, there is something magic about sitting in a church and listening to birdsong.

inside @St. Joseph church

altar @St. Joseph church

Just across the street were the ruins of Barcelona, which are what’s left of several buildings from the Spanish colonial era. These building were the houses the governor and his administration, as well as a school. It looked very sturdy from what’s left, so it was probably also used as a defense site against the Moro pirates. Supposedly there is also a tunnel between the church and these buildings. Barcelona, as seat of the colonial government, must have been a rich city as these ruins and the church prove.

Barcelona @Sorsogon

what’s left from the Spanish colonial era @Barcelona

From Barcelona we headed to Bulusan lake, the first of the three lakes of Mt. Bulusan. The other two lakes are on Mt. Bulusan. The second one is three hours away on foot and the third one is a crater lake on top.

The lake offers water sports in the form of kayaking and a big raft ride. Unfortunately everyone else wanted to go kayaking and no one was interested in the raft. Since I hate kayaking on my own (where is my friend when I need her), I decided to walk the 1,8 km perimeter of the lake. But the walkway was closed due to construction and will be so for the foreseeable future.

Bulusan lake @Sorsogon

kayaking on Bulusan lake @Sorsogon

Therefore I walked back to the entrance with my tour guide, instead of taking the electric shuttle once again. It was 1,7km, almost the same as the perimeter of the lake. Just not as nice, but at least something. I found there were quite a lot of people at the lake, but according to my guide not as many as during Holy Week. Most of them were local tourists and Chinese. I didn’t see any other Western tourists. The panorama at the lake is beautiful, and the volcano right in your face. But the whole thing was rather expensive, the 245PHP (4 Euro) included the ticket, parking for the car, an ecological fee, the guide, and the shuttle from the entrance to the lake. You are not allowed to swim in the lake, which I didn’t mind at the time. Although it did look inviting.

the raft looked best @Bulusan lake

The tour included a stop at the Balay Buhay sa Uma bee farm. I had no expectations of it and funnily enough, it was by far the best part of my day trip.

Balay Buhay sa Uma bee farm @Sorsogon

home for bees @Balay Buhay sa Uma bee farm

shadowy walkway @Balay Buhay sa Uma bee farm

No one told me that you can go swimming here, apparently it’s a brand new feature. The water at the bee farm was cold and super refreshing. The whole farm was beautifully done and so well maintained. I walked around, watched the fish, and then put my feet in the cold water.

natural pool for swimming @Balay Buhay sa Uma bee farm

nice and shadowy to walk into the water @Balay Buhay sa Uma bee farm

Really too bad about the swimming, since I had left my bikini in the car. There was also a restaurant on the premise, but food had to per-ordered.  Thankfully the Balay Buhay sa Uma bee farm had a little cafe as well, which just had its soft opening while I was there. Not a lot of options at the time, but fries are always a possibility.

a small waterfall @Balay Buhay sa Uma bee farm

The last stop of the tour were hot springs. With all the volcanoes in the area it is no wonder that the Philippines also have warm water. Unfortunately the pools were not natural, but the hot springs were already inside a resort. Insofar quite the same as in La Fortuna the year before, on the other hand totally different. The San Benon Mateo resort has three kinds of pools. One with cold water, one with lukewarm water, and one with warm water.

San Benon Mateo Hot and Cold Spring Resort @Irosin

The cold pool was empty, not of people, but of water. So only the lukewarm and the warm basins were available. The warm one was too hot for me in that weather, but the lukewarm water was just fine. I got a bit stared at for walking around in a bikini, while the women here all wore T-shirts. I walked around the pool to get my step count up for the day, maybe that was the reason the staring come to think of it. They must have thought I was daft. The shower and toilet facilities were broken and needed maintenance. The entrance fee was 65PHP (1 Euro), but they really wanted me to splurge for a table or cabana for 500 PHP (8 Euro). This is definitely not necessary, when you are alone. Since the place was almost empty during my visit, I read at one of the tables in the shade and no one bothered me. Yours, Pollybert

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