Submitted by alvin on Tue, 2016-07-19 15:22 When I was visiting my son in Manila in the Philippines, I was asked whether I am interested in seeing an active volcano. I said ‘yes’ without batting an eyelid. I was told that we could visit the volcano as a day trip from Manila. The next morning we hired a taxi and reached Tagaytay, 70kms away, within two hours despite the chaotic traffic in Metro Manila. Tagaytay is a small city, whose eastern and southern portions are covered with forested mountains and is the starting point for Taal visit. Many tourists also visit Tagaytay separately to explore the various attractions near this city. At Tagaytay, we took a colourful motorcycle rickshaw and reached the banks of the beautiful lake ‘Taal’ within 10 minutes. In front of us was a huge blue lake surrounded by tall mountains. A number of boats were moored there. We were told that to reach the Taal Island, where the volcano is located, we have to take a boat. Crater lake Observation point As we sat in the boat, I realised that the word ‘taal’ also denoted a ‘lake’ in Hindi. This lake has partially filled up the large volcanic crater formed during eruptions. The crater is known as ‘Caldera’ and the Taal Lake is part of this ‘Caldera’. By seeing the Caldera one can imagine how huge the eruption might have been. Our boatman informed that the volcano erupted last in 1977. After a fifteen minute boat ride, we reached the volcano island. To see the volcano one has two options. The first is to walk the mountain path and the other is to ride a mule. We decided to hire a mule and mounted the hill. Volcano view from the top Panoromic view from Tagatay On a very steep, narrow and slippery path, the mules took us to the top of the hill. The 40-minute mule ride was quite frightening. I remembered my days of riding a horse in the National Police Academy, where I had fallen from horses many a time, and feared I would fall down anytime. Half-way through the journey, I wanted to dismount but the guide who led the mule on foot didn’t allow me to do so. When we reached the top of the hill, the sight made me forget the physical exertion due to the mule ride. Motorcycle rickshaw Mule ride We were now on top of the volcanic rim, and just below us was the ‘Crater Lake’. At the volcanic rim there were few shacks, where tourists could buy caps, sweaters and cool drinks. We sipped a coconut and enjoyed the scenes around. There were blue hills, green forests, grey clouds and the placid lake below, with its placidity being surreal. The weather was changing fast – sometimes bright, sometimes foggy and each time something new was visible. Our guide told me that he would take us down up to the ‘Crater Lake’. We were told that the water in this lake has medicinal properties due to the sulphur content and many tourists take a bath there. The moment our guide told that we have to mount the horse once again and take the steep downward journey to reach the ‘Crater Lake’, I straightaway refused his offer. We decided to return to the lake front. On our way back we saw a number of small openings from which gases and liquids were erupting. We were told that one could easily boil an egg there. On the way our guide informed us that though the last eruption was in 1977, there had been a number of earthquakes in the area from 2008 onwards. It is said that before any volcanic eruption, there would be strong earthquakes, sometimes more than hundred times a day. The local authorities warn the people about the earthquakes and people are shifted to safe regions. Before any volcanic eruption, the water in the Taal Lake gets heated up. Small geysers are formed in the island through which hot water gushes out. He also stated that a number of eruptions had occurred within the Taal Lake in the past. By the time we were back to the Taal Lake shore, we had spent almost four hours in the lake’s vicinity. The thrill of seeing and being on top of an active volcano is something that I will never forget. Author: Dr. DV Guruprasad (Former DGP) is presently the Chief Executive of the Gokula Education Foundation (Medical) which works in the field of education and health care.