Vail travel: Pinatubo’s lake is spectacular |

Vail travel: Pinatubo’s lake is spectacular

Luc Pols
Vail, CO Colorado
Special to the Vail Daily/Luc PolsVail travel: Crater Lake Pinatubo near Angeles.

VAIL, Colorado “-A couple of last words about Manila before moving on. On my last day here I take the Light Rail Transport (LRT, basically an elevated tram) to the Chinese cemetery and it is quite curious that the first car out of five is completely reserved for women only.

Interesting; is it a safety measure, politeness or discrimination? You make the call!

The Chinese cemetery is definitely something to see. Hundreds of what almost look like second homes (better than a lot of first homes here) have been erected in a large section of Manila. The cemetery has streets, roundabouts, street signs etc.

The “homes” have kitchens that seem normal ” in case the dead get hungry on their way. Several have telephones (you never know whom you might have to call) and I even spotted several with a bathroom, just in case ” you finish the sentence. Quite intriguing, definitely an eye-opener and absolutely worth a visit.

From here I stroll ” it’s too hot to walk fast ” a kilometer or so to the Blumentritt market. It is huge and you can buy just about anything here. There are hundreds of people milling about and I even see a goat being beheaded.

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Once again I am the only Westerner here. Last year in Indonesia people constantly yelled or greeted me with “hey mister. ” Here they shout “hey Joe” or “hey boss.” Interesting cultural difference.

Then I’m on my way with a two-hour bus ride to Angeles. When you tell people that’s your next stop, they invariably give you a sly smile and a wink and when I arrive I find out why: Angeles and “sex tourism” are synonymous.

I think I have entered Pattaya in Thailand ” incredible and sad. Both these towns were more or less established by the US Armed Forces (Pattaya out of Vietnam, Angeles by Clark Air Force Base) and it is quite disturbing to see the “American Culture” so debased.

My reason for spending two nights here is that Angeles is the jumping off point for the famous Mt. Pinatubo volcano, which I visit the next day. Unfortunately I have my trip was made a few hours longer by having to stop for joint Philippino-US military exercises.

However, after having climbed up the last half hour through a creek bed to the top, the views over the magnificent lake are more than worth it. If you recall, this volcano blew its top, literally, in 1991, which accelerated the withdrawal from and the closure of Clark Air Force Base. It’s beautiful and serene and worth spending two nights in Angeles.

Back to the mountains, and the town of Baguio at about 4,500 feet. Nice and cool, but unfortunately rainy and not really worth a stop. It is a very young town, lots of students ” which is pleasant ” but beyond that it doesn’t have much to offer.

An interesting if different experience here “I order soft boiled eggs for breakfast, which they say they make, but when they arrive they are green on the inside. Politely pointing this out to the waitress, she takes them and substitutes them five minutes later with virtually uncooked ones.

I give up and after finishing my tea, ask for the bill and also tell her that these aren’t really soft boiled eggs, but raw. She apologizes again and then the cook (no, definitely not a chef) comes out and asks what’s wrong with his eggs.

When I explain, he shrugs his shoulders, says “too bad” and returns to his domain. Once again, somewhat sad.

The hotel is a stretch, I’m very tired indeed, but for two nights I can handle it, because the location is superb. I strolled around town for a while, but with the almost continuous rain, nowhere is really fun. Tomorrow, I’m in for a seven-hour bus ride to Sagada and hopefully better weather.

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