Monday, March 01, 2010

Visit to Pandin and Yambo Lakes

The following is a post I drafted while we were staying in Casa San Pablo last Feb. 14, 2010. Can I just say that so far, this has been the best Valentine weekend celebration of my entire life?! ^_^

For those who want to read this Valentine travelogue from the beginning, please clickthe link below:

Valentine 2010


Several weeks prior to this trip, I was already thinking of places we can visit for this year's Valentine weekend. Then I happen to browse one of the travel magazines Peter brought home from his Ad Congress trip in Subic last year--- Sidetrip. This mini magazine is just so full of interesting information about places to visit in Luzon. One of the things that caught my attention was its feature on San Pablo's 7 lakes in Laguna. Since we were already in Casa San Pablo that weekend, we might as well check out these lakes to see if they're really as beautiful as Sidetrip prortrayed them to be. I've had my fair share of disappointing nature finds when traveling. But I admit, there have been nature discoveries which I found priceless. Guess which group did these lakes belong to? Guess! Anyway, I decided to not expect much and just enjoy where this trip would take us...

The staff at Casa San Pablo told us that of the 7 lakes, Pandin is the best. So that's where we decided to go. While looking for the road sign that was supposed to lead us to Pandin Lake (we just followed the directions given by the staff, as well as the map we had with us) we chanced upon this nice-looking cafe called Folcon Bakeshop & Coffeeshop. It's beside a quirky little boutique called Cheapangga along the main highway. Anyway, we still haven't had lunch by then and we were starting to get hungry. We didn't know how long we were from the lake, so we might as well stop, eat and ask for further direction just to make sure we won't get lost.

Folcon Bakeshop & Coffeeshop was like a gold mine! The Chicken Arrabiata and German Sausage pasta dishes we ordered were sublime! Oh my God, they tasted even better than the pasta dishes Peter and I make at home! And I'm telling you, I am really very picky when it comes to pasta. And so far, these have got to be the best pasta dishes I've tasted, I swear! It's not even expensive. It's priced below Php200. The brewed coffee and strawberry shakes we got were okay and were priced at around Php70 and Php100 respectively. But the pasta was really delightful! The munchkin pack you see on the photo above was actually from Mister Donut. When Peter stopped somewhere to ask for directions, he saw a nice looking Valentine's donut pack with a little stuffed toy that went with it. Since I handle all the money in our marriage, Peter only has a few hundred pesos every time inside his wallet. But being the generous guy that he is, he thought of spending all his leftover pocket money on this cute little gift. When he gave it to me, our conversation went:

Peter: "Babe, pasensha na ha, cheap lang ang gift ko sayo ngayong Valentine's."

Jen: "Okay lang noh, di naman ako mahilig sa mahal eh. Basta lahat ng gusto ko nasusunod!"

Two seconds after I said that, we both burst into laughter realizing how I must've sounded like. LOL. But it's true!

Spotting that cafe was really a blessing in disguise, because on that corner is the road we must follow that will lead us to our destination... After about 15 minutes of driving, we finally saw a sign at the left side of the road that says Pandin Lake. There was an open grassy space where a car was parked so we figured, it must be a parking lot. We parked our car there and when we got out, an old man asked us if we have a guide. Naturally, we didn't coz this was all a spontaneous road trip, one where we just went with the flow of our gut feeling. Turns out, we had to walk about half a kilometer up and down the hilly slopes full of coconut trees, some carabaos and horses. We got a bit lost somewhere along the way because of very confusing pathways. Thank God for people who live in the middle of that jungle, we were able to ask for some directions. The whole time, I was trying to ignore my sordid thoughts that went like : "Ooohhh, this lake better look good or I'm gonna hang myself!" It was almost 2 pm and the sun was really shining on us. It was so hot, it hurt my skin. Good thing I had my sarong with me and a jar full of water.

I ignored my thoughts and just enjoyed the fresh air and the nice view. Before long, we came to a downward slope and from where we were, we can already see Pandin Lake. OH MY LORD! It was so breathtaking! We hurried all the way down. We can't believe our luck! This place is gorgeous!

We were immediately greeted by one of the locals wearing a red shirt.It turns out, they have these rafts that can bring tourists to the other other side of Pandin Lake for only P180 per person. Great! I was smiling from ear to ear!

This is what they call the BALSA RIDE. There were 6 women who rowed it for us back and forth. I couldn't help noticing this air of happiness and simplicity they carry, characterized by their easy-going provincial life. It was so contagious. Peter and I both felt their sincere bliss for having us on board. I felt even more grateful for this trip.

The balsa brought us to the other side of the lake. There was a path to trek and up we went. The guide said that on top, we can see an even more beautiful and larger lake --- the Yambo Lake. The trek was very steep and very high. I don't think that it would be safe to do this come rainy season because to anyone who might slip, downhill will they tumble towards the rocky and foresty cliff just a few inches from the path. Yikes! Thank God it's summer and the path is dry and textured. But just to be sure, I grabbed on to the mounds of soil while going up and down. This is so like that time in High School when our whole Girl Scouts team went up the mountains of Cagayan de Oro. It can be pretty scary!

The guide was right.The view was indeed majestic! We would've loved to go down and explore Yambo lake but the path was so much more steep going down the other side. So, we decided to just enjoy the view from the top.

According to Sidetrip, Pandin and Yambo Lakes are known as the Twin lakes of San Pablo. Legend has it that these two lakes originated from the love story of lovers Pandin and Yambo who turned into bodies of water separated by a strip of land. The lakes are oligotrophic in nature and we saw it first hand. The lakes were just so abundant with vegetation and marine life. In fact, while we were riding the balsa, we saw several fish pens filled with Tilapia, and the water of the entire lake was filled with round-shaped algae which is a naturally-occuring food for the fishes. These algae are not always present throughout the year. But when they are, especially during summer, the water is just so abundant with marine life.

We even saw a great white egret or tagak hunting for its prey. The women told us a lot of interesting information about this lake. They said that it's the source of their livelihood and source of drinking water as well. Where we were going next is a falls where they get their drinking water from. It's usually gushing during the rainy season but now that it's summer, they just try to make do with the amount they can get. After they filled their water bottles, Peter and I drank some water from the falls. It was qite refreshing and honestly, it tasted good. Ahhh.... this is why I love nature and the simple life! Mother Earth really knows how to provide. ^_^

On our way back to the shore, I just couldn't help feeling so happy and lucky about this entire Valentine weekend. It really proved to be our best so far... a really far cry from last year's when I stumbled and sustained a knee injury during the 2009 Hot Air Balloon Fest in Subic. Hihihi. ^_^

We were so happy with our 2-hour lake tour that we gave them a huge tip. They were so grateful and gushing that I couldn't help feeling blissful as well.

I really won't forget this trip. In fact, we are planning to look for the other lakes when we go back to Laguna and do another bout of windsurfing and lake excursion this month. I hope the other lakes are as beautiful too. Oh, just a reminder for those who wish to go to Pandin and Yambo Lakes --- do this either in the morning or after lunch. We saw a group who went after we came back to the car at around 4:15 pm. The hike alone would take you about 20-30 minutes. By the time you get to the lake, it will be dusk and you won't be able to hike up the mountain to see the view of Yambo Lake. Plus, the path going back to the parking lot can be confusing, Peter and I got lost twice! Unless you have a guide with you, go during day time and come back way before the sun sets.

On our way back to Alabang, we passed by a gas station so Peter can rest. There was this beautiful view of a mountain that Peter had to take a photo of it. ^_^

We got home at around 6 pm. It felt like we did so much in just two days, and we still had a lot of hours to kill before we go back to work on Monday. So, after unpacking our stuff, doing a batch of laundry, cleaning the house a bit and freshening up, we went to West Gate and capped our whole Valentine weekend with a nice, scrumptious dinner at Seafood Island. When it comes to food, we usually stick with Filipino dishes coz they're my favorite (I'm sure you noticed that if you've been reading this blog for a long time now). So we ordered all my favorites: Sizzling Blue Marlin, Pinakbet and Seafood Tom Yum. For drinks, I tried their Guyabano Iced tea. Yummy! So this post ends my 2010 Valentine Weekend Travelogue. I hope you enjoyed them and hope to catch you all again in my next series of travelogues. I'm thinking of finishing my Malapascua & Subic Treetop posts first before I start with my Asian Trip. Anyway, you can always view what's next on my sidebar. Ciao for now! ^_^


For more photos on this trip, please click the link below:

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