The Mayon Volcano is absolutely MAJESTIC! It is spectacular, stately, dignified, powerful, imposing and perhaps unrivalled in its beauty brought about by a near â€œperfectâ€ cone. If a young child were asked to draw a volcano, they would draw something very similar to Mayon, regardless where they lived on the planet. I first saw the Mayon volcano in 1973 when I was roughly 10 years old. I thought it was great then but its majesty must not have sunk in, for I would have endeavored to return to see it again sooner than 33 years later! I had to go to Legaspi and its nearby towns to take care of some family business and my 48 hour trip was an eye-opener on many fronts and I am so eager to share what I discovered on this short but exhausting trip. Coming up as quickly as I can write them will be at least 12 posts on the food, produce, materials and experiences in Albayâ€¦
I flew into Legazpi on the early morning PAL flight. Disembarking from the plane, I was greeted with a phenomenal view of the volcano, though its upper third was covered in clouds. Itâ€™s actually possible to go a few days without the volcano completely revealing itself to tourists so I had my fingers crossed that the Volcano Gods were going to be nice to Marketman! After checking into the Venezia Hotel (I chose this hotel on reader recommendations), I looked out my window and again stared directly at the most impressive natural cone on the planet. I actually sat near the window armed with my camera for at least 30 minutes waiting to take a photographâ€¦ My cheesy 4.0 megapixel instamatic was not up to the task and I have horrible photos but these are the ones that best convey what I actually stared at again and again over the two day trip.
On the second day in Albay, we drove to the Cagsawa church ruins to see the classic postcard view of Mayon with the half-buried church tower. While the spot is still enchanting, the nearby tourist kiosks and handicrafts stores are a bit off-putting. The last time I visited, it was pretty much a grassy field with the ruins all by themselves. We then drove around to the â€œbackâ€ of the volcano (from the city) and rose about 2500+ feet on an 8 kilometer road up to the “Mayon Resthouse” (now abandoned) that sits about 1/3 of the way up the volcano. I got this terrific view of the plains and sea from this observation point. It doesnâ€™t look too high up or that the mountainside is steep, but it was. Driving up was a great experience as it is nicely wooded (recently re-forested, I think), and there were vegetable farmers, ornatmental plants, abaca trees and hydrangeas dotting the landscape. We got there and had a nice view of the plains below and waited a few minutes to be enveloped in a thick cloud that cut our visibility to just a few meters…
There were tons of large ferns on the mountainside and Marketman is seen here looking off into the foggy yonderâ€¦ From the observation point we continued to drive around the volcano and actually circumnavigated it and saw it from â€œall sides.â€ I am told you can arrange to climb the volcano starting from the observation point (1/3 the way up) and the trek will take 12 hoursâ€¦ 6 hours going up and about 5 hours coming back down. Thanks, but no thanks. Doomed to be a lowlander, I decided seeing the edge of a sulphur/lava pit wasnâ€™t on my top 10 list of things to do/see before I died. But just this morning, a few seconds after taking off from the Legazpi airport, the pilot climbed rapidly, banked North sharply and passed within a kilometer or two from the crater and I got to see it pretty close up after allâ€¦ What a terrific way to end a trip to Legazpi!