My cousin suggested that Jen and I should quad-bike around Mount Mayon, and I, for one, thought this was a bloody brilliant idea. I was appreciating how much effort she was putting in to take us on adventures. Normally, when traveling with my family, the days can be a little monotonous, with my mother, who is no longer used to the Filipino heat, preferring to retreat to the comfort of an air-conditioned room or shopping mall. I’ve spent the vast majority of my life in England, so I often find her lack of adventure frustrating when we return to the land we were born in. This time, though, she seemed intrigued by my cousin’s suggestion.
The road that leads to Cagsawa Ruins is lined on one side by local companies offering ATV experiences. We scanned the row, and came to one that seemed reasonably priced, not that it mattered much, as as soon as we sat down in the lobby, my relatives began negotiating a ‘tawad‘ (discount).
Negotiations went on for a good five minutes, my mother and Tita putting on their most amiable, friendly voices, determined to lower the price of 600 pesos per person. “Please, Kuyaaaa”, they pleaded, flashing a smile.
The young man taking the brunt of their bargaining held out for as long as he could, but in the end let the Titas have they’re way: it was agreed that four of our group ride out for 400 pesos (£6) per person, rather than just Jen and I paying the asking price of 600.
Our two guides, one with curly hair tied back in a ponytail (who reminded me a little of Jireh Lim), the other shorter and wearing a black rash vest, went over the safety procedures with us and showed us how to operate our machines. Tita L, who wouldn’t be venturing out, put on a helmet and borrowed my mother’s quad-bike to take some quick photos ‘sa Pacebook‘, as per usual.
“They won’t know I didn’t go’, she joked.
Both the weather and time of day were perfect, with the grass tinged gold by the descending sun and the only cloud in the sky emanating from the crater of Mayon. We descended onto a well-travelled dirt trail, passing a wooden shelter here and a carabao there, solitary signs of life in a wide-open plain of fields and palms. I hadn’t been on a quad-bike since I was a child, and the gentle breeze as we drove refreshed me on what had been a tiring and humid day, as did the sense of adventure that comes with being in control of a vehicle. All of us were enjoying ourselves, including and especially my mother.
The two guides borrowed our phones. As one lead, the other zoomed ahead, waiting in key spots to capture photos of us as we passed in front of Mayon or forded the river and small streams.
They were experts on the trail, and knew which angles looked good, so I was impressed with the photos they snapped (all photos used in this post, besides the title image, were taken by them). At points, we would stop to take group shots, but while they took pictures of the other three posing in front of Mayon, I grabbed my camera from my bag to take a few shots of my own. We were well into golden hour, and I couldn’t miss the chance to photograph this landscape on the rare occasion I was able to be part of it.
As the sun began to set, the guides took us along a stream. The large, jagged rocks underneath the current bounced us around and required more concentration to manoeuvre than the relatively smooth path we’d been taking. At times, one of us would get stuck, wheels flailing, and require the guides’ help to get moving again.
When we reached an area with two diggers, they signalled it was time to turn around and head back to base. I was surprised to find the construction machines all the way out there, given that we’d seen sparse evidence of any human activity for the last few kilometres, barring traditionally made kubo, thatched-roof shelters used by farmers when out in the fields, and a trike. All were unmanned. On a nearby mound of dirt, a pack of dogs lay lazily, eyeing us as our noisy procession passed by.
Overall, the ATV adventure was a wonderful experience. I loved being able to venture out into the countryside with the ever impressive silhouette of Mayon dominating the horizon. Even my unadventurous mother was exhilarated by the ride. Having recently passed her driving test back in the U.K, she had seemed eager to get behind the wheel, and this experience seemed to scratch that itch.
The two guides were very helpful, friendly, and energetic the entire time. And after we had parked up and thanked them, I commented to Jen that I felt a little guilty my relatives had manage to get a tawad, as “they were worth the full amount.”
“If your friends or relatives visit Legaspi, remember to recommend us”, one of the guides told us. Both Jen and I agreed we would.
So, if you’re in Legaspi, I would wholeheartedly recommend checking these guys out.
(Disclaimer: This post is being written a year and a half late (I reeeally need to catch up with this travelogue).