Hobbits don’t get settled in summer when the sun is bright, the hills are green, and the beaches make the perfect place for tanning. Hobbits can be crazy random. Wherever their itchy feet take them. Just like this Baggins-folk who took a long trip–a flight from Cebu to Manila, then a long bus ride from Manila to Albay–and couldn’t get settled home.
As if the trip was only a short jeepney ride, the adventure to one of Albay’s beautiful towns kicked off right after a rushed breakfast. The destination was the town of Camalig, a town at the foot of Mayon Volcano. My friend Carlo was at work. The siblings were all busy. So, this trip ended up a solo tour again.
The first stop was Dad’s Restaurant (you can’t go wrong with food) popular for a delicacy called pinangat, the “most sought after” food in the Bicol Region according to their Facebook page. Pinangat is made of shredded gabi leaves, ginger, tiny shrimps (balaw), lemon grass, some meat or fish, and hot chili. The mixture, delicately prepared to bring out the unique flavor, is folded into layers of gabi leaves, tied securely with coconut leaves, and then cooked in rich and creamy coconut milk.
Burp. The the walking tour started. The next stop was the town’s popular landmark, the Church of St John the Baptist. An architectural treasure from the 17th century, this church was built from volcanic rocks and is one of the well-preserved churches in the region. Its rugged beauty is fine art.
In front of the church is a wide park. From here, you can rent an ATV at Bicol Extreme Sports Adventure and explore the rest of Camalig. You can drive to the caves of Hoyop Hoyopan and Calabidongan or to the lava trails at the foot of Mt Mayon. This is one thriller ride you won’t forget.
Along the national road, a number of beautiful houses dating back to the Spanish era will catch your attention. Surely, there are more in the outskirts of town, like the 200-year old Nuyda House. Check with the natives which ones you can visit, or ask assistance from the Tourism Center located a few steps from the park. Jed and his team are very accommodating to show you the many possible destinations in the town. They can also help you get a tricycle for your day tour.
As you would have guessed it, I hopped on a tricycle. Sumlang Lake was the next destination, a short drive from the centro. I wasn’t ready for the picturesque scenery waiting for me at the lake. The sight of Mt. Mayon. Just made. My jaw. Drop. There’s not much to do at the lake: ride the bamboo raft, stay under the coconut trees, and just enjoy the majestic view of Mt. Mayon.
From Lake Sumlang, I took a longer trip. Dan carefully drove his tricycle in the rugged roads to Quitinday, one of Camalig’s 50 barangays. The trip lasted for almost an hour. Most of the roads were good, some are still under construction. But the bumpy ride doesn’t spoil the travel at all. My lungs and liver were rearranged 90 times during the tricycle ride, but that was part of the thrill.
The prize? The sight of rolling hills reminiscent of the celebrated Chocolate Hills of Bohol.
The hills of Quitinday, however, are of a different kind–less rounded like Bohol’s but equally grand, especially with Mt. Mayon in the background. Climb to the top of the hill, look down to the green ricefields and breathe the fresh air, lmook up to the blue, blue sky and the billows of clouds. Fly a kite. Take photos.
But be warned. Shouting out loud can wake this dinosaur that’s been sleeping for hundreds of years.