It seemed that I never had enough time to really sit down and compose this last part, but still I knew that I would have to get around to it sometime, and not miss out on blogging about the Twin Lakes, if only to post the pictures.
First the basics: the forests around the Twin Lakes in southern Negros Oriental constitute part of the island’s last remaining healthy forests, with the other major forest patches located way up north in Mt. Kanlaon and Mt. Silay (much of the island’s other greenery are of course made up of sugar plantations). The Twin Lakes, Lake Balinsasayao and the smaller Lake Danao, are “two small crater lakes separated by a narrow mountain ridge, and situated in a hollow between four mountains, Mt. Mahungot to the south, Mt. Kalbasan to the north, Mt. Balinsasayao to the east and Mt Guidabon to the west. Lake Balinsasayao lies to the north-west of the ridge and Lake Danao to the south-east.” (Key Conservation Sites in the Philippines, Haribon Foundation, 2001)
The lakes are located in the town of Sibulan, Negros Oriental, which we reached via a half-hour or so jeepney ride from Dumaguete City. For the 14.5 km ride up to the mountains, we engaged a habal-habal, or a motorcycle for hire. Not a very safe-looking option, as advised by Dominique, but then again we didn’t mind being a bit reckless especially on a shoestring budget. It was just a matter of hanging on and trying not to move too much as the driver negotiated the long, twisting, now-its-concrete-now-its-not road up the mountain. Anti-climactically, the engine failed some distance from the lakes, forcing us to walk the rest of the way. We paid our driver for the one-way rate and watched him free-wheel his way back down, wondering how we were going to get back to civilization. The driver did not seem to be too worried, saying that there are a lot of habal-habals making trips to and fro, and promising to send one to pick us up at an appointed time. Well then. It’s not as if we could do anything about it. It was such a “bahala na” moment.
The walk to reach the lakes was excruciating to say the least, because by that time I had spent the past three days swimming, caving, hiking and rowing, and my sorely under-exercised muscles were screaming with every step. I knew, however, that a scene of great beauty would be greeting me at the end of it, and of course I was not disappointed.
In more descriptive words: It was green. It was all green, and it was beautiful.
happy to be here
We didn’t have time to swim or go boating in the lake because we thought we still had time to rush over to Casaroro Falls before catching our flight back that afternoon (a stupid, naïve idea, as we learned when we asked around later), but it was just enough sitting or walking around drinking in the beauty of the place.
They say that the bottom of the lake has never been reached, and nobody really knows how deep it is (Come to think of it, you rarely hear of dive expeditions down freshwater lakes). I hope the place stays as unspoiled and as beautiful as it is.
And yes, we did manage to get a habal-habal ride back to town.