Despite looking like a child’s toy, the All-Terrain Vehicle (ATV) is in reality one badass vehicle. It can cross landscapes that would break the axle of an automobile or sink its wheels. It can keep pace with any motorized two-wheeler. And it is easy to drive: consider yourself a competent ATV-driver if you know how to grip the throttle and the brake.
I enjoyed the long ATV drive to the foot of Mt. Mayon. My inner speed demon possessed me, and I momentarily forgot that I was a cinephile and a literati. Still – square person that I am – I followed safety precautions by maintaining distance between my ATV and the guide’s ATV, and avoiding grasping the throttle whenever the vehicle moved downward on a slope.
It was a thrill to cross muddy terrain, rocky landscapes, and streams of water. We also passed by a sleepy village where all the children playing on the roadside waved at us. My ATV seemed unstoppable.
The trip lasted for an hour, and we arrived at a cluster of bamboo sheds. This was the spot where we abandon the ATVs and hike to the pile of lava rocks. I was wet and muddy, and my arms were sore from driving, but I was ready – raring even – to walk.
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When the guides told me we were to hike to the mound of lava rocks, I did not expect the hike also involved clambering up a tall heap of slippery rocks. My foot slipped a couple of times going up the mound, and I automatically clung to rocks for dear life. One of the guides advised me – for reasons I cannot comprehend – to avoid clinging to the rocks while walking up the pile. He held my hand so that I wouldn’t fall in case I slipped again. Yes I reached the top, but my manliness rolled down the hill, battered and bruised as it hit the ground.
A surreal sight on top of the lava rocks: a helipad with a small wooden table in one corner. Stretches of lava rocks and large patches of treetops surrounded the helipad. These are bounded by Lignon Hill on one side and the mighty and magnificent Mayon on another side.
Before climbing down the heap of lava rocks, the guides asked if I wanted to zipline back to the ATVs (a zipline structure stood a few meters from the helipad). Noticing the absence of safety helmets and walkie-talkies in their persons, I declined. Again I slipped a couple of times but managed to walk back to the site in one piece.
We drove our ATVs back to the Barangay we came from.