Fabulous Philippines > Yesterdays in the Philippines > Chapter 7(b)

A Bank-holiday Excursion. Lost in the Mist. Los Baños. The "Enchanted Lake".

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November 13th.

The Monday after the departure of the monthly direct mail from Manila to the Peninsula is always devoted to our old friend" bank-holiday," and all the foreign merchants close their doors. This event occurred the first of this week, and on Saturday afternoon last some of the more energetic of us, started up the river on a small launch, bound for the big lake at the foot of the mountains. A drizzling rain was falling and the weather did not look propitious, but we pushed on , left the mouth of the river where the lake empties into it, and sallied out on the broad waters of the Laguna de Bay. Numerous serving-boys, boxes of China, food, ice, and bedding ballasted the stern of our little steamer, and as it grew dark a feast was prepared for us on deck. In going up the lake, the pilot, who was accustomed only to navigating the launch along the quays of Manila itself, got quite at sea and lost its way in the evening mist. Some of us , however, more nautical than the rest, procured a chart, consulted a compass which the native mariner in his stupidity chose utterly to disregard, and by dint of perseverance brought the frail bark back into her proper course, without further mishap than running through a series of fish-weirs.

We anchored near a little settlement, Los Baños, shortly before midnight. The deck planking did not make a soft bed, but nevertheless the snoring soon became hard likewise, and Sunday morning found us refreshed by the bracing air of the provinces. The rain had cleared away, and after an early breakfast the pilot ran the launch slowly ashore on a smooth beach, beneath a high bank fringed with bamboo. The gang-plank was run out, and several of our little party started off with guns to get some duck, snipe, and pigeons, which were plentiful in the jungle beyond.

Those of us who were left, with a couple of native guides, climbed up the steep slopes of an extinct volcano to explore a so-called "Enchanted Lake" that occupied the low crater. The way led past several ponds filled to overflowing with pink pond-lillies, and, as we wound up along the rising knolls, the air was as fragrant as that of a greenhouse. Then came a short climb which brought us to the crater's edge. The Enchanted Lake lay like a mirror below, and the rich foliage all about was almost perfectly reflected in the still green water.

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