Why It's a Good Idea to Have the Springs of Irosin on the Top of Your Sorsogon Itinerary (Especially After a Fifteen-Hour Bus Ride)

Thursday, April 30, 2015

SAN BENON HOT SPRINGS SORSOGON

March 27, 2015

The three of us became a tad testy when the bus suddenly pulled over.

"What's wrong?" grumbled Kaye, her eyes half-closed.

It was past midnight. Kaye and I had just agreed to take a pause from exchanging stories to get some shut-eye. She, Archie and I were bound for Sorsogon, my other hometown, for a well-deserved break. School's out and we professors need to recharge. That is the law, you see, but then this happened.

I grasped the rail of the seat in front of me and craned my neck. The engine had been shut off and our driver, bless his heart, hastily alighted the bus without so much as a howdy-doo.

My blood started rising.

"Wala man lang press release," I said, trying to suppress the imminent twitch under my left eye.

It was several minutes later when Archie, who had the window seat, informed us that the tires were being replaced. This was also the moment when it started to get too stuffy inside the bus (which had no air-conditioning to begin with), so we decided to get off and stretch our legs. And, fine, relieve our bladders.

So, here we were, in a poorly-lit, nipa-shack-lined roadside somewhere in Tsaong, Quezon, watching a bunch of guys with ripped arms wrestle a couple of massive bus tires. I swear I saw the boys taking apart the tire, flipping the exterior, and placing it back to the wheel - which was absurd, I know. This irked me because I thought the tires were fine and this was just some superstitious nonsense the bigwigs of St. Martha Bus Line came up with to pass off as "differentiation". My companions insisted I was the one being ridiculous. I forgave them because I knew their butts ached as much as mine.

One thing we all agreed on was it was arid and we all wanted sleep. The six-hour journey had been rough and we were getting impatient. Who knew replacing a couple of tires could take more than an hour? Superstitious nonsense, I tell you.

We all breathed a sigh of relief when the driver went on board and the engine revved to life. Not long after, I looked to my left and there were Archie and Kaye - asleep. Good for them.

I pulled my earphones out of my sling bag and plugged it into my phone. I lodged them unto my ears and began humming (or singing loudly - depends on who you ask) to Florence and the Machine. The next thing I knew, it was morning and my neck was cursing me for sleeping at a bad angle. Also, I'd apparently gotten too much of Walk the Moon in my sleep, for my earphones were dangling to the floor when I came to.

In the spirit of classic long car rides, Kaye turned to me, and in a sleepy whisper she demanded, "Malayo pa ba?"

I frowned. "Limang oras pa."

"Huh?" Archie complained, a look of utter disbelief flashing across his face.

It was 8:45 in the morning and we had just passed by the Sorsogon Arch.

I snorted. "De, joke lang. Konti na lang."

I could tell that they were starting to question the entire trip, perhaps thinking that I haven't been completely forthright with them. In my defense, I honestly had no idea that it would take us fifteen hours to reach Bacon. I thought "thirteen hours" was the worst thing that could happen.

In any case, when we finally arrived at our house in Basud, we didn't waste time. We were basically brushing our teeth one moment then riding a jeepney to the town proper the next.

It is in the town proper where we had our incredibly late breakfast. We had Bigg's Diner's famous goto. (Well, they had goto. I only ate the boiled egg that came with it and gave the rest to Archie after realizing it was actually rice. Haha!) After which, we walked and waited for a jeepney that would pass by Irosin. In this case, one bound for Matnog.
First group picture in Sorsogon!
The famed Goto
Oh, I almost forgot: on our way, I spotted a snack wholesaler where I convinced my companions to purchase two packs of Lumpia. You know, the orange tubular corn snack all three of us had a hankering for during Hell Week (yes, children, it is hell for us too.) We were determined to be fueled by porridge and cheap junkfood. We are badass that way.

After a two-hour ride, the conductor dropped us off in front of a school, and it is here where we hired a tricycle to take us to San Mateo Hot and Cold Springs. The tricycle ride is a rough fifteen minutes that passes through rice and coconut fields.
A Philvolcs Facility is situated along the way to the resort
I wouldn't mind Manila's heavy traffic if the roadsides were as scenic as these
The resort charged Php35 per head, with a discount of Php15 for children below four feet. Cottages range from Php130 to Php700 while rooms are priced Php700 to Php2200 depending on length of stay.
Professors by night, Adventurers by day
Rates and Fees
We only paid the entrance fee, opting out of renting a cottage since we wouldn't be staying for long. However, when we went inside, we occupied a vacant small cottage, agreeing that if ever we were told off, we would pay the fee. Well, we were told off but thanks to Archie's suave moves, we were allowed to use the cottage free of charge.

Now, let me get to describing the place.

Related Adventure: The Return to the Lake that Had Inspired Recurring Dreams

San Mateo Hot and Cold Springs comprise of three pools of sulfuric water (four, if you count the one under construction). The therapeutic water is volcanic in origin and comes from Mount Bulusan, an active volcano.

Right: Hot; Left: Cold
The resort had undergone a lot of improvements since the first time I went here
The place is wedged on the edge of a thriving forest, with tall thick foliage providing shade and crisp air. Birds singing, cicadas chirping, and close encounters with tuko are part of its natural and irresistible charm. Despite the relatively large number of visitors that day, the place still provided a relaxing ambience.
Lush plants and decent landscaping make up for a nice ambience
Trees that make the area "cool" despite the blaring sun
One of the massive hardwoods that line the resort
Literally on the edge of a forest
(c) Kaye Samson
We changed into our swimming clothes and took some photos before we went into the "hot" spring. Let me tell you that all the ails and petulance acquired from our arduous commute immediately trickled away as I submerged myself in the brimstone-infused water. It was similar to what I have experienced in Calaguas, only this time it was more tangible, for the ail was more literal this time. I felt my bones relaxed as I submitted myself in the embrace of the calescent basin. The fifteen-hour journey was slowly starting to feel like a vague memory.

Related Adventure: Finding the Remedy in the Beauty of Calaguas
Conduits protrude at one side of the pool, and a drainage system is in another. The water in all the pools are in constant movement so it's less likely for the sulfuric water to drop the "sulf". 
Small smooth stones serve as flooring for the pool. Also, I apologize for this picture of my weird-looking pale bloated feet.
I grew more certain that making the springs our first stop was the right thing to do when it became evident that Kaye and Archie were more relaxed and less disgruntled. They looked like they were enjoying themselves and not regretting the fact that they had let me coerced them into going to this adventure. They were back to their good-natured selves, leading to a quick transition to a place where we can laugh and joke about our previous ordeal. If anything, they became more enthusiastic about our trip.

I had been briefly vexed, to be honest, when they had started to complain about the bus ride. Of course, I had felt responsible and defensive, although it wasn't really my fault. But as we sat there in the hot spring, the water up to our chins, I realized we were all just really tired. And because we were patient by default, all it took to efface these feelings was a long relaxing bath.

The moral of the story: There is no such thing as over-conditioning when it comes to long car/bus rides. Exaggerate the travel time so that your buddies will be physically, mentally and emotionally prepared. But if all else fails, take them some place they can wash up.

Cheers to the next adventure!

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For more photos, check out Celineism's Facebook page.

How To Get There
From Cubao Bus Terminal (near Shopwise), there are buses bound for Sorsogon. St. Martha Bus Line, and Elavil both have daily trips to Sorsogon. Get off at Sorsogon Town Proper. From here, walk to Chowking. There will be jeepneys that will pass by Irosin. For our trip, we took a jeep bound for Matnog, but I was told that there are ones that ply directly to Irosin. Tell the driver/conductor that you're bound to San Mateo Hot Springs in San Benon. They will either drop you off at Irosin public market, or at the school where we were dropped off. Either way, you can hire a tricycle to take you to the resort.

To get back to Sorsogon, ride a tricycle and ask your driver to take you some place where you can catch a jeepney to Sorsogon. In our case, it was nearby the Irosin Town Marker.
The Irosin Town Marker
Expenses
(Per pax, unless otherwise stated)
Bus Fare (regular, non air-conditioned, one way) - Php700
Jeepney Fare (Sorsogon to Irosin) - Php60
Tricycle Fare (to resort) - Php10
Resort Entrance Fee - Php35
Tricycle Fare* - Php167
Jeepney Fare (Irosin to Sorsogon) - Php60

*We hired a tricycle to take us to Bulusan Natural Park from Irosin. It was a roundtrip deal that cost Php500, divided among three people.

Tips, Concerns and Reminders
There is a canteen/sari-sari store within the vicinity, if you didn't bring any baon
Makes you evaluate your definition of a "canteen"
Interior of the traditional Filipino house that was turned to a canteen
(c) Kaye Samson
There are several grilling and cooking stations in the area
There are two shower and wash rooms. One for males, one for females. They are very decent and spacey.
It's a good idea to pair a trip to this place with a trip to Bulusan Natural Park
Make sure to coordinate with a tricycle driver with regards to going back to the main road (or going to Bulusan) as tricycles rarely stay put near the resort

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