Included in my bucket list is to take a dip in a good, honest-to-goodness onsen. You know, the kind where I will strip naked (considering my fear of getting naked in front of strangers) and letting it all hang loose while soaking my body in a delightfully warm water…my worries and stress all melted away.
Since it will take me a long time to go to Japan, then this bucket list item will have to remain there unticked for two more years.
With summer over and the heat still unbearable, the Hubby and I as well as my dad joined the clan outing in one of the hot springs located in Laguna, a province that’s about an hour away from Manila. When my granny died two months ago, it was surprising that the family became a lot closer compared to before. I am sure that my granny and two uncles who went ahead in heaven must be smiling a lot these days because the people who were left behind became less petty and became a lot closer to each other. We now have usually Friday night hang-out sessions, and now–the first ever summer outing with quite a lot of family members in attendance.
The city of Los Banos in Laguna is well known for its hot springs and yummy buco pie. The place we visited is called Libis ng Nayon, a public hot spring bath with swimming pool that attracted a lot of local residents in the city. While the place will not never be a fixture in any issue of Lonely Planet, it is good enough for family bonding and weekend chilling.
Entrance for adults is PHP60 (about USD1.50) and PHP50 (USD 1.20) for kids and senior citizens, while rental for cottages goes for PHP600 (USD15). If you don’t have your own vehicle, you can take the bus going to Laguna, though I am not sure what bus to take. You can bring your own food and drinks and can even cook there provided you will also bring your own portable stove. My family did just that, with two of my cousins taking kitchen duty.
The water from the hot spring is indeed very hot, but not scalding. You will feel uncomfortable when you first dip your toes in the warm water, but I recommend counting 1-2-3 then immediately soaking your whole body to the water just right that. Surprisingly, it’s not uncomfortable or painful at all. You will feel the water gentle massaging your cold spots and all the stress away. I did not go buck naked but I had fun just soaking in the hot water enjoying the view and the company of my cousins. Even the water running in the pool was hot, sourced from the natural springs of the nearby mountains.
In terms of cleanliness, the resort is okay. There are no garbage littering the resort premises, and I’ve seen resort staff cleaning after guests. Watch out though for dog poop, since there are a lot of dogs living in the resort. Bathrooms and shower rooms are okay. Nothing to rave about and could use a good scrubbing but I have seen a lot worse. There is also a small store inside the resort selling coffee and toothpaste and even tooth brush. They said it can get pretty crowded during Sundays, but the rest of the week, crowd is manageable.
It follows that when families gather together–you can expect tons of food to supplement the fun and the endless discourse. And us, being a family from the Bicol Province, known for its penchant for spicy, savory foods surely had spicy food on the menu, all of which I failed to even taste because I have low tolerance with spicy food. I had to stick to the spaghetti and various fruits and junk food the whole day.
I look forward to spending time again with my whole paternal side of the family. It was fun discovering things about your cousins and knowing them as people, not only as humans you are stuck with your whole life due to blood relations. It is also nice to see my dad bond with his brothers. After the loss of their mom (they are officially orphans now), all they got is each other.