From Madras to Manila

Friday, May 05, 2006

The World's Most Perfect Cone

... and also one of the most destructive geometric shapes (conical or otherwise) you'll ever encounter is Mount Mayon, one of Philippines' most famous sights and also its most active volcano.

[Note the smoke from the top - Mt. Fujiyama isn't half as thrilling!]

The title of 'most active' took some doing in a country where you can't toss a pebble without hitting a land-mass directly connected to the Earth's core but Mayon has worked hard for the spot, having erupted a total of about 50 times in the past 400 years, the most recent major one being in 1993 according to this site. At that time it killed about 68 people and prompted the evacuation of 60,000 others.

[By the way, I would not recommend throwing stones at a volcano. Who knows whether it was just waiting for a nudge from you to push it over the edge so it can erupt in your face?

And yet this was not even one of Mayon's more spectacular efforts. It's worst eruption so far was recorded in 1814, when it hurled igneous rocks the size of dinner tables over 10 kilometres (?) to the nearby village of Cagsawa, which was all but destroyed.

Over 1,000 people who had taken refuge in the church were killed and all that remains today is the bell tower surrounded by ruins and a breath-taking view of the volcano.

The church itself has been rather unlucky. It's was destroyed by the Dutch, rebuilt and then decimated by the volcano. I guess after that people figured it makes more sense to just go to church elsewhere!

The bloody history of the volcano and its potential for wreaking havoc at regular intervals have of course made it a popular tourist spot. There are even fool-hardy adventurers who choose to trek up this smoking, unstable mountain!

Sandi and I visited it on our way back from visiting giants, but that's another story that will have to wait till I can get the photos.

And, speaking of photos, check out this site for some pretty fabulous pictures of Mayon.

[Note: If you are flying into Legazpi, which is where you need to go to see Mount Mayon, remember to sit on the left of the flight while arriving as well as departing. The landing gives you a great first glimpse of the cone and the return flight actually passes right by the crater so you can see it clearly right next to your window!]


  • I have a picture taken from exactly the same place (where you deplane) or Mt Mayon, except all you can see is jolly cloud and about a foot of its base. I have to show people saying "I promise you, there is a really destructive volcano behind that"...

    But forget Mayon - how were the whale sharks???????

    By Blogger Kate, at 7:53 PM  

  • Will tell later ;-)

    Watch for the next instalment - our scanner is acting up and I'm not able to scan in our pictures. But we'll probably write this weekend anyway.

    By Blogger Amit, at 12:04 PM  

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