Our last day in the Philippines was perfect. We traveled an hour or so by bus to the province of Laguna, to the Hidden Valley Springs Resort.
This resort is a jungle paradise, nestled among a massive variety of lush vegetation. Upon arriving we were pointed in the direction of the natural hot springs and waterfall. Left to guide ourselves along the bamboo paths, we made our way from pool to pool, stopping here and there to enjoy the flora and fauna, to the beautiful waterfall at the end of the trail.
Everything about the resort was exactly as I had hoped. The jungle floor was blanketed with huge leaves and flowers, and the canopy above swayed in the gentle breeze. It was peaceful and awe-inspiring all at once. We enjoyed some time at the falls, but were anxious to try out the warm volcanic pools.
Each pool offered something a little different – a couple had small waterfalls flowing in and out, a few of them were infinity pools, some were deep and others shallow, and all were wonderfully warm except for the Lover’s Pool, which was kept cooler to encourage the embrace of lovers for warmth.
Our favorite pool was quiet with waterfalls flowing in and out, right in the center of many tall trees. As we floated on our backs and stared up at the swaying limbs and leaves above our heads, we collected our thoughts and began to process all the marvelous experiences we had throughout our visit. It was a poetic end to a spectacular journey.
As if this amazing day wasn’t already more than I could have asked for, there was one more unexpected delight…. As I was walking up the trail from one of the pools, I noticed a lady with a pretty bathing suit walking towards me. I looked at her face and realized I knew her. Her name is Joice, and she was in the same congregation as me and my family for about 10 years in Edmonton, Canada. I hadn’t seen her in at least 15 years, and neither of us live in Canada any longer. I live in the States, and she lives in Indonesia, but we found each other again in the Philippines. It was a tearful but joyful reunion, as we exchanged gifts and stories of our lives, and reminisced about Edmonton and our friends there.
I know I keep saying this, and I will say it again – this trip was one of the best of my life. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but the reality far exceeded any expectations I may have had. Meeting new friends and brothers and sisters from around the world, and experiencing this amazing country with them was something I will always cherish.