Tuesday May 16

Trip Start May 11, 2006
Trip End Jun 05, 2006

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Where I stayed
Melata Pensione

Flag of Philippines  ,
Monday, May 22, 2006

We woke up early to the typical sounds of roosters and dogs in the street. We had breakfast and piled into the jeepney to drive to Taal volcano for a day hike. The drive was nice because we took the door off the jeepney and for a while I sat on the step looking out the back. Once again it seemed that we were in a parade. There are typically houses built right along the street especially through villages, but even in the more remote areas, and people are always sitting or doing some kind of work out on the street. Children are still in their summer vacation until mid June so there are kids everywhere playing. When we drive by and people see westerners they almost always stop what they are doing and wave. When you wave back they usually get this big bright eyed smile. This is especially true of children, but most adults have the same reactions. The light hearted and happy nature of people here is something that I've really noticed.

There are a lot of private pools in the area because of the hot springs, and people tend to run up to the jeepney with signs that say private pool to get us to go and rent thier pools. We were a little bit lost while trying to find the boat which would bring us to Taal (it's on an island) and asked a man on the road who immediately jumped on his tricycle taxi (a motorcycle with a sidecar that is used for transportation, there are hundreds of these in every town) and told us to follow him. Instead of bringing us to our boat, he took us to his pool or the pool he works for and siad he had a boat and would take us. This kind of stuff seems to happen a lot because we are Americans and people will do whatever to make money off us. So we got back on the road, and found our boat. It was this really cute little boat that kind of looked like a gondalla with a motor.

Taal is surrounded by a lake which was created by an eruption of a much larger volcano that left Taal after it erupted. Our guide up the mountain was a 75 year old man named Rudy who could have beat me up the mountain 5 times in a row. He has lived at Taal his whole life, and told me about his son in Greece. Most tourists to Taal take mules or small horses (not really sure, they were all a little strange looking) up to the top. The hike was a lot nicer, we got to see areas where there was steam coming out of the soil. The ground was so hot and it was pretty warm outside, although it was overcast and had rained so it could have been a lot worse for us. Regardless of the weather I still managed to get burnt pretty bad.. while wearing 45 spf and being the one searching for shade the whole time. So now I have a ridiculous looking tan line. The veiw from the top was gorgeous, there was another lake inside the crater area on the top. The last explosion was a mud explosion in 1999, it apparently killed a lot of people, and the volcano could technically erupt again at any time.. although unlikely. Dan got his passport and wallet stolen when he put it down for a little bit which really put a damper on the end of the hike. Johnathan offered a $100 reward even if just the passport and airline tickets were returned, but nothing happened. When we left Taal we headed back to Manilla, about a 2 hour drive. We came back to the Malate Pensione, our first hotel and rented a room just to shower and clean up. We took a bus north to Banaue that left Manilla at 10pm and arrived around 7am. It was a long night.. not much sleep, but a great birthday :)
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