Tagaytay and Taal Volcano

Trip Start Feb 03, 2009
Trip End Aug 23, 2009

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Where I stayed
Keni Po

Flag of Philippines  , Luzon,
Friday, February 20, 2009

We arrived up here on the local bus for very little and seemed to be in the middle of nowhere. Basically this town is along a ridge up a mountain with the road to Manila teeing off it. It is a place very spread out along the ridge with the lovely view of a lake below. We stayed at a really sweet and fancy little hotel with friendly staff and a beautiful garden area with a swimming pool. Meals was in her element swimming twice a day, sometimes even three. We chilled out for a few days up here before leaving. So we organized with our regular taxi motor tricycle driver to go down to the lake and across to the volcanic island.

We were up early for Aris our tour guide and driver as we were told the earlier on the island the cooler and easier the climb. After the tricycle journey we got a boat across the lake for about 20 minutes to the island. We arrived, signed in and started the hour hike up the crater led by our boat driver/guide fellow. We ended walking up in under half an hour trying to keep up with our guide who was marching up like a bloody mountain goat only in flip-flops. It was absolutely wrecking and very sweaty betty but we had really lovely views. We were using this as our only training for a trek up Mt Kinabalu in Borneo and this wasn't easy for us. On the way we passed apart of the track that was slightly burnt looking and smoldering. It was sulfur gas that was red hot from down within the volcano creeping out of a vent, which was pretty cool. At the top was an awesome view of the surrounding land of the lake but also the lake inside the crater. Basically if you can get your head around it this was a tiny little island in a lake, which was in the crater of a volcano, which was an island itself in another lake on the mainland island of the Philippines. There, a bit of a mind boggler I know. However this wasn't an active volcano nor was it dead. It has been dormant for nearly a hundred years but the lake inside the crater is supposedly dangerously hot and people aren't allowed down. There are various other vents with escaping sulfurous gases inside the crater walls and the water of the lake seems to show slight little signs of activity with ripples and the colour of the water changing ever so slightly from area to area. It was an interesting and beautiful place and we enjoyed the half a day trip. On the way down we took our time and learned that our guide was only a year older than me (23) with a wife and four kids. He was 17 and his wife was 15 when they had their first. He asked us if we had any as he thought we were old  enough for not having any. That was a big insight and how things are so different from home. The boat trip back was lovely in a choppy sea-like water spraying and cooling us down. That evening after having a swim we went and got dinner which for the third night in a row consisted of two to three large fries, a coke float and a chocolate sundae each from McDonald's. The reason again was because of the lack of or no veggie options but we survived and went into McDonald's for the first time in years to indulge in some unhealthy food.

On our last day we headed back to Manila a couple hour bus journey away and went collect our refund. All went smoothly and we ended up only losing about 20 Euro when we were worked out that it would be about 80. So all was good and we also were given there and then the money in American dollars which made life easier for us again. We had arrived in the country experiencing some real culture shocks and tough moments but had no choice but to deal with them and sort it all out. Although this place wasn't quite our cup of tea we made the most of it and grew in confidence and have come away with a feeling of both achievement and a kind of conquering. I can say we prober won't go back again but will take from our time some positive things, especially that the people are generally very friendly.

Borneo here we come!
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