"You won't know that because you are foreigners"
Trip Start Feb 10, 2013
72Trip End Sep 18, 2013
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The words of a very helpful (if not slightly unwittingly racist) taxi rank organiser at Manila airport.....we had decided to add a brief stop heading out of the wonderful Palawan and on to the area of Mindoro. A nice easy plane ride from Puerto Princesa to Manila and the plan was to get a public bus down to a town called Tagaytay south of Manila. The reason being the beautiful Lake Taal. So upon arrival at Manila airport (after an irritating situation where my rucksack had broken, thank god for cable ties I had stowed away!) we tried to find a taxi to get us to the bus depot in Manila to take us onwards and we met a very friendly guy who was organising taxis out of the airport and after several minutes chatting away he uttered those wonderful words scripted above that will probably stay in my mind for a long time and has caused us much amusement since
Needless to say, I call it a bus depot...imagine a very busy dual carriageway in the centre of a massively overcrowded and polluted city with maybe 20-30 jeepneys (to be explained later) and a handful of coaches stopped at the side of the road...chaos..however we remembered our bit of advice given to us by Mr taxi man and listened for the call: "Tagaytay, tagaytay!". It was like a bell ringing out for us! Hopped on to find acaoch that seated maybe 50 people with around 70 people on it....fun times! This was our first taste of public buses in the Philippines although once out of Manila the crowded bus thinned and we were able to spread out a bit more. Still not quite fitting in transport built for Pilipinos but oh well.
After a few hours we were at our destination. Tagaytay. The town itself sits on a large ridge which overlooks the colossal Lake Taal. The lake was formed by a huge eruption of the volcano which flooded its crater and sealed it off from the sea. In the centre there is the tip of the volcano rising out to form the aptly named Volcano Island. This is the one and only reason to visit this are and Bankgas and trips to the island run daily, one of which we jumped on to the following day and headed out over the lake to Volcano Island.
So a quick hop over the lake to the island where we were greeted by several Philippinos and sat down at a table to chat to the manager who offered us two horses to ride up the volcano. Initially quite an expensive offer was made, however only having a small amount of cash on us we politely declined saying we would walk..."how much do you have?" I told him (obviously minus a few bob!) and he said that he'd accept that, no problem...at half the original offer! There is a difference between prices here for certain things, one is Philippino price for locals, and the other is American price for foreigners and they are quite open about it...think we got the Philippino price on this one :-) We mounted our steeds (well...tired looking donkeys really) and with our guides began the treck up to the larger crater of the two. It was immense to see the two guides, both women one in her 50s and my guide at least 60+, march up the mountain with us whilst we were taking it easy in the blistering heat and sun. They do this maybe three times a day, an hours hike up a dusty mountain trail and back down! Very impressive. Speaking of the dust it was a weekend so because of it's close proximity to Manila, Tagaytay is a popular destination for Manilans wanting to get away for the weekend which made it very busy...and very dusty...lucky we weren't walking!!!!
However, despite feeling a little guilty for both horse and guide we reached the top and boy was it worth it
Back across the lake to the town and we walked back to our accomodation along the ridge, managing to catch some incredible photo opportunities along the way and walking past the fruit stalls lining the road selling all sorts of crazy fruit but mostly juicy pineapples....which got our appetites flowing! We decided to head into Tagaytay town which is very developed with fast food joints such as Jollie Bee and noodle shops etc none of which served any real vegetarian food apart from french fries! It's a little hectic. Oh well, there must be some place we can get Lucy some pasta or lettuce or something along those lines....within 30 seconds we had found a turkish owned kebab shop and tucked into humous, pitta bread and kebabs
Until next time,