Lake Taal

Trip Start Jan 03, 2009
Trip End Mar 30, 2009

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Where I stayed
Vila Manalo

Flag of Philippines  , Luzon,
Tuesday, February 17, 2009

I wanted to go to Lake Taal today. I checked out of the hotel and took a cab to the JAM Transit bus stop in Pasay. Janice joined me at the bus station because she was coming with me to Talisay. A ticket to Tanauan cost 95 pesos. The ride took an hour and a half.
Once in Tanauan, we had to take a trike to the jeepney stop. Jeepneys are the Filipino version of the sawngthaew. We had to take a jeepney for 22 pesos each to Talisay. The ride took half an hour. Good thing Janice was with me because I may have had a hard time getting there on my own.
In Talisay we found hotel, Villa Manalo. After walking around town, we didn't find any other hotels. Janice negotiated the price down to 600 pesos. She also negotiated the boat for tomorrow down from 1500 to 1200.
As I we were walking around town, the locals invited me over for some drinks. The first time they were doing some karaoke and I didn't take up the offer but the next time I did. They were really nice and I figured it would be rude to refuse. They were really nice, asking me my name, where I was from, what I was doing and all sorts of things. The drink was some local spirit, it wasn't too strong. They also offered me some strawberry thing that they smoked from a pipe. I took a couple of puffs and it tasted like strawberry, no tobacco whatsoever.
In the evening we went looking for a place to eat but only found a fast food joint that sold pizza, hamburgers and fried chicken. There is not much in this town (or village).

Talisay sits at the edge of Lake Taal. In the middle of Lake Taal sits an island, which is the Taal Volcano. In the middle of volcano there is a lake. To get to the volcano we had to take a bangka (a type of boat). We left at 09:30.
Once on the island we each had to pay a 50 peso tourist fee. To get up to the top of the volcano, we could either climb or take a horse for 500 pesos. The horses looked small and I didn't want to punish them so we hiked. They also tried to talk us into hiring guides for 500 pesos, for which there was absolutely no need, especially because four policemen that work there also made the climb up with us. They were just as good as guides and free but following the track is easy anyways. It was comforting to know that they were just as tired as us by the time we got to the top.
It took us about an hour to get to the top in the soaring heat...and this was still well before noon. By the time I got to the top, I was totally soaked in sweat. I looked like a bucket of water had been dumped on me. There is no shelter on the way up to the top. There were some stalls up top selling drinks and souvenirs and providing shelter from the sun.
The view from up top was amazing. We could see the entire lake and the surrounding countryside and the lake inside the volcano. In spots there was steam coming out of the volcano. It is still active.
We went down at noon and took the boat back to the hotel. On the way back I had the driver stop the bangla and I jumped in the water for a swim.
We rested until 15:00 and then took a jeepney back to Tanauan. There were six other tourists on the jeepney with us also heading back to Manila. Once in Tanauan we had to walk to the bus stop. After waiting for about 20 minutes the bus showed up. It was 95 pesos each for the ride back to Manila.
There are two ways to get back from Talisay to Manila, the way we went, through Tanauan or through Tagaytay. Buses are much less frequent from Tagaytay to Manila.
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