Published: December 4th 2006December 4th 2006
After our very scary trip across the ocean we decided to stay put in Batangas at the nearest available accommodation, Travellers Inn. The accommodation worked out fine even though it had a very strange policy, where you were charged your room price for 16 hours on the first night, and anything over that was extra. We didn't complain, thankful to have a room with electricity, our first proper wash for a couple of days and even better a tv.
Batangas proved to be a very lively town with lots of people bustling about. We were both a little bit intimidated at first as many locals were staring at us. We remedied this by smiling at people and often the stares would turn into smiles and acknowldegement. Maybe the locals are curious as to what you're doing there. The city is very pretty at night and were given a grand tour by our taxi driver Greg who mistakingly took us home the longway. He was a real character laughing and joking and telling us about his family and his former merchant life and he later posed for photos with us. It was our first time in a tricycle, it's a motor-bike
Another boat trip
Yup thats a volcano!
with a side-car. The tricycle was very bumpy and the ceiling very low for me, but great fun all the same. I was placed on the outside, fearful that I would fall-out, thankfully not.
The next morning we left Batangas for Lake Taal. We decided to brave the tricycle again. Our rucksacks were strapped to the back of the cycle. We asked the driver how much the fare should be, but he ignored us. Onwards we ventured through a long narrow residential street. Often we would have to stop and reverse to allow other cycles pass through. We were both glad when the driver swung onto the main street, both Amy and I aren't too fond off claustrophbic situations. Batangas city gave us a fascinating insight into how the Filipinos live and we were sad to leave it. We learned again that towns which aren't noted in your guide book are often the most interesting and informative. So back to our taxi driver. We asked him how much the fare should be as he hailed down the bus. The trip should have cost about 80 pesos at the very most. He said 200 pesos, I thought he quoted us
20 and asked Amy to fish out some coins. He shook his head dismissively when Amy gave him the change, and said 200 p. We only had 500 pesos as he gave us back firstly only 200 pesos in change, and then another 100 p. Sensing defeat I managed to snatch another 40 p out of his hands before hopping on the coach. Lesson learnt, always agree the price first.
As I have often read about travelling in the Philippines often the journey is the fun part. We caught a bus to Tanauan. We then walked around the town searching for a jeepney to take us to Talisay. As our guide book isn't very informative and our attempts to buy another book a failure, we have to rely on the locals for help. This usually works out fine. We traipsed around the town laughing with the cabbies as they directed us to our jeepeny. We then had a half hour journey to Talisay as Amy took on the role of a jeepeny conductor, taking and giving change from the passengers to the driver. We were a bit embarrassed taking up alot of room with our big rucksacks as the
poor passengers had to scramble over our bags.
We arrived in Leynes and turned down one luxurious resort before settling on Glorias situated further up the town. Accommodation in the town is quite expensive and there aren't too many restaurants options. The locals are very friendly and they greeted us with welcommings of "hey Joe" (all Westerners here are labelled Joe, hence the title) much to our amusement. Our resort was situated on Lake-Taal and we had a fanatstic view of Taal Volcano the town's main attraction and our reason for visiting. Later that evening we tucked into a fabulous meal cooked by the owners wife. We were very excited that night about visiting the volcano if a little bit scared due to its active history. There have been many eruptions of Taal over the years although reassuringly Taal has been dormant since 1977.
The next morning after haggling over a fair price we decided to take the option of going around the back of the volcano and having a swim in the volcano's lake. We caught the boat across and then had to trek about an hour up and then down the volcano to reach the center
(it's crater). It was a tough trek as the path was overridden with briars and wild grass. I brought up the rear asking for plenty of breaks. Our guide was very entertaining telling tales of his various girlfriends and then asking Amy if she would give him a number of one of her friends as he searched for a cultural experience. I tried to point out to him that Irish girls were a handful, he laughed at this, I think he's even keener now.
The view from the top of our climb was fantastic as we saw the lake shimmering in the light. We were a little bit afraid initally as we could see clouds off steam coming off the water in the distance. Amy was the bravest as she jumped first into the water. I followed and was delighted to feel how warm the water was. The water is sulfurous and is said to have medicinal purposes. It was quite hard to swim in, the water felt very syrupy if that make's sense to the reader. We were both sad to leave the lake behind and the smell surrounding the lake which was strange but fresh.
adventure wasn't over yet, as the wind picked up on our way back towards shore. We were both scared as the waves got stronger thinking that the journey was going to similar to Sabang to Batangas. Fortunatley it wasn't, and Amy said she was glad it happened restoring her faith in the water. Funny old logic.
So we bade farewell to Lake Taal and caught a jeepney and then bus back to Manila.
There are more photos below