One day in Manila was enough pollution and congestion on the roads to make us feel sick so we headed out of the city bright and early to a small town called Taygaytay. We took a minibus there for 3$ each and in a van where you would expect to fit 8-10 people, they squeezed 18 people in, plus the driver! It was not the most comfortable 2 hr drive, but it got us there in good time. From Taygaytay we took a tricyle (motorbike with a side car attached for passengers) 30 minutes through some scenic countryside roads to Talisay, the main port for boats to Taal Volcano, our destination for the day. As with anything in SEAsia our tricycle driver had “a friend” who would give us the “best price” for a boat trip to the volcano. They will say anything to get you in their tricycle because then the ball is in their court! Of course when we get to the boats, we are quoted a price twice as high and had to bargain hard and almost walk away before them finally agreeing to 1500 pesos (30$) for the boat ride to the volcano and back.
have the boat to ourselves and the 30 minute ride to the island is enjoyable, as we check out the fishing boats and floating villages nearby. We notice the sky darkening and we asked our captain if he thought bad weather was coming and he replied “Oh no, I think no bad weather.” Ok…we’ll see!
Arriving on the island that houses Taal Volcano, we were presented with more fees (entrance fee) and told that we MUST have a guide with us on the trail so we don’t get lost (it’s a single trail up and back) at the price of 600 pesos (12$). We were adamant that we did not want a guide and had no money to pay for a guide so they finally let us sign a waiver saying basically that they were not responsible for anything that should happen to us. What could go wrong on a 30 minute hike up a simple hill path…right?!?!
Most visitors to the Volcano opted not only for the guide, but also for a horsie ride that would bring them up to the top. As the smiling tourists passed us on their horses, we slowly watched the sky turn
darker and darker until we could no longer see the water we had just boated in from! Just as we reached a clearing near the top of the mountain, the sky opened up and unleashed torrential rain and the loudest cracking thunder. You know when you are in your house and it storms and you can feel the thunder shake your house? Ya, that’s the kind of storm we got stuck in…in the middle of a field….on the top of a mountain! I know Mike kept saying he wanted a good storm, but this one was a little too close for comfort! With a crack of lightning close enough to make our hairs stand on end, we ducked behind a tall weed to wait out the rain because after about 2 minutes the trail was completely washed out. As we were huddled up hoping the lightning wouldn’t strike on us, the Korean tourists, their guides and horses were continuing up the trail (most guides barefoot nonetheless) like the weather was non-existent and looking at us with that “Don’t you wish you hadn’t signed that waiver?!” look. Ha, I guess the joke was on us that time! When I wasn’t too
busy being scared, the storm was actually a quite good storm and after about 30 minutes the weather passed, the trail reappeared and we made our way up the last bit of the trail.
I guess I should have mentioned that this volcano is active. The trail that we took was closed mere weeks before our arrival because of unusually high seismic activity but we had been assured that we were in no danger of it erupting. Just like we were told it probably wouldn’t rain. Verrrry reassuring!
So near the top of the mountain, the trail is mostly volcanic rock and red clay and from the rain, the ground is steaming as the veryyy hot volcanic rock dries the rain water. It also smelled very strongly of sulphur, as that is what was in the volcanic lake we were about to see! The steam was really cool as it pushed out of little pores in the rock and soil and gave the whole trek a feeling like something from a movie!
Finally we made it to the top, and the whole ordeal was so worth it! The sight was awesome! We stood at the top of a
huge crater lake that was filled with yellow bubbling sulphur! At some spots the sulphur was so hot we could see it boiling! Already being over 30 minutes later from when our boat driver told us to be back down, we quickly descended the mountain, took the boat back to the mainland, the tricycle back to Taygaytay and a bus back to Manila.
We got off the bus and decided to walk to another area of Manila where the shopping, restaurants and nightlife is. The walk was farther than we expected and the pollution we breathed in while walking through rush-hour traffic was more than either of us were happy about! How we did not get sick after this city is beyond me! We finally stumbled upon the 5 inter-connected shopping malls and restaurant areas in which we were definitely out of place! This catered to people with money and a high fashion sense, but since we were there, we decided to eat at the cheapest place we could find, a Mexican restaurant where we were both served the smallest portions of tacos and burritos. We walked away feeling hungry and ripped off!
Back at the hostel, we
enjoyed some cheap beer on the rooftop and satisfied our craving for Korean ramen noodles thanks to a Korean Mart across the street from the hostel! We made our Get-Out-of-Manila Plan for the next day: Corregidor.
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