The Beauty of the Philippines Part 1: Taal Lake
Taal Lake is described in Patricia Schultz' book as, “…one of Asia's most beautiful panoramas. Among the world's lowest and smallest volcanoes, Taal is filled with water, creating a lake, yet the volcano itself is located within a larger lake (as the tour guides are wont to chant, "A lake within a volcano, within a lake, within the island of Luzon.")The blues and greens of the vista from forested Tagaytay Ridge have for generations made this a favorite getaway from the heat and chaos of downtown Manila."
To see this amazing wonder, we hired an air-conditioned SUV for P3700.00 pesos for a return trip from Quezon City (Metro Manila) to Tagaytay. The car rental included gas and a driver. We drove south-west for almost two hours until we came to Tagaytay City lookout - a vista point on the side of the road. The view was already spectacular but we wanted to go to the volcano island up-close.
We headed to cross the lake, sea birds sweeping across the water, on one side a fishery.
The horses could only travel to a certain area, so we had to climb a short distance to peer down the crater. At this point, we were greeted by vendors, mostly young kids, to sell us cold soda and bottled water. They coaxed us on buying cold soda or water for our guide. Farther up we found more vendors selling souvenirs. One determined woman was eager to sell me her ware – with the use of her golf club I could hit some golf balls and aim at the crater. The golf balls cost 1 peso for 2. Seeing that woman trying to fish out golf balls from the edge of the cliff was alarming. A misstep could take her tumbling down the smoky edge of the crater. I admired this woman's business savvy and determination that I purchased 4 golf balls. I aimed at the crater and pretended to hit the ball. The ball did not go anywhere. Hopefully, that purchase made a difference in her life.
|A woman looking for golf balls to resell|
Climbing up to the top of the volcano, I could see out across Taal other mountains that looked like other volcano islands that reached the horizon. And peering over the edge, I looked down on a crater and saw a milky turquoise and emerald lake. At its center, a tiny island or the smallest volcano found in the country.
|The smallest volcano in the country|
Mostly, the whole place was deeply exciting and it was the fact that every inch of it was teeming with commerce that made it so striking and, just as I have absorbed all this, I realized I was in the middle of an active volcano.
- Taal Lake is within easy striking distance of Manila, and makes a great day trip away from the crowded city. Not to worry, even if you don’t have a reservation you would still be able to do different activities and reach the top of the volcano island. Just bring extra cash!
- I used the term 'would-be-guides' because they would literally show you where to go, where to eat, how much it would cost. They use the term 'tour package' and sort of negotiate the price, but they're not tour operators nor have contracted facilities. So be generous with the tip.
- NOTE: Total Cost of this trip (including lunch and plenty of coconut water) = 12,000.00 pesos for 4 people or $75.00 per person.