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.
After crossing the lake, we were greeted by vendors selling snacks, cold drinks and coconuts. There were guides who coaxed us to go to the top of the mountain/volcano on a horseback. The horseback ride to the top cost P700.00 pesos. Considering the sizzling heat, trekking up the mountain was out of the question. I rode the horse while the guide walked on foot pulling the horse. He was wearing flip-flops. Having invested a lot time and money on good hiking shoes, the worn-out flip-flops caught my attention. So I asked the guide why he was wearing flip-flops on this rugged terrain. He said, “shoes are too hot for this environment”. Before our ascent we passed groups of thatched houses. Apparently these houses were actually lived in by people who work as guides or who took care of the horses. Every so often, we passed patches of rocks shooting smoke.
|A woman looking for golf balls to resell|
|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.