The Lake Within a Lake

Some time last year, my officemates saw this promo of inn in Tagaytay. Since we didn’t have a department outing that year, and we thought we might not have another one for next year, almost everyone availed of the voucher. Just so we can go on a trip together.

The planning took time and caused much stress, and in the end, only half of the original number made it to Tagaytay. And only half of that went hiking to Taal, which is supposedly the main activity of the trip.

Day 1 : Tagaytay

We stayed at D-Zone Backpackers Inn located in Silang, Cavite, a kilometer from Tagaytay Rotonda. As I said, the reservation itself gave our organizers too much stress. (There were several bad reviews about the inn from the Internet in the firs place.) We originally wanted to get the fan rooms only, but apparently, they only got a limited number of fan rooms, so we have to upgrade to aircon rooms. We settled the matter when they agreed to give us AC rooms for half its original price. Check-in was around after lunch but I had to do something in the morning so I couldn’t join the first batch of people going to Tagaytay. Instead, I  joined the second batch and we took a bus bound to Batangas, that takes the Emilio Aguinaldo Highway route. We were already at the terminal in Pasay by 2pm but left at past 3pm because there are too many passengers. To our surprise, we were dropped off just few steps from the inn. It still puzzles us if the conductor really knows the inn or the bus just stopped when we started making our way from the back to the front (just so we’re ready to get off anytime).

The first batch were already in the inn, taking a rest, because they already went for a walk and some sightseeing. We were hungry, but we only snacked because we assumed we’re all gonna dine together once everyone arrives.

Shortly after Abel and Marco arrived, we went to Olivarez to look for someplace to eat dinner. We settled for Papa Prito. At first I hesitated because I thought the place is just another Andok’s or Mang Inasal, but it got Abel’s seal of approval so we went in anyways, and voila! It is a pretty cute place! And the bulalo and tawilis are quite good! We only had three buckets of light beer and had to go back to the inn early because we’re going hiking the day day.

The next day, I started to feel sick. I blame the the too strong air conditioning in our room. Apparently, we all felt the extreme cold, but nobody dared to adjust the AC because, you know, everyone thought they’re the only one feeling cold, yun pala lahat naman.

Day 2: Taal

We couldn’t avail of the free breakfast included in the voucher because the inn’s canteen opens at 8am, so we had bread for breakfast instead. Then we all hopped in to Abel’s car, and went to look for a boat that will take us to Taal while waiting for our other companions. There was a small chaos when this man who claimed to be a legit (DoT approved) tour guide was telling the one we hired to back off because he’s a colorum (not recognized by the tourism office). It didn’t help when the other group already got someone to take us to Taal. I wasn’t sure what the guides talked about, but we all headed down to Tanauan, a one-hour ride from Tagaytay. Although I learned sometime ago (last year :p) that Taal is in Batangas, I was still amazed when I saw the road saying we’ve arrived in Tanauan.

A back and fort boat ride usually costs P1500 (6 persons in the boat), but because we needed a couple of boats, the guides gave each for P1300. Boat ride was about 30 minutes, and you know that little hill in the middle of the lake overlooking Tagaytay? That’s not Taal. We thought we’re going that way, too. Apparently, it’s just the side usually photographed, but the lake is located in a different part.

Back when we’re still planning the hike, our officemates instructed us to not hire tour guides or ride horses because it will just cost us a big deal of money, and hiking up to the lake is easy. Once we got at the jump off, we refused all offers for horse rides and guides, but this one person was persistent so we gave in and paid (P500) for one guide for all of us (which we only saw walking with us for the first 5-10 minutes of the hike). Some of us rode a horse, too, because they weren’t sure if they would make it without one. An entrance fee of P50 is something you really have to pay though. It’s collected once you register at the Tourism office at the jump off. If the locals in the jump-off tells you you won’t reach the crater if you don’t get a horse, just ignore them. Hiking to the top was peanuts. I’m not even an active hiker or mountaineer or something. The hike wasn’t difficult, but the trail is dusty, and mostly shade-less/bare. The only thing you have to beat is the heat, so wear proper clothing and bring water. It’s better to wear slippers or sandals because sand gets into the shoes which will make walking uncomfortable.

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We reached the viewing point of the crater lake in 30 minutes. The top of the hill/volcano is the only place where tourists are allowed. Some time in the past going donw the crater lake was allowed, but it no longer is today, maybe because the volcano’s very active.

I’m not sure if it’s because I’ve seen the Pinatubo crater lake up close that’s why I wasn’t so amused with Taal crater lake. Although the water pallet is the same –deep green from afar, aquamarine when you’re nearer. From the viewing area (top), you can see smokes coming from the ground and from the water itself, ang init siguro ng tubig.

We didn’t stay that long because we had to catch the inn’s check out time to avoid getting charged extra. The hike back only took us 20 minutes. After drinking some refreshments, we left the island and Abel drove us back to Tagaytay. From cold to hot and then cold temperature, everyone felt a pang in the head right after we got off from the vehicle. We were given an hour extension (without charge) so we can clean ourselves before checking out.

We all had lunch at this restaurant beside Papa Prito where the budget meals come with unlimited rice, and they serve free unlimited Bulalo soup! After buying pasalubong and everything, everyone headed off to Manila.

Tiring trip, and it actually made me sick, but then again, a great experience! Thank goodness for these fun people I work it. I wish for more adventures to come for my birth month!


**Some photos from Jane, Abel and Billy.

Food, Places

Magnum Cartum

I was in Tagaytay last weekend and helped man an ukay-ukay shop, while simultaneously looking for goods for myself. If you happen to be around Olivarez area and looking for a thrift shop, Jennifer’s Apparel Haus is located near the rotonda, just beside Chow King. They’ve got a huge collection of affordable second hand stuff. Mara’s family has another store inside Olivarez Plaza called Trinity. Go check them out.

I’m pretty sure I gained at least 4lbs from that weekend because Mara just keeps spoiling us. Like the usual, Mara brought us to Magallanes for lunch. She wanted us to try the food at LZM, which according to her serves good food, and by food, she meant Bulalo. On our way back to the shop, Mara treated us to an ice cream. Fact: it was my first time to eat this used-to-be-controversial-ice-cream-but-instantly-lost-public-attention. The other day, we were just talking about how we never tasted that Magnum yet- Dona, Ishi and me, eh hindi na siya pinag-uusapan ng mga tao. Of course, as trolls, we had to take photo of the overpriced ice cream, hrhr.

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