Typed up at: Roldan's Beach Resort on Camiguin Island
Posted from: Legaspi Tourist Inn in Legaspi
We took an air-conditioned bus from Manila to Tagaytay. Despite being just 56 kilometers away, it took 2 hours to make the trip. There was no special delay. That is just how long it takes when including stops and traffic. We bought 3 tickets so our bags would have a seat. Unlike India buses it was impossible to get these under the seats, and under the bus was not an option. On the way they just turned on the TV to a national broadcast station which showed a strange Filipino game show.
Tagaytay is a small town on the rim of an old volcano. Inside the volcano was a lake, and inside the lake was another volcano which, in turn, had a lake inside of it. In the middle of that lake was tiny volcanic island. We stayed at the Days Hotel in Tagaytay, which was well outside our usual budget but that did make for a nice change. From our room we had a view of the outer lake, and it was basically a Western hotel in every way.
We've noticed that the Philippines has a lot more American influence than any other place that we've been. Hamburgers are sold almost everywhere. There are at least 2 fast food chains built around them (Jollibee and Burger Machine). The malls all feel just like the malls at home. People even drive on the right side of the road, stay mostly in their lanes, and obey many traffic regulations.
Clothing is also much more western here. Shorts and T-shirts abound, as do short skirts and bare shoulders. It's a big difference from the conservative cultures we've been to. Finally almost everybody speaks English. Some people speak only basic English, but we haven't run into any real language issues here.
In Tagaytay we rode our first tricycle. This is a motorcycle with extra wheels and seats added on. There are 2 types. One is set up like a traditional side car. The other is larger, and is basically a cart that contains the entire motorcycle. In Tagaytay we rode the first kind, which involved rather a lot of folding for Danielle and I both to get in.
We rode it to yet another bad Filipino meal. The mango salad was severely unripe. (We now know to ask for yellow mango.) The pork adobo was dry and salty. We just didn't like the flavor of laing (tarot leaves in coconut sauce, with little fish added to make it taste worse). Our hotel restaurant wasn't stellar either, so we had one dinner at a Chinese place down the road.
I did enjoy discovering a place that purified its own water and would refill bottles you brought. All throughout our trip we've been drinking bottled water and the mountain of plastic bottles that we've gone through by now is scary to think of. (250 days, 4 1.5-liter bottles a day, that's 1000 plastic bottles!) So it's great to see that the Philippines has some infrastructure to not use so many bottles. The actual economics behind it are probably that people here are rich enough to afford purified water (as opposed to India, where people drink stuff that makes them sick), but too poor to just throw empty bottles away.
The other place we went in a tricycle was down to Lake Taal, the lake that we could see from our hotel room. It took almost half an hour down a windy road surrounded by all kinds of green, with occasional views of the lake below. We got in a narrow, long boat with outriggers to keep it steady. For a boat this small it sure felt like it had a giant engine. Between that and the wind we got pretty wet, but the water was warm so it was fun.
At the island we had quite a time telling people we did not want a guide, and did not want a horse ride. But even with that the walk up to the volcano was enjoyable. We walked through a small village (built largely out of cinder blocks and corrugated metal), filled with chickens and children. Further up we got views of some grasslands and jungle, with some very disorganized looking banana plantations.
At the rim of this volcano were several snack stands, and we took the opportunity to sit in the shade, drink and eat a coconut, and enjoy the view. We could now look down into the inner volcano which had a lake in it as well, with some yellow crust and steam around some of the edges. It's possible to go down there, but we decided to be lazy and just stay where we were. Inside the lake (in the volcano, in the lake, in the volcano, on the island that is part of the Philippines) was a little pinnacle which the locals referred to as the world's smallest volcano.
And then we did the whole trip in reverse. We relaxed at the hotel, watching TV and using the free wifi. We never even got around to going in the pool. It was time to go back to Manila, because we'd been invited to Faith's mom's aunt (I think) 30th wedding anniversary there.