Overlooking Taal Lake and Taal Volcano
Taal Volcano, Tagaytay
Taal Volcano is a complex volcano in Taal Lake, Tagaytay just 2hrs away from Manila. Recently, many parts of this volcanic island have been banned to locals and tourists alike due to volcano activity. Taal is a frequent getaway of people from the city. The cold and refreshing air, the picturesque view are especially welcome to the city dwellers from the hot and polluted metro-manila. If I’m not mistaken, the lake surrounding the volcano island is a calderra formed from eruptions thousands of years ago.
It was not the first time that I have been to this volcano island. The smell of horse dung was not what I really had in mind for a nature hike but I was not picky. I had not hiked in so long that I was willing to give up horseback riding for the smell of dung and exercise. Not that being on horseback will change anything about the horse dung smell. Again, we were not able to arrive early at this place and was not able to enjoy the good view that it provided. People are always in such a hurry sometimes that they miss out enjoying the scenery and hurry towards the resting place. Majority of my companions felt that they had no need for horses and most of them gave up less than half of the journey and rented their respective horses. I was not ticked off by that, I was ticked off that they had not haggled for the horses. I hiked all the way to the top of the mountain and I have to say it wasn’t challenging. I wasn’t able to enjoy the hike as much, trying to evade the horse dung, breathing horse dung instead of fresh air that I hoped, being irritated by the horse-guy who incessantly irked me about getting a horse and that there was a long and steep way to go, and rushing and slowing down at the wrong moments because my companions were so much in a hurry and went too fast that I could not enjoy the view or else too slow at the wrong moments where I couldn’t stop at the place where the view was good. Go figure the contradiction! The horse guys probably didn’t think I could make it, ha, I’ve gone through harder mountains than this. Besides, I like challenging myself when it comes to athleticism. Always trying to find a way to beat my limits. I wish I could enjoy the view though. Spend some hours just a little bit off the track or get to explore the island a little bit more or maybe explore another trail. The guide told me that there was a part where the water wasn’t as scalding as the center calderra and that there were other parts of the island that could be accessed to apart from the horse track. Maybe next time and hopefully at an earlier time. I don’t have much qualms about going to the same place again just as long as there are other experiences worth the money I spent.
As soon as we reached the top, I found out we didn’t have enough money to pay for all those horses we rode. I left most of my money in the car, a boat away from this island. The prices were of course, more expensive than usual such as the coconut costing P50 when it could just be worth around P15. Anyway, problem solved later on. We chatted a few people here and there like our horse guides, our local guide and the girl buko seller. I love to chat with the locals, I always learn something from them. The horse guides told me that the poor horses get sold to a horse meat butcher when they get too old. They are bought for P2,000 (pony) or around 10-20,000 (if you’re not them). The girl buko seller also told me that they were eleven in the family and she only finished 3rd grade. We asked her if she would like books but she was hesitant to answer. My guess is that she doesn’t know how to read. The more shocking of all, the owners of the stalls don’t pay them money if they don’t reach their quota. The horse sellers may own the horses but the refreshment sellers do not own their produce.
Throughout my travels to Tagaytay, I was able to notice 3 sales talk strategies.
“This is the latest fad”
1. One of the sellers in the street selling balisong (butterfly knives), jungle bolo and this attachable samurai sword told us that the attachable samurai sword (when you attach the base or the hilt the weapon becomes spear-like) is the latest fad. He had to smile when I laughed hard about it.
2. The guy told us his boat costs only 1,200 RT and a P500 guide fine. Parking is for free and so are the cabin rentals in the island and in the “resort”. We have kind of forgotten the price of our previous boat rental and our contact was inaccessible so we went for it. The price is fair enough but we never needed to rent the cabins in the island because it is provided for. As for the guide, yeah i think that was the normal price but i’m not so sure I remember clearly.
3. These salesmen will follow you and pester you that you can’t enjoy your trip anymore. When I hiked the tourist trail I was constantly bombarded to rent and ride a horse by one of the horse-guides. They were anticipating we couldn’t make the hike to the top and most of them did not make it without a horse but i’m proud to say not me even if the trail was really easy. It was just irritating that on the way down my own family was the one who pestered me about riding their horse on the way back. It was more trouble and stress than just me going down the trail.
I think I should create a list about this in another blog entry. This is just a summary of what I encountered there.
Tagaytay is supposed to be the 2-hr sanctuary from the heat and bustle of the capital. Hiowever Urbanization and growth are polluting the peaceful and beautiful place of Tagaytay. On the way to the island, the mountain is littered with trash. Smog from vehicles is as common as airconditioning. Fast food places like Mang Inasal do not try to enjoy the cool air from the outside by installing unhelpful airconditioners. Next time, the place would be like Baguio, the summer capital. Houses will be found on every mountain, the pollution so thick you have to use airconditioner in the car in order not to suffocate. Buildings will populate the mountains and the view will be destroyed. Already there are some mid-rise condominiums that line Tagaytay even if the threat of a 16 decade volcano is in its perimeter . Without proper planning, proper tourism and untracked modernization this beautiful place might just lose its appeal.
Photos are all mine, please comment regarding the photography if possible. Thanks!