|From Jamie's Philippines Pics|
Jamie and I woke up pretty early so we could catch a bus heading out from Pasay City to Tagatay. Because of the hassle of getting around and the fact we didn't book a single thing prior to coming here, we are forced to somewhat just play every day by ear here in Manila. Amazingly, you can't really find a map anywhere, and the best map was available at the airport. We forgot to pick one up. Nonetheless, we've just about mastered the tricycles, jeepneys, and busses after today.
We were out by 7:00 and caught about a 10 minute tricycle to a main road. There, we found a taxi that would take us to Pasay City bus station. The driver said there were many bus stations in Pasay and was confused about which one to take us to. We went to the right one the first time, I bought a donut from Dunkin Donuts, and we settled into our air conditioned bus. We had no idea how much it was, how long the ride would take, or even which stop to get out on; but we figured we would figure it out.
The bus ride took about 2 hours and we froze to death. The tempurature this morning was only about 70 F and they had the aircon in the bus blasting. Jamie even wrapped up in the towel we had brought. We made it to our stop with some help from the passengers and immediately were approached by people selling "packages" for the Taal Volcano. We had read up on these and were prepared to bargain.
Our first mini trip was straight down a curvy road to the bottom of the lake. For those that don't know, Taal Volcano is actually a volcano within a lake which created another lake in the crater, which then had the volcano. You can check out the pictures. I'm not much one for science, so you can fact check me if you want. They call it the world's smallest active volcano as well as a 10 year volcano as it erupts about every 10 years, although hasn't had a major one since 1974. There have been some rumblings since 1991 though.
Once we arrived at the bottom of the lake, we haggled a price for the boat, horse, and lunch. They gave us a ridiculous price and we settled on less than half of that. We may have still overpaid, but it was what we expected to spend.
The boat ride across the lake to the volcano was bumpy and they even gave us a little tarp to cover ourselves with because we were splashed so much. Had it not been for that tarp, we'd been soaking we as well as all of our belongings in our backpacks. Next, we saddled up on a horse with a guide and made a 30 minute ride up to the rim of the volcano. Inside, you could see the inside lake. It was beautiful and we had heard it was breathtaking. I was a bit disappointed and Jamie mentioned that it is hard to wow us anymore. Keep in mind that in the last 2 weeks, we have walked on the Great Wall of China, seen the Terracotta Warriors, and taken a hot air balloon ride over the karst landscape of Yangshuo.
The Taal Volcano was nice, but I guess somewhat disappointing. We walked along the rim and took some pictures. It was very windy (see video above) and we were picking dirt out of our faces for a while afterwards. We took our little horses back down from the rim to the lake, took an even wetter boat ride back across, and then feasted on some rather tasty fried chicken and rice for lunch. Another tricycle ride to the top of the mountain, a non-aircon bus for 2 hours, a 30 minute jeepney ride, and a 20 minute walk later, and we were back at our little inn after a rather long day. We walked the remaning 20 minutes simply because we had ridden something for the last 8 hours straight.
After napping, we decided on a little pasta restaurant walking distance from here.
Overall, we weren't thrilled with Manila. The transportation around the city is hectic at best and the place overall is a bit dirty. We expected more. However, tomorrow our trip really begins as we take a small little plane for an hour to Coron Island. We have a package deal there of island hopping and snorkling and perhaps scuba diving around some old WWII ships.
Check out our albums for photos of today and the rest our trip. Click on the picture above to go directly to the video of the Taal Volcano.