Almost 3 weeks ago, my former kgb_Philippines colleague, Emjhay, contacted me, asking for interesting tourist locations in Laguna and a cheap hotel (or motel) to stay in for a few days. She and a friend of hers were planning to have a mini reunion/tour and I suggested some places as well as my cousin’s house (located just behind our home) for transient occupancy. After some decision-making on their part, their plan pushed through, but, due to some time-constraints, there have been some change of plans. I became part of their travel adventure as a tour guide (who knows some things, but most of the time pretends to know a lot of things because I’ve read about it on the internet). Her friend came from Bataan and they had a meet up in Pampanga. They arrived in Calamba around midnight, Sunday, 9th of May. Day 1: First day of the trip was Sunday morning in Nuvali. Nothing much to say about this trip. We ate lunch at Paseo De Santa Rosa and then went to Nuvali in the afternoon. It was a walk around Solenad 1 and the lake. We didn’t had the chance to visit Republic WakePark and The Marcos Twin Mansion nearby because we went to Nuvali via public commute.
Day 2: I was hesitant to bring a car because the car’s evaporator has a hole and the A/C is inactive, but since we were able to handle the heat from day 1’s travel, we think it’ll be just fine. On the 2nd day of the trip, we went to Tagaytay with plans of multiple stops to the tourist spots of Tagaytay like Picnic Grove, People’s Park in the Sky, Sky Ranch, the famous Starbucks in Tagaytay, Taal Volcano, and The Puzzle Mansion. Due to an unfortunate event requiring Emjhay to go home ASAP, we had another time limitation that day and ended up picking Taal Volcano and The Puzzle Mansion as our target destinations. After eating lunch at McDonald’s, we searched nearby the Tagaytay Rotunda for a boat ride to Taal crater. We found a guide who took us to an agency in Talisay, Batangas for a package tour. And that trip from Tagaytay to Talisay was a treat for me. That was the first time I drove on Tagaytay-Talisay Road, and the experience was like being in Initial D (you know, the manga and anime about touge or drifting in the mountain pass of Japan). There are so many twists, turns, and U turns and those warning signs like ‘Dangerous Curves Ahead’ and ‘Prone to Land Slide,’ fuels one sick, adrenaline rush ride.
Dunno how small hatchbacks like the Wigo, Celerio, and Mirage can handle the curves, but the old 1.6 liter Honda Civic I’m driving handles it with power (and the brakes, though not in optimal condition anymore, handles it fairly). I love the scenic view and the fun curves of driving on Tagaytay-Talisay Road, it’s a memorable experience. Too bad I don’t have a GoPro or a good dash cam to record the driving experience. I was also very careful at driving that I only used my XPERIA Active to take snapshots while still focusing on the road (also, the photos taken was the uphill drive, going back to Tagaytay from Talisay, Batangas).
We took a package worth 3500 pesos which includes the boat ride and the horse ride to the crater. Boat travel is estimated to be around 15-20 minutes depending on the speed.
Take note of the photo above. A lot of people (including us) made the common mistake of identifying this as Taal Volcano because it is the most visible crater seen from Tagaytay. But, this is actually Binintiang Malaki, one of the many cones and craters of Taal Volcano. We went to the actual Taal Volcano island and the crater lake.
When we arrive at the island, a kid welcomed us by pointing a DSLR camera and took a photo. That is a form of business at the island and is only optional. Most of the stuff for sale at the island like face mask (for use to cover your nose and mouth from the dust en route to the crater lake) and beverages are expensive, but understandable because they transport the items from the main land or city.
The horse ride took 20-30 minutes depending on the horses and how the handlers control them. The route to the crater lake is easy and can be done on foot, but since we took the package tour and it was very hot at the time, riding a horse is the better option.
We arrived at the crater and all I can say is that it was very relaxing and one of the most scenic view I’ve ever seen. The crater lake is beautiful. Too bad we can’t go down to the crater lake, but the view is rewarding enough. The water is green and boiling. Too bad I didn’t bring my 16mm lens for this. There’s a sari-sari store for refreshment and a fresh buko juice will cost you 50 pesos.
And now for some selfie, groupfie, and individual photo time….
It’s hard to say goodbye to such a beautiful place, but we’re on a tight schedule and had to leave early. The horse ride back to the shore was much faster. There was a foreigner who preferred to walk back instead of taking a horse and he was assisted by one of the natives. I must say, the natives of the island are kind people, they’re not like others whom, when refused or ignored, will say or do something bad or rude to you. In fact, we encountered some more natives carrying a stretcher to assist the foreigner. Although they will likely get paid for it, it’s the effort of helping someone for a small fee that counts. Also, before we got back to our boat ride to Talisay, a kid approached us, selling us the photos they took at a discounted price of 100 pesos for 4 photos. My buddies doesn’t seem to be interested, then the kid lowered the price to 50 pesos because they’re going to disposed of the photos anyway, so Emjhay bought it.
So, we got back to Talisay and took the awesome Tagaytay-Talisay road again. The car still handles the uphill with ease (this is why I love a 1.6 liter sedan). The temperature does start to heat up though (we have yet to resolve a problem with the temperature management), but the car did not overheat because I was controlling my acceleration properly.
Our last stop was The Puzzle Mansion, the Guiness World Record holder of the largest jigsaw puzzle collection. It was a bit hard to find, so we asked a few people, and like the natives of Taal Volcano, I have to mention the kindness of people in Tagaytay. These people are so courteous.
The Puzzle Mansion has a big land area and has a swimming pool and some rooms within the vicinity. The entrance fee is 100 pesos. The Mansion has 2 floors, the puzzle collection at the ground floor and the puzzle store at the 2nd.
Overall, it was a great trip. Sure it was very hot even in Tagaytay, but the trip to Taal Volcano and the driving experience at Tagaytay-Talisay road was worth it. I was very tired when I got to the office (I have a shift that day), but I feel good. Thanks to Emjhay for this trip, it was a very memorable experience.
Want to tour Laguna’s tourist spots, but hotels and motels too expensive for you? Looking for a house for rent in Laguna that offers transient occupancy? why not try my cousin’s house? Emjhay and Mheck did. Here’s the video link for a tour: https://www.facebook.com/giancarlo.rodil/videos/1088919344458117/?l=7577686450845203669