Monday, January 14, 2013

Philippines- Tagaytay

Day 1
Was in Manila for work and had 2 days break so I searched online for a 2 day trip away and found Tagaytay which is 1.5 hours bus ride away from Manila. (Probably 45 minutes from Manila by car without traffic Jam). I am so glad I did that because its a fantastic getaway!

Upon arrival to Tagaytay, I searched for a hostel to stay. My prior research only showed MC Mountain Home (which from reviews saying it was far from the city and transport was difficult, traveling alone I felt it might not be safe for me) , Sunflower Hostel ( went there with great hopes. As it was in a good location near Robinson mall. However the dormitory was not for one. It was only for a whole group of 8.) and another I believe it was called AC Dorm (that I was told was very far away. Closer to the beginning of Tagaytay). 

So I searched further and I heard good recommendations about a place called Keni-Po.So there I went for 1200 Pesos ( S$37) per night. It was luxurious! Look at the room. With its private toilet, TV and balcony. Very Worthwhile I would say! And the best thing is its 10 minutes walk to Picnic Grove (one of the tourist attraction in Tagaytay) and there's direct jeepney to People's Park in the Sky and its not too far from Talisay for Taal Volcano boat ride.(And if you are like me who likes walking, I walked to the town. Its about 1-2 hours walking timing at leisure pace)

Through walking though, you get to enjoy the journey along the roads which was refreshing. With the sidewalk trees. Amazing.
And looking at their area famous fruit plantation- Pineapples

Resting for an hour or so, I then made my way to Picnic Grove. Entrance Fee is 50 pesos (~S$2.50)
Its a great place for families. Its like a park with adventure elements in it for the children and for adults to gather and chit chat facing great scenery of the sea and Volcano and such nice fresh air. I spent close to 3 hours there.

For adventure, There's Zip Line whizzing through the forest through great heights and also the open air cable car ( 200 pesos 1 way, 300 pesos 2 ways on the weekdays; 300 pesos 1 way, 400 pesos 2 ways on the weekends).

Also the Animal adventure which allows you and your family to take pictures with reptiles such as alligator, snake etc.
For those who loves horse riding, they have a range there too. 
After Picnic Grove, I began my long walk to the center which the Rotunda lies.
Rather walking because I was unfamiliar as to how the jeepneys worked and did not want to waste money on the trishaws.
After close to an hour to 2 hours of walking, I made it to the center. Which is identified by the rotunda.Also well known as Olivarez Plaza. This is where all the jeepney make their midpoint stop to the other side.
My side (Picnic Grove, People's park in the Sky); Center (Olivarez Plaza- where all the shopping, manicure, food, supermarket, buses to other towns exist); The other side ( Sonya Garden,Casino, Mushroom Burger, Robinsons, All the 'atas' restaurants)

Here's all the street snacks I had there

Siow Mai (with chili) -  the Chili with garlic is delicious! 
Fried fish cake and fish ball with sweet Chilli Sauce. I like it! It looks spicy but its not. Its more sweet.
I saw some locals eating it and I was tempted to try it. So I just pointed to them and say "same!"
But this dish, I did not like it. Its fried boiled egg with vinegar and green chilli.
(When I first saw it, I thought it was dessert) 
Spent the remaining time of my day doing manicure and pedicure. Only 150 pesos!
Then I'm not sure if its because its not dry , but while trying to get change from my pocket, it got scratched and had marks over it. Also it started getting from bad to worse from all my taking of things etc.
Cheap thats why like that? Or because it was not completely dry. I have no idea.

At 6.30pm, it got dark and I tried to find a jeepney that goes to Picnic Grove but there was none. And being so dark, I was thinking " Oh no! I don't want to walk back" and was contemplating taking the easy but more expensive way out - trishaws. but at the same time, I wanted to experience the jeepney. So I went to ask the locals ( which I was also wary of doing because there are stories about Philippines, that you should not be talking to locals but instead police/security for safety) and they told me to walk ahead to the terminal. So I quickly made my way down to the terminal - hoping that it would be easy to identify - the jeepney that can bring me back. But alas! When I got there, it was very dark and eerie and there were many men there. I quickly made my way to the first jeepney that was leaving. And because I did not know how much, I just gave them 20 pesos, thinking they will take whatever and give me back the change. BUT they just took my 20 pesos and kept it. And I did not dare ask it back. 
Well, anyway I walked there so even in the dark I can more or less recognize the route and I was happy when 3/4 it looked like I sat the correct jeepney, then suddenly it turned down an unfamiliar route. Thankfully someone stopped and I quickly got off the bus together. And made my 1/4 way back on foot. 

An experience that taught me that I probably should just use a guide from the hotel for Taal Volcano the next day. So I did just that. I got a tour package recommended by the hotel for 1800 pesos for the trishaw transport to and fro Talisay- Tagaytay and the boat trip to and fro too. I told the guide however if he could do it for 1500 pesos, he agreed but that instead of the trishaw, he would bring me to Talisay using his motorcycle instead. I was thinking "why not?"

ps: Normally the boat rental alone is around 1000 pesos and its for 6 pax maximum. But because I did not have any with me they still charge me the same price.

Day 2
The guide met me at my hotel at 8am with his motorbike. And as we entered the roads to Talisay, I was clutching the back of the motorbike for the dear of my life. Imagine steepness and narrowness of road. Continuously. Thankfully, it was like that only for around 30-40 minutes. And the guide was being very careful. Going slowly on the very very steep areas and those with humps. Thank You dear Guide!

Reaching Talisay, at a specific resort that I forgot, I sat on the boat approaching the Taal Volcano that I'm going to 'conquer'.
After 1 hour, we finally reached the island. And the guide started to ask me " Horse?" I said I don't want numerous times. He then brought me to  a tourism office (that was empty and seems makeshift) and show me a banner that says must pay tourist fee 50 pesos. A tour guide fee is addition 500pesos compulsory. Horse ride is addition  of  then guide 350 pesos. I insisted on trekking up the volcano myself but the volcano guy says cannot. Then looked and put his hand out for the money. I insist that I want to pay only after but he say must pay first. I was already very irritated but in an unknown land and all alone, I decide to just pay. (Note: When I was coming down, I saw foreigners climbing up without any guide! And there is only one path to follow so its definitely doable!) But I was not comfortable in him being my guide and God heard my prayers. A lady came and took over the shift and became my guide. She was a good guide, sharing with me her life and doing her best to explain to me on the practice here on the island. 
You can call them in advance if you need a guide/ look for her on the island. 
Charie and Ben
It was a very good climb! When you reach mid ground, the scenery was great! and above when you reach the lake, its a good place to chill. But that's all. A good exercise.

Many also sit the horse up. And it was explained to me the difference in color and how the government controls the horse rides to prevent squabbles. 

The green shirt people are on the island and they are trained to control the horse by the resort. They help to guide the horse. They each have a number and so eg. on monday its no. 1-10 then tues its 11-20.. and so on. This prevents disputes among neighbors. This horse ride will cost 450 pesos.(exclude guide fee)
And there are the horse riders from the resort, they don't just guide the horse but also sit behind like a companion. They also have numbers each. However because its a package under the resort, it will cost around 1000 pesos (exclude guide fee?)
After climbing for around 2 hours, here's what you get. The supposedly famous Taal Lake.
There, you can play golf where the locals will provide you the golf stick and ball to hit at a charge.
What impressed me most is that they can speak fluent Korean too!

Coming back on land, I took a short nap then made my way to the other side of town.
This time I made sure I asked Keni Po owner on the directions and how to spot the right jeepney and the exact cost. 
Keni Po-Olivarez (10 pesos)
Olivarez- Robinsons ( 8 pesos)
Olivarez_Keni po (11 pesos)

The one in bold is what you should spot in the front of the jeepney.

I made my way to Robinsons Mall. But there was nothing there.
Decided to try the 'famous' Mushroom Burger that I felt tasted like Burger King Mushroom burger. But it was in a good location. Sat there sipping my drink for 3 hours, thinking about my 2013 resolutions.

To get to Mushroom Burger, just go to Taal Vista Hotel and continue to walk for about 10 minutes?

On my way back, decide to pop by the casino to take some pictures to post here.
Its like resort world. Too bad I went during the time when there was no performance. I heard the performances are good.

Its becoming dark. So I made my way back to my place since the next morning, I had to sit the early bus back to Manila. 

Day 3
In the morning, with my luggage, the front desk advise me to take the trishaw instead to Olivarez. So I did. 
Cost me 40 pesos + 10 pesos tip which I gave. Then I waited for the bus that states "PASAY" which stop at EDSA Metro Station. People suggested that I should wait for the air condition bus so it will be continous journey rather than stopping along the way. But thats what I like and miss about. So I went up on the non air condition bus. And I'm so thankful I did because the wind and scenery was great.Only 70 pesos. Took me 2.5 hours to get back to Manila.

Back in Manila, I went to Intramuros- their oldest district and its the historic core of Manila - Known also as the Walled City.

The different generations of presidents in Philippines

The architecture
In Manila also tried some of their local dishes.  

And snacks.

Then I also spotted something interesting. Bingo as a gambling tool in the mall! ( took this secretly)


  1. Thank you for sharing! This was very informative! Will be going to Tagaytay this weekend! :))

  2. This is very informative and I like the way you narrate your little adventures! Going at Tagaytay this weekend.

    1. @Jerald Lee - Glad it helped you somehow. Enjoy Tagatay :)

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