Taal volcano is said to be (hopefully you catch this) “The world’s smallest volcano which is in a lake which is in another volcano which is in another lake which is on an island in the ocean…” Got that? Good! This is where we went yesterday….
So we were downstairs outside of our building by 7am waiting for Gerry (Roger’s cab partner). Roger and Gerry share a cab. They each take turns driving for 24 hours straight. I assume that Roger was at home sleeping, so Gerry was up! Gerry arrived late… at 7:50. Slightly irritated at first (and about to find another cabbie) we relaxed when we found out that he had just gotten the cab from Roger and had to drive about 1 1/2 hours before picking us up! Jeesh! Poor guy!
After a quick run into Starbucks for morning drinks (the kids are sure going to miss their morning Pomegranate, peach slushies when we get home!!) we started on the road to Tagaytay. I love these drives. We drove along a river which had squatters shacks side by side all along the edge of the water. You can’t help but imagine what it must be like for those people. I get a kick out of the differences that we see here. At one point, a motorbike pulled up beside our utaxi. On it – FIVE people. No sidecar on this one! a Child in the front, a Dad behind driving, and then 2 more Children, followed by the Mother. Mom & Dad both had helmets on. The children on the other hand…
Or what about the Dad riding a motorcycle with what looked to be a newborn infant in a sling on the front of his body. You could see the tiny legs dangling out as he drove! Just not something you see at home!
When we arrived in Tagaytay, we decided to stop and have a quick breakfast at jollybee. Jollybee is a fast food restaurant that is seen just as much as McDonald’s here. Jollybee is everywhere. Jollybee gives me the heeBEE jeeBEEs…
As we pulled into the parking lot, we were spotted by the locals through the cab windows. They went crazy. They banged on the windows with their binders holding pictures of Taal volcano and their boats that could take us there. “For you sir! I give you good deal! My own boat! I take you and your family! GOOD DEAL!!” We needed a boat anyway, and from reading online before we left, we knew that there would be many different people who could do this. We also knew about what we should be paying… he wasn’t counting on that…
“I take you to Taal on my boat! Good deal! Only 3800 pesos!!!”
Are you kidding me?
“Okay, okay sir… I give you better deal! My own boat! I take you for 3500 pesos!”
We walk into Jollybee as he follows us shouting better deals.
“3000 pesos Ma’am sir! Good deal! this my own boat!”
“Sir! Sir!! 2800 pesos for you!”
We go into Jollybee. We buy Gerry a burger and I manage to find a pasta salad that isn’t half bad. We leave…
Boat boys are waiting for us….
“SIR! SIR!! You come on my boat! I give you good deal sir! 2500 pesos sir!! SIR!!?? SIR!!!!”
Ron lets them know that we are not suckers and we’ll find a boat when we get to the lake for a better deal. As we pull out of jollybee boat boy runs beside us shouting, “2000 pesos sir!!! GOOD DEAL!”
We drive away. At a stop light, we are spied by 2 other ‘boat’ people. They see our white skin and run at the cab with their binders. “SIR! I Have a boa….” I look out the back window and feel bad watching the lady run after us as fast as she can. She has very large boobs and I worry that they’re going to smack her in the head an knock her out. I hope they didn’t….
As we drive along the road above Taal lake, we find a spot perfect for a picture. We pull over and Ron jumps out. Well wouldn’t you know it… 2 boat boys from way back at Jollybee had been following us! They pull their motorbike in front of us and one jumps off. “SIR!!! I give you better deal! 1800 pesos for you sir! you come on my boat!”
Are you kidding me?
Ron says no, and gets back into the cab. Boat boy gives what is his ‘final offer’
“1500 pesos sir! I take you for 1500 pesos in my boat!”
Ron agrees. Boat boy runs back to his motorcylce & I yell, “No!! too much!” to Ron. I tell him “no more them 1000 pesos!” (I have read the internet!!;) )
Ron calls him back and says, “No, only 1000 pesos.”
Boat boy humms and hawws, tries to get 1200 pesos, but we’re firm.
We have a boat for 1000 pesos.
So… the first offer was 3800 pesos and we went from there to 1000 pesos. Pays to do the research before hand! And pays for boat boy to chase us down the highway on a motorcylce. Win, win I guess.
So to ’save money on gas’ one boat boy drivess down to the lake with us in our cab while the other one heads back to what I can only assume is jollybee to wait for another tourist. Good luck to them. Hope they read online before they came…
When we arrived at the bottom of the valley, we came to a T intersection. Many other boat boys were waiting there! They see the cab and start to charge us. Our Jollybee boat boy rolls down the window & gives them a ‘haha you suckers, point and laugh’ – proud that he got us first. The recognize our boat boy and return the point and laugh with their own waves and disappointed laughs. Poor boat boys.
While they may not make much money, and their jobs may suck when trying to secure sticky and firm tourists such as ourselves… the part of their job where they guide the boat to the volcano must give them some pleasure. It was GREAT! The boat was handmade and exactly like a boat I would picture riding on here in the Philippines. We got SOAKED and it felt great! We laughed the whole way there… that lake is beautiful. Beautiful, beautiful!
And then we arrived at Taal volcano…
No boat boys there… but ‘hat girls’, ‘water girls’, ‘juice girls’, ‘beer girls’, ‘bandana girls’…. oh my….
They see our boat come in and all stand and wait. I hear them yell, “TOURISTS!!” Grrreat…..
“Ma’am, you buy a hat… for your children….” “BANDANA MA’AM!! FOR YOUR GIRL’S!!” “Here is some juice… YOU BUY! For your children!” “A HAT MA’AM! YOU’RE CHILDREN NEED A HAT!” “Excuse me Sir! I have juice! I have water for you sir! Sir, I have beer…..”
My head hurts.
We smile, decline and start to walk towards the horse rental.
“Ma’am! YOU BUY HAT!” “Ma’am! I HAVE JUICE for you!” “Sir! you need some beer!”
We finally ‘rent’ 2 hats for the girls. Big floppy, obnoxious hats. But, it’s about the experience. After another big haggle with the horse rental people, we sit our butts on 2 poor horses and we’re off. Ron and Karis on one and Sydney and I on another. Remember from my last post… I don’t like horses? It wasn’t too bad! I couldn’t see a darn thing at first because of Sydney’s massive hat, and had to constantly focus on hanging on because my butt wanted to begin a slow, sure slide off the horse to the left side. Crap. Horsey boy (our guide) finally realized my distress and showed my these nifty little things called ’stirrups’ that you can put your feet into Still a rooky, he had to physically put my feet into them for me. Much better.
Our trip up the volcano started off through a small villiage at the base. This was so neat! I could have spent all day there alone. Little huts that families live in. Roosters, cows, chickens, horses, bulls, dogs, cats… lazing around in people ‘yards’. Mother’s nursing babies on their ‘porch’, babies sleeping in wicker hammocks, children playing with sticks and rocks, elderly women dressed in wraps walking with baskets on their heads… SO COOL! I loved that part a lot.
Horsey boy lead our horse up the mountain by a rope. When I say boy, I mean it! He looked to be about 10! And he wasn’t the youngest guide we saw. At one point I saw a little girl who couldn’t have been more then 7! Sad!
It took about 45 minutes to get to the top. Horesy boy was continually irritated at me for my lack of ‘horse riding skills’. He kept having to stop to ‘re-insert’ my feet into the stirrups. He also kept yelling, “BALANCE MA’AM! MA’AM! BALANCE!!” I wanted to yell back, “I AM! MY ASS IS STILL ON THE HORSE! I AM BALANCED!!” Then he would stop and bow his body forward to show me. We would bow forward so far that poor Sydney had that knobby thing that you hold on to digging into her stomach. This is where my butt would start to slide backwards. I must have been quite the sight. My butt on the back of the horses butt, chest & head smashing my child forward, and flailing feet not in the stirrups. I think horsey boy was happy to have a break from me at the top.
What was funnier… Ron and Karis’ horse. I don’t know what they fed that thing, but he (or she) had a majour gas issue. Each step that horse took would activate a “PFFFFT!” and Sydney and I would burst into giggles. Ahhh the mature Mother I am….
The view from the top was amazing. After buying horsey boy an overpriced drink at the top… and Ron’s horsey boy/girl… (not quite sure which he/she was) we gazed down at the lake in the center of the volcano. You could see puffts of steam rising from different points around (and in) the lake. The view was amazing (we’ll be posting pictures soon!!)
The decent down the mountain was stressful and hot… poor Erica (our horse) was uneasy on some of the steep parts. Horsey boy seemed to smarten her up with smacking her butt. I took this time to pat her side to let her know that he was just grumpy cause it was hot… not at her…
Once we arrived back at our cab, Gerry was all refreshed and ready to go. We started the drive back to Makati and stopped along the way for pizza (pizza hut) and a few markets for some satsuma oranges. (we eat a lot of these right now).
One of the most memorable moment of the drive back was getting pulled over by a police officer! Let me explain first….
Here in the Philippines, people don’t wear seatbelts. At least not in cabs. There isn’t any! We have seen ‘maybe’ 2 cabs that have seatbelts in them since we have been here… and we’ve taken a lot of cabs! Ron was in the front with Gerry and wasn’t wearing his seatbelt. Well, apparently if you are in the front you DO have to wear one. Ron never even thought about it because we don’t usually see them! (we always, always wear them at home!!;) )
So a police officer saw us as he was standing on the side of the road and pulled us over. He and Gerry yelled at each other in Tagalog for about a minute while we sat there stunned not knowing what was going on. Finally the police officer told us that he was going to write the Gerry a 300 peso ticket because Ron wasn’t wearing his seatbelt. This is what went down after…
Police man asks for Gerry’s registration book. Gerry gives it to him. Police man puts his ticket book away and asks Gerry for a cigarette. Gerry gives him one. Police man passed Gerry his insurance book and turns around to ‘light his cigarette’. Gerry puts 200 pesos inside his insurance book. Police man asks to see his insurance book one more time. Gerry passes it to him. Police man pockets the 200 pesos and gives Gerry back his book. Police man informs Gerry that he’ll let him off without a ticket.
So now that I finished my ‘book’, I am going to get off the computer for awhile! One last thing… LEAVE COMMENTS PEOPLE!
Yesterday there were 51 visits to our website and only 1 comment! I’m much more tempted to write if I get some feedback!
Thanks to those who have already left comments on other posts or those who have sent us comments through facebook or email.
“Sore butt from riding the horse” Shannon