Tag Archive for 'Manila'

Tagaytay Taal Volcano excursion

Kristin and I were not too adventuresome while I was visiting her in the Manila and for the most part this is because the Philippines is not very tourist friendly.  The island was fairly devastated during World War 2, given how heavily the Japanese defended it, and that seems to have created a vacuum of things and places worth seeing.  Furthermore, the transportation infrastructure is very lacking, it takes about two hours to get out of the city to anywhere and the places Filipinos recommend seeing are typically over ten hours away by car as there isn’t a real highway system.  Or it could be that what you want to see is on another island, in which case your best bet is to go by plane which is fairly expensive.  Even our little trip out to a volcano was pretty expensive due to the fact we had to get a car and driver for seven hours to complete the journey at 1,200 Pesos (roughly $25) per hour.

Anyway, we made a trip out to the Taal Volcano which you can read some more information on here.

On to the pictures!  :)

That was our big trip.  With sun shining down on us, it was actually still fairly pleasant but warm and we drank a lot of the water we had packed along.  Seeing people from all around the world going up and down the mountain was interesting as we saw folks from Europe, the middle East, Asia and of course the U.S.

It took about 40 minutes and 200o Pesos ($40) to get the horses and 3000 Pesos ($60) for the 20 minute each way boat ride.  On the way back out boat driver was a jerk and we got pretty wet.  I don’t know if we missed a point where we were supposed to tip him or what exactly happened.  A vendor tried to ding us for 50 pesos each at the top of the mountain for “a refreshing drink for our guides.”  Surprised by this, we declined which seemed to upset our non-english speaking guides, but I think we over tipped them with 100 pesos each when we got to the end. It is hard to know when and how much to tip when everyone has their hand out.

We went for lunch at a place a coworker had recommended, Mushroom Burger.  It was OK, but I think we prefer our burgers to only be beef or pork :)

On the way out and back we observed the slums, new developments, crazy traffic, pineapple fields and over all congestion that is typical of the area around Manila.  On the way back, we must have looked quite the sight to our cab driver, falling asleep and tipping all over the back seat.  Who knew it would take so much out of us to ride up a hill on horses?  I think it was mainly the heat.  I managed to burn my forehead pretty convincingly.

It was cool to go out of our comfort zone a bit, it would have been nice if more activities like this one had been within reach of the city.

–Nat

Not your typical Texas Roadhouse

Kristin and I were looking for a place to eat and this place caught our eye.  I mean, it’s awesome in the U.S. right?  Maybe a Manila franchise?

Not quite authentic.

Not quite authentic.

So, not really.  At least they had $1 beer!

There we are, eating outside in November!

There we are, eating outside in November!

I was hoping for real deal Chicken Strips...

I was hoping for real deal Chicken Strips...

Ultimately it was tasty, but we should have known it wasn’t going to be as good.  There was no line and no tasty buns.  They did have some pretty tiny peanuts that were free, though…

–Nat

Made it!

At about 1:30 am Manila time I finally made it into the hotel, which means that I traveled for nearly exactly 24 hours to make it here.  Exhausting!  It was interesting at the main Manila airport (Where the service goes the extra SMILE!) where it was line after line that seemed fairly pointless.  Medical, then immigration, then finally customs.  Before customs I waited a good ten minutes to turn $40 int a solid 1860 Pesos, of which my taxi ride from the airport (another 1o minute line) cost 240.  Arriving at the airport, they insisted on calling Kristin’s room to make sure she was really expecting me, gave me a key and I had finally arrived.  Whew!  Too bad the key they gave me broke Kristin’s keys, but I suppose it couldn’t be perfect.  It is awesome to be with Kristin again!  :)

On the plane I was super annoyed with an older lady who took my Window seat.  She practically refused to move, finally saying “well, I don’t want to be sandwiched between two men!”   I just kept reiterating that she was in my seat.  As a stewardess came over to see what was up just as I said, “fine.”  She asked me if I was sure that was OK, I just nodded and sat down, not wanting to push it anymore.  The lady got the patented MN passive aggressive treatment from then on as I pretended she wasn’t there.  But when I looked at her, sleeping with her head against the bulkhead, which was the only reason I had wanted a window seat, I knew she had come out ahead.  Sigh.  I didn’t even get out the noise canceling earphones, which actually served as awesome earplugs on the first leg.  I read a little, watched the movie without sound (its amazing how much more of the set details and acting you can absorb that way) and mentally willed the time to go faster.  It felt as long as the first flight.

I think it is time to go wander around having successfully retrieved three roles of toilet paper which they are unexpectedly stingy with in a $110 a night hotel.  Called the front desk and talked to two different maids in the hallway and put that in the stash.  I have the “please clean our room” tag out, so hopefully we’ll get at least one more as I have stashed the rest away :)

–Nat