Two weeks ago we had a three-day weekend and at the last minute a couple of friends and I decided to take a short trip outside Manila. It almost didn’t push through, as the storm Ofel was ravaging much of Luzon after devastating Mindanao and Visayas earlier that week. Although rains had stopped by the morning of the trip, some areas were still flooded. We ended up in Tagaytay, a city in Cavite that overlooks Taal Lake in Batangas. Taal Volcano is in the middle of this lake, and you can get a great view from several vantage points in the city. Actually, the entire lake is part of a caldera that was formed when the original volcano erupted hundreds of thousands of years ago.
We arrived early evening in Tagaytay, had the requisite bulalo (beef bone marrow soup with veggies) dinner that could have easily fed five people, and enjoyed crepes and iced coffees at a nearby cafe. I think I was the only one who found it strange to be in a French-inspired cafe in the Philippines (with French menu items), with the name Cafe Breton.
We returned to the hotel and before calling it a night we spent an hour or two discussing what our itinerary would be the following day, in between watching cable, playing Magic: The Gathering on Da’s iPad, and watching past episodes of Ru Paul’s Drag Race on Dell’s tablet. All things we could’ve done without leaving the city, to be sure, but my friends and I are non-adventurous types – we’re pretty easy going when it comes to vacations or trips. No hassling and wheedling to do tourist-y things or to fill up our itinerary with a bunch of exhausting things to do.
The next day we enjoyed breakfast at the hotel (lots of bacon!) and had our first view of the Taal Lake and Taal Volcano. It was foggy, even in the mid-morning, and we could barely make out the volcano. I snapped a photo with my phone but I wasn’t sure I’d get a decent picture. This was the reason we took a less expensive room without a view, because the view was obscured by a lot of fog.
We had settled with going to the Flower Farm and then maybe to some zoo (the name of which I had forgotten by the way), if we had the time. We took a jeep to the city center and hired a tricycle to get to our destination. Unfortunately, to be able to wander the grounds of the farm, we should’ve called ahead to schedule a visit. So we contented ourselves with taking photos of the flowers being readied for delivery (it was harvest time and peak season to sell flowers as All Saints’and All Souls’ were fast approaching.) They also had some herbs and potted plants for sale, which I looked on with envy – the basil, lavender and chili were great.My brother and I could never grow such healthy plants back home. The lack of direct sunlight always makes our plants feeble and less leafy. Dell bought a stevia plant and I got some chrysanthemums before we left.
We had lunch at Bag of Beans – shephard’s pie , steak and kidney pie, cheesecake and more iced coffee. We also got some pasalubong from the shop – I got some silvanas and a carrot banana bread loaf. Afterwards, we ended up going to the grocery to buy snacks and drinks. The plan was to have a smashingly drunk good time back at the hotel. We discovered new cocktail drinks from a popular rum brand – cheap and campy enough for your average parlorista (we got the strawberry daquiri and mai thai flavors because they were the prettiest). To even out things we also got some beer.
Of course when we came back, we made a few tentative sips of the cocktail mixes, snacked on some chips and watched more cable. Yeah, we were a boring lot. We went out for dinner (pizza and pasta, of all things) came back to tackle a can each of beer, and fell asleep. Smashingly drunk good time, you say? Not that night. Had I brought along my sewing projects it would have been the perfect “manang” night.
The next day the weather was more upbeat, and this was a great sight to see:
You can actually take a boat ride on the lake, to the island, and climb the peak of the island. I’ve never done this, though I have been to Tagaytay/Batangas several times.
Oddly enough, one of the highlights of the trip was discovering this huge ukay-ukay place – almost as big as a warehouse, with rows of secondhand clothes. It was a thrift-store diver’s paradise, although the racks upon racks of clothes just overwhelmed me and I only got one skirt and a cardigan right at the beginning, and didn’t really “dive” into the racks in earnest (I usually go to ukay -ukays to look for fleece or ‘furry’ cloth to use for my stuffed toy/plushie projects).
Dell wandered off to the edge of the known universe, looking for the shabby-chic and oddball clothes he so loves (it was that big, ok?) but as he returned near the entrance, he muttered, “Hipsters!” after seeing a group that had just arrived. Yeah, unfortunately, such secondhand clothing wilderness attracts them. We didn’t stick around much longer after that.
We left that afternoon, managing to get going in that rare pocket of time before the horrendous traffic brought on by waves of weekenders going back to the metro.
It was a well-spent weekend, I’d say, despite being uneventful. Being able to catch up with my friends is the one big motivator I have for going on these trips anyway, and a road trip/vacation outside Manila once every year or two is usually the only time I ever get to do this.