Sunday, June 1, 2008

Diesel dust, fun and fish!

Well maybe not in that eact order, but our excursion back from the volcano had all three! After having a relatively uncomfortable and light sleep from the sparsely sheeted and fairly uncomfortable bed at the resort, we woke up with the intent of heading back into Manila via Taygaytay (a slightly larger town surrounding Taal volcano). Our goal was to have a nice lunch, check out the supposed view and find the bus station/stop.

The lady that owned the Green Lake Resort had mentioned that we should easily be able to snag another tricycle from the driveway up to one of the Jeepny locations and get to Taygaytay with ease and for realatively low cost, so we strapped our packs on and started out. We waited for a few minutes and were shocked to find out that unlike the night before, it was rather hard to find a tricycle during the day (they were all full.) We remembered her pointing in the direction (so we thought) of the Jeepney junction, so we decided to huff it and see if we could at least be productive while waiting for a tricycle. Turns out we had remembered incorrectly, but luckily after only about 20-30 minutes of some very hot and incorrectly bound scenic walking, a tricycle stopped and we barted a fairly good deal directly to Taygaytay (we're still a bit shy of Jeepneys.)

Note to USA travelors in the Philipines: for the good of the locals, don't ever let them talk you into driving you + 2 20lb packs up a mountain in a tricycle - it's not good for their bikes!

The poor guy... we tipped him 100Php (really huge tip) after he learned the lesson I just noted. These poor little 150cc two strokes just can't haul us larger Americans with baggage up really steep mountainous inclines. After the first incline where the carriage started pulling extensively to the side, he had me hop out and ride with him on the seat (local style - actually, it was totally fun.) That worked for the most part until we hit a really crazily steep incline that started to slip his clutch and caused us to lose so much speed that the carriage started to pull the bike around and backwards. I hoppped off and helped to stop the bike from sliding down the road while Sarah bailed and we, once again, learned that the locals are incredibly kind and trustworthy as we huffed the next couple hundred feet on foot while he slowly drove ahead with the bags and waited.

Once to the top (about a 45 minute ride or so), we observed even more of the already gorgeous scenery we had seen on the way up and took off on foot towards the town center. As always, we had a million offers for tricycle rides, offers to take boats out to Taal island, and plenty of boarding offers as we walked along. We ran into an incredibly friendly gentleman that recommended a very good place to eat (the Kaye Ryan Grill) and indicated that it had one of the best views as well as excellent food. He was right on both accounts. We had an order of Pork Adobo and a grilled locally caught Palo Palo fish that was absolutely fantastic (the fish was incredibly tender and moist.) By the way, if you ever go, have a glass of the Mango juice - it's like drinking liquid heaven.

After lunch, we set out by foot again to find the station. After about 20 or so minutes of walking, an older and very kind tricycle driver stopped in front of us and hopped out to offer us a ride. Since the sky was looking a little ominous and he had taken more trouble than normal, we asked about the station and he barted us a deal we couldn't turn down (we're pretty sure he gave us the local rate.) Good thing we took him up since the station was not as obvious to find as we had thought. After some help from one of the bus driver assistants we hopped onto the right bus. (All busses here have an assistant that helps to fuel the bus, announce where it is bound as it drives up to stops and issues tickets.)

And this is where the diesel comes in. While our first bus out of Manila was closed and had AirCon, this one was cheaper and did not. While we were leaving Taygaytay, this was fine - the air felt nice and the rather humerously loud subwoofer asisted stereo kept us entertained. However, once we left the mountainous area and hit the congestion, wow!!! Sarah rapidly developed a headache and eventually associated it to the horrible smog. She pulled out the previously unused tourist trap face mask sold to us at Taal and used it on the bus. I later used mine once we got really close to Manila for the same reason. The ride was incredibly interesting and proved once again that the Philipines is a really interesting mix of living. When we go back into Manila, we wiped our faces with tissue and were horrified to see what came off of them.

Pardon a quick rant: we're so so tired of being given help that we don't want and then being forced into tipping! Guh... I know that people are trying to earn a buck and that they think we want help, but at this point we absolutely did not need help hailing a cab. The second we got off the bus, a guy outside of it went running off and started working on hailing a cab for us (totally unprompted.) When we hopped in, he stood there waiting for his tip, so we fished out 5 pesos and apparetly offended him. He continued to wait and we were virtually lectured by the driver that we should tip him. We explained that we did not want his help, had not asked for it and felt that his request of 1/4th of what the ride itself was going to cost was totally unreasonable. The driver proceeded to hand him the top he had requested and told us we could pay him back. Grrr... seriously... I know, it shouldn't both er us, but it does.

To boot, he told the driver the wrong place... luckily our driver was nice, had followed my request to turn on the meter and kept going. He claimed that he knew of a better place than the Malate Pensionne (where we had stayed before), and we let him take us there. Turns out that it was the same price, and while having a slightly better bathroom and cleaner floors, it was a mix of better and worse. The beds weren't quite as good and the windows didn't seal half as well, so it was a loud evening with slightly less quality sleep.

We spent the rest of the evening going about the business of washing our clothes, acquring dinner and a few other necessities after having a sorely needed shower after the bus ride home.

No comments: