Sunday, June 22, 2014

Week 25 - High and Low

"Each of us needs to withdraw from the cares which will not withdraw from us."
- Maya Angelou

I should have taken the entire week off.

The Girlfriend and I headed for Puerto Galera last Monday for a fairly short getaway.

Crowded places become interesting escapes when their off-season begins. I've never really been to abandoned beaches before, so I must say I was quite excited by the prospect of having a beach all to ourselves.

There were two beaches on our side of Puerto Galera.

The first was the more famous White Beach. One of the locals said that its sand was just as white as Boracay before an enterprising American set up shop there and invited friends and relatives to stay. The rest is history (which is a sad note).

The second one was Aninuan Beach, which was a lot more secluded. The only ways to access it were (besides blatantly disregarding warnings against rock climbing amidst unexpectedly strong waves) were going through the few resorts that led to it or trespassing through some private property which led directly to the beach. Needless to say, we did the latter. The owners were nice enough to put up signs on where to go - so there's that. The waves were fairly strong and we were literally being buffeted by rocks every time they flowed. Past a short distance, however, and there was nothing but a good swim.

Aninuan Beach was much closer to Amihan Villa, where we chose to stay. It's an awfully pretty place with an excellent view of the sea (and the lights of Batangas in the distance) on one side and the towering Malasimbo Hill on the other. They offered very spacious rooms - it was very quiet here, and the two or three other guests kept mostly to themselves.

On a side note, I think our visit to Puerto Galera strengthened my desire to visit Oslob for the whale sharks.

Meanwhile, we headed for Tagaytay last weekend with a few friends from work.

Or at least that was what I initially thought.

I guess I wasn't exactly prepared for a hike that day (which was probably fault for not paying attention).

I was surprised to find myself headed for Taal for a quick trek to its summit to view the caldera lake.

It was a fairly easy hour-long walk (with multiple stops included). It's probably the closest that one could get to feeling like one of the Dothraki - the heat was punishing, and there were flies and mounds of horse turd everywhere.

I really don't get why someone would want to rent a horse to ride up a hill.

Personally, I thought that climbing a small hill renders any sense of accomplishment a moot point, but that's commercialization for you.

I was surprised to see that nature has reclaimed the areas closer to the lake, and that the place was teeming with life even amongst rocks that spew sulfur and steam.

Makeshift tents served as way points for the trip, and locals made sure to offer drinks and shade to the easily worn-down tourists who visited the place.

The lake itself was nothing to write home about.

Taal looked exactly like what we've seen in our school books hundreds of times over, although being actually there was kind of neat.

The caldera lake reminded of a joke that someone told me a long time ago:

On Taal, you will find an island on a lake on an island on a lake on an island.

Spot on.

The trip back to Tagaytay was fairly uneventful, but it was kind of soothing to ride on a tricycle while moving through the steep mountain road that connected the city to the lakeside town.

We capped the day by going to two of Tagaytay's more famous places (and ate bulalo - which is a given).

The view from the Palace in the Sky
And the obligatory Sky Ranch visit.
I was absolutely tapped out by day's end.


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