7 days to Manila City, Pagsanjan Fall,
Talisay, Matabungkay Beach, Tagaytay City
30 Jan <> 05 Feb 2009
|(L to R) Ching Neng Bin, Monica Foong Sui Oi, Catherine Oon Siew Ngoh, Kok Lai Khim, Mike Khaw Eng Aun, Helen Chok Yuen Lee, Albert Chong Kee Wah, Lee Kar Heng, Song Poh, Chan Nam Hong, Ng Siew Lian, Tan Di Mal, Chan Kang Fei at Manila Airport|
Day 01 (30.01.09) Kuala Lumpur > Manila
Mabuhay! Greetings from Philippines. The adventure began at 5am when Mike Khaw drove from Sitiawan to my Ipoh house and together in my son’s car we arrived 9.30am at KLIA. Here we met the other 10 team members from KL and then proceed to a common check-in so as to be able to carry 15 boxes of 5kg each of new and used clothing for distribution to the fire victim of Gawad Kalinga project. Thanks to Albert Chong for the collection of clothing and the arrangement with Gawad Kalinga.
Flying at 12.00 noon by MAS MH704 and arriving at Manila Aquino Airport at 3.50pm. Bro. Roger from Gawad Kalinga met us at the airport to collect the boxes.
Two vans which were booked earlier for the 7days trip by Mr. Chan Kang Fei came to pick us up. In Manila Malate area we checked in to Hostel1632 at Peso1,900 a room – small and expensive. Hostel1632 is about forty-five minutes away from the International Airport, located at the heart of Malate and is accessible to the nearest shopping centers, tourist spots and golf course. It is very close to the famous Robinson’s Place Manila.
Hostel1632 @ P1,900 a room for two with A/C & breakfast for 2. (Rm146)
Renting of 2 vans for 7days at P50,000 (Rm3,846) or Rm296 per person
|Evening was spent walking along
Manila Bay and also inside Robinson’s Place where we had our first taste
of Pilipino food. The food court at Robinson is strongly recommended
for its cheap and good food at about P60 to P90 (RM5 to RM7).|
|Dinner at Robinsons Place|
|KF Chan enjoying delicious dinner & fantastic company|
|Catherine & I am still looking for food|
|sleeping in Hostel 1632 @ P1,900 a room for two with A/C & breakfast for 2. (Rm146)|
After breakfast at Hostel, we drove for about 2 hours (102km) to Pagsanjan (pronounced “pag-san-han”), south-east of Manila in Laguna Province via the South Super Highway. Driving through rice fields and coconut plantations and towns like, San Pedro, Carmona, Calamba and Santa Cruz before reaching Pagsanjan – the site of Coppola’s “Apocalypse Now”. Along the way we stopped to buy the popular coconut candy and pineapple pie for lunch. Check in at Tropical Inn @ P1100 a room.
Tropical Inn @ P1100 (RM85) a room for two
Boating fee @ P800 pp (RM62)
Dinner @ P248 pp (RM19)
|no house but a home for the poor|
|checking out of Hostel 1632|
|On the way to Pagsanjan - coffee & toilet stop|
|Best coconut, apple & pineapple pie in Philippines|
|we are in Laguna province|
|Tropical Inn @ P1100 (RM85) a room for two|
|Getting ready for boating - boating fee @ P800 pp (RM62)|
There were at least 16 rapids (turbulent waters) that the boat has to go through. Going upstream, the boatmen will get down at these rapids and push the boat or use their feet to kick the rocks and propel the boat upstream. At places where the rocks are too many and the water is too shallow, steel pipes were placed transversely at proper intervals so that the boat can be slid over these pipes.
The real excitement was on the boat's return trip. This is what was dubbed "Shooting the Rapids". See how skillfully the boatmen maneuvered the boat between rocks, alternately using their paddle or their feet. There are places that the rapids are on a curve but the boatmen would guide the boat through it. If the paddle is not enough to steer, the boatmen's feet surely will. We really enjoyed ourselves and the thrill of shooting rapids.
We were informed that the current standard rate was P800 fixed by the town boat operators association, up from P650 as mentioned in the internet. The town has 2000 boatmen and each take turns rowing tourist to the waterfall once or twice a week. Tourist numbered 800 per day during our visit.
|Albert & Helen|
|Rowing up the river|
|Chan & Khim|
|the iron pipes for boats to roll over|
|Rafting towards the great fall|
Afternoon was driving along the Laguna Lake and took pictures at the Pagsanjan Arch or Old Gate. This historic town gate was built in 1878-1880. It has three Roman style arches topped by two lions, guarding the royal Spanish emblem. Along Rizal Street, near the gate, some old houses survived, holding memories of the past Filipino architecture.
|Snake skin car|
|2nd day dinner delicious, company fantastic|
Day 03 (1.02.09) Pagsanjan>San Pablo>TalisayCity
We drove to the Hidden Valley Spring Resort but did not go in as the entrance fee was too expensive at P1,800 p.p. which includes lunch. Hidden Valley Spring Resort is privately run, located at a volcano with hot springs and full facilities.
We then continued our drive to Talisay City in the province of Batangas. Talisay is located in the north-central area of Batangas, which is located southwest of the island of Luzon, approximately 84 kilometers south from Metro Manila. It is bordered by Tagaytay City in the north, the municipality of Laurel to the west, Tanauan City to the east, and a vast volcanic lake called Taal Lake to the south. Talisay has recently reinvented itself into a resort town, making use of the superb view and access that they have to Taal Volcano and Taal Lake. Many resorts that fit a wide range of budgets have sprouted along the town.
Natalia’s Taal Lake Guest House @ P1000 a room with A/C & 2x double mattress.
Access to the waterfall cost P50 p.p collected by the villagers. Guide fee was P200
Lunch @ P130pp (RM13)
Dinner @ P215pp (RM16)
|The owner of Plaza Delights seated in the centre|
|view of San Pablo City across the Sampaioc Lake|
|Rotary Club of San Pablo|
|had expensive lunch @ P130pp (RM13) in Natalia’s Taal Guest House|
|The boat & water-house|
|had expensive dinner in Natalia’s Taal Guest House|
|Duck egg delicacy - half-hatched chick inside|
Day 4 video clips
We had an early breakfast at the guest house and then on the motorized ‘bangka’ outrigger boat to the Taal Island and Volcano for P1500 a boat. The boat ride was exciting with the strong wind raising the waves up to a meter high. Most of us got quite wet from the water spray. At the island we had to trek up 2250 feet to view the caldera from the rim of crater while Mr. Lee Kah Heng engaged a horse ‘Patricia” for P500.
Taal Lake is a freshwater lake in the province of Batangas, on the island of Luzon. The lake is situated within a caldera formed by very large eruptions between 500,000 and 100,000 years ago. It is the country's third largest lake (the largest being Laguna de Bay). The active Taal Volcano, which is the one responsible for the lake's sulfuric content, lies on an island in the center of the lake, called Volcano Island. The island is called pulo or islet by the locals.
After the lake/volcano trip, we checked out of the Guesthouse and travelled to the Tagaytay City in the highlands. We had lunch near a market in Tagaytay City and bought vegetables for dinner. We then drove to Matabungkay beach to check in at Casa Verde Guesthouse as recommended by Jay the driver.
Cost of one boat is P1500 for 6-7 person
Trek guide fee P50 pp. Fee for getting on/off boat on walkway was P5 pp.
Nuestra Senora Horseback Riding is P500 pp.
Casa Verde Guest House at P800 a room for 2 with A/C
Lunch at Tagaytay City Market stalls cost about P80 -150 each c/w drinks.
Dinner at Guesthouse @ P100pp (RM8)
|Beautiful sunrise at Taal Lake|
|Taking the boat to the island|
|Mr. Lee on Patricia the horse|
|Dusty trek up the volcano|
|The dusty trek|
|Soil erosion by wind|
|this is the only trek up|
|the long and dusty trek up the mountain|
|smoke and steam coming out from this hole|
|Photographers in action - Helen, Khim & Chan|
|finally we art at the Taal Volcano|
|Khim at the top of the Taal Volcano|
|Crater Lake of Taal Volcano|
|Taal Volcano satellite image|
|Beautiful sunset at Matabungkay Beach|
|Dinner cooked by our 2 drivers at Casa Verde Guest House at P800 a room for 2 with A/C|
|karaoke session at the guesthouse|
|the local beer is quite good|
|a floating dinning room for rent|
|Catherine on paddle boat|
|Khim ready to move on to Tagaytay City|
|lorry laden with sugar cane|
|View from Tagaytay City|
Day 06 (04.02.09) Manila
Morning was visiting a charitable institution called Gawad Kalinga http: // www. gawadkalinga.org). Had an orientation program and site tour for our group by Bro. Roger & Bro. Gunny at GK Espiritu Santo Village, Barangay Baesa, 2nd District of Quezon City. We donated some cash to them. Sleeping at Four Seasons Inn @ P600 a room for 2 with A/C and common shared bathroom.
|had breakfast at kopi roti|
|Briefing by Bro.Roger and Bro.Gunny|
|Q & A time|
|Bagong Silang, Caloocan City, then the biggest squatters|
|Together with its partners, Gawad Kalinga is now in the process of transforming poverty stricken areas with the goal of building 7,000 houses in 7 years.|
|Albert Chong giving away goodies to the children|
|Song Poh gave our cash collection to Bro.Roger|
|Nam Hong presenting a souvenir to Bro. Gunny|
|Mike Khaw presenting a souvenir|
|We then visited Intramuros - known as the "Walled City" for its ancient walls and ruins dating back to the Conquistadores, Intramuros is home to San Agustin Church, the oldest stone church in the country, and Manila Cathedral.|
|At the Market-Market Serendra Mall|
|At the Market-Market Serendra Mall|
|A Big Thank You - Maria and Roda|
Hope to see you in Malaysia
Day 07 (05.02.09) Manila > Kuala Lumpur
Morning was driving to Green Hill shopping centre famous for its imitation goods and later went to SM Megamall the largest in Asia and 3rd largest in the world. We all had lunch there and last minute shopping. Transfer to airport at 1.30pm. Depart Manila Airport by MAS at 4.50 pm and reached KLIA at 8.30 pm.
The airport tax is P750 p.p. inclusive of P200 for airport security services. All transactions were carried out in Pesos, The best rates we obtained was P47.27 for USD1
|at Green Hill Shopping Centre|
|A chapel in Shopping Centre|
|Song Poh and Lee making friend with police to bring in knives bought at Tagaytay City|
|MAS airline back to KLIA|
Home Sweet Home
Beautifully well written words and comments by team members as follows:
Philippines may not be among the most beautiful country to visit, but she charms us with the humility, grace and love. The trip may not be the cheapest, but it gives memorable occasions money can't buy. Our journey may not be the most exciting trip, but it is certainly excite me to see: - how each one of us can come together to solve difficult situations without so much a fuss, - loving one another despite our different preferences, age and backgrounds. - caring and become friends-for -life within the short 7 days time.
Thank you for being such a wonderful time and if there is any shortcoming on my side, please accept my humble apology. Interested for another holiday, please see attach. Adios, see you all again shortly, perhaps in Setiawan!
On Fri, Feb 6, 2009 at 9:09 PM, namhong chan wrote:
Nicely said, I like the way you put it. I'm glad to have met all new friends. Many thanks for the wonderful arrangements you have done. We have also learned from the GK trip on what it can do. We are already planning the next trip. Suggestions are Myanmar, Magasa? Have a nice weekend.
Chan Nam Hong
On Fri, Feb 6, 2009 at 10:23 PM, Helen Chok wrote:
Wah! Your words are so touched, now I know you are talented & can become a poem creator.... :) Yep, I would like to take this opportunity to thank you guys for giving me an opportunity and trust in handling your money. By the way, I did enjoyed the moment with you guys having shared your valuable experiences. Guess you guys were happy and bought some of the souvenirs back to Malaysia......and still manage to enjoy CNY...ha-ha
~GONG XI FA CAI~
On Sat, 7/2/09, Mike Khaw wrote:
I must agree that all of us had lots of fun. Solving the problems only brought us closer. Must thank Albert & Co. for organizing the trip and to Helen for keeping us solvent. Albert's suggestions may not agree with those of us with weak hearts, his last suggestion is more appropriate - come to Sitiawan and we'll let you know what REAL fish tastes like! It is also a good place for all of to learn how to relax (see pix) Have a nice day.