Saturday, 11 February 2017

Tagaytay to Taal

Today was another test of endurance as I made my way from Tagaytay on the north side of Lake Taal to Taal on the south. The two towns are under 30 miles apart and linked by a lakeside road but despite that it is impossible to get between them directly by public transport.
Instead I had to get a bus to a town called Balayan, which as far as I could tell contained nothing but tyre shops. Then a tricycle across town to where the bus for Taal left from,  then another tricycle to where it actually left from. Finally a few hours in a cramped minibus. I amused myself by working out when Philippino drivers use the horn. Very roughly - If they see someone they know,  if they see someone they don't know,  if overtaking or being overtaken, if there is a junction or bend in the road, or if 60 seconds have passed and they haven't used it for any other reason.
On arrival Taal instantly joined Port Barton as one of my favourite places in the Philippines. The town is mostly old Spanish buildings or copies of them rather than the usual mix of concrete monstrosity, American mall and bamboo shack that is more typical. The Spanish influence goes further with a central square giving the town an actual structure. Something I hadn't even realised was missing in the other places I've been. Even the streets are called calles.
Other positives are the climate is mild again, numerous short flights of steps make much of the town effectively pedestrianised, and the fact I'm staying in a place done up like a stately home.
Even the street food is better. I've been disappointed that so many roadside stalls had ready cooked offerings sat congealing in the sun but here they seem to cook everything fresh. I had a beautiful vegetable spring roll and some small fluffy pancakes for a late lunch and went to look at the largest Catholic Church in Asia.
The cathedral was decorated for a wedding, which I assumed must have been earlier in the day due to the number of people wandering in and out with cameras so I went in.
There was a priest at the front muttering away, which I assumed was some sort of prayer of the hour. Until he switched to English for one phrase "You may kiss the bride". I'd walked into someone's wedding!  I left before anyone asked any questions. 

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