Earlier this year, Markus and I went to the Philippines (P.I.). I've never been to my home country before and was really excited for the trip. My first experience in the Philippines was definitely interesting. Not sure how to completely describe it, but it was a trip that I will always remember, the good and the bad. We spent most of our time in Tagaytay, where my mommyo and daddyo retired.
Tagaytay is supposed to be "the place" in the Philippines to escape the heat. It's higher up in the mountains, thus creating a cooler temperature. Mommyo would not stop talking about how nice and cool it is there. Not sure what everyone was talking about, because it felt just like the rest of the country, hot as heck.
Tagaytay is also known for Lake Taal and Taal Volcano, which is still an active volcano. There haven't been any eruptions since 1977, but it is definitely not dormant. It was very exciting taking a boat across Lake Taal to the bottom of the volcano. Although, the method of getting to the top was not ideal.
Basically, there is a community of squatters that have lived at the bottom of the volcano for ages. The Philippine government wanted to relocate them somewhere else and build a resort, but decided that it would be best for the squatters to stay and become a sort of tour guide for Taal. They basically lead you to the top while you ride an extremely emaciated horse-pony. The guides then spend the next 45 minutes selling you a story and trying to get as much money out of you as possible.
I'm all for people working and living off the land, but when the two guides that were with Markus and I were discussing in Tagolog how to get more money out of us, it really put me in a bad mood. They didn't know that Markus speaks and understands Tagalog. So they basically concocted a fake wedding and children to try and swindle us out of money. It didn't help that Markus is culturally ambiguous and I look Korean. My own countrymen were constantly speaking to me in Korean and trying to get more money out of me.
Despite the uncomfortable time spent with the guides, I enjoyed our time at Taal. There is nothing like standing at the top of a volcano. I doubt I'll ever experience anything like it again. I felt like a true explorer, conquering an active volcano with my emaciated horse-pony!