After the heat, dust and pollution of Manila, Tagaytay was a nice (and much needed!) change of weather and scenery. Located high up in the mountains with cool and breezy weather, this beautiful mountain town in Cavite is a popular getaway for tourists.

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We visited Picnic Grove, a park-like area which is perfect for – what else – picnics! It’s also a good vantage point to catch magnificent views of the Taal Lake and Volcano. We decided to explore the place in the morning, since it was just across the road from our hotel. Entry was PHP50.

Surrounded by lush green, the air was crisp and fresh, and I breathed in deeply to my heart’s content. After the smog and smoke in Manila, this was heaven-sent.

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The observation platform, lined with fir trees.

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Taal Lake from the viewing deck. The lake is the third largest in the Philippines and is home to the Taal Volcano, an active volcano with a record of 33 eruptions. Although picturesque, it is one of the deadlier volcanoes in the region due to its activity and proximity to inhabited areas. Tourists can take a boat ride to visit it but the areas near the volcano are fenced off, since the waters are boiling hot and have high sulfur content.

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I think the volcano looks like a donut, since it has a lake inside it. It’s height is a mere 310m above water, making it one of the lowest in the world.

One of its worst eruptions was recorded in 1911, which claimed over a thousand lives. Looking at how peaceful and calm it was, I thought about how Mother Nature could be both breathtakingly beautiful and mercilessly cruel at the same time. Makes you wonder about how small mankind is against such immense power. 20160208_082402-tile

The Grove is divided into two sections; one where the observation deck is and the other where the actual picnic grove with huts and facilities are located. If you’re feeling adventurous, you can take the zipline or cable car! :)

 

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The cable car looked pretty unsafe though. It was just a metal cage with benches and it swayed from side to side in the wind. Scary! We decided to walk using the wooden walkway instead.

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Grabbing some strawberry flavoured taho (sweet tofu). It was cold and sweet.

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Some of the facilities were totally rundown, like this hut which has probably seen better days. There was also a lot of garbage strewn all over the place. It’s sad, because this place has so much potential to be a top tourist destination and it’s ruined by bad management and tourists with zero civic consciousness.

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Petting the resident pregnant miming.

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Crossing a rickety wooden bridge.

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We finally got to the Grove area where there were dozens of ‘huts’ and benches where people can rest and eat. Possibly due to a lack of bins and poor garbage collection, rubbish was everywhere. The grass here was also trampled to thin, bald patches. Tourists and families here mostly ignored the litter around them and happily had their snacks and drinks while admiring the far off view.

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Eyesore. There were patches of black, as if someone had decided to burn the garbage to get rid of it quickly.

Sigh, I wish people could be more bloody civic-minded.

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There wasn’t a single hut free from graffiti. E and I played a game of ‘count the penises’.

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A cleaner area.

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Despite the badly maintained facilities, the nature was beautiful and more than made up for it. I leaned against the railing and took in the sights of tall trees and thick jungle amidst a clear sky. And the air – it was as fresh as only mountain air could be.

20160208_084328-tilePicnic Grove is a fab viewing point to enjoy the scenery around Tagaytay, even though upkeep of facilities is poor. Which is a shame, because it could have been a much more enjoyable experience. Still, visitors shouldn’t miss out on this place for its sheer beauty and the clean, refreshing air.