On one of my trips to the Philippines I had to take some things for the husband of one of the Filipina teachers working with me in Bangkok at that time. He came to my hotel to pick them up and asked whether I had ever been outside Manila. He was quite surprised when I said I was only in Manila on my previous visits. He offered to take me sightseeing outside Manila, which I gladly accepted as I wanted to see other places in the country.

The next day he came to pick me up. I was staying in a hotel called Kabayan Hotel in Pasay City a municpality of Manila. I had chosen this hotel as it is close to the International airport and right next to the MRT (Manila Rail Transit) station. A major bus terminal was also within walking distance, and that's where we went to take the bus. He had suggested earlier that we visit Nasugbu in Batangas province, and we could get off first in Tagaytay city which is on the way to Nasugbu.

Tagaytay is in Cavite province and it took us about two hours to get there. I was told that it is a very popular weekend getaway for Manila residents to escape from the hustle and bustle of big city life. It certainly looked like a pleasant little city to me, and the climate there was somewhat cooler than Manila due to its high elevation and lower humidity. After walking around a bit in town we headed for Taal Lake which is the main attraction in this province. It was about a ten minute ride by a jeepney which is actually a converted mini-bus made from World War 2 era US Army jeeps (you will find these jeepneys everywhere in the Philippines and the most used means of public transportation in the country).

We got off at Picnic Grove which is actually a big park and the gateway to view the lake. It was well into mid-morning and there were already a lot of people. The park has many recreational activities, such as horseback riding, zip lining, restaurants, playgrounds, even cable cars. As the name implies, many families come here for picnics, and I saw picnic sheds scattered all over the place. Chris told me that students from all parts of the country come here on field trips, not to mention honeymoon couples for the lake's romantic settings!

We had a panoramic view of Taal Lake and its volcano from Picnic Grove. The volcano is actually situated on an island near the middle of Taal Lake and aptly named Taal Volcano. I believe the volcano is an active one, and has actually erupted several times in the past. I was thinking to myself at that time, what to do if the volcano should erupt while we were there!

We took another jeepney back to Tagaytay city, and from there we continued our bus journey to Nasugbu in the adjoining province of Batangas. We reached Nasugbu in a little over an hour. The town itself is a relatively small one and is known for its stretch of sandy beaches. We headed for the main beach where there are several statues and World War 2 memorial to commemorate the landing of US military forces in January 1945 on their mission to liberate the Philippines from Japanese occupation.

Surprisingly, the beach was practically deserted. Chris told me that it was probably because it was a weekday. Anyway, I didn't mind it at all as we had the place to ourselves, and enjoyed the picturesque scene of coconut trees and small bungalows while walking along the beach, until it was time to return to Manila.

On our way back to Manila we passed through Tagaytay again. I think the bus took a different route as we saw some very nice houses and hotels on the outskirts of the city. As mentioned earlier, Tagaytay is a favorite vacation spot for many Filipinos, and some wealthy people have built luxury bungalows there just for their weekend/holiday retreats.

When we arrived back in Manila it was already dark and we grabbed a quick dinner at Chowking restaurant near the hotel. I mention the name of the restaurant as it is my favorite in the Philippines, and the biggest and best tasting Chinese fast food chain in the country. And finally, I would like to express my gratitude and a big thank you to Chris, I saw another part of this beautiful island nation.