days eighty-eight to ninety-three: december 26 - december 31, 2016: manila and taal lake

Christmas Day was spent on planes and in airports as we traveled from Sorong to Manila, arriving at 2am on the 26th. After taking what seemed like forever to get thru customs and immigration and collecting our bags we were greeted by a familiar face, my dad and my two cousins, Karen and Kristel. What's the first thing you do after arriving in the Philippines, eat of course! As we left the airport, we appeared to be lost. My dad asked Kristel if she was lost and she said, "Yes, but we'll be ok, we have gas, we have money and we're still in the Philippines!". First stop, Aristocrat for some late night food.

A few days later, my sister Jamie, my brother Marc and his cousin Erwin joined us. Quite a crew for the next few weeks.

We've spent the past few days running around Manila, more like sitting in crazy traffic in a taxi, and unintentionally at almost every mall within a 20 mile radius. Traffic is nuts here. You're competing with taxis, jeepneys, tricycles (motor and bike), cars, vans, big-rigs, and pedestrians. I thought I could survive anything outside of LA but was totally wrong. Suffice to say, we could not be more excited to head out of the city to Tagaytay to visit Taal Lake and Volcano. 

From Tagaytay, we drove down a windy road for about 45 minutes to catch a bangka, boat in Tagalog, that would take us across Taal Lake to hike up to caldera rim. There was an option to ride horses up the hill, but we opted to hike instead. Aside from the hike being a bit dusty from the horses passing by every few minutes, it was a relatively easy. It allowed us to work off all the food we've been eating the past couple of days. The view was pretty nice too -- you have a lake on and island, in a lake, on an island. Got that? I even have to read that 4 times to make sure it's right. 

We spent New Year's Eve at my aunt's house and got to spend time with family we never get to see. Yes, there are a lot of us...and no, this isn't everyone. This is probably only 1/4 of our dad's side of the family.