Jul 19

Taal Lake and Volcano on LuzonSounds strange? The Taal Volcano definitely is. Readers, who follow this site a bit longer, probably know that I’m a fan of Volcanoes.

So far I’ve visited quite a few of them around Indonesia; the famous Krakatau, Lake Toba on Sumatra (a huge volcano crater lake), Mount Rinjani on Lombok and Mount Batur and Agung in Bali.

Every volcano is unique. The Taal Volcano on Luzon is again different than all the others. It’s very small and located on its very own island in a lake (probably the crater lake of a much bigger volcano) on the island of Luzon.

nomad4ever tricycle in front of Mayon Volcano, Bicol, LuzonIt’s still active and although pretty quiet since 1977, there are signs of seismic activity and unrest as recently as 1991. And who can say anyway for sure, that a volcano is not active anymore?

You only know until its next breakout!

Asia with its ‘Ring of Fire’ is the home of many volcanoes. Most of them are located in Indonesia or the Philippines. Since our Tricycle Trip is getting me around the Philippines, it’s nice to visit a few of them here.

The most famous volcanoes in the Philippines are Mount Pinatubo (just north of Manila), the Taal Volcano (‘the smallest volcano in the world’) and Mayon Volcano in Bicol (this one is said to have an almost perfect cone).

Google Earth views of famous Volcanoes

Taal Lake and Volcano in Google EarthTo simply get an impression of the size and magnificence of volcanoes, a nice tool to use is Google Earth. You can simply zoom in and fly into the crater of many volcanoes worldwide.

I put a few interesting pictures of famous volcanoes here as examples.

Isn’t it interesting, how different yet similar they all seem to be? The first picture is of course of the Taal Volcano, which is sitting in the middle of a large freshwater lake, which was formed by large eruptions between 500.000 and 100.000 years ago.Lake Toba and Samosir Island on Sumatra, Indonesia in Google Earth

The second picture shows Lake Toba on Sumatra in Indonesia, which is said to be a Supervolcano, which had the largest ever eruption on Earth in the last 25 million years, with catastrophic global consequences for human and animal life at that time.

The island called Samosir in the middle of Lake Toba is larger than Singapore (with its 4 million people!) by sheer size; although Samosir is technically not really and island, being still connected with a small arm with the surrounding walls.

Anak Krakatau Volcano, the 'Child of Krakatau' in Google Earth

The third picture is of Anak Krakatau or Krakatoa Volcano, a very young candidate, but with the largest eruption measured in the recent past in 1883. It was one of the most violent volcanic events in modern recorded history – comparable with 13.000 times the nuclear yield of the Hiroshima bomb!

It practically blew away most of the volcano and only left a small version of it (the Indonesians call it ‘Anak Krakatau’ the child of Krakatau). I had the luck of climbing this one at least half-way in November 2005 together with my friend and ex-colleague Tobias. It was a nice and unforgettable experience which I cherish deeply. The last eruption of this one was only last year in April 2008.Mount Rinjani and Volcano on Lombok Indonesia in Google Earth

And last but not least, the 3.726 meter high Mount Rinjani, which just broke out again 2 months ago on the island of Lombok in Indonesia. Intensifying eruptions spit out smoke and ash as high as 8.000 meters into the atmosphere.

Tagaytay – the chilled city on the ridge of Taal Crater

To get the best view of the Taal Volcano and Lake, the place to be is called Tagaytay City. It’s stretched a few kilometers around the ridge of the volcano crater and is quite a chilled place.Terrace of Taal Vista Hotel in Tagaytay - spectacular view over Taal Lake and Volcano

Also many inhabitants of Manila love Tagaytay for its close proximity to Manila. So quite a few built their weekend houses and villas here. Unfortunately the short distance to Manila also drives prices up. Hotel rooms are generally above 1.000 Pesos per night and there are many upmarket hotels and restaurants in the area.

We found a small place called Chrissanta’s, which charged only 800 Pesos for a very small A/C room, which was clean and okay.

The hotel with the best view in Tagaytay is 5* Taal Vista hotel. They have a spectacular terrace with an incredible view over the lake and the volcano. If you don’t want to spend the 100 USD ++s to stay there, you could simply go there to sip a Martini or Cappuccino while you are enjoying the view. Much cheaper also. ;-)Buko - Coconut - Pizza in Tagaytay

Also try out the many small food stalls directly located at the crater ridge. They serve many local specialties for small money.

One thing what every stall sells is the local ‘Bulalo’ a bone marrow soup. Another delicacy more for western palates is probably the ‘Buko Pizza’ – a pizza decked out with coconut pieces, surprisingly delicious!

Tricycle Diaries – Repairs and Maintenance

  • Arriving via RoRo in Batangas, after a few kilometers exploring the city; the engine performance left much to be desired. It also looked like the Oil Shield in Puerto Galera wasn’t fixed after all, oil leaking still occurred. Glenn’s most competent garage in Batangas did that now for good. Material was app. 400 Pesos (Oil Shield O-Rings, bolts, also fixed finally second dynamo coil) and 300 Pesos Labor in about 4 hours
  • On the way from Batangas to Tagaytay the bike struggled with Engine sputter and further performance troubles. Stopping at a Honda Shop in Bauan, the mechanic suggested some fine-tuning/re-adjusting the ignition timing; as well as changing the spark plug and cleaning the carburetor. Costs: Spark Plug 150 Pesos, Carburetor Cleaning 160 Pesos, Tuneup 180 Pesos
  • In Tagaytay on the Volcano Ridge the Gas got stuck in full speed, a local mechanic fixed that for 200 Pesos
  • Getting up all the way to the ridge of Taal Lake and Volcano took its toll on the Clutch Lining. It caused troubles again (the 3rd time!) when going downhill towards the outskirts of Manila – and also causing deep frustration. :-( Luckily in Malvar/Tanauan I stopped at a Honda Shop with a magician as a mechanic. The head mechanic was a true Karajan or Mozart to watch at his work – smooth movements all while whistling a song and chatting with a smile on his face. He also found out that 1 of the 4 screws holding the 5 clutch discs was shorter than the others and not original; probably causing the clutch to wear down irregularly every 500 kilometers or so and getting stuck. He fixed that issue and threw in a set of used clutch discs all for only 200 Pesos. Wow! Was that the cause of all the clutch troubles? So far (about 1.600 km later) – the clutch still seems to work fine and as intended. So all in all it looks like the most expensive cost factor is eliminated – for now.

Cyclone Warning for Northern LuzonSeveral reasons made us change our route, which should actually go via Manila and then up to Baguio and Banaue, later then to Vigan and Pagudpud. Firstly, the constant and expensive troubles of the tricycle in mountainous areas made me loose trust in it driving through hilly and mountainous areas. Then there were 3 typhoons forecasted to hit Northern Luzon still this month and we just had experienced one in Puerto Galera.

The final straw was the hectic and dense traffic approaching Manila from the South. Thick Traffic Jams, constant horning, choking traffic pollution and the rain made it very unpleasant to continue further. So we decided to break out to the East and continue further to South Luzon and Bicol.

  • In hindsight – the repair demands of the tricycle seem to have peaked somewhat with the repairs in Malvar/Tanauan at around kilometer 1.500. Since then I only topped up the engine oil every 3 days (1 liter Shell 4T Oil costs 160 Pesos, comparable Caltex goes for 140 Pesos, lasts about 1-2 weeks) and some minor welding work on Samar

To follow a more actual version of the Tricycle Route, check out this Google Map here, which is updated more often, than the posting frequency at nomad4ever currently allows. New pictures are constantly uploaded to Flickr here.

If you enjoyed this post, make sure you subscribe to my RSS feed!

or save article to your Facebook with 1 simple click:


written by Chris

15 Responses to “A Volcano on an Island in a Lake on an Island in an Ocean?”

  1. MJNo Gravatar PHILIPPINES Says:

    wow! good luck on your trip to bicol. it is also a very beautiful place. too bad you decided to change your route, the north is also very beautiful. in fact my last posts are about ilocos. good luck on your travels. keep us updated :D

  2. ChrisNo Gravatar PHILIPPINES Says:

    I know I know, will have to visit the North another time. Until then I will read up on your articles to learn more about it, MJ;-)

  3. CathyNo Gravatar SWITZERLAND Says:

    Bicol! Don’t miss caramoan peninsula and the whale sharks in donsol!


  4. ChrisNo Gravatar PHILIPPINES Says:

    Cathy, yeah the whale sharks would’ve been great to see. Unfortunately they only pass by there from December to May, so another place to visit another time… :(

  5. dodong floresNo Gravatar PHILIPPINES Says:

    That’s truly an amazingly low repair costs! I’m glad that even if you’re a “foreigner,” motorcycle mechanics don’t charge you overprice. There are quite a few stories about overpricing but in general Filipinos are real hospitable and very accommodating.

    I’d been into that Taal Volcano crater when I was escorting Bhutanese tourists. The view is spectacular :)

    Don’t ever try climbing Mt. Pinatubo with your tricycle. You may not like the result, Hehehe… Of course, I’m just kidding here ;-)

  6. dodong floresNo Gravatar PHILIPPINES Says:

    I mean, the view from up there is spectacular…

  7. dodong floresNo Gravatar PHILIPPINES Says:

    Seriously, Mt. Pinatubo can be trekked using a dirt bike. Anyhow, it is no longer covered in your tricycle adventure…

  8. ChrisNo Gravatar PHILIPPINES Says:

    Dodong, usually I shop around before committing to repairs. This way I know before-hand, what to expect, can compare and use the best bid. Also, most Honda Dealers have a Service Fee Chart in their Service area, so it’s hard for them arguing against that. ;-)

    Nice volcano pictures by the way, you even made it over to the island? Cool!!! Yeah, I passed Mt. Pinatubo one time a few years back, would be nice to trek that one up some day! ;-)

  9. MeiNo Gravatar TAIWAN Says:

    hey! Chris, could you tell me some information about Chrissanta’s, the way to connect it, should i book before i go, ect.

    my friend and i plan to go taal at the end of auguest, but hardly find a place that fit our budget.


  10. ChrisNo Gravatar PHILIPPINES Says:

    Mei, good question, I don’t have a telephone number or website of them. Although they are easy to find. It’s about 2 km south from Tagaytay direction towards Lemery on the right side. But before Alfonso Hotel, if you see that one, then you are to far south. Turn back and drive about 5 minutes north again. End of August should be still low season, so I don’t think you need to book in advance. Have a great trip! ;-)

  11. Cosmetic ProductsNo Gravatar INDIA Says:

    Tall volcano and lake is a beautiful place.The view is amazing. Food is fresh there but a bit expensive.The cold breeze of fresh air and the views of the sorroundings will relax your soul.It is just an fabulous place.

  12. 6 Months Philippines – the Best, the Good, the Ugly » nomad4ever UNITED STATES Says:

    […] sights are virtually everywhere. Nature lovers rave about its volcanoes, waterfalls, hot springs, exotic beaches, lakes and mountains, surf and dive spots (very popular: […]

  13. OutriggerNo Gravatar UNITED STATES Says:

    Can’t wait for google earth to get even better. The places I want to see never have close ups~!

  14. Rca IeftinNo Gravatar ROMANIA Says:

    Chris, I’ve seen these days a documentary about Lake Toba on Sumatra. I think these volcanoes can destroy life. However, it seems to be that the life reborn on these areas. I like your posted tricks. You could make some economies in this way, if you travel in this area.

  15. deelanNo Gravatar not found Says:

    I google mapped mayon volcano, it’s perfectly nice cone shape. Now i convinced.

Leave a Reply

Hey, if you want a picture to show by your comment, why not get a gravatar?

;-) :twisted: :roll: :oops: :mrgreen: :lol: :idea: :evil: :cry: :arrow: :?: :-| :-x :-o :-P :-D :-? :) :( :!: 8-O 8)