After spending a week in Banaue, we travelled back down to Manila and from Manila, we took a bus to Lipa and then a tricycle to Balete. Balete is a small town that sits on Taal Lake, and touristic is the last word you would use to describe it. Throughout our stay of 3 days, we didn't encounter a single tourist. So if you are looking for a really local experience, this is the place to be!
Yes, we actually stayed in a treehouse! This lovely treehouse is built atop two trees (one ficus and one mahogany), with paranomic views of the Taal Volcano. Don't expect anything fancy inside the treehouse - only a simple bed with a mosquito net was provided but it was enough for us. Just the experience of sleeping in a treehouse and waking up to the splendid views every morning was enough to fill our hearts.
And of course, we had to visit the Taal Volcano - the world's smallest active volcano. So what we did was ask to some fisherman locals if they could give us a ride in their boats across the lake to the volcano, and off we go!
The climb up Taal Volcano was quite easy compared to the treks we did in Banaue and we were rewarded by superb views. So what you see in our photo above is Vulcan Point within Crater Lake of the Taal Volcano and this whole thing is within Taal Lake! We also made our way down to the crater, where you could get a good whiff of sulphur and see the water boiling constantly at the surface in some parts of the lake.
Despite our short stay in Balete, we became friends with the locals as well. Filippinos are sooo friendly and kind. If you ever have the chance to go there, be sure to eat at Erlinda and Edgar's place - it's at the end of the main street on the right side. This lovely couple sells the best bihon (bee hoon) and pancit (egg noodles) - they can make it vegetarian too! We ate there almost everyday and on our last night, they even invited us to their home and treated us to dessert- their traditional sweet sticky rice cake topped with coconut. Yummmm!!!
T'was a short stay in Balete but we definitely left a piece of our hearts behind. We will be back for sure!