It was our first night to sleep in our apartment after having bought the sofa bed last Tuesday. As we had to be at the meeting place by 6:30 AM, we woke up at quarter to six because we still had to fix the clothes we had to bring. I had no difficulty sleeping in our new apartment, and I normally have a hard time sleeping in an unfamiliar place. I consider that as a good sign, then.
A lot of people who registered and agreed to attend bailed out at the last minute and I was really happy to hear that. It means less people to deal with (i.e. the unbearable noise), and I was looking forward to a relaxing day. Plus, as there were about 50 absentees, it meant that we had more chances of winning cool prizes from the raffle. Again, I do not have the biggest luck in games of luck, but as there were 100 plus prizes for less than a hundred participants, I highly doubt I wouldn’t be picked even once!
After an uneventful hour and a half ride (though it was fun because I was with my friends/officemates with me, having a laugh over the silliest things), we finally arrived in Club Balai Isabel, a resort located at the edge of Taal Lake in Talisay Batangas. The last time I was near the waters was in 2004 (February 15, 2004, to be exact) during a field trip for our Geology 1 class. And as far as I can remember, it was my first ever banca ride and it was a really scary experience, seeing the kelp (or whatever you call them) swaying in the dark waters below. Rumor has it that that “Shake, Rattle and Roll” film, with the infamous undin, was shot in Taal Lake. I took that fact to heart, so even if I am a capable swimmer, I was (or am) still scared of the lake.
That was the time I became aware that the famous view of Taal Volcano was not the real crater. “Binintian Malaki” and its dormant crater is the face of Taal, but the real crater was located somewhere else in the near middle of the Crater Island. I actually got to go inside the real crater and we were even allowed to bathe inside. Of course, I did not but I remember a courageous lady from another section, who willingly took the plunge in her cut-out swimsuit (to the delight of the boys in the group). It was nevertheless nice to be back in a familiar place after almost a decade.
On a different note, it has been quite a while since Mon and I joined a team outing. The last time was unfortunate because Mon has acquired amoebiasis from Clearwater in Clark, Pampanga and we vowed to never join any of the future outings. But as we were in desperate need of kitchen and household appliances for our new apartment, we were eager to join so that we no longer have to buy some of them. LOL Again, given that there were far fewer people who attended, the succeeding events were a breeze, with only two games to boot. A far cry from the HOURS of games conducted before. Sporadic raffles in between eventually brought us three things: an oven toaster, a rice cooker and a digital camera! It was my first time to win a raffle!
Club Balai Isabel was a nice place, but we had high hopes with the food because when we were still in Makati earleir, Mon and I spoked with a random guy in the elevator, commending thir food and service. So imagine that come lunch time, the roast beef was like rubber, the pork still had a lot of hair on the skin, and the soup was a macaroni short of being a macaroni soup. It was really unappetizing and it did not help that when we were about to be served snacks at around 3:00 PM, we saw that the delivery truck had accidentally dropped the trays of sandwiches on the lawn. I did not bother eating a sandwich, because it was a station away from being a soil-wich (corny, LOL).
However, make no mistake because the environment itself was beautiful. There were a lot of fruit-bearing trees, but the signboards were very explicit in warning us with bold “NO PICKING OF FRUITS”. What do they dowith them? We had no idea because the ground was littered with overripe fruits. What a pity. =(
As we were given a lot of free time to roam around the area, we had to visit the lakeside and see the bigger pool. There were few people swimming but I assume it would have been full if only the other company were done with their teambuilding activities. It was difficult to get a closer shot of the ‘volcano’ because my camera was not skilled enough, all of us had a great time taking pictures, particularly jump shots under the sun.
We also had a dip in the smaller but nearest pool to us, and I think we were inside for more than an hour. An officemate unfortunately had a mishap as she stopped swimming in the middle of the pool, not knowing that it was the deeper part. It was scary and funny at the same time because Mon and I had to rush and help her get out of the water. I knew that she would drag me in the matter, had I tried swimming to get her, so I just went below her and walked her to the gutter.
Before leaving, somebody made us fill papers for a raffle, and it was for a free stay in their place for some days and nights. As it was a raflle, I definitely have a small chance. It was a free trip so I should not be complaining, but the food was really a letdown. I even heard that they are charging about a thousand pesos for a sinigang dish in the executive restaurant, yikes! We also highly doubt that they have prepared food enough for about a hundred people. If none were absent and backed out at the last minute, alas, we needed a miracle to have enough food for all os us. =D
*(Some photos were grabbed from Faye and Dale) =D