I hardly volunteer when it comes to planning our family summer vacations, oftentimes I’m more like – let me know when and where we’re going and how much I have to chip in. :)
It is my youngest sister who’s always eager and efficiently planning all the travel details needed – from our transportation arrangements to our accommodations and even the to-do activities for the family. And she has to do it for basically 8 adults, one teenager and 3 kids (+ 2 more adults and 2 more kids, occasionally). So really, hands off to our bunso (Tagalog word when referring to the youngest sibling).
For one of our out of town trips, she came up with an itinerary that brought us to the Palace in the Sky, Picnic Grove, and Floating cottages.
Palace in the Sky
Since the plan is to go swimming in Batangas, we stopped over at Tagaytay, Cavite to check the Palace in the Sky and have lunch at the Picnic Groove.
Palace in the Sky now commonly called the People’s Park is actually an incomplete mansion of the Marcoses, so really don’t expect a real palace here. It was intended to be the Presidential Mansion and guest house of the late President Marcos and said to be one of the living proofs of the Marcos’ lavish lifestyle. The construction started in 1981 and never seen its completion when the People Power Revolution ended the Marcos regime in 1986.
I first heard of that story when I was in High School during a field trip. I can’t remember much about the park back then since it’s a little foggy and drizzly at the same time. All I can really think of then is how to get back on the bus and stay dry because it’s cold, it’s foggy, and it’s wet. But even then I kept wondering to myself, where is the freaking palace?
Since it’s situated on the highest point of Tagaytay, hence the name, you can get a 360-degree view of Tagaytay including of course the famous lake and volcano (given that it’s not a cloudy day). I think that’s pretty much about it because quite honestly the place isn’t exactly impressive – especially when you’re expecting a real palace, it’s probably a good idea to change the name into People’s Park in the Sky.
The place seems to be deteriorating helplessly. Yes, there are some additions like covered tables and some gardening work in some areas (plus, strangely, an albino snake you can have a photo op with), but the rest of it really lacks maintenance. That’s quite sad since personally, I think the place really has a lot of potentials – they could have market the whole historical value of the place, value the story or something.
The kids couldn’t care less though. They did enjoy the jeepney ride, from the Palace’ gate (not quite sure why I kept referring to it as a palace when clearly there isn’t one, lol), which is for free and specifically intended for guests who don’t want to take the uphill walk to the palace itself.
They also enjoy playing with the vernaculars, which you can rent out, and really had fun spotting things like boats and houses and mountains from the distance. Oh and yes, they did enjoy the stairs and the elevated terraces – kids, what do you expect? Of course, it’s us adults who kept on worrying they may trip over, fall, or something.
Perhaps if you can pick a time when it’s not too crowded (and you don’t have little kids that need minding about) you can also enjoy just sitting in one of the benches and enjoy the sceneries.
We stayed there may be a good 1 hour, probably even less, and then head to the Picnic Grove to have lunch.
I’ve been to the place a few times before but now they have added a few activity areas like horseback riding, cable cars, and zip lines. I did try the cable car thing with the kids, I’m afraid of heights so that’s pretty much a daring stunt for me already. Three from our group did went and try the zip line, too.
The kids of course enjoy the horse-back riding – which I don’t personally agree because I feel bad for the horses, especially that these horses look pretty small for me. Anyways, I’m quite sensitive when it comes to animals, that’s why.
Since we don’t ordinarily see horses in person, the kids are pretty amazed, let alone excited that they can get to ride it as well. I believe this is their first time to ride horses. I’m not so sure if they did when they went to Baguio where horse-back riding is also a famous to-do activity.
After the horseback riding activity, the kids started to get impatient as to when we’re going swimming, I guess because basically, they have been waiting for that all day. Probably if we have given them the choice they would have skipped everything else and go straight to swimming instead!
We did head out to Batangas after our stopover at Picnic Grove; we reached the resort late afternoon. After a quick snack, shortly before dark, we all went to the rooftop pool since the kids will definitely not wait ‘tomorrow morning’ for that much-awaited swim.
We decided to just swim in the pool instead of heading out to the beach since it’s late afternoon already and the breeze is expected to be colder plus there will be waves so we reckon it’s best for the kids to just enjoy the pool instead. And besides, we already rented a floating cottage to enjoy all day the following morning so might as well enjoy the pool for the meantime.
I can’t quite remember what year that summer vacation in Batangas was, but I do remember that it falls in my sister’s birthday cuz I surprise her with balloons and banners that following morning (I tried to get her a cake but all you could find in the area are fresh seafood, duh, what do I expect, hehe!). We were given a small nipa hut-like a bahay kubo that served as our dining area.
After breakfast, the kids couldn’t wait to go out and swim again of course! It seems like they just realized that we have actually spent the night on the beach – perhaps because it was already getting dark when we arrived there and they’re too occupied about getting dressed to go swimming in the pool that they didn’t realize the sea is just a few meters away.
Anyways, after we packed the food for lunch and some personal things, it was time to board our floating cottage now! In that area of Batangas, it seems like it’s a common thing. There are still people on the shore but the majority are out further to the sea on their floating cottages.
The idea is pretty cool actually; you can sort of have your own privacy especially during summer when beaches are expected to be crowded – simply ask the resort people to bring you further out, lol!
We really had fun! I remember grilling some fish, enjoying a cold treat from a floating ice cream vendor, and even tried sea urchin. We also try the banana boat ride and went snorkeling with the kids. Actually, just around our cottage, you can already see fish under the water, small ones plus a few colorful ones. But for the snorkeling activity, we rent a boat that brought us to a location where there are tons of fish! For this activity, we’re advised to bring some bread – for the fish!
The sceneries underneath are pretty amazing. There are corals, stone formation and a lot of different fish which really enjoy the bread we brought with us. Although as you can see, everybody got too excited by feeding the fish that you can actually see floating bread pieces everywhere.
After that, we headed back to our floating cottage and basically just spend the rest of the day hanging out together, eating, and playing in the water.
Obviously, the kids had fun because when it was time to go home, they unanimously complain!