Taal Sunset: Balai Isabel

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Looking for a great weekend getaway doesn’t entail much effort for riders like me but finding a place that will give you peace and solitude is not that easy. Sometimes it’s not just about the food or the scenery but there is this certain kind of serenity and calmness that a certain place could give to a weary soul.

I started this journey by bringing my bike that was loaded with 2 weeks worth of clothes. You might be thinking why in the world would I bring that much stuff for a weekend trip. Well, for all of you who follow me on social media and www.pinoyrider.com, you would know that I have been busy preparing for my 2-week Luzon Visayas Mindanao adventure until my getaway was interrupted by 3 successive typhoons that did not even let me leave Manila. It was disappointing for me since I have been prepared well for that trip, from my pocket money to my 15 day personal leave at work, and for it to be cancelled at the last minute, I have no words to describe it. Well since I just wanted to look at the positive side of things, I figured at least I could still ride, although at a nearer destination, at least I won’t be pressed for time. I was gone for a total of 4 days as it was my birthday weekend (I’m still accepting gifts by the way) and it was one of my most refreshing trips considering how busy I was during the first half of the year.

My destination for this Epic Ride is one of my favorite “secret” places whenever I wanted to do a quick weekend trip to get away from it all. Located in Talisay in Batangas, Club Balai Isabel is the perfect spot if you want to unwind, breathe fresh air, or just to simply chill out while having a perfect view of Taal Lake. There are two direct ways to get here if you are coming from Manila or from the other southern parts of Luzon. The first route is via Tagaytay. Coming from the Tagaytay rotunda, you would need to take a right turn right before reaching Picnic Grove. Don’t worry there is a big Talisay marker so you won’t miss it. This will take you to one of the most winding downhill routes you will ever experience, but the reward is big as the beautiful scenery of the Taal Lake will leave you breathless. The second way is via Star Tollway exiting at the Tanauan exit. From there it is pretty much a straight shot going to the small town of Talisay. On the way to Talisay, you will be greeted by several men holding placards and signs of a Taal Lake Tour. This tour will set you back by around 4000 pesos person as it will take you all the way to the middle of the Taal Lake to enjoy a first hand experience of the world famous Taal Volcano. I took the Tagaytay route which passed through the popular Talisay twisties. Unlike in Marilaque wherein the curves only go left to right and right to left, here the winding roads are combined with steep uphill and downhill riding making it all the more difficult.
I reached my destination around noon so after checking in and settling down at my nicely-designed and spacious room, which by the way had all the amenities I would need for my 3 day stay, including a nice veranda with a good view of the outside.

And since I arrived in Club Balai Isabel around lunch time, and fittingly so, I was ready to eat some good food. I then proceeded to Isabel’s Panaderia & Pizzeria, their very own pizzeria. Actually, Isabel’s Panaderia & Pizzeria is somewhat connected to the other restaurant, Terraza Café, whch offers ala carte rice meals and weekend buffet. Over the years, my favorites have been the cheese pizza, binagoongan, tawilis and their fruit shakes. Dining in either of the restaurant provides you with a good view of Taal Lake while enjoying your food and refreshments. Although there is an air-conditioned room inside, I prefer the al fresco dining as you can always make do with the breeze that Taal offers. Besides, who wouldn’t want a nice conversation with your loved one by the poolside overlooking the entire Taal Lake and the world famous Taal Volcano?

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Even though some will be on vacation, people will still want to keep their exercise routing even during leisure time so the resort features sport and gaming facilities for enthusiasts. Walking around, I saw facilities like basketball, tennis, and volleyball courts. There are also a total of three swimming pools for guests. Bikes could also be rented by guests at the B & B Corner for Php 200-500 depending on the type of bicycle. Facilities for playing billiards and darts are also available for those who just want to chill out and not expend too much energy.
Being a resort that is blessed with being in the proximity of the Taal Lake, this provides a great deal of opportunity for guests to enjoy a great variety of lake water sport. From kayaks, jet skis, banana boat, surely there is one out there that would tickle your fancy.
During my previous visits, all of them have been on weekends so I also had the chance to visit the Spousal of Mary and Joseph Chapel at the far end of the resort. This is a modern church, being built and completed just a few years ago but the rustic architecture can easily be attributed to its inspiration from the old age Spanish and Baroque style churches we have scattered all over the country. With a stone fountain greeting you upon entry to the chapel grounds, the chapel gives one a sense of tranquility and solitude even by just simply looking at it from afar. The 17th century ruins of a catholic church can be seen right outside, giving aide to the over-all ambiance and historic feel of the church.

There is also Club Balai Isabel’s wellness package in which you could avail different service to fulfill your needs and relax your mind, body and soul. You will not just be relaxed because of their massage services but even detoxified in which you could start your healthy lifestyle. Aside from the traditional body massages, facial treatments are also offered as well as having a foot therapy from their very own fish spa. I wanted to actually try it however I was scared of little fish nibbling away on my skin. Maybe in the future I would try it as they say it would actually remove your dead skin cells, which in return would enable new and healthy skin to grow. They put it best when they said that with its strategic location and world-class facilities, Club Balai Isabel is the ideal destination to relax and take a break from all the stress, providing the peace and isolation everyone is entitled to once in a while.

Well, my birthday vacation was not just limited to the resort grounds but since I needed to buy some personal stuff as I would be staying there for a few days, I had to go the the Talisay Public Market. After getting what I needed, I went to the docks and getting even closer to Taal made me appreciate its beauty more. There were kids running, families just walking near the shore just sharing stories and boding with their loved ones, and there were even fishermen trying to get their catch so they could feed their families. Not only appreciating the sight of Taal itself, but observing how the people form Talisay live a very simplistic life made me realize all the more how blessed I truly am. It also taught me how to be contented because if people who don’t have much could be happy with only their loved ones, then I should be able to do that too.

I was here for some rest and recreation so I made it a point to relax at two of their popular pools – the Terraza Pool and the Kumintang Pool. The Terraza Pool features an infinity swimming pool by the seashore and very near the Terraza Café (hence the name). It also is strategically located to give the guests a stunning view of the beauty of the Taal Lake. The Kumintang Pool is at the other side of the resort and features a 500 square meter space for that facility. Although I had to walk maybe 10 minutes from my room to get to Kumintang Pool, it was alright as walking around the resort will make you appreciate the simplicity and beauty of how a contented life should be – not much noise yet the things around you will make you appreciate life more, because everything in this life is beautiful. Part of my R&R here and I would say my best experience was watching the sunset in Talisay, Batangas. With streaks of yellow light passing through the horizon of Taal Lake, it was a sight to behold.

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Not all those who wander are lost (daw) 🙂

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My most favorite part of the trip – Batangas Sunset

I wanted to relax, and Club Balai Isabel gave me just that. A short 2-hour drive (or less when you are on a motorcycle) from Manila makes you forget all the stresses and problems that the city gives you. This trip gave me the respite I so much needed and not only did it relax my mind and body, but it also reaffirmed my knowledge that indeed this is a very beautiful country, and that we should definitely promote motorcycle tourism because this beauty is already here so there should be no reason for us to look any further.

Live Free…

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