Summer found Chu, Maya and me in the summer capital of the Philippines, Baguio City. All three of us slept through our 3am alarms on Friday, April 14, so we decided to extend our original one-nighter plan to two nights. So we reached the Victory Liner bus station just in time to board the bus minutes before it pulled away at 9:30am. The bus was half full, and we sank into slumber quite comfortably.
Six hours later we were hopping off the bus and being greeted by some guys from the Department of Tourism. They had a catalogue of hotel and inn rooms with the prices. Lucky for us, because we had made no reservations whatsoever despite knowing that is is peak season. The guy said he could bring us around to these places in his car till we found a place we liked.
Turns out most pension houses were either booked or had not-so-pretty rooms. So we settled on a hotel room in Hotel Supreme, which cost only P400 higher than the most decent inn room we found. Chu once again used his bargaining powers to get us a lower price. It was for two people but they fit in an extra bed.
After checking our bags into the room, we headed for Burnham park, the tourist hotspot which I didn’t get to visit the first time I went to Baguio. Yes, I was already able to visit Baguio before, but then it was with friends who had all been there already and so we weren’t able to do much sight-seeing. We always joke that we went there to drink, not to sight-see.
Anyway I was not about to miss out on the park this time around, so it was my suggestion to go there. The park was beautiful, and we stayed until night. We took pictures, ate green mangoes and isaw and grilled corn, bought silver jewelry and knitted hats.
We were about to go boating in the man-made lake when it began to rain. So we took shelter in Ganza restaurant and ate dinner there as well. And since we were in Baguio, we just had to have their specialty for our drinks — fresh strawberry shakes! They were uber yum!
After dinner we went back to touring the park, then headed back to our hotel for an early bedtime so that we could wake up early the following day to catch the fog.
As usual we slept through our alarms. We took ice-cold showers (for some reason the hot water refused to work) that gave me brain freeze, changed, and were on our way to Minesview, also another tourist attraction.
We spent the entire morning there taking pictures, eating breakfast (the beef broccoli was yummy!), buying souvenirs, and slurping up fresh strawberry shakes from a sidewalk vendor.
At noontime we headed to Camp John Hay. But we had a brief stopover in the presidential house called “the mansion.” Wouldn’t miss out on a photo op!
In Camp John Hay we wanted to go horseback riding. Minutes later all three of us were each seated atop a horse, being led into the mountain trail by horse guides.
Though the horses were calmly clip-clopping at a leisurely pace, it was still pretty scary at first. I was afraid I would slip off or that the horse would stumble and we would tumble headlong down the side of the steep mountain. But in time it became very relaxing and so much fun.
I chatted with my guide and learned that his name was Charles and that he owned the ten-year old horse I was riding, Dusty. We trotted through the forest of pines for an hour, stopping at certain points to take pictures. That was the best part of the entire trip.
After horsing around, we realized how hungry we were.
So we walked a bit towards the row of restaurants and shops we had passed earlier, where I had seen Carlo’s Pizza. My textmate Neil, a travel freak himself, had recommended the place. We passed Camp John Hay Manor on the way over there. We ordered some pizza, chicken and pasta. They were delicious.
Our tummies stretched to their limit, we took a walk through the shops and bought shorts for our planned hot spring session that night.
Our next stop was the Kabayan shops downtown, known for selling ukay-ukay, or second-hand clothes. Maya is actually an ukay-ukay freak, and we walked into several stalls and browsed through hundreds of clothes.
After she had bought some slacks and bags, we headed for SM, which Chu really wanted to see because it was known for being a unique SM, since it was open air. Indeed it was.
We had some coffee at their Starbucks, then brief stop at supermarket to buy whipped cream (for the strawberries we bought earlier) and toiletries.
Then it was back to the hotel for a quick change before heading for the springs. We contracted a taxi driver to bring us there but it was so far away and it turned out that the bridge to that area was closed. The driver then suggested another hot spring resort which was in Benguet. But when we got there, that was closed. A full night’s travel that yielded no good. Oh well. Back at the hotel, Maya and I were dead to the world once we hit our beds.
We planned our last day there carefully, because we had to check out by noon. We ordered breakfast in bed and ate those with our fresh strawberries in whipped cream. Then we went to Philippine Military Academy (PMA), where we had fun pretending to fight and salute and ride the tanks.
Then we went back to Burnham park so we could go boating on the lake.
We were also so hooked up on strawberry shakes that we had to have one last round before leaving Baguio.
Unfortunately the isaw man was nowhere to be found, so we had to settle for just the shakes. Then we headed back to the hotel and checked out just in time.
Lugging our bulging bags, we headed to the bus station and had a brief stopover at Good Sheperds where they exclusively sell ube jam that’s so delicious and so fresh, they are sold still warm with the cap still unscrewed.
We had lunch at a carinderia near the bus station before boarding the bus. As usual we arrived just minutes before it pulled away from the station. We got the back seats and slept all the way to Pasay City, Metro Manila. I was heavily drugged on Bonamine, Mefenamic Acid, Neozep and Ambroxol and was able to sleep quite comfortably.
Baguio is indeed a good escapade for the summer, because it’s so cool there even at high noontime. No wonder it’s the summer capital of the Philippines. It’s a bit more expensive there in the summer, though, since everyone has the same idea and it’s peak season. Still, it’s worth it.
Victory Liner bus ride (roundtrip) — P800
Hotel room (for two, max three) — P2350/night, but you can negotiate upto P1900
Isaw — P5/stick
Grilled corn on the cob/green mangoes — P10
Strawberry shake — P40
Knitted hat — P35
Boat — P60/boat plus 25 for a rower man
Horseback riding – P300/hour
Carlo’s Pizza — P600 meal good for three persons
Good Sheperd’s Ube Jam — P180/jar