Travel: Baguio City

This is a continuation of my balik tanaw travel series, since I’m too busy at work now plus I don’t get to travel that much anymore unlike when I was still in the PH. So here I am, reflecting the good old days of my happy-go-lucky life in Pinas. I miss those days wherein filing vacation leaves is just a breeze. I can’t do this anymore due to the nature of my work. :(

I’m going to write something about my our trip to Baguio City. This is timely because it’s Darwin’s birthday and I sort of want to dedicate a piece of this blog for him.

Happy Birthday Boy :)

To start with, this getaway happened sometime December of 2008 when he went home to the PH for a short Christmas vacation. Last time I went there was when I was around 2 or 3 years old with my father, and I didn’t have any vivid memories of that trip. This trip with Darwin is an impromptu one, which makes it more enjoyable and exciting. A simple cajoling of “Tara Baguio tayoooooww” made us decide to pack our bags, go to Victory Liner Cubao bus terminal and travel that night. We didn’t have any prior accommodation arrangements, so by the time we reached Baguio around late evening, we have to look for a random hotel where we can stay for the night. It was December then and very cold especially in the morning. I was some ignoramus making fun of the breath vapor coming out of our mouths when we talk,“Shet may usok oh parang winter ang galing!” Ang saya lang! :)

Darwin as a travel buddy

What can I say about my traveling buddy, Darwin? I’d say he’s the best travel companion for me not because I’m being biased here because he is my boyfriend. We’ve been together since time immemorial so I know what it’s like being with him during our out-of-town/country trips together. He’s simple, no qualms and game for everything — best traits to have for a companion when going out on a trip. And the best of all is that we’re both cheap travelers. As long as the place is good enough for sleeping (and has clean bathrooms), we’re fine with that. We rather spend our money for other things (which means F-O-O-D) than get something fancy. Darwin, ikaw na!

Baguio City: The Summer Capital of the PH

So why Baguio? Well, there’s nothing really special about the place aside from having that cold December feeling plus the fact that North Luzon expressway is much better now. You can reach Baguio in 5-6 hours time depending on the traffic, road and weather conditions. Basta nagkayayaan lang ng “Tara punta tayo Baguioooowww”, yun na yun. You’ll never go wrong with Baguio. It’s urbanized with a twist – ganyan! And oh not to mention that Koreans are almost everywhere. Invasion talaga!

Since tourist attractions in Baguio City are geographically scattered, we scrapped the idea of a walking tour and decided to hire a taxi cab for the entire day and just pay Manong Driver/Tour Guide for it.  We had a map in hand and all we need to do is tell him the place we want to go and voila, andun na!

We went to almost all the major attractions — from Lion’s Head, Tam-awan Village, Philippine Military Academy, Mansion House (but we didn’t go inside)…

(Clockwise L-R): Lion’s Head, Tam-awan Village, PMA, Mansion House

…to Camp John Hay, Wright Park, Mines View Park (I love the native costumes! :) ), Botanical Garden (with the cool business minded Igorot natives who charge effin Php10/head, san ka pa!? As in the moment we approached them for pictures, we got the shock of our lives dahil dumog talaga sila. hahaha We have to politely decline since paying for each is way too expensive and as I have said earlier, this is an impromptu trip so hindi rin handa ang aming budget!)…

At Camp John Hay and Wright Park

At Mines View Park and Baguio Botanical Garden

…to Burnham Park, Lourdes Grotto (na haggardo verzosa akyatin pero thanks kay Manong Driver at dinaan na lang namin sa cab ang pag akyat), Bell Church, Strawberry Fields and lastly, the coolest of ‘em all – SM Baguio (dahil sa kaniyang open air structure at nakapag videoke pa kami ni Darwin while waiting for the bus –winner!)

Burnham Park, Strawberry Fields and Bell Church

The Undisputed Karaoke King :)

Happy Birthday to my best travel buddy, buddy guard (haha), boyfriend, friend, ka-“food trip”, ka-“heated argument”, kasintahan, kagwapuhan, kakulitan, etc etc. I’m looking forward to more years of traveling with you. Love you beerimats! <3

Travel: Sagada, Mountain Province

I was with my equally lakwatsera friend, Roocie, when this trip happened two years ago. In retrospect, I’d consider this year as my most traveled year and it seems that Sagada is a great place to jumpstart the year right.

What can I say about Sagada? Well, the place itself is the perfect definition of a “countryside” and everything in there is so peaceful. Born and raised in the busy and polluted city of the metro, I told myself that if there’s a place in the world where I’d like to retire, Sagada will be one best option (by the way, internet connection does exist there…hehehe!)

The Journey

We joined Travel Factor’s ‘Conquer Sagada’ tour. Assembly time was 9:00 PM at a bus terminal along E.Rodriguez Avenue. We registered first before boarding the bus and exactly 10:00 PM, we left Cubao. We were sleeping during the entire travel and we reached Sagada at around 8:00 AM. That’s 10 hours of travel time! Initially, I thought Sagada is just beside Baguio City but then eventually I found out that they’re on opposite sides and that it will also take a couple of hours to reach each place.

First day, sidetrip to Banaue Rice Terraces. Upon seeing the terraces with my own eyes, I was really awed and amazed. I know, it’s because I only see them in textbooks during grade school days. People from the city oftentimes would make fun and silly comments to people from the provinces. So I felt that time, it’s the other way around. Natatawa siguro sila kasi first time ko makakita ng rice terraces! But seriously, I’m really amazed because I seldom go home to my own province and lucky if I get to visit at least once a year. So the thought of seeing this God’s amazing wonder is really an experience.:)

Banaue Rice Terraces

We were given some free time during the afternoon to walk around but we opted to stay inside our room and rest. We need to regain our composure in preparation for the next activity.

Alabama Inn

Around 2pm, we went trekking at Banga-an Rice Terraces then swimming at Bomod-ok Big Falls. This is the most tiring day ever, seriously. It took days before my legs went back to normal because of all the climbing I have to do and to emphasize that I’m not the outdoorsy type of person. Struggle!

Banga-an Rice Terraces

Bomod-ok Big Falls

Trekking up and down the steep terraces is my one time life experience that I promise not to do again.

Tiring Trekking

The first day ended with a bonfire camping and picnic at Lake Danum while watching over the sunset. It’s a fun filled night with good music, delicious food plus new good friends.

Sunset at Lake Danum

Camping and Bonfire

Conquer Sagada Friends

Second day, we woke up very early to catch the beautiful sunrise at Kiltepan Viewpoint. It was freezing cold that morning and we lit bonfires to keep ourselves warm.

Sunrise at Kiltepan Viewpoint

After that, we went back to our place to prepare for another rigorous activity which is the Cave Connection. This is the highlight of our Sagada trip. Everyone who goes to Sagada should never miss this in the itinerary. We had the 3-hr spelunking (def. the practice or hobby of exploring underground natural caves) from Lumiang Cave to Sumaging Cave. Inside those caves, you’ll see beautiful rock formations which took years to develop. Meanwhile, outside the caves are the piled coffins to which Sagada is famous for.

Piled coffins outside the cave

Rock formations inside the cave

That time, they let us choose between the two caves. I chose Lumiang Cave for the reason that most of the people on tour opted for Sumaging Cave and I want to join a smaller group. Luckily, I found out that Lumiang Cave has a higher degree of difficulty (thrice more technical than Sumaging Cave) so I’m really happy that I was able to survive the adventure. Not bad for a clumsy first timer! :)

Survivor!

Certificate of Accomplishment

After the very exhausting spelunking and trekking activity, we spent the entire afternoon buying pasalubongs for our loved ones. We also ate at Yoghurt House, which is a small cozy cafe located at the streets of Sagada.

Pasalubong Shopping

Roocie at Yoghurt House

Third day, we had a walking tour of the Sagada town. Places of interest include St. Mary’s Episcopal Church, Calvary Hills, Echo Valley and Hanging Coffins.

(Clockwise) St. Mary’s Episcopal Church, Calvary Hills, Echo Valley, Hanging Coffins

I also met some local kids who gamely posed for pictures. When I was their age, all I worry about is school and my homework. Those were the days. *hayayay buhaaaaay*

Enjoying the simplicity of life

We left Sagada at around 1PM the following day. We made a short stop at Baguio City and took the opportunity to visit Baguio Cathedral.

Baguio Cathedral

After that, Roocie and I ate dinner at Gecko Restaurant along Session Road.

Dinner at Gecko Restaurant

By 8PM, we left Baguio City bound for Manila…and we have to spend another 7 hours sitting in the bus. Kapagod…kalorks!

 

 

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