Never miss the chance to go north towards the clouds and the stars.
A lengthy list of places for the next summer trip made us feel dubious. Despite having so many beaches in the Philippines, we have to give our attention to vast areas of the mountain ranges. Hidden within was a city in the clouds that’s home to the pine trees, bright sunflowers, and the strawberries. It was the perfect season to retrace my steps in the one and only Baguio City! The Summer Capital of the Philippines!
We traveled in luxury aboard a deluxe bus complete with a comfort room. Throughout the 5 long hours, I witnessed metropolitan areas fade into towns, provinces, and up into the mountains. A sight that will always remind me that adventures are worth chasing. The sun started to rise up the morning of April 30. 2017. Along with it, the fog started to flee from the heat. It was no doubt that we finally reached Baguio City!
So long have we followed the path north to the heavens. It fell like a flood from the sky as the heavens fell down. Slowly, the layers of clouds fade and my sights saw it clear. I was now on the other side of the world.
Day 1 – Lost in the Clouds
Leaving the bus felt as if we have just arrived in ‘heaven station’. The climate was not as what I normally experience in Manila. It’s cold and I love it! And with the surrounding fog, I have to ask: Are we in heaven? Did our bus crash while on the zig zag road? Well, the answer lies in our empty growling bellies.
The best way to get around places in Baguio was via taxi. So for the whole trip, we hinged upon taxis to get us from point A to point B. The same way we did to get to our hotel. Once we’ve settled, we went straight to the center of Baguio, the Burnham Park.
Glancing the landscape, I’ve come to notice that Baguio was not the same as a decade ago with newer structures and the amassing population. The place has grown so popular over the years that it’s become somewhat of an attraction rather than a vacation spot.
Crowds have enjoyed riding the bicycles and the boats. I remember riding the boat the first time as a child and the second time as a teen. The lake used to be more peaceful. Seeing it for the third time as an adult, I saw many young people. And that spoke to me, it’s their turn to start their own adventures. They probably have no idea but one day they’ll start a life filled with adventures as well. Now it’s time for me to do what I do best – to explore.
One of the suggested places told by the taxi drivers was Mount Costa. We thought for sure that we’d be going on a hike and so we had some snacks and bottles of water with us. That’s one of our mainstays in Baguio – to go trekking. Instead, we were welcomed by a large garden containing different creative attractions.
We explored the whole place and kept our eyes open for interesting sights. Neither did it felt adventurous nor challenging but at least it gave us a moment to relax under the falling fog. Even though the place felt flat for our expectations, resting on a cold and quiet mountain was one of the things I always wanted. The day was best suited to dissipate the fumes from hard work and traffic. I accepted this day not as an adventure but a furlough instead. The best moment was breathing the cold air as the fog fell from above.
Dinner at Sage
After an amusing roundabout at Mount Costa, we decided to just settle for a nice dinner at Sage. The place felt closely similar to a cupcake restaurant in fancy cities. The aesthetics looked wonderful with the use of matching furniture and bright colors. Everything else was also adorned with flowers. It felt like we entered a wedding afterparty.
Though their dishes were not all traditional, their menu offered a diverse range of food that’s all exquisite, fancy, and affordable. It couldn’t get any better than this. One of my favorites was the dynamite which is basically a spring roll only the main content is a long green chili with ground meat and cheese. It’s a unique Filipino dish that’s a must try! But I have to say, my mom makes the best dynamites in the world! The scrumptious dinner was a final blessing to a day of laziness.
Day 2 – 3,6,9, The Goose Drank Wine
If there was one thing I could never forget from a decade ago was the strawberry fields where all sorts novelties and strawberry treats are available. Especially, I remember the dozens of strawberry wines which ended up as a sticky substance when they all spilled on the van’s floor. I don’t know how but to this day we never stopped laughing at the jokes we made. 12 bottles but only 1 survived. It’s a classic subtle joke! Somehow, I needed to get back to buy more wine for my aunt but I needed to make sure I make it out alive!
We serviced a taxi to wait for us so we’ll have no difficulties going back. The drive took quite awhile over the mountains until finally, I saw the long patches of lettuces and other lanes of plants. It was just how I pictured it from before. The urge to walk among them was exciting.
I was ready to get back out there and use my feet and my eyes to explore. I love the diversity of being a tourist and at the same time be able to be one with the locals. That’s the best thing about being a local traveler. Too adventurous for home, but too city for the country. I found it great that each lettuce heads only costs ₱50 (around US$1). In the groceries, they normally cost 4-5 times the amount. I would smile with fascination and so does the elders for my city boy antics.Outside the farm, a long stretch of road was filled with vendors. Carved wooden keychains, wooden decors, strawberries, flowers, brooms, bonnets, peanut brittle, and different wines with different alcohol volumes are all displayed. I was in no way to pass up the wine. We took free shots of blueberry, guyabano, mangosteen, and strawberry wines. Of course, I settled with the strawberry next to the guyabano. For a dozen, I only had to pay ₱240 (₱120 for 6 pieces) and that’s roughly US$5. Everything else was cheap here! If I had a car I would even buy a broom or two for the house. But of course, in the end, we cooled ourselves down with a nice scoop of strawberry ice cream! The final treat!
If we had the chance to stay any longer, there would’ve been probably more to explore (Lions head, Baguio Cathedral, Tam-awan Village, Bell Church, Mt. Pulag – where we initially planned, and the list goes on). I’m sure, though, we’ll have another time to go back. Even though it was not enough, it’s still best to go back, not going to Manila, but going to Pampanga to reunite with my family. The place I call my second home. The place of my first travel blog. The place where I find ultimate joy. Welcome back home Ace!