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Chasing Fogs, Strawberries and Pines

Things don’t always happen the way we want it to happen. Some may turn out challenging, exciting, disappointing or discouraging. But we sometimes have to learn to sway with it. Follow its rhythm. Move where it moves and you’ll be surprised to find yourself in the most memorable situation you could ever imagine.

Traveling has taught me a lot about life. About not giving up easily. About learning to accept every situation and enjoy it.

This trip has been well considered just like most of my previous trips. The itinerary was already set but as expected everything did not go as planned.

We arrived in Manila from Cebu at 1am. From NAIA Terminal 3 we took a taxi going to Victory Bus Liner Terminal in Pasay. At the bus ticket counter, we learned that the earliest schedule available was 4am. That ruined our whole itinerary. We have to make some adjustments. That would mean we will have to cross off a few items in our itinerary. Disappointed, we still bought the 4am trip and waited for our bus at the terminal. Luckily the bus that leaves at 3am has a lot of free seats so we were allowed to get on that trip. I was asleep most of the time during the whole bus ride only to wake up at 7am to be greeted by a beautiful view of mountains on the way to Baguio.

In Baguio, we stayed at Upstairs Bed and Bath which is a cheap hostel and only a few walks away from Victory Bus Liner terminal and SM Baguio. We only had to pay 299php per person per day for a dormitory type room which includes free towel, beddings and a common CR. We had to pay an additional 150php each for the early check-in. The staffs are friendly and approachable. If you are in a budget trip, I’d recommend this hostel. We only stayed there for one night. We had to do an early checkout the following day and had our last day tour. But we don’t want to be carrying some loads while doing that so we asked the front desk of the hostel if we could leave our bags in their stock room and return by 10pm. Gladly, they agreed and it was free of charge.

From the hostel, we commuted going to Camp John Hay. Inside Camp John Hay, we visited the Mile Hi Center, the popular Starbucks Café, the Cemetery of Negativism, the Bell House and the Bell Amphitheater.

We had no idea where Mile Hi Center is located but we’re pretty sure it is inside the camp so we just kept walking and walking under endless sights of pine trees trusting only our feet hoping that in a few minutes we will bump into a sign board saying “Mile Hi Center”.  And there it is an entrance that is barely visible.

Mile Hi Center has a collection of restaurants and shops that sell souvenir items.

We had our lunch at one of the most blogged restaurants here – the Little John’s.  We ordered their famous baby back ribs which was indeed delicious.

Aside from the food, I also love the view from the restaurant’s window.

We visited some shops nearby that sell items like key chains, wallets and a variety of food just to wait for the rain to stop but when it never showed any signs of stopping, we decided to keep going. After a few minutes of walking/jogging/running under the rain, we found ourselves in the famous Starbucks of Camp John Hay.

We paid 60php each for the entrance fee of the Bell House and The Bell Amphitheater.

When we first arrived in Baguio, we looked forward to seeing fogs and whenever we found a small sign of it, we came chasing after it. But now, it came chasing after us. The Bell House was surrounded with a thick fog. We were inside an empty big house surrounded with pine trees and fogs. It just felt like we were in a horror movie.

The rain never stopped and we can’t keep running under it forever. We decided to hire a taxi going to Oh My Gulay to have our dinner. Oh My Gulay is a quirky restaurant that serves all vegetarian dishes. I love the set-up of the restaurant.

On our way home, we passed by this cute book shop named Mt. Cloud. It is just a few walks away from our hostel. Curiosity brought us inside the shop.  It is a small book shop with two floors. It has a collection of different kind of books, handmade bracelets, string dolls, stamps, pencils, leather wallets etc. I just love everything I want to take them home!

Even when we were quite tired from our whole day activity, we still managed to enjoy shopping at the famous weekend night market which starts at 9pm. In the long stretch of Harrison Road lay numerous shops that sell bags, shoes, jackets, street food and a lot more. I said I would not buy a single thing here but I could not help myself when I came across a cheap patched skirt which is similar to the patched skirt I saw in Thailand. In Thailand it costs 500+ baht but here it only costs 180php. Who couldn’t resist that!

Who would need an electric fan or an air-con when you can have fresh cool air? You wake up in a cold morning and you’ll see fogs everywhere. Then you take a hot shower. I don’t get to experience that all the time.

But it’s our second and last day. Our day started as early as 8am to first have our breakfast at PNKY’s café. But when we arrived at the place, we (especially me) were very disappointed to find out that the place has been closed. Anyway, we were still able to see the haunted Laperal House which is right across the café.

We headed to the very popular 50’s Diner which is just a few meters away from PNKY’s. No wonder people would line up to eat in this diner because they serve a generous and delicious food at a very affordable price. Among the entire restaurants we’ve visited in Baguio, this is my favorite.

After our heavy brunch, we took a taxi going to Tam-Awan Village. Streets of Baguio are full of blind curves and steep slopes and I am really amazed by how the drivers find it easy to drive with those kinds of roads.

I noticed that most of the taxi drivers are friendly. They talk a lot. They share stuff about Baguio and sometimes about their personal lives. From one taxi driver, I learned that smoking in public places in Baguio is prohibited.

Entrance fee at Tam-Awan Village is 60php. The village has these numerous small cottages inspired from the houses of the natives. Some of which serves as a hotel for tourists. They also got some shops with interesting displays like beautiful handmade sculptures, dream catchers, printed t-shirts, handmade bracelets, paintings, and handmade bags.

From Tam-Awan Village, we took a taxi going to Burnham Park where we enjoyed boating and riding a bicycle. It’s been a long time since I last pedaled a bicycle and I was surprised to find myself balancing on it again. It felt so good how one thing could bring you back your childhood memories.

After Burnham Park, we headed to the Wright Park and wore ethnic attire for pictorial purposes which I find fun. It’s a tourist thing in Baguio so why not try it as well. We then walked our way up to The Mansion. We passed by some vendors that sell organic seedless oranges which really taste good.

From the Mansion, we took a taxi going to Mines View Park. We got ourselves some dried squid barbeque which I really love. And finally my very first taste of real whole strawberry fruit. I think it tastes better mixed in taho.

We didn’t get to see the view at Mines View Park because it was surrounded with a thick fog. But I think it was still cool. I’m just a fan of fogs.

We bought some pasalubong from the pasalubong shops that sit right next to each other around Mines View Park. A short walk from here is the Good Shepherd. They got the best tasting ube jam.

From Mines View Park, we took a taxi going to Ketchup Food Community to have our dinner. On the way there, we had a chat with our taxi driver. I was shocked when I learned that he eats a dog dish served from one of the carenderias in the area. We asked him if he’s not afraid of getting rabies and he was confident by telling us that it doesn’t have any rabies because they take off the head of the dog. He said that it was delicious. And we were speechless. We never argued anymore but we know it was really wrong.

Ketchup Food Community has a collection of different restaurants. We chose to eat at The Rancho because it has the coolest set-up and their menu looks interesting. We stayed there for a while because we have nowhere else to go.

We decided to find another place to relax before we head back to our hostel. We remembered that there was a cozy coffee shop beside Mt. Cloud bookshop so we decided to stay there until 10pm.

Baguio is a stress-free city added with a cool breeze, fogs, laid back and cozy shops, friendly and honest taxi drivers, cheap taxi rates, and people that dress-up in full leather jackets and leather boots. Not the usual things I get to see in most cities.

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