Thursday, August 25, 2016

Baguio City Diaries

The sky was painted grey as we started to stroll around Burnham Park. Armed with hoodies and umbrella, we tiptoed along the muddy path as it started to drizzle. The cool wind gave us the chills but we kept our pace and reached the hilly roads going to Session Road. We’re drenched in rainwater, our feet mud-covered, but it didn't bother us that much, we’re quite amused about it. It was Baguio the way we wanted it, wet season without the maddening tourist crowd.

Baguio City Pink Horse

It was an impulse trip as I had a free Monday ahead; a long weekend that was meant to be spent somewhere nice. Baguio will always be on top of the list as this is my buddy’s favorite city in the country to just chill and do nothing. We boarded the last trip for the day and slept our way in the course of the 5-hour bus ride (P445 each). We didn’t have to queue nor wait for long ‘coz nobody would wanna go to Baguio and be soaked by rain.

Baguio City Broom

We arrived at five in the morning and decided to reserve our bus seats for our ride back home. After which, we braved the chilly foggy early morning and walked our way to our favorite lugaw place along Gov. Pack Road, Goto BP. It was packed with its early patrons who wanted to have what we were both yearning for, a hot bowl of lugaw with egg (P25) plus a side dish of tokwa (P25).

Baguio City Lugaw
Goto BP's lugaw (P25)
Baguio City Tokwa
Goto BP's tokwa (P25)
We then went to Burnham Park where hundreds, if not, thousands converged for an aerobic workout or Zumba as they call it. It was fun, seeing them sweat a lot and enjoy their dance while me and my buddy were looked for a remedy to alleviate the coldness of the morning.

I heard someone shout taho and I instantly knew that this guy was selling the famous strawberry taho of the city which I haven’t tried yet. I bought a 30-peso cup and realized that it wasn’t as good as I thought it would to be. I found it too sour and missing the whole fresh strawberries I imagined it had, or maybe because I was missing the yumminess of the syrup from an old school taho.

Baguio City Strawberry Taho
Strawberry taho (P20) - not a fan
We had an early check in on one of the newest hotels in Baguio City, Paragon Hotel and Suites. It was seven in the morning but gladly, they allowed us to check in to have a decent rest before we start to checkout the sights of the city.

Baguio City Paragon Hotel and Suites
Paragon Hotel and Suites
The supposedly one-hour nap ended on a 4-hour deep sleep. If not for our grumbling tummies, we may have slept the whole day. It was lovely to cocoon and wrap yourself around comfy pillows and blankies on a 20-degree rainy weather.

We had a filling but not so good lunch at Good Taste Restaurant. It was packed with diners even at the weirdest time of the day. I tried dining here before and remembered good savory memories, but it failed to do so this time. We had the famous buttered chicken (P170) and fried rice (P35). The chicken skin was marinated with tasty sauce but the chicken meat itself was bland for my taste. I was looking for the juicy one I had before.

Baguio City Good Taste Restaurant
Good Taste Restaurant's buttered chicken (P170)
The skin was tasty but the meat was bland :(
We went back to the hotel for another round of siesta. Its perfect location made us hop to nearby restaurants and bars though. The view of Burnham Park from our floor to ceiling glass windows was also breathtaking that we kept the drapes open until we went back home.

A photo posted by blissfulguro (@blissfulguro) on

It was five in the afternoon when we started to walk under the drizzle all the way to Session Road. It was a rendezvous to our favorite bar/hangout place in Baguio, 108 Session Road Café. We had a few bottles of beer and enjoyed the music from some local performers. We’re actually waiting for someone, someone who captured our hearts the last time we went there. We kept on asking the staff if this certain person would play tonight, it was too easy, he was the only country singer in the bar and they all said the same thing, he will play the next day. Nonetheless, we took pleasure on listening to the good bands they have for that night. But we will surely be back the next day.

Baguio City 108 Session Road Cafe
108 Session Road Cafe - our favorite hangout place in Baguio
Waking up was the best as we got to witness an explosion of wonder. It was my weird body clock that prompted me to wake at half past five in the morning. The grey cloudy sky was highlighted with hues of reddish orange as the sun started its ascent on the hilly mountainous side of Baguio. I woke my buddy up, to no avail. I took a couple of snaps, relished that moment and went back to bed effortlessly.

Baguio City Sunrise
Woke up with this view
Later, surprised that I haven’t been to the famous Bell Church, my buddy brought me to the border of Baguio City and La Trinidad in Benguet. We had a quick visit to the temple and went further to the newest attraction in the area.

Benguet Bell Church
Bell Church
Benguet Bell Church

The colorful houses were too cute that people would go down from their cars just to have a closer look and capture that perfect selfie with it. The community artwork named Colors of Stobosa (Stobosa – three sitios of Barangay Balili namely; Stonehill, Botiwtiw and Sadjap) features a large-scale mural of flowers and other design covering almost 200 hillside houses.

Benguet Stobosa

Benguet Stobosa
Benguet's Stobosa
We went back to Burnham Park and then to the parking lot of the Athletic Bowl where we had our favorite noodle dish, pansit batil patong (P60). We discovered this eatery that sells the famed pansit of Cagayan Valley some years ago. Gladly enough, it was still there and we had great time savoring each bite.

Pansit Batil Patong Baguio City
Pansit Batil Patong on Baguio ftw!
We wanted to do something new so we walked our way to the Baguio Museum. It’s that traditional Ifugao house that you see on the curb near the University of the Philippines. It was just perfect timing as the rain started to pour when we got inside the museum (P40–adult / P20–students).

Baguio City Museum
Baguio City Museum
The Baguio City Museum along Gov. Pack Road houses ethnolinguistic artefacts from the Cordillera Region and some historical facts about the city. My buddy was so thrilled as some of his age-old questions about the city were satisfied with the comprehensive collection of photos and information that were provided. On my part, I loved the old photographs and the miniature traditional houses.

Baguio City Museum

Baguio City Museum
Past mayors of Baguio City
We went straight to 108 Session Road Café and waited for the performer we longed for.

Me and my buddy exchanged elated looks as he started to strum his guitar. He opened the night with a country song and the crowd went wild. His charm was captivating as he brought us back to the era of our moms and dads as we chugged on our beer. We had countless requests that he graciously obliged. After his performance, he went to our table (maybe he noticed our crazy applauses and cheers) and met with us. He is George Tamaray, a native of Tuguegarao City but found his home in Baguio for three years now, just like some people. We had a nice chitchat and exchanged emails for further connection. It was a lovely night. Oh, by the way, he performs regularly on Fridays, Sundays and Mondays.

The night didn’t just end there. We had a quick bite on our favorite lugawan and checked out the ukay-ukay night bazaar along Harrison Road. We didn’t get to score great deals, but it was fun just to look around.

The next day, our last, we lazed around our hotel room and enjoyed the nippy sunny morning. We had a few cups of coffee and checked out at noon. We had a quick lunch on an eatery nearby that serves bulalo (P45) and the famous pigar-pigar of Pangasinan (P45) which were both good.

Baguio City Pigar Pigar

Baguio City Pigar Pigar Bulalo
Bulalo and Pigar-pigar (P45 each)
We went to the ukay-ukay stores to shop, no luck. Planned to go to the market to buy pasalubong, didn’t push through. We then ended the trip with a bucket of beer at Café Bohemian in Session Road where we met a couple of college students who were very eager to ask us about anything and everything. Our last few hours in Baguio were spent with laughter, serious talks with the kiddos and beer; just the way we wanted it to be.

Baguio City Flower

Baguio will always hold a special place in my heart. I regarded it before as too touristy and passe but when I went deeper to the core of the city, I learned to love it the way it is, rainy or sunny.

**Check here for discounted hotels in Baguio**

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