This year I was able to visit yet another part of the Philippines. I flew into Clark airport to avoid traffic in Manila. I stayed at a nice hostel in Angeles City and met up with a few friends there. Three of us then drove to Baguio City, a trip that takes 3-4 hours depending on traffic.
A few days before my flight, Typhoon Mangkhut lashed the northern part of the Philippines. There had been landslides in Baguio that affected roads and homes. But by the time we drove through, the roads were clear. We still experienced a lot of rain as we drove up the narrow, winding, mountain roads. But conditions were extremely favorable despite the weather.
Baguio City is a beautiful mountain resort town. It’s located in northern Luzon (the largest island in the Philippines) and is called the City of Pines. On average it’s 1540 meters above sea level and has a cooler climate. While I was there the temperatures ranged from 22 to 26 degrees Celsius (70-80 degrees Farenheit). Whereas Angeles City sat at a steady 34 degrees Celsius (93 degrees Farenheit) the few days we were there.
I met up with the rest of my friends once I arrived in Baguio. We spent our time exploring nearby attractions and venturing into Baguio City. Camp John Hay offers treetop adventures, hiking paths, trail rides, a butterfly sanctuary, the cemetery of negativism, Bell House, a secret garden, and plenty of restaurants on site.
We also visited the botanical gardens, Burnham Park, SM City Baguio (a huge shopping mall), and the wet market. Since I was traveling with people who spoke Tagalog, we usually took public transport. It was my first time riding in a jeepney and it was a neat experience. They were originally created from leftover US military jeeps from WWII. We also took a lot of taxis and GRAB rides (like UBER). We found that most drivers spoke a bit of English and we avoided getting too lost.
One thing I noticed about the city was the air quality. When you were near Camp John Hay or out hiking, the air was clear and fresh. But the pollution was more evident when you ventured downtown. If I were to go back, I’d likely pick up a disposable mask. It was one thing I wasn’t used to experiencing in Canada.
Despite many food sensitivities, I was able to try lots of different Filipino dishes. I tried Taho (made with silken tofu, arnibal, and sago pearl) for the first time from a vendor and it was quite good. Traveling with people who spoke Tagalog and Ilocano (the language used in Baguio) was so helpful. They were able to tell me what was in the food and ask questions for me. I went hungry more often than I would have liked. But I avoided getting sick.
I brought easy-to-prepare foods like rice noodles and oatmeal for quick meals in my room. I also brought a lot of protein and snack bars wherever I went. That way I always had something to eat if I couldn’t find something safe nearby. The “Healthy Options” store (found in most SM Malls) has a sizable array of allergen-friendly foods. I stocked up while there.
One of my favourite things about the Philippines is the abundance and variety of fruits. Our hotel had a lovely buffet with freshly-squeezed juices and local fruits. I loved the green mango and calamansi juices best. I also enjoyed fresh rambutan, lanzones, pakwan, buko, and papaya. They were delicious!
I had an amazing time in the Philippines and I wanted to stay for longer. If I make it back again, I’d love to visit Palawan, Ilo Ilo, Corregidor, Davao, and a few more places. If you have any suggestions, let me know 🙂 But soon enough it was time for our flight to Tokyo where another adventure awaited.
Where is your favourite place?
I can’t believe it’s already been over a week since my return to Canada. I’m completely over the jet lag but am still experiencing some general tiredness. I’ve spent this last week reluctantly getting back into the routine of work and life. I miss the adventure and exploration of traveling. But my workouts and dance lessons have kept things fun and exciting. I’ve also been reliving the trip by going through and editing photos.
I wanted to share a quick overview of how my trip went. You can look forward to more detailed posts and photos in the weeks to come. Last year I explored parts of Asia solo. This time I traveled with a friend. I’m one of the biggest introverts you’ll ever meet. She’s a gregarious extrovert. We get along well but I can quickly shift from comfortable to overwhelmed when I’m with her. She claimed that she “gets quiet when she’s tired”. Great, I thought, we’ll both be quiet on the flights to and from. Unfortunately this wasn’t the case and she talked as much as she normally does. So I pretty much blocked her out in self-defense. Other than that, the trip went smoothly. We had beautiful weather and were able to make our flight connections without a problem.
In the Philippines we stayed at the same hotels but in different rooms. This ensured I got plenty of quiet. My mornings and evenings were peaceful havens of solitude. This kept me sane and gave me the energy I needed for my daily adventures. Once we met up with our mutual friends, it got even better. Since we had such a large group, we ended up breaking into smaller ones. She was drawn to the boisterous, rowdy group. While I stayed with the quieter one. It was awesome.
In Japan we stayed in separate hostels and had our own itineraries. So for the exception of a few meals and a Saturday afternoon together, we were mostly on our own. It was the ideal situation for me, as I love traveling solo. I’m looking forward to sharing some photos with you once I’m finished editing them 🙂
Hope you have a great rest of the week!