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?