Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Summer Breeze Makes Me Feel Fine

Baguio City is one of my favorite places in the country. I've been here so many times I consider it a home away from home. I always prefer high-altitude areas as opposed to Cay who loves beaches. Baguio is the summer capital of the Philippines and I thought that since this is the first summer Cay and I will have as husband and wife, it should be where we spend our first summer outing. A trip around Baguio to see the important sights will only take a whole day. But we decided to book a nights stay in a hotel. The transportation is easy enough here for those without cars. Just ride the FX taxis plying the roads, which we did. Or if you want to save a bit of money, just ask around for the jeepney routes.

1.) Burnham Park

This place is for family outings, like picnics. There are boats and bikes for rent in here. Cay and I just enjoyed walking here early in the morning. Try the nilagang mais and strawberry taho that vendors all over the park sell during chilly mornings.

2.) Mines View Park

The view is really great. No matter how many times I've been here, I still find the sight of the valleys and the mountains spectacular. The kids that used to hang by the cliffs to catch coins thrown by tourists are no longer here. This place is also an excellent place to buy pasalubongs and souvenirs. Try to get pictures of yourself wearing Igorot outfits, posing with the local St. Bernard, and colorful horses. Me and Cay tried the first two. Cay really enjoyed the inihaw na mais they sell here. The strawberry jam of Good Shepherd is a must buy.

3.) Horse Rides

For those who want to ride horses around a dusty track, this place is for you. We just passed by this and climbed a really high stairway onwards to our next destination. Based on a lifetime of experience, fat guys and stairs really don't go together.

4.) Wright Park

Nice little park with a relaxing gazebo to sit on once you get to the top.

5.) Mansion House

The Mansion House is the home of the President whenever he/ she's on vacation in Baguio. It's a perfect place to get landmark pictures. The soldiers guarding the place are really nice to tourists, just mind the lines that mark where you can't proceed any further.

6.) Botanical Garden

Another colorful park. It's a relaxing place to rest in during the afternoons. Plus, there are stores here to buy interesting products. Cay bought two hats here.

7.) Ukay-ukay

The area around Burnham Park is littered with ukay-ukays selling ultra-cheap clothes, bags, shoes, and whatnots. This was a must go for Cay and she went on a shopping spree. Like a good husband, I stood and waited while she went over every rack in several stores and tried to come up with unique answers when asked whether an item looks good on her.

8.) SM Baguio

What place can call itself a major metropolis in the Philippines if it doesn't have an SM Department Store in it or anywhere near its vicinity. While the choice of stores here greatly pale in comparison to what SMs in Manila offer, what makes this earn big points is that it has the best view among all malls.

9.) Baguio Cathedral

I don't believe in religion, but I always try to visit the main worship places in the areas I visit, whether in the Philippines or abroad. There is always art and history to be found in churches and mosques. While going to the Baguio Cathedral, try walking along the busy streets of Session Road, the busiest street in the entire city.

10.) Camp John Hay

Cay and I went here early in the morning and we enjoyed walking around the place. The weather was great for a stroll. Walk on the road or on the grass, it's up to you. Have a picnic here with family or friends if you want to. Check out the little replica of the Statue of Liberty and the humorous tombstones littered in one of the areas in the trail. We also entered a butterfly sanctuary run by two really nice caretakers. The man watching over the place will take really great pictures of you with the butterflies and the decorations in the place. He will also give you a great history lesson about the city and an interesting lecture about different butterfly species. Tourists will have several butterflies perched all over them and actually enjoy the experience. There is also a great diner here that looks like the ones you always see in old Americana movies, with lots of choices in the menu.

11.) Tam-Awan Village

This is a nice little ethnic village situated just outside city limits. You can find the different types of houses that Igorots used to live in. There are also interesting pieces of art here, both tribal and contemporary. The souvenirs shops here offer great products at relatively cheap prices. I bought a lot of items here to give to the people back home.

12.) Strawberry Farms

The farms are already outside of Baguio City, but the trip isn't that long. You can walk through the farms and purchase strawberries from the farmers themselves. Along the farms are stalls where one can buy more pasalubongs. Also, try the strawberry sorbetes sold here.

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