Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Baguio: Around Baguio City

Today, I decided to stay in the hotel the whole day to finish pending school requirements. Baguio's climate is so conducive to thinking and sleeping! But Jiajin and Doc Ryan were able to cover a lot of ground. So I'll talk about their adventure here.

Baguio being a tourist city has well-established tour options. And one of them is on a taxi. Ryan said that there is a standard rate (according to the driver that is) and a standard three-hour tour on a taxi for PHP700. If you go to the tourist attractions individually, the cost of taxi would total close to that amount so might as well charter one.

On this list of places they visited was the Mansion House which was built and used by the American government as residence and office of American governors-general during the summer months. And has since been used as the official residence of Philippine presidents while they are in Baguio. Near the Mansion House is Wright Park where visitors can go horseback riding.

The two also visited Mines View Park which offers a panoramic view of the old mines in Benguet. I haven't been there for quite a while and I wonder if the view has not been enundated by illegal structures and houses like many of Baguio City's mountain vistas. At the entrance of the park is a flea market where one can buy souvenir items, local food products and plants among others.

Since Jiajin had enough of churches when we went to Ilocos, they skipped the Baguio Cathedral and the Lourdes Grotto and went straight to Camp John Hay, the former rest and recreational facilities of the US Military which was turned over to the Philippines in 1991. It's good that this area of Baguio is still well-preserved. In fact, this is one place of Baguio City that I do not mind visiting because of fresh mountain air and pine trees all over.

Last night, on our way up Naguilan Road, we had our windows down so that we could enjoy the fresh mountain air. The moment we entered the city limits, we had to close the windows again since the exhaust from all those jeeps was just horrible. Anyway, the landscaping at Camp John Hay Manor is simply superb! Last time I was there, my mind wandered in the large garden behind the hotel. It's a great place to relax and unwind.

Another place worth visiting is Fort del Pilar or the Philippine Military Academy. If you are lucky, there may be a parade. I think the cadets where practicing for graduation when Jiajian and Doc Ryan arrived. There is also a park reserved for military relics. But aren't the military equipment used by the AFP today also relics? Hehe! But seriously, I hope the new generation of cadets will really serve the country and not a particular group's political interests.

They then went to the Kennon Road View Deck and Lion's Head along Kennon Road which has become a welcoming landmark of Baguio despite the fact that there are no lions in the city or its history.

The only place they went to which I have yet to see is Tam-awan Village. The place contains several authentic Igorot huts which give visitors a window into the old Cordillera way of life. It also plays host to a community of artists which uses the conducive environment to release their creative juices.

I met up with them late in the afternoon at SM since I wanted to check mail (I hadn't seen my mailbox in ages). We decided to have dinner at Don Henrico's. Just like at 50's Diner, Don Henrico's had value meals too. My plate of spaghetti and garlic bread, chicken and fries was PHP140. I didn't expect the servings to be large since for the same amount in Manila, you had small portions.

For our midnight snack, I ordered a pizza for take-out. As soon as we got back at the hotel, we asked the staff to start up the fire at the fireplace on our floor. And we spent the night watching TV and munching on pizza. Tomorrow, we go back to Manila. But Doc Ryan wants to bring Jiajin to La Trinidad, Benguet first to check out the strawberry fields. So I guess we'll have lunch there too before we go down Kennon Road.
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