Sunday, 7 February 2016

Philippines pt. 3 - Baguio City

Baguio City, my birthplace. After we got off the plane from Palawan, the travelling was non-stop. We had to catch a coach to Baguio early that morning. A short stopover to Jollibee for dinner was quickly followed by a ride on the victory liner. It proved to be a really good quality coach actually, bearing in mind it was a luxury coach. There was so much leg space and they gave you complimentary water and a snack. I don't recall the journey, aside from the aircon being on full blast, it flew by. It was only a 4 hour trip to Baguio and I slept the whole way through it. Next thing I knew, it was 3 am and we finally arrived.
Baguio is a lot colder than Manila. You wouldn't expect this type of weather in Manila. It's a lot less humid and it's not as crowded (unless you go to a market), but it's not as cold as London. On our way to my aunty's and uncle's house we picked up some breakfast food called pandesal (basically fresh bread) because even though we were tired, I was so hungry. We completely conked out and woke up in the afternoon that following day.
I haven't really experienced or seen everything in Baguio, so my uncle toured us around the Botanical gardens. There were costumes for hire which 'igorots' used to wear, my siblings and I did this the last time we came home which was rather amusing. More than anything, I wanted to see Eric dressed up. It was a step further into him experiencing my culture.

The highlight of my entire trip to the Philippines was visiting my grandma. Every time we came to visit she was still the same sweet person who gushed about how pretty and grown up we were. I must admit, I do look a lot like my grandma and her side of the family; I have their nose!
She requested my dad buy her a few things that I could bring to her - a watch and UK money as she'd never seen it before. She was so happy to receive such beautiful gifts! I was glad that Eric was given the opportunity to meet her too. 
It does break my heart to say that she sadly passed away a week after we left the Philippines, but it's comforting to know that she's no longer in pain and that she is now in a better place. I'll never forget your last few words of 'I love you'. Rest in peace lola, we love you always. 

The pictures above was the view from the houses, it's crazy how beautiful it is but also look at how high up the houses are built!

Following the trip to my grandma's we returned to my aunty's house for a family gathering. My aunts and uncles brought so much food! Shamefully, I can't list the names of these as I'm not even sure what they are. I literally couldn't help but devour it all. The pictures don't show all the food served, just a few, but trust me there was a lot. 

The next day consisted of more sight-seeing around Baguio. But first, I needed to swing by SM Baguio (a mall) to buy a new memory card. I maxed out my other one already! boo. It was such a beautiful day though, I couldn't resist but capture the scenery, imagine seeing this outside a mall?!

After getting blow away by how cheap the memory cards were, we drove by Wright Park... the horses caught my eye. A few years back me and my siblings actually went horse riding here, it was a lot of fun. So I wanted Eric to experience the same thing! It was under £10 for a half an hour ride which I deem as fairly cheap, I was slightly afraid to ride one though. So I was relieved when I realised that someone was going to accompany us throughout the entire trip, however it didn't help that within the first few minutes of being on the horse mine tripped over. When our half an hour was up, we wandered around until we saw the 'Mansion House', correct me if I'm wrong but apparently important political individuals stay there whilst they're in Baguio! but the Mansion's front garden is open for tourists.

A jeep! This is a popular mode of transport for many in the Philippines. 

PMA (Philippine Military Academy) has always been proudly known to my family as my cousin graduated from here to become a pilot. When we did come to visit, I wasn't aware that you were not allowed to wear sleeveless tops so I was technically not allowed inside. However, being the friendly gentlemen that they were, they allowed us to view the outdoor displays. These entailed tanks and vehicles that they used during the war. It was intriguing to see such big machinery and military vehicles!

One place I was desperate to see was the long road leading to the city, I found out later on that this was called Kennon road. This road was still under construction due to the unfortunate flooding a few weeks prior to our visit. However, further along that road was the famous lion's head which remained perfectly intact. I must comment on the disappointing paintwork they did on the lion. It looked so much better the last time I came!

Feeling slightly 'peckish', we had lunch at the 50's Diner. A few years back I did try out this restaurant and yes I did very much so enjoy it, hence my revisit. I loved the decor and theme of the restaurant, you'd never find restaurants like this in the UK (the only one I am aware of is Ed's diner). One thing I mentioned I was obsessed with was the mango shakes, which I yet again chose to order although Eric, wanting to be different, picked the strawberry shake.

'Pizza burger' with chips

When my auntie finished work and my cousins finished school, they decided to tour us around some more before we went for dinner. We stopped over at the lourdes grotto just to see and make the most out of our visit in Baguio. This was essentially, a catholic shrine. Christianity and Catholicism is the main religion in the Philippines and they take their religion very seriously. Especially events such as Good Friday, so I presume that this is one of the main locations that people go to when important events occur.

I was so excited to go to this Korean restaurant we'd planned to go. I absolutely love Korean food! What makes it better is that it was a buffet! Boy did I stuff my face! We demolished absolutely everything, the staff had to keep refilling their trays of food, mainly because of us but we couldn't help it, it was delicious. We mainly chose of course bulgogi, spring rolls, turon, chicken, noodles. If I wasn't too busy eating, I could have probably listed everything down for you.

We had such a long day ahead of us, my cousins, aunties and uncles decided to assist as to Pugod. an adventure park with a swimming pool! This was located in La Union, which was hot. As soon as we arrived there my skin started to blister and peel like crazy. Regardless, it was exciting to experience these activities with my cousins and Eric. After a two hour drive, we quickly found our little 'hut' and my uncle and cousin started preparing lunch.

Everyone quickly jumped into the big swimming pool. Before we got wet, Eric and I wanted to do other activities - zip lining and ride the mopeds (the pictures of these are not included unfortunately) The zip line was absolutely petrifying but it gave me so much adrenaline! Also, the guys helping us actually laughed at how girly Eric's scream was (sorry). To get to the highest zip line in the package we had to be driven half way there and walk a further 50 odd steps (in the boiling heat) at which time, my skin decided blister from the heat. What I wasn't too pleased about was that Eric and I had to walk back down, I'm not sure why but there was a ridiculous reason when they told us.

The person pictured on the zipline was Eric, taken my my wonderful auntie.

The unfortunate thing was that since our skin was peeling like crazy, it was very itchy. When we joined my cousins in the swimming pool, we had to wear extra clothing to make sure we wouldn't get even more burnt. I could have honestly stayed there for another extra day, it was a lot of fun. 

The last day of Baguio was quite sad, I didn't want to leave. I was around my family so much I'd gotten used to it! A few of my cousins (yet again) decided to skip school to spend time with us which I was eternally grateful for. We had to run a few errands and collect some souvenirs for my mum and sister first. Our first destination was Good Shepherd to buy some jam and ube. Unfortunately, it wasn't 'jam season' so we couldn't obtain any however, we successfully managed to get some ube. 
If you didn't know, ube is basically this unusual purple dessert (yam) that tastes so good. What I really like about Good Shepherd is that part of the profit they make contributes towards paying for the workers' college fees. 
Isn't the view amazing from up here?!

Next stop, SM Baguio. We treated my cousins and uncle to 'Shakey's' where we divulged ourselves in pizza. I did mention that the pizza in the Philippines is not as good as the ones back in London so safe to say, I won't be ordering pizza in Philippines again anytime soon.

Later on in the day, my auntie joined us and took us up Mount Cabuyao, Santo Tomas. The journey was quite frightening, the roads were so narrow! It didn't help that one of my cousin's piped up and told us a story about someone dying due to a road accident there. It was all worth it as soon as we reached the top. It was literally like walking on a cloud. This wasn't a view that I was going to see for a very long time. Being someone very short, it was nice to look down and see the view from the top for once.

Some last minute family bonding time, everyone gathered together to go bowling

Philippines wasn't really much of a resting holiday, it was filled with different activities for different days. We wanted to make the most of it, sacrificing sleep was definitely worth it. Coming back was so sad, I didn't want to face reality again. Everything I'd seen and experienced just took me to a completely different world. Throughout the entire holiday I would wonder whether it was real or not. 
It's such a beautiful country and it was such a privilege to experience how welcoming and friendly Filipino people really are. They invest so much effort and passion into what they're doing whether it's working in McDonalds or guiding you round to touristy places (props to my cousins and my cousin's boyfriend, kuya Jong! absolute star), they're always so willing to help. 
I had a blast and it took a while for me to get myself out of the holiday blues. I know that I'll be back one day, whether it's this year, next year or in 5 years. I'll come back. And I cannot wait already!
I hope you guys enjoyed this three part series of the Philippines, I just had to blog about it. 
Yours truly,
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