Monday, January 8, 2018

Baby It's Cold Outside! aka The Weekend I Spent in Baguio (Part 1)

I spent a weekend in Baguio city last December. The Baguio trip was my friend, Hazel's idea. She'd been telling us how much she wanted to go on a trip up north. But then the invite was extended to us. I've been to Baguio several times in the past - each time with different traveling companions - so when I was initially invited, I turned it down.



The strawberry taho - this was Hazel's sales pitch to me when she asked me to go to join her and her daughter, Gab, in Baguio. 

"Game na. Tara. Para may pic ka din with strawberry taho," she said to me over our chat in Facebook messenger. Ha! Ha! 

Okay a lil' backgrounder on that: My crush went to Baguio last year around late November I think. We found out about it through his IG story which began with a photo of a strawberry taho. 

I wanted an adventure before the year 2017 ended so I said yes to Baguio. Hindi naman dahil talaga sa strawberry taho, okay! Ha! Ha! Defensive? 

The trip was an arranged group tour so we went to a lot of places in Baguio - some of which I've been to in the past like Mine's View and Burnham Park - and some new ones. 

First stop: The Bell Church. 



 


The place has intricate arches, bells and dragons. It also has a pagoda and a beautifully landscaped garden. This is a Buddhist temple. According to what I read, the place is flocked by foreign and Chinese locals alike on Chinese New Year and they visit the temple to pray for good fortune and health. When we lighted incense inside the temple, I was reminded of a time when I was neighbors with a Chinese family and whenever I came in their house, I would see the same lighted incense sticking out of a clay pot. 


     
What I wore on the first day of the trip: top: Plains & Prints; skirt: For Me; shoes: Skechers Go Walk

It's a good thing the temperature in the morning wasn't that cold. I could afford to wear a sleeveless top sans jacket. 

Second stop: Valley of Colors



This is a new attraction in La Trinidad. It's a project by the Department of Tourism - Cordillera to promote a more sustainable tourism in the region. According to what I read, the mountain of houses used to be an eye sore so through the help of Tam-awan Village artists, the houses were painted and turned into this very Instagram-able place. 

Third stop: The Strawberry Farm


It was my first time to ever eat strawberry taho. Masarap pala. We didn't go strawberry picking since that'll cost additional. Besides I wasn't about to carry with me all the way back to Manila a bag full of strawberries. My mom gets enough strawberry and vegetables pasalubong from the guys who rent with us. 

Fourth stop: Tam-awan Village

It's a reconstructed place in Cordillera village where you'll see Ifugao huts as well as some of Baguio's arts and culture. Been here before when I went with my LEAP friends in Baguio. But it was part of the tour so...



We witnessed this Ifugao folk dance while we were at Tam-awan.



This is a fish pond/wishing pond I suppose since I saw a lot of coins in the water. Gab and I threw a coin in the pond and made a wish. I'm a huge fan of wishing wells so when I see one, you betcha I'm throwing a coin and making a wish. Malay natin, magkatotoo! 



My travel companions - Hazel and Gab. This is us resting in an area in Tam-awan after walking so much. It was quite a walk we had! Ang taas naman kasi! We were going to go higher to further explore the place but turned around when some of the other tourists went down in a hurry because they said they saw a snake. Not surprising I suppose given that we were surrounded by nature. Guess what we did? We joined them in going back down of course! 

Lunch: Sizzling Plate



My gosh! Was I famished after those first few tourist stops! Lunch was supposed to be at Good Taste which was right next to this restaurant where we ate but Hazel said the food at Good Taste wasn't good tasting (get it? Good Taste = good tasting? He! He! Corny!). The line at that resto was also very long and I have no patience for long lines. 

Food here is okay. But you know, nothing tourist-y about this since there's also a Sizzling Plate resto in Manila! Not the same Sizzling Plate I think but sizzling is sizzling! My only beef with this place is we were only given two gravy sauces when we had 3 orders of sizzling. When Hazel asked one of the waiters for another sauce, he said the gravy was for sharing and also separate charge. I mean whut??? Seriously? How can it be sizzling anything without that hot gravy???

Fifth Stop: Lourdes Grotto

Actually, the fifth stop of the tour was Burnham Park but we decided not to go down the van anymore. We've seen that park before anyway. We decided it was best to stay in and get a nap. Also, the place was crowded! 

  

I lighted candles and said a prayer to Mama Mary. And yes, I climbed up the stairs that led all the way to the grotto. 

Sixth Stop: Diplomat Hotel



They say this place is haunted. It used to be a rest house and a seminary way back in 1911 before it was developed into a school and later on a hotel. They say numerous nuns and priests were beheaded in this place and employees and guests alike would see headless apparitions. 


  
In this fountain area, they say babies and kids were also massacred and so it was common at night to hear strange noises like crying babies. That's spooky alright!



But that's not all. There was also a fire that razed the hotel many years ago wherein some guests were trapped inside and died. To add to its already dark past? There was also a nurse who committed suicide by jumping off the roof top. I got all these juicy tidbits here.



When I was there, the place just looked abandoned but not creepy. And no, I didn't hear any strange noises nor did I see any ghosts. I guess it was still early. Not naman na naghahamon ako makakita or makaramdam! Truth is I actually don't believe in the paranormal stuff. I give reasoning to everything! But I am intrigued by it somewhat. I like ghost stories. And a part of me is game to do ghost hunting - - part lang kasi scared din ako. Ha! Ha! I may not believe it 100% but I certainly don't want to tempt fate in case totoo nga.

Seventh Stop: Christmas Village

At first I thought, "okay so we fell in line just to see a Christmas village? Huh. It's cute but nothing special."


That is....until the foam bubbles started spewing out around us and it was like snow was falling all around us!  
 

Suddenly, the place seemed magical. I had my White Christmas in the Philippines! 


Warming my hands over the fire. Parang may snow talaga! Ha! Ha! But really, this was not just for photo opp! It was already night time and by then the temperature in Baguio had dropped. It was coooooold! 

The Christmas Village wrapped up the first day of our Baguio trip. We still had a couple more stops the next day before we headed back to Manila which I will tell you more about on a separate blog post! 


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