Local Travel

Baguio City – Warm People, Perpetually Cold Atmosphere and Great Food

I wanted to see Pope Francis during his visit in Philippines last January 15 to 19. But I had expected a very big crowd to welcome him and since I can’t bring my babies to see him in that case, we’ve decided to watch him on TV… in Baguio City.
We don’t own a car so what we did was take the Victory Liner bound for Baguio at Php 445 fare per person. The best thing about Victory is that its buses often leave on time. We left at 5:00 AM sharp and thus, was able to catch this nice sunrise on Mt. Arayat.

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We had 15-min pit stops along the way and due to heavy traffic at Urdaneta (fiesta!) and along Marcos Highway (so many people decided to hit Baguio as well); we finally arrived at the terminal at 1 PM, so it took 8 hours of travel for what normally takes 5 hours. Whew.
Hungry, we decided to eat at O’ Mai Khan Mongolian Barbecue resto which is less than 100 meters away from the terminal. For those who haven’t dined there, this resto had been rated 4 stars at Travel Advisor and for good reasons.
We had lemon chicken, rib steak, humongous bowl of soup, their famous unlimites Mongolian rice topping and the yummy and hubby’s highly recommended – kalamansi pie for dessert. 🙂

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O’ Mai Khan has a long table for meats, veggies, spices, sauces and other ingredients to choose from that you can put in your bowl to create your own rice toppings. You have to have a basic culinary skill in order to make a decent rice topping because mixing everything in one bowl (saw one putting vinegar plus teriyaki sauce plus tartar sauce in one bowl!) is a recipe (pardon the pun) for disaster. I made teriyaki based rice topping for hubby with ginger, sesame seeds and veggies on top. He loved it so much, it was better experienced than taken a photo with. ♡♡

After lunch, we went straight to Paladin Hotel where we had booked early this month because when you have kids you can’t afford to drag them across the city looking for a place to stay, that will be the death of a mother. LOL

We reserved two rooms, one Econo and one Deluxe but the formee was overbooked. Good thing that Paladin was very kind to accomodate our companions for one deluxe room for the price of Econo room!

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We were so stoked that we decided to just rest in the hotel for the rest of the afternoon. We decided to go around the city on the second day instead.
I love veggies so my hubby and I decided to walk across Burnham Park towards Session Road to dine at Oh My Gulay – one of the highly recomended resto for veggie lovers. It was closed though. Good thing we found Azothea, also a local vegan resto just below Oh My Gulay.

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I also had carrot juice to go with these.
City Tour
If you have decided not to bring your car, the cheapest way to go around the city is via jeepneys. But since I have brought my kids with me and I wanted to go far flung spots such as Ben Cab museum, Woodcarver’s Vilage and Trinidad and  because I wanted to shop along the way too, we decided to rent a taxi at fare rate of 300/ hour. It wasn’t cheap but still within my budget. 😀 The taxi driver, Ulysses, also knows his way around the city so no traffic!! 😀
First Stop: Trinidad Strawberry Fields

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I enjoyed picking strawberries obviously! 😀 1.2 Kg for 550, not bad eh?

Second Stop: Tam-awan Village

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Biigan apparently means female in Igorot.

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Ang Gatan means male.

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Hubby and baby inside one of the huts in the village with art display.

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Restaurant in Tam-awan. 🙂

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What’s with our Northern ancestors and their phallus-depicting sculptures?

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I love this painting at Tam-awan which shows typical scenario of father and son in a farm.

And this my friend is the first #lookup ever. Haha!

Lookup ni Lola
Lookup ni Lola

Ben Cab Museum

Now this museum, which is currently the top destination in Baguio City according to Travel Advisor, is one heck of a place.  Picture this: arts and nature combined put in one big area which includes a ridge, a deep valley, farm lands and the arts building atop the ridge thus, giving a nice overlook of the valley. Here are some of the photos we took there:

The two hours we spent at Ben Cab were not enough to appreciate the artist’s vast collection of antiques, art works and the landscape. We didn’t cross the valley and saw only a portion of the organic farm where cucumbers are growing.  I badly wanted to see the river!  We also didn’t get to try the restaurant there which I heard serves organic food. We’ll definitely go back to Ben Cab and spend at least 5 hours. Next time!

We also went to the famous spots such as Mines View Park (big disappointment due to renovation); Camp John Hay (I always love the well preserved pine tree forests); Haunted House (it’s a white house abandoned during the 1990 earthquake, I was told); PMA, and Burnham Park (where my kids enjoyed running and cycling).

We had dinner and lunch at Good Taste too! This restaurant is famous for serving sumptuous meals at humongous servings and very cheap price! And the best thing about Paladin Hotel, it’s only about 50 meters or less away from Good Taste restaurant.  I heard that the nearby steak house also offer the best steak in the neighborhood.

Tips to budget travelers like me:

1. Don’t go to Baguio City during peak season if you’re on a budget – things such as car rentals can get very expensive; too many people bring their cars causing HEAVY traffice; and worst, less number of ube jars is allocated per person at Good Shepherd (LOL).

2. Book your hotel in advance. When we went to Paladin, I saw many people inquiring if there were vacancies. Transient Houses sell out really fast so you have to book at least a month in advance. There are two Transient Houses that I highly recommend based on my personal experience and recommendation by friends:

a. Lapid’s Transient House – Pacdal Street

b. North Pine Transient House – Camp John Hay

You can contact them through their Facebook Pages.

3.  If you’re into wood crafts, drop by Woodcarvers Village – got my fruit bowl there at only PhP 350 which I found out just recently to be selling at 1, 050 at Landmark!!

4. If you plan to go to Ben Cab, Woodcarvers Village and Tam Awan Village, either bring a car (the roads can get narrow and steep though!) or hire a taxi (or have a taxi waiting). It’s difficult to hail one because these spots are remote and step-out from the main city.

5. Strawberries are rather plenty during January to March months, I’ve been told.

6. Benguet oranges are the best out there, way better than the ones from China or Japan. Be sure to try them.

7. The best place to buy souvenirs is still at Mines View Park and the public market, so many shops to choose from and if you haggle enough, you can get discounts for bulk purchases.

8. If you love brewing coffee, go to the public market and look for Garcia’s. They have arabica, Kalinga brew, robusta, etc. and they allow blends (mixture of 2 or more type of coffee) and they’re cheap. I bought my arabica at 220 per kilo. They have flavored coffee beans too!

9. Beware of pick pockets. I didn’t see actual snatchers but did sight a few ones selling stolen mobile phones and watches.

10. If you came to Baguio for Good Shepherd’s famous ube and snow balls, during peak season, – fall in line early, as in around 7 AM before the age is open.  If you intent to buy a lot, bring some of your family members or friends and have them line up as well because Good Shepherd limits certain number of products per person during peak season. Last Christmas, I heard that the limit went down to only 2 jars of uber per person and they ran outta stock before the day was over.

10.  To save up on fares, walk around.  Baguio City is a compact city and a nice place to walk around because it doesn’t get too hot like Manila.  If people will walk more, there’d be less pollution in our cities. Just saying.

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