One of the most delayed travel promise I had was a trip to the Philippines. Although I was basically based near to the country, there were so many times that plans were left untouched or abandoned. So, when I finally confirmed my attendance to a dear friend's wedding, it was really excited. The last thing that I had to do was to convince my family that the Philippines is safe for a solo lady traveler like me - MISSION SUCCEEDED!!!
Despite having to change the original travel plan, I basically had so much fun discovering and experiencing a new country, new places and new culture. Over the years, I have heard so many people saying that I look "soooo Filipina" and immediately after I reached Clark, it was confirmed - I do look Filipina. The best thing about having the face of a local, is all my anxiety of being treated as a tourist was immediately dismissed. Thus, making my entire journey more exciting, as I could embrace the local culture and its people without much reservation.
Upon the arrival at the Diosdado Macapagal International Airport, it was an easy task to look for a jeepney to get to the main bus terminal in Dau. Before I went to look for the jeepney, I took the opportunity to buy some snacks and water at a small sundry shop at the airport - I was informed that the journey by bus to my next destination is a long long one. The Air Asia flight from Kota Kinabalu arrived in Clark slightly passed four in the afternoon. With my next destination located way up north of the Luzon Island of the Philippines, it was expected that I could only be arriving slightly later at night.
Dau bus terminal is a big terminal, which I didn't get a chance to actually discover. Immediately after I jumped out of the jeepney, a good samaritan actually helped me to stop a moving bus that was bound for Baguio City. It was a comfy, but super cold, coach bus. I was also happy to know that even on a moving bus, there was internet connection available. The entire bus journey was about 5 hours, with a couple of stops in between. Every time the bus stops, there will be small traders coming on to the bus to sell some food and snacks. Since I already bought buns and snacks from the airport, that became my late lunch and dinner.
At around 10pm, the bus arrived in Baguio. That weekend was the record breaking lowest temperature for the city. Baguio is the summer capital for the country. I was merely lucky that a friend of mine reminded me to put on warm clothes, the night before I flew to the Philippines. Else, I would have frozen like crazy assuming that the place share the same weather like the other Southeast Asia countries.
Filipinos are kind and nice people in general. Even when I was looking for hot drinks at the bus terminal, I was greeted with smiles and with a few short sentences, I was already on a taxi heading to the place that I was supposed to stay. Extremely hungry upon reaching the guesthouse, my request to get something to eat was greeted with kind hospitality - finally I had rice and fish soup for supper.
~Where did I stay?
Iggy's Inn - 25A, South Drive, Baguio City
~How much did it cost me?
US$100 for 3 nights stay inclusive of breakfast
~How was the guesthouse?
Pleasantly surprised by the hospitality and the service received. Read detailed review here.
I had a day to roam the city, so the next day I chartered a taxi for 5 hours and began my discovery adventure. I was amazed by the amount of experience that I had gained despite being a bit low on cash. These are the highlights of my self adventure:
Mines View Park
There is no need to travel to Greece or to Italy to experience such weather and beauty. It was one of the most breathtaking view I have ever seen in my entire life. It is said that here is the highest point of the city where people could see the entire city from such height.
Philippine Military Academy (PMA)
Not only I could see cute army-to-be, I was mesmerized by the beautiful surrounding. With its panoramic views as well as its lovely pine forest, it is hard to believe that the whole area is actually a military academy.
Camp John Hay
As a legendary and historically important, this area is now a country club with variety of amenities available alongside its 18-holes golf course. Also, I had a chance to do some window shopping at the branded outlets inside the camp area.
This huge monument of a lion's head is actually at the side of the main road heading towards Baguio. Located at the edge of the escalating road, I was amazed by the size of the monument as well as the surrounding view.
The main building itself is the official summer resident for the president, but the landscape and the area nearby are so beautiful in addition to the horseback riding activity that are openly available for people.
The following day was my first time attending a Christian wedding. It was a new experience and of course I learned more about the culture of the Philippines' people - goshhhh...they do know how to party and have fun. The wedding reception was held at Baguio Country Club. Since the party ended late, I was only able to meet up with my awesome friends, whom I have not met in 10 years, the following morning - for breakfast.
Before I departed down to the city of Angeles, I had great experience discovering Session Road (the heart of the city) as well as had a uniquely great time at Oh My Gulay, enjoying tasty vegetarian meals with my friends.
Help me to raise fund for this special project. I will be traveling specifically to complete certain voluntary and charity mission across Asia in 2014.
For every dollar raised, I will spend them to help those needy throughout the entire journey. Click HERE to for details and donate.