Episode 126 – Tuesday, January 31st, 2017 (7336)
Last episode, I was talking about the 20 memorable places that I lived and visited in the last 20 years. Well, that’s 20 years from 1997 to 2016. But it’s already 2017, and I had not traveled in far places since the last time I did almost two years ago. Not until just last Friday, I and my officemates went to Baguio City. Also called the Summer Capital of the Philippines, it is the largest city in the Benguet Province and in the Cordilleras, and it has the altitude of 5,000 feet above sea level – the highest that I ever traveled in the Philippines. This was my first time to visit that city in my entire life, and this is now the northernmost city that I traveled and visited in the Philippines. Although I’m still tired and little bit sleepy that we just arrived from there last Sunday, I’ll discuss my adventures in Baguio in this episode.
Late last year, I and my officemates discussed about our trip to a far place to take our vacation and relaxation, and we chose Baguio for our next destination after our summer trip in Balite Falls, Cavite last summer. We thought that our trip to Baguio was initially a “joke”, but later on we started to be serious about it. Our initial plan to go there was supposed to be happened January 20 when we decided to move our trip one week later. This was a good timing for me because I was sick with flu and fever one week before our trip. Even though I was not full 100% feeling well, I was so excited on the day of our Baguio trip.
Last Thursday, a day before our departure, I packed some of my clothes, including my personal laptop, on my backpack. It had been a long time that I stayed away from my family at home since 2015, and for the first time (since 2010), I stayed overnight at the office with my office friend. However, while working at the office, I didn’t notice that I had “wardrobe malfunction” on my jeans that I wore on that day. Because I didn’t bring any extra pants on my backpack, I just went home first to change and to have my early dinner. I was there shortly before I departed going back to the office. At night, I really enjoyed being solo at the office where I made some noise after I turned on the speaker playing 90s songs from a FM radio of my phone. I also watched some U.S. TV shows thru live streaming before I went to sleep around 11 pm when my office friend came to stay overnight with me at the office.
Prepare for a long journey
Around 4:15 am on the next day, we woke up quite early, and I took a bath with warm water because I felt so cold on the early morning. After eating our breakfast, my other officemates came early at the office to wait for our boss to pick up our things into his car. We left from the office exactly 6 o’clock in the morning. We decided to not travel via EDSA because of traffic-prone condition, but instead we drove thru Manila area although there’s some traffic on that place especially around UST area. We also bought our breakfast shortly to eat while traveling going to North Luzon Expressway (NLEX) for our long journey to Baguio.
Going North via NLEX was so nostalgia for me because I had been traveling on that expressway (thru commuting on a provincial bus) so many times for my solo travel to visit my “love” due of long distance relationship (LDR). The last time I had been there was almost two years ago, just few days before our unexpected break-up. But anyways, I just missed that travel on the expressway, and there were some changes on that way like Candaba Viaduct where it was adjusted to make wider and the integration of toll plaza (removing Dau Toll Plaza as the northern terminus of toll expressway). As we traveled via Subic-Clark-Tarlac Expressway (SCTEX), we had a drive break to have short relaxation before heading to our long journey going to Baguio. Also, this was our first time to travel via newly-constructed Tarlac-Pangasinan-La Union Expressway (TPLEX) where we drove up to Binalonan, Pangasinan (as the temporary northern terminus of the expressway).
After changing from one of my officemates to drive for a long journey, we’re now traveling along MacArthur Highway from Binalonan to Rosario, La Union where there’s a long bridge over Bued River before the welcome entrance. From Rosario, we turned right going to Kennon Road, the shortest route to Baguio. This road is accessed along Bued River with some residential houses surrounding the high mountains. This is one of the hazardous roads where it is often prone to landslides during heavy rains or typhoon conditions. However, when we drove along the road, there’s traffic that we’re stuck because of on-going road construction making travelers to access only one way at the time while the others are waiting. We took an hour to drive and passing 7 camps along Kennon Road before reaching the famous Lion’s Head where we stopped to take some pictures. At exactly 12 noon, after 6 hours and about 280 kilometers (174 miles) of long drive, we finally reached Baguio City where we didn’t expect that there’s still traffic that similar to the Metro. While we’re looking for a place to stay overnight, I got pissed when my mother “warned” me thru text message that I must not “use” any girls around the city (see my phone screenshot below). This was after I told her in text message that we already arrived at Baguio, so I felt so mad why she’s always thinking so negatively while I traveled with my officemates in a far place (there’s a history about it, but I don’t tell this because it’s complicated). I was telling myself that my mother still didn’t move on from the past incident happened two years ago. Kumbaga sa break-up, kailangan na mag-move on!!! Kainis ‘to si mader! Gosh!
I’m sorry to tell this, but I felt unhappy on my mother’s negativity because she’s always worried while I was not at home!
When we arrived at Baguio, we first visited Teacher’s Camp where we supposed to stay there overnight. The place was said that there were many ghosts and spirits lived there despite that many tourists have stayed there for vacation. But as what I said, the rooms were already fully booked, so we looked for another place to stay. Fortunately, there’s one guy who held a placard written “Transient House” on one corner. We called him to help us to find the transient house for our temporary stay in Baguio. And few minutes later, the guy found a simple house surrounded with other transient and rental houses. We went down the house and put our things in one room to stay overnight. Our stay-in house was too cold, so no electric fan or air-conditioner needed, and there’s completed amenities.
Around 1 o’clock in the afternoon, my boss requested me to sit with him on the front, and I helped him to navigate some places in Baguio using my offline map. Then, we went to a local restaurant called Jack’s where there’s lots of affordable and delicious food to eat for our lunch. After lunch, we headed to Burnham Park, Baguio Botanical Garden (we stayed there shortly), Wright Park where we took many step going to the top and walked going to The Mansion, the office summer residence of our Philippine president. While we’re at the park, the weather turned cloudy with some rains, and I forgot to wear my cap to avoid raindrops when we’re taking pictures at The Mansion.
After our sightseeing trip, we went back to our transient house to take some break before heading to SM City Baguio. However, we couldn’t park on the area because it was already full, so instead we went to a street where many provincial buses were parked as the terminal of the passengers leaving Baguio and coming from other places. At that area, we ate pork sizzling as our early dinner and bought some pasalubongs nearby. Afterwards, we went back to our transient house where we set up to have our drinking session with fun and full of laughter. After our “happy hour”, we went to our room to have a nice sleep with cold weather.
On the next morning, we ate our breakfast then took a shower with heater making the bathroom full of moist. I loved taking bath with hot water because of cold weather at Baguio. Then, we went out to go to the city market where we bought food for our lunch then we also headed to the gas station to load our car. We went back to our transient house to cook our food then we ate for our early lunch before heading to Camp John Hay where we took our photos together with some crazy stuff. We stayed there for an hour before going back to our transient house to take some rest before going to Mines View Park. Unfortunately, we’re unable to go there because we’re stuck with heavy traffic going there (many tourists were going there during that day), so we decided to go to SM City Baguio, walking along Session Road, seeing nice and beautiful ladies around (really?), and buying another pasalubongs like fresh strawberries and jams (sandwich fillings or palaman). I bought 3 sets of jams and a native broom reed (walis tambo) which was so expensive, costing around 150 to 275 pesos.
After buying pasalubongs, we went back to our transient house to take some rest and to watch a basketball game and news on TV. We also ate grilled pork and chicken that we bought nearby for our dinner, and suddenly my boss discussed about our plan to depart Baguio by tomorrow morning. But later, he changed his mind. He had a good idea that we would leave the city on the evening, so we could drive on a wide, less-stress, and less-traffic highway going back home at night. It was better for us to drive going back home at night without stress and traffic on the road than going back tomorrow morning. While I was at the bathroom, my companions were already preparing to pack up their things on our car, so I quickly put all of my personal stuff on my backpack and my personal laptop on a bag. We didn’t wait until tomorrow to leave Baguio, and instead we’re ready to drive at night going back home.
Around 8:30 pm, my boss drove our car from Baguio and traveled on Kennon Road with dark and some hazards. Fortunately, we traveled safely from the city, going down along Kennon Road, until we reached MacArthur Highway in La Union. From there, we traveled along the wide highway without any hassle. One of my officemates switched my boss to drive our car and traveled until we reached San Fernando, Pampanga at midnight. We almost got lost around Angeles area after we drove in wrong direction, and thanks to my navigator map, we made to drive back to the highway.
Early morning trip
After our break at McDonald’s San Fernando, my boss drove our car then headed to North Luzon Expressway for fast travel going back to Manila. I and my other work colleagues felt asleep while traveling thru Manila area where we passed along LRT line, MacArthur Bridge, and the famous clock tower of Manila City Hall before heading to South Luzon Expressway (via Service Road) and National Highway towards San Pedro, Laguna. After another 6 hours of long drive and almost 285 kilometers (177 miles) from transient house in Baguio, we finally arrived at our office in San Pedro around 2:30 in the morning where I stayed there temporarily until the sunlight. While my other colleagues arrived to their respective homes, I felt so tired when I was preparing to have a nice sleep even it was already 4 o’clock in the morning.
When I woke up, I prepared some things (including pasalubongs) to go home. But because it was Sunday, I just decided to attend Feast first at SM City Santa Rosa despite of having lack of sleep and tiredness. I arrived there just a perfect time before the second session of Feast SMSR was about to start led by Bro. Dreus Cosio who was also in Baguio with his wife on almost the same time as I was at Baguio with my work colleagues last weekend.
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Before the month of January ends, there were some good happenings occurred on the first month of 2017. I think it is not about my “best year ever” because it has been just only one-twelfths of 2017, so I just refer that January is indeed as my “best month ever” because of good things happened including my trip to Baguio with my work friends. I really miss to travel far places especially when I was a solo traveler that I had done several times from 2012 to 2015. But my adventure in Baguio was really considered as one of my memorable moments that I ever did this year. But it’s just only the beginning because there are 11 months left in 2017, and I hope there will be many good and memorable moments to come in my life with full of positive things this year.