Monday, October 23, 2006

Baguio, quo vadis

A city designed for 30,000 is now occupied by about 300,000 people. No wonder Baguio has lost most of its allure... at least in the eyes of the common bakasyonista. Fortunately I'm not one of those. Yes its full of smoke now and the scent of pine is not as readily experienced as before but it still has a few good spots. Its just too bad I couldn't go there later this year. I really wanted to go and pig out on strawberries.

We went there on a Saturday and stayed until Monday. We were lucky enough to get 3 whole days of good, no, excellent Baguio weather! Our day started at 4am when we all woke up to prepare for the long trip up to Baguio. Sadly, not everyone woke up as one of our designated drivers, si ELIAS "BADONG" CONDRILLON SANTOS JUNIOR got too drunk from the previous nights Oktoberfest and not even an intesity 7 earthquake could wake him up. What should have taken 30minutes to organize took us 1.5hrs and we ended up leaving the house at 5:30am. I had to ask my dad to drive and rearrange seating arrangments and supplies.

(photo, above: scene on the way to Asin Hot Springs in Tuba, Benguet. below: 5am at NLEX Balintawak. Taken by AllanBarredo on Olympus C4040Z 10/21/2006)

At last, off we went! Everyone was glad we were on our way. However, our enthusiasm was quickly dampened by a loooong bumper to bumper congestion along NLEX (apalit, pampanga). Cars were being diverted to the opposite lane --- AT 6AM !!! Upon getting closer, we saw that the people in charge of directing or redirecting traffic were all ASLEEP - galing talaga. They probably should have removed the diversion signs a few hours before but were literally sleeping on the job. bobo

Just before we hit Kenon road we chanced upon some folks selling what I first thought were birds because of their size. Upon closer inspection, I was aghast to find out they were not birds but HUGE PRAWNS!!! Some bigger than my hand! I had to stop and buy a few kilos. The blue crabs were very fresh too so I got some of those as well. I was able to get the freakishly large prawns for 300 a kilo but I doubt their scales are honest. We cooked them hilabos style but with a twist - i added lots of crushed garlic in butter and slowly sizzled it in the sauce until it was dry - delicioso! Dad forgot he had uric acid problems and pigged out on the prawns.

I've been reading about the ASIN HOT SPRINGS but never got around to actually visiting it because I really didn't know where it was. SO, after we checked in at Villa Al Pino , a cheap but extremely cozy apartment just above the stores in MinesViewPark, I checked google earth, got my GPS and sequestered one of the cars.
(photo, above right: Kenon Road Lions head. left: prawns on steroids - bigger than mom's hand! below* Scenes on the way down to AsinHotSprings, from left to right: rickety one-car bridge, hot spring pool, isa sa dalawang gabi [two cave-like tunnels on the way to the hot springs. Taken by AllanBarredo on Olympus C4040Z 10/21/2006)

The road to asin hot springs was not as easy as I thought. Basically, we went down session road then beside maharlika building. Take that road from the side of Maharlika building and just go straight. Stay on that road until you get to a department store building( forgot the name ). There is a street going down on its left, take that road and keep going down for about 45minutes. When we asked the locals how far it was to asin hot springs, they all give us this "hay naku!" face and say MALAYO PA! plus... "dadaan kayo sa dalawang gabi" ... what the heck does that mean? "dalawang gabi?" ??? The only DALAWANG GABI that I've ever seen is when I look into the nose of one of the students - hehe - you know who you are.

The hot spring pools abound here in Asin, Tuba, Benguet. Choose one that has no karaoke please!DON'T choose that one at the side of the street. Go down further on the rough road on your left until you reach the building that houses the pumps for the hydroelectric power plant. This facility has two pools, one hot spring pool and one regular pool. The hotspring pool water has a temperature ranging from 27degrees to about 35degrees at its hottest part (near the hot water spout) . Water here is so abundant that they never bother to close their showers. Its amazing. We all soaked up the hot spring water and cooled down in the big pool. It was very relaxing.
(photo, left : Hot spring pool sign. Notice what #1 says... ? Taken by AllanBarredo on Olympus C4040Z 10/21/2006)

We stop on the way back up to baguio to look at the local handicraft. They make those seats that are shaped like a hand as well as small to medium sized woodcraft here by bulk.

The next day, Sunday, we all decided to go up and check out that road to the Radar station.
(photo, below* Scenes taken from MinesView ViewPoint, from left to right: dawn, sunrise and early fog dissipation. Taken by AllanBarredo on Olympus C4040Z 10/22/2006)

We took the Marcos Road and turned left where there was a sign saying "Radar", along the road going to GreenValleySubdivision. When I was in highschool, I vaguely remember hiking this trail all the way up to the radar one summer. All 150 of us kids attending summercamp left at 4am and was at the peak at 6am to watch the sunrise. I remember eating wildberries I found along the way. There were not many houses around then - back in the 80s, now there is electricity and even a school halfway up the mountain. Despite that, going up Mt.Santo Tomas peak where the radar is situated was a very good idea. The road was rough and there was fog everywhere and this at only 2pm! We had to go slowly as visibility dropped to about 10meters. Portions of the road were just wide enough for 1 vehicle so if you meet someone from the opposite direction, one of you have to backoff else be stuck there forever. We saw this toyota altis car on the way down and driven by a foreigner... now how the heck was he able to get that up there (looked like a rental)? Someparts of the road were at a 40degree incline! The road just before the reaching the Radar is particularly steep even for a 4x4. I suggest y'all park and walk the 50meters to the AFP gate that blocks entrance to the radar facility. The scenery was eerily beautiful. I'm sure its beautiful when you can see Pangasinan from this vantage point but having all this fog has a beauty of its own too.

(photo, below* Scenes on the way up to the RADAR, from left to right: eerie scene like something from silent hill, road to nowhere, radar station Taken by AllanBarredo on Olympus C4040Z 10/22/2006)

Time really flies when your having fun. Especially here in Baguio when all your systems simply want to shut down and you feel like going back to sleep within 5 minutes after you wake up! The weather is really excellent for resting. We did the obligatory tour of all the common "tourist" stops like JohnHay, Burnham, Wagwag, and the Market. We even went to the botanical gardens and let the local piranhas disguised as "old women in igorot attire", empty our pockets after they force their way into our picture taking.
(photo, below* Scenes on our last day, from left to right: view of the radar station from GoodShepherd, Botanical Garden with natives, BahayPawid Restaurant at the foot of Kenon Taken by AllanBarredo on Olympus C4040Z 10/23/2006)

Now its time to go back down and face the forces of evil --- actually, just back to reality. Going up Baguio, we noticed that the usual place where we eat lunch on the way home, RIVER VIEW, was closed. We found another place called BAHAY PAWID just after you decend Kenon and before you go onto the national road. They really had great food. Unlike the food in RiverView, the food here in BahayPawid had a very distinct and personal touch to it. The owners hail from QC but thought it wise to setup shop there 10 years ago. Ordinary filipino dishes that tasted extraordinarily delicious. I fully recommend that place.


ewic said...

nice photos! at gaya pa rin ng dati, detailed ang entry =) sinong may sabi na laos na ang baguio? its all in the eye of the beholder! hehehe!

Shachou, sana we can go back to Anilao March of next year, tamang-tama bday ni Joriz san. hehe!

demeter said...

Hello Eric. Thanks for your comments! Oo nga, thats a good idea. I'll plan that pero dapat sumama ka okay? Summer 2007 - Anilao here we come.

ewic said...

yes! definitely sasama ako! sana we can have it around 2nd or 3rd week of March, friday-sunday, 3 days of fresh air and nothing but clear salt water! ready nako. arigatou shachou!

kawadjan said...

hi! thanks for dropping by my blog. i didn't know people read me. hehehe. thanks for the advice of course. i'll surely post about my mt. province trip. :)

demeter said...

Your entries on the "thrift shops of Evangelista" is intrigues me. Thanks for those posts. More power