Chilling Out In Baguio
(Part 1 of a series)
Even in a true-blue tropical country like the Philippines, you will still find places where the temperature does not go further than 20 degrees Celsius on the hottest days. If you get tired of the balmy beach weather or the city pollution, head up to Baguio City for a breath of cool mountain air.
The City of Pines
Once in Baguio, you will immediately notice the change in the weather, gone is the sticky, humid feel of the air in places in the lowlands.
It is immediately replaced by chilly, fresh mountain air that is a distinctive feature of the city.
Gateway To The North
Baguio is nestled in a valley high up in the Cordillera Region in Northern Luzon, about 1,500 meters above sea level. It’s the first stop to the farther Northern provinces where you will experience true indigenous culture. From Manila, you can get to this mountain haven via bus or private transport in six hours (or less if you travel at night) or by plane in less than an hour.
You can even choose which type of bus you want: there’s the ordinary bus with no air-conditioning, the ordinary air-conditioned bus and the deluxe bus with premium reclining seats and on-board toilet.
If you’re in a hurry, travel at night or on a plane so you can be there in the shortest time possible. But that sort of takes the fun away from the trip because you won’t have stopovers for food and bathroom breaks.
Take note that the roads up to Baguio can get pretty slick and slippery during the rainy season, and may even be closed down temporarily for safety reasons. There are other routes that you can take to get there, but the trip may take longer and be just a tad less interesting.
Food For The Trip
Going to Baguio means that you will pass through at most five different provinces, depending on your point of departure—Bulacan, Pampanga, Tarlac, Pangasinan and La Union—or about a province for every hour on the road.
The trip is far from boring because you will see a lot of the typical northern Philippine countryside along the way: rice paddies, tree orchards, and hog and poultry farms are scattered from right outside Manila all the way to Baguio itself and beyond. The North is where most of Manila’s food products are sourced from, particularly rice, fruits and vegetables.
If you’re travelling in a private vehicle, take as many stopovers as you want to capture the beautiful countryside on film and in your memory.
Stopovers are not just necessary for stretching your legs, taking a leak or snapping photos. Along the way you can also partake of the delicious native delicacies of each province that you pass by. There are also peddlers who actually get aboard the bus to offer snacks and refreshments such as boiled quail eggs, chicharon, peanuts, sandwiches, iced tea, bottled water, candy and others.
A wonderful must-try kakanin or sweetmeat that you can get along the way is the tupig in Pangasinan. Tupig is very much like the standard-issue suman you can find anywhere, only it is tastier and more scrumptious. Tupig is made with glutinous rice and grated coconuts. It is wrapped in banana leaves and cooked slowly over live coals, giving it a smoky flavor and aroma. You can buy a bunch of tupig for about $1 or less if you know how to haggle wisely.
To be continued….