Day 2: Hustlin’ and Bustlin’ in Baguio
The day started early, but not as early as I had planned. We woke up, fully recharged from yesterday’s activities. As we went outside to our breakfast table, I was remarkably cold. What a break from the usually sweltering weather in Manila!
It’s true what they say. You’ll have this uncanny love-hate relationship with the Baguio weather. At times, it’s perfect. But a real enemy for when you need to get out of bed. 😅
Nevertheless, it was relaxing to wake up to something different. It felt good looking at tall pine trees for a change. And the fact that it was 15°C that morning made it even more spectacular.
We had breakfast and it was so good. More details will be posted on my succeeding blog, so watch out for it! As soon as we were done, we were back on the streets.
First stop: BenCab Museum, Asin Rd., Tuba, Benguet
Getting to BenCab proved to be more than difficult because of the ongoing street parade. A number of roads had been blocked, which left us with no choice but to walk. The good thing was, we were able to catch glimpses of the event. As such, every 10 minutes or so, we’d stop on our tracks to take pictures and videos.
To get there, you would need to take a jeepney going to Asin Rd. A terminal is located near the city market. There is just about some wait time since jeepneys don’t leave until they’re completely filled. The ride costs 11.25 Php per person, one-way.
BenCab Museum is the brain child of Benedicto Cabrera, famous Filipino artist. The place features an assemblage of his own works, and a couple others from his fellow artists. Included as well are crafts and sculptures native to the Cordilleras.
Below the gallery is where you’d find Cafe Sabel. We’ve asked the guides who the restaurant was named after but just like us, they were clueless. I can only assume that the inspiration was BenCab’s mother, Isabel.
Overlooking the entire museum was the farm and garden, with a hut and a fish pond as its centerpiece. On the other end was where vegetables were being grown. There was a supposed eco-trail which unfortunately, we didn’t get to see anymore. 😭
Nice to know: BenCab Museum is closed on Mondays. So be sure to check your calendars twice if you plan on going there. It’s open from 9 am to 6 pm. Should you wish to avail of the guided tour, just approach the reception. Just a heads up, video taking is not allowed. Fee is 120 Php per person.
From the museum, we hailed a cab and headed back to the city. Good thing, there was no more traffic since the parade had already finished. After getting off the cab, we looked for a jeepney bound for La Trinidad. Can you guess where we’re going? 😉
Next stop: Strawberry Farm, La Trinidad, Benguet
Any Baguio itinerary has to include the Strawberry Farm, am I right? 😉 What’s special about this farm is that you can relish in the unique experience of picking your own strawberries. That’s right. You do the picking!
The farm is known for its strawberries, but other vegetables like lettuce and tomatoes are also grown. There is no entrance fee. But those who will pick their own strawberries and buy them afterwards, a kilo is worth 450 Php. Once inside, you will need a basket and a cutter before you can start picking. The farmers are gracious enough to offer it to you but in case no one does, you can simply ask.
Towards the end of the plantation, apart from all the vegetation, sunflowers can be spotted. Visitors who enter can take unlimited pictures for a small fee of 10 Php per person.
Tip: You can also buy pre-picked strawberries right outside the plantation. Compared to the 450 Php per kilo when you pick them yourselves, you can find pre-picked ones almost half the price. Big, big savings! 🤓
Just outside, ice cream vendors were all over the place. We dove right in on the bandwagon and bought ourselves yet another Baguio favorite – strawberry ice cream! Unlike ordinary strawberry ice creams, the ones in Baguio are made from real strawberries. Which makes it 3x more delectable. An ice cream, however, costs 25-40 Php depending on your choice of cone. Quite pricey but definitely worth it!
From La Trinidad, we rode a jeepney back to the city. We craved for something more familiar so we ended up eating in Yellow Cab, the one located in front of the city hall. As soon as we were done, we headed to our next destination. Clue: it’s another park. 😉
Next stop: Wright Park and The Mansion
We found ourselves stuck in traffic for over an hour, trying to get to Wright Park. According to the cabbie, it seemed like a lot were heading to Mines View Park, another tourist attraction that was relatively nearby.
Wright Park is located across the Rizal Elementary School in Gibraltar Rd. The park is particularly known for horseback riding. Horses can be rented for 200 Php (30 minutes) and 400 Php (1 hour) inclusive of an accompanying guide. While the experience was both scary (for some unexperienced riders like me) and enjoyable, the place was stenchy. Horses do their business all over the trail so make sure your noses can tolerate some serious stink. 😂
After our time with the horses was over, we hiked our way to the other side of the park. Hiked, because climbing up over a hundred stone steps was definitely no joke. As we reached the top, a beauty unfolded right before our eyes – a long stretch of man-made pool fronting a mansion. Known as the Pool of Pines, this body of water gets its name from the towering pine trees that reflect on its surface.
A few meters walk and we were fast approaching the gates of The Mansion, located along Leonard Wood Rd. The Mansion is the northern counterpart of the Malacañang Palace and is basically the official summer residence of the Philippine President. It was built in 1908 under the proclamation of then American Governor-General William Cameron Forbes, and was designed by William Parsons. There is no entrance fee, but tourists are only allowed to take pictures and videos from the outside. Beyond the sidewalk is already off limits. Too bad, it would’ve been nice to stroll around and peek through the inside of a presidential house. 🙄
It was already getting late when we left The Mansion. However, we still managed to squeeze in one tiny stop. We decided it had to be now or never, because we only had until tomorrow morning before we left for Manila. Next thing we know, we were getting off the cab as we arrived at our destination.
Next stop: Camp John Hay
Camp John Hay used to be a US military base in Baguio, named after Theodore Roosevelt’s state secretary. A former recreational facility for American soldiers in the country, this was later turned into a resort that has attracted many local and foreign tourists.
The area highlights its golf course, a hotel, several cottages and restaurants, a shopping center and a convention hall. More than the luxury of everything in it, the beauty of Camp John Hay is best experienced through a lazy saunter across its vast expanse of land. If you’re the soul-searching type, the calm and quiet will definitely work for you. Or if you’re the bold and creative type, the pine trees and the rest of the greenery can be your befitting muse.
One of the major things people associate with Camp John Hay is The Manor, which is dubbed as the most expensive resort hotel in Baguio. Its rustic architecture is reminiscent of how typical cabins were built, which is pretty much central to the modern country home vibe it has.
Activity-wise, there are a lot that can be done in Camp John Hay. Horse back riding can be your option, or if your bet is for something more extreme, then the tree top adventure would be the best choice. You can also follow the eco-trail if you feel like burning some extra calories. 😉 Unfortunately, we weren’t able to do all this and more because it was pretty much sundown. It would be amazing to go here probably in the morning when there’s not too much people yet or early in the afternoon for the activities.
As the sun slowly bade us farewell, we realized just how tiring this day had been. We had this overwhelming desire to seek out the comfort of good food as we scouted for some place to dine. Out of nowhere, we thought of Cafe by the Ruins.
It turns out that this restaurant has two branches, the pioneer branch down in Shuntug St. and the other one along Session Road, called Cafe by the Ruins Dua. We decided to go for the latter considering it was practically near where we were staying. Compared to the former, the Dua is relatively more contemporary in design, and more spacious, which makes it ideal, I guess, for larger groups.
Like all first-timers, we chose to order their bestsellers. It was pretty easy pinpointing which of the dishes were, because they always had the word Ruins attached to it, such as their Ruins’ Coffee and Ruins’ Leche Flan. Aside from that, we had the bagnet and the spicy shrimp for our mains, which were both good. Oh, but the shrimp – I just loved how it was oozing with flavor and spice. The kesong puti salad was yet another thing. What stood out, apart from the whole green leafy medley, was the carabao cheese and how it was done. Imagine breading and frying it with sesame seeds. Who knew sesame seeds could make such a difference? 🤔 The kalabasa puree, however, wasn’t topnotch. It was too bland for my taste as though someone forgot to sprinkle salt and pepper. On second thought, maybe someone did. Too bad. 😓😓
After eating, we worked out a plan to visit the night market in Harrison Road. From Cafe Dua, we took a cab, only to get there an hour early. It was a bit frustrating missing out on this experience, but there was also no denying we were way too tired to wait until 9 pm. So, we headed back to Lucia’s instead.
The moment we arrived at Lucia’s, we were like “Thank God we’re home!” The entire day was fulfilling because we were able to cross out the bulk of our itinerary, but it left us too exhausted to even let out one more word at that point. Nevertheless, everything that happened that day was worth it. I wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world!
Later that evening, we got invited to try out the bonfire. It was pretty chilly, so we jumped right in and said yes. A few minutes after, we were called out to the back of the property where the bonfire was set up. We sat close to it, feeling all warm and cozy. I figured this was what I needed to cap the night off. How I wish everyday would finish off like this. Two words. Absolutely perfect.
Third and last day coming up soon! Don’t forget to tune in.
Lots of love,