Day one – Baguio
It was an early start to our adventure. Heading off at 4am our destination was Baguio. It is recommended to leave early to avoid the Manila Traffic. I just love how the children get so excited when they have to get up in the middle of the night. I have to say I have never lost that thrill I would get as a child, like I was doing something wrong.
I would have taken a lot more photos except for FB throwing her guts up all over me, numerous times…mental note – always pack Travel Calm…
Soon we were on our way again, slowly climbing up ridiculously steep roads with incredible turns and twists. Photos do not do them justice as two dimensional photographs cannot capture the angles. My best description is to say it is like a rollercoaster, you know when the track twists upwards and kind of turns over on itself. The roads did that. There were times I wondered if the car would make it up the steep incline. The view however, was just gorgeous. Mountain upon mountain, blue sky, sunshine. Just stunning. Again, I was disappointed that we could not capture the full magic of the view as we are just using our iPhone cameras at the moment. We do keep talking about investing in a fancy-pants camera, and one day, we will.
It was only 9am when we arrived so we checked into our accommodation to make sure it was all okay and then headed off again to the shopping center. I was after Travel Calm to prevent any future vomit-all-over-mummy episodes, and we needed breakfast. While we were struggling with the seriously bad coffee we found ourselves faced with, we worked on a plan for checking out this town.
Baguio is considered a cross roads between hill tribe culture and lowland settlers and this is evident if you tour around and visit places like the Easter Weaving House. This place has been going since 1908 and is run by the Philippine Episcopal Church. Here you see the Igorots create their beautiful fabrics and turn them into wares such as bags, shoes and clothing. The Igorots I am told, are the Filipinos native to the
area, from the high lands. Weaving is often a family tradition, passed down through the generations. When you walk through the weaving room you notice the weavers of various ages. Some younger, some older. Sitting silently as the rhythmic clanking of their looms lulls visitors into a meditative state. I just love that sound, and the smell of yarn takes me back to when I was young, with fond memories of playing with looms. The fabrics these women make are gloriously bright and I was so impressed walking through their shop at the reams of colours, patterns and textures to select from.
After we left the weaving, we went for a visit to Tam-Awan Village which is like a secret garden waiting to be explored. This is an artist’s village. Set on the side of a mountain, traditional huts from various parts of the province are nestled amongst the trees. Visitors can spend their time exploring the various paths, finding sculptures amongst the flowers and getting a sense of the simplicity of life in the mountains. Art exhibitions and a small shop, along with the small entry fee help keep this place going. If you climb to the highest point you get a gorgeous view of the mountains – or so I was told as by the time we arrived the clouds had come in and all we saw was white and grey. Which is still really quite lovely.
Heading back into town we stopped roadside to buy some of the famous peanut brittle the nuns in the area make. Near our accommodation is a café specializing in hot chocolate made the traditional way. Called Choco-Late de Batirol Garden Café, this place is built around the trees that protect it so you have a very charming, natural place to relax and enjoy food and the traditional chocolate drink they make from local cacao beans.
This chocolate is hot, thick and bittersweet so if it is your usual sweetened café style hot choc you’re after; this is not your place. After one mug we felt so full. Using a copper pot, the chocolate mixture is stirred vigorously using a stick called a ‘batirol’. This helps make the mixture nice and thick. BB loved exploring this out-doorsey café finding all sorts of treasures of stones and hidden away water features, while we tried traditional foods such as Bibingka, which is a rice cake cooked on banana leaves and topped with grated coconut.
It was soon time to head out again for our evening meal. I had read about a
woodfire pizza restaurant and since this is something we are really missing from home, we thought we’d give it a try. Called Amare la Cucina, we were delighted to find outstanding service, and wonderful ‘true’ woodfire pizzas. A traditional thin base, fresh made, with few ingredients, we were in pizza heaven. A lovely touch was the manager inviting the children to make their pizza with the Pizza Chef. Our kids love making their own pizzas and they particularly enjoyed hanging out in the pizza making area getting messy.