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Our Big Mountain Adventure Day 1 - Baguio

Well, we have just been on a six day Mountain adventure. I have been really excited about this holiday for the longest time. I was hoping to realise a dream of mine, and I did exactly that. Yet this trip was just so much more special than I ever anticipated. I want to savour my memories so I will write about it over several posts.
Day one – Baguio
View from our hotel in Baguio - isn't it stunning
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.
We decided to take our Driver I-Bug with us. I had no idea of how grateful I would be that we made that decision. We made it through the city with ease and soon found ourselves out in open land. The mountains slowly opened up showing their silhouettes through the fog and cloud. It was, as always, just a lovely sight. Finally we were in the mountains and we started our climb. This drive is really gorgeous with breathtaking scenery. The roads also take your breath away with their winding, snaking, insane inclines and crazy unexpected declines. Sheer cliff drop-offs down one side, with rickety huts clinging on with hope and a bit of rope. Waterfalls crash down rock faces and at times, you drive through them. The effects of the recent typhoon evident with the remains of vicious landslides.
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…
Entrance to Baguio - the Lion's head,
famous Baguio Wallis Tambo's & a Taho Pedlar
We arrived at Baguio and met with the giant Lion’s head that is the town symbol. We stopped here for a rest and the first thing we noticed was the fresh, clear and cool air we were now breathing. The air smelt fresh, a cool breeze kissed our cheeks and cooled our skin and our lungs suddenly stopped choking. Our breath became deep and meaningful.  We spent some time here having a look at some market stalls and getting our first taste of Strawberry Taho. Something I have been looking forward to for a very long time. It was so delicious.
Taho is like a cup of sunshine that warms your belly! The soft delicate warm silken tofu, with sweet sugary strawberry syrup, macerated strawberries and the usual sugar syrup all mixed into loveliness. The texture of this is like velvet on your tongue. Added into this is the delicious texture and surprise on the senses of the tapioca beads. Little pearls of pure heaven!

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.
The streets of Baguio
This city is actually quite large yet with the way it nestles into the surrounding mountains, and the way the roads are narrow, curly and mysterious you get a sense that this is just a country town in disguise. Sure there are congested sections of the city, yet what separates it from Metro Manila is its cleanliness, the scattering of gardens amongst the buildings, the
Jeepney in Baguio
trees and the space. If you drive over the other side of any hill you move away from the city view and back to open pine forests and mountains on the horizon. Let’s not forget the weather up here in the mountains. The weather is perfect with low humidity, cool breezes and low temperatures. It is just so refreshing.
A weaver at Easter Weaving House
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
Perfectly spun spools of cotton
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
View from Tam-Awan Village
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 tsokolate 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
Choco-Late de Batirol Garden Café
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. We also tried the Suman sa Lihia which is sticky rice with sugar and grated coconut. We finished with Turon which I always enjoy. This is banana wrapped in a thin pastry and deep fried, then served with a sugar syrup poured over it. What’s not to love about that?

Finally we were ready to head to the hotel to have a short rest. While SB and I tried to relax and enjoy a cup of tea, the children were in hyper-drive exploring every nook and cranny of our hotel. This is always so funny to watch. The excitement over discovering what each light switch does is hilarious and keeps us entertained for hours.
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.
We were back at our hotel by 6.30pm absolutely exhausted from our huge day. Soon enough we were all tucked up in our beds. The kids deciding to share the big bed with me and SB having learnt from previous experience about getting kicked in delicate places during the night, opted to sleep in the king single meant for the little ones.
So ends day one of our gorgeous mountain adventure. Stay tuned for the next chapter. Highlights include the daring drive along mud-strewn, storm-destroyed mountain roads where we literally stared death in the eye and said ‘screw you, we SHALL pass!’ Onto our next destination. The most stunning, most gorgeous, most spiritual, most delightful village of Sagada. I cannot wait to tell you all about it.




This post first appeared on SaltyBug, please read the originial post: here

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Our Big Mountain Adventure Day 1 - Baguio


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