Me: Oiy, good morning, how are you?
Friend: Good morning! Feel ko umakyat ng Baguio today, balikan.
Me: Gusto kong kumain ng champorado at ginataang bilo-bilo.
Friend: Sa Baguio ba 'yun?
Me: Hindi, sa condo ko.
Friend: Alam ko, kala ko naman sa Baguio mo gusto kumain 'nun.
Me: I'd rather sleep all day.
Friend: Magpapasama pa naman ako.
Me: Eh magkano ba pamasahe sa Baguio, yung roundtrip?
Friend: I'll drive.
That conversation happened while I was in the bus going home. So I get off the bus in Shaw-crossing and he picked me up there. He tagged a friend of his along. So there were three of us in that trip. He agreed to drive to my place so I can pick up my sweater and my camera, after preparing my stuff and transfered my "kikay stuff" from my normal-backpack to my camera-backpack, off we go on our roadtrip.
Good thing I recently bought an old edition of The Lonely Planet Philippines. We found out later on that it was a very handy and nice addition to any traveller to bring along. We were already traversing MacArthur highway at around 9:30 AM, by that time I dozed off in the backseat. When I woke up, we were along this smaller highway cruising along Tarlac, I dozed off again. When I woke up we were somewhere in La Union. A few minutes later, we were already climbing Baguio through Kennon Road. This guy sure can drive fast. We arrived in Baguio city just in time for a late lunch, that was around 1 PM. So all in all, it took us four hours to get to Baguio, not including the 20 minutes we lost when my friend missed the turn going to MacArthur highway. So we took another route just to get back where we started that took a lot of time.
While we were climbing Kennon road, I was quickly browsing my book, looking for somewhere good to dine at in the city. The navigator was supposed to be in the front passenger seat, but I love the back seat, it's spacious plus I have a lot of stuff to grab, like the maps, books and my camera. So I was very comfy on the backseat.
We ate at O Mai' Khan for lunch as suggested by The Lonely Planet Philippines. We had a Mongolian buffet for P210. Service was slow, understandable because the place was very full when we got there. As we ate, we discussed the places we would like to see. Me as it was only my second time in Baguio, followed what was suggested in the book. I would have loved to visit the Buddhist Temple, but because it says in the book that it was very hard to find in the market place, I opt not to see it anymore, instead we headed straight to Camp John Hay after lunch instead.
While we were driving to the camp, I was excited as a little kid to see the clouds touch land. When we arrived at Camp John Hay I was curious on what the Cemetery of Negativism was all bout so we looked for it. It as a mini cemetery full of life's negativity, that's about it, some were cute and interesting. While we were there I feel like I was walking in the clouds, literally. All because of the thick fog.
Heavy rain poured as the three of us were taking pictures in the mini cemetery so we huddled in the nearby museum and former residence of Mr. John Hay.
When the downpour turned into drizzle, we headed back to my friend's car and decided to go to Choco-late de Batirol. The name is already intriguing as it is and I wanted a cup of hot chocolate with all this fog and rain.
Choco-late de Batirol looks like an old shack in a garden full of plants. You will barely notice it with the little wooden signs outside the place. In the book (Lonely Planet Philippines), they just mentioned the place with no introduction or description on what the place is about, they just said it was an interesting restaurant. Well, it was. Outside are lots of plants, when I saw it, it looks more like a place to buy plants than a restaurant.
The moment I walked inside, I noticed that the setting was like an indoor garden and I was surprised on how dry the interior was, considering there was a heavy downpour moments ago. I was all smiles while looking at their interior, furniture was all solid wood and Filipino inspired. Traditional native hats were hanging on the walls and some chimes on doorways. The furniture were made of wood. Tree trunks that look like scraps shaped into usable chairs and tables, expensive stuff. The place was absolutely cozy, it's like you're in a garden less the insects. When we went to the counter to check out their menu, we were greeted by a sharp nosed, moreno, young attendant; so it was not just the menu we can check out! The menu was short and simple, all Filipino dishes and all Filipino deserts. The attendant was simple, around 5'5", has nice cheekbones, nice set of teeth, good smile, smooth skin, nice brown color with a stunning sheen. But what we were after was the chocolate drinks. There were chocolate drinks of different flavors, they have strawberry, almonds, and the other famous flavors you expect to see in popular coffee shops. However, we ordered their specialty, original hot chocolate.
The hot chocolate was what I expected it to be. Rich, flavorful, with bits of little bitter chocolate pieces in it; which is evidence it was made from a tablet of pure cacao and churned by hand in hot water. It was rich and delicious. The music playing in the background was a very nice playlist of Soul and R&B tracks that you will usually hear in Wave 89.1 during Sunday evenings. I almost cannot stop raving to my companions on how I love the place! Choco-late de Batirol is a highly recommended place for anyone visiting Baguio! One will have such a lovely and cozy experience.
We dropped by the Mansion on our way to Mine's View. The Mansion is the official residence of the our President when visiting Baguio city.
Afterwards, we went straight to Mines View park, but because there was still drizzling rain, we did not bother to stop and get off the car. Instead we went to Good Shepherd convent to check out the view and to buy their famous Ube Jam.
When we arrived in Good Shepherd, oh it's my first time to go there by the way. I was shocked on how long the lines were just to buy a few bottles of Ube Jam. I went to the viewing deck to check the view, but all I saw was a foggy backdrop. When I went to fall inline to buy, I saw a sign that there was a limit of only 4 bottles of Ube Jam per customer. Perhaps to prevent hoarders or buying and selling. I ordered mine, 4 bottles of Ube Jam and 2 jars of Cashew Crunch. I did not order the traditional and famous Peanut Brittle because I thought it has more sugar than peanuts. I bought the Cashew Crunch instead because they look like bars of sugar compacted nuts in big pieces, and I love cashew nuts!
We were assisted by a lady guard while we were backing up from the parking lot. The lady guard was so pretty to be a guard and she resisted the tip. How nice of her and I will say again, she's too pretty to be a lady guard.
We went straight to Baguio Cathedral to hear mass. I don't hear mass so my two companions just went ahead to the church, while I took pictures around the area. I did pray and lit candles in the church's candle section.
After a while, I was awestruck, surprised, and my eyes grew wide on how the clouds touches everything and everyone in Baguio. Okay it was only a fog! However, I've never seen such thick fog until that night. It was so thick that one will almost only see headlights and rear-lights of vehicles as well as the lights on the lamp-posts... on most areas. I was just amazed like a little kid seeing something fascinating for the first time. I was innocent for that time being.
After mass, it was time to go home. We left Baguio at around half past 8 in the evening. I arrived home at around midnight.
Thank you so much, friend (you know who are) for inviting me to that impromptu roadtrip, I've always wanted to do one, and you started it. I enjoyed the experience, it was tiring (you were exhausted, I know) but it was all worth it. Thank you so much for driving me home too.
May this be the beginning of many trips to come; impromptu or otherwise. After all, traveling is one passion I am yet to pursue.