Sunday, May 26, 2019

Rainy Weekend Getaway in Baguio City

Baguio City, BENGUET
Date: MAY 25-26, 2019

My sister, PM, has never been to Baguio City. My Dad decided to take us there for the weekend, and I was so excited since this will be my first time traveling to Baguio City with my family. I’ve been there with my friends several times, but going on a road trip with your family feels different.


The scenery at the back of Dine & View Restaurant in Mines View Park
We left Taytay, Rizal a few hours past midnight. Dad wants to drive while it’s still dark so we can arrive early in Baguio City. Mom sat in front with Milky, while me and PM - my sister - sat in the back. We drive through NLEX, SCTEX, and TPLEX, stopping at gas stations whenever we wanted to take a short break. Mom packed a lot of food, and we were never short of something to eat.

Lion's Head in Baguio City
As we drive through Rosario, La Union, Dad took the junction that leads to Kennon Road. I’ve never seen this route during the daytime. If I can remember, I passed by this route once when I climbed Philex Ridge back in 2015, but it was night time and I didn’t see anything.

Kennon Road offers a scenic view for travelers bound for Baguio City. The road we were on lies beside the Bued River, and a lot of signs warn the drivers of a possible rockfall or landslide. Kennon Road is prone to landslides, and it can be closed to motorists without warning especially when it rains hard. 

One hour and multiple zigzags later, we were able to reach the famed Lion’s Head. It was my first time seeing this monument in person, but we opt not to do a stopover because the parking lot is filled with vehicles. At the base of the monument, dozens of tourists are trying to find their best shot. We won’t be able to snap a good picture if we decided to stop. As we entered Baguio City, Dad decided to take us to Mines View Park first. We had to consult Google Maps because several roads were closed at that time.

Mom, Dad, and Milky inside Mines View Park
We reached the park around 9:00 AM, and the first thing that we did is to find a good place to eat. Dad suggested that we should eat at Dine & View Restaurant. This restaurant serves breakfast and lunch, and pets are allowed inside. They also offer a nice view of the nearby mountains to the diners, which is one of the reasons why this place is packed with patrons. I ordered tapsilog (tapa, sinangag, and itlog – dried beef strips, garlic rice, and egg), and Mom ordered hotsilog for Milky (hotdog, garlic rice, and egg).

Mines View Park is one of the most popular landmarks in the city, and we decided to enter the park after we ate our breakfast. The last time mom visited the park was decades ago, and she was surprised seeing all of the developments around the area. She also shared her disappointment with the present condition of the park. According to her, the scenery back then was pristine as the park was surrounded by lush mountains. Today, everything looks different – the lush mountains are now replaced with homes.

Hollywood Drive-in
The weekend brought in a lot of travelers to Baguio City, and Mines View Park was full of people that day. We decided to leave the park early to avoid the influx of more tourists. Dad decided to head straight to Hollywood Drive-in so we can take a short rest. This hotel is conveniently located along the highway, and it offers spacious rooms for everyone.

Trapped inside SM Baguio because of the heavy rain
Mom at one of the mall's balconies
The muddy Melvin Jones Grandstand
The rain won't stop
By 3:00 PM, we decided to go back to downtown Baguio City. Dad brought us to SM Baguio, and he had a hard time looking for a parking space. As a result, he had to leave the mall and look for a parking space near the Baguio Athletic Bowl. SM Baguio is currently under renovation as the management plans to expand the mall. Even the view deck overlooking the city is closed to the public. And then, it rained so hard. We were trapped inside the mall, and I had to purchase umbrellas so we can go out.

Armed with our umbrellas, we decided to walk along Session Road. The gloomy weather did not stop the tourists from flocking into this famed street. Then, we went to the empty Melvin Jones Grandstand, waiting for the rain to stop. Before we returned to the hotel, we searched for a place inside Burnham Park where we can dine. Our curiosity led us to Kamayan sa Ganza. This restaurant offers Filipino food, and we ordered barbecue, buttered chicken, and congee.

Mom also asked Dad if we can drop by the market so she can buy pasalubong. It was already 7:45 PM, and most of the stores selling cheap vegetables are now closed. We ended up buying strawberry jams and peanut brittles.

This is what we ate for dinner
There's a lot of pasalubong items to choose from

Mom standing at The Mansion
I am scheduled to leave for Bicol today at 6:00 PM, and I already bought my ticket. We had to leave the hotel early so we can go around the city and buy vegetables. The weather today is drastically different from what we experienced yesterday – the sun is shining brightly, and there were no signs of rain clouds anywhere.

Dad decided to take us to The Mansion, which is the official summer residence of the Philippine President. Mom wanted to enter, but the soldiers guarding the gate won’t let us because the President is inside and there is an event taking place later in the afternoon. Wright Park is situated on the other side of the road, and we also went there just to take a photo.

The Baguio City public market was our final destination before heading home. We rushed inside to find the stalls selling cheap vegetables, and Mom looked very happy knowing that the prices were incredibly cheap. We were supposed to take the shortest way out of Baguio via Kennon Road, but the city officials decided to close it because of yesterday’s rain. As an alternative, we took Marcos Highway instead. I slept as we drove through dozens of zigzags, and woke up near Pugo, La Union. We had a stopover at Jollibee Rosario to eat breakfast.

Visiting Wright Park
Mom buying vegetables at the market
After our short stopover at Jollibee Rosario, Dad continued to drive us home. We passed through the border between La Union and Pangasinan, and then entered TPLEX through the town of Pozzorubio.

I was looking at my watch while we are traversing SCTEX and NLEX. I felt uneasy because I don't know if I will still be able to refund my bus ticket.

It was already 4:00 PM when we reached Metro Manila, and I was greeted by severe traffic. I was so nervous that my bus would leave and my ticket would go to waste.

We were home by 5:00 PM, and I only had a few minutes to pack my bags. Mom and PM stayed at home, while Dad did his best to drive me safely to the bus station in Cubao. It was a miracle that the bus was still waiting for me at 6:30 PM, and I was able to return to Bicol safely.

I told my Mom through chat that I enjoyed this trip a lot, and we should do it once again.

Eating dinner at Kamayan sa Ganza

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