|Early morning view from Mines View Park|
During my childhood, Baguio was reserved for summer -- a place to escape to while the lowland simmers in the stifling heat. It was always a planned trip with long bus rides that test your kidneys' limits. Nowadays, it's just a 5 1/2-hour bus ride with Victory Liner buses leaving every hour for that easy getaway even just for the weekend. Maybe, that's why the city have lost a bit of its allure (at least to my eyes). Session Road always seem to be a sea of humanity. The ukay-ukay shops are not the big bargain stops like they used to be. But that's not to say that a trip to Baguio isn't interesting.
We went here a few weekends ago to join the Columbia Eco Trail Run in the resurgent Camp John Hay, the first time in many years that I actually stayed instead of just stopping over on the way to Sagada. Arriving in the wee hours of the morning, it's fascinating to witness the city waking up, the night lights usurped by the sun emerging from rolling clouds even as the thick fog unveil the distant mountains little by little.
Eco-trailing. Running (or more appropriately, hiking) on the eco trail of Camp John Hay was a revelation. The views from several vantage points are incredible (though showing them will take another trip, this time armed with my Nikon). The camp, now under local management, is very well-maintained. Honestly, I wouldn't mind repeating that hike on my own.
Enter the dragons. We had an afternoon to slack off before race day so we asked for directions to the Taoist temple. All we got were blank stares from cab drivers. As it turned out, the temple is called Bell Church, located just before La Trinidad. There were quite a lot of onlookers and the interesting temples up the hill were closed to the public so I think I had a more interesting time talking to Lola Riga (hope I got her name right) who's minding the public comfort room at the entrance and playing with the stray dogs.
Oh my, it's Oh My Gulay! The excuse to carbo-load led us to Oh My Gulay along Session Road, the musuem-cum-diner of local artist, Kidlat Tahimik. The all-veggie fare is a fine alibi, as any, to eat, eat and eat some more. (more on this at www.happyfoodies.com).
Eurotel comforts. Eurotel in the Burnham Park area was our kind host during our brief Baguio stay. We got billeted at the Euro Suite 2 which has two beds (1 queen and 1 single). I didn't think air conditioning is a necessary amenity in a place like Baguio but come evening, it made sense as the sound of traffic was muffled (the room was very cool, by the way). The suite is very spacious, with an area for eating/drinking/lounging around, has ample closet space (there's even a dedicated shoe drawer under the big cabinet). The toilet and bath is very clean (of course, the mandatory hot shower is available). The bank of hooks for hanging clothes on one wall is a very well-appreciated touch though I wish the slippers provided in-room are not rubber ones.
As with other hotels, windows are a bit of a luxury and this place is no exception though in my sleep-deprived state, I didn't really miss it. The room charge comes with free buffet breakfast which is rather good, with very good mountain coffee on offer. Save for the absence of Wi-fi (router problem, the kind manager told us) and that long strip of glass window in the room that prevented us from making the room pitch-black during daytime, our stay was very, very pleasant. Info: Studio rates start at Php2,100, Standard rooms at Php2,500 and Suites at Php2,900. Rates include buffet breakfast. Visit www.eurotel-hotel.com for more details.