Monday, March 26, 2007

Manila to Baguio

Yesterday, I slept in more than I should have before waking up and trudging my way through Manila to find the correct bus terminal to go North to Baguio, where I am now. Overall, Manila was about what I expected to find, only hotter. A grimy, crowded, and chaotic city choking to death in stifling heat, jaywalking pedestrians, and motor vehicle emissions. Open air markets sell cheap brand name knock-offs, pirated DVDs, cheap junk, and all sorts of food I haven't tried yet. They don't even have to cook the food, because it is so hot in Manila, the food is already warm. It's a lot like a cross between Bangkok and Mexico, only hotter.

I went back to the airport to book a flight to the island of Busuanga, and then weaved my way through two bus terminals to find the bus to Baguio. Did I mention that its hot in Manila?

I arrived in Baguio last night at around 8:30. At night time, Baguio is pleasantly cool. Baguio was originally built during the American conquest and occupation of the Philippines as an R&R retreat for the invading US Army. There is a place called Camp John Hay built in the hills near the town, with a golf course and other recreational activities. They built it here to get out of Manila's stifling heat. They should have gone further up into the hills as its still kind of hot here during the day. But it is pleasant at night, and not quite as terribly hot as Manila. There is also a beautiful park called Burnham Park here. Note the American name.

In about an hour, I'll be boarding a bus and heading off to a place called Sagada, a place higher up in the mountains. Known for great hiking and unique tribal cultures. It will also be within distance of the famous Banaue Rice terraces. Here's hoping I can get back before Friday morning, when my flight leaves for Busuanga.

Also, I should tell you about the Jeepneys, which are basically US army jeep frames extended at the end to hold 20 people. You just get on a jeepney, pay the fee, and they go along a prescribed route with the destinations painted on the side. They can be a bit confusing at first, but are quite convenient for getting around. They are also painted in all sorts of bright, psychedelic colors and chrome emblazoned around the vehicle. I have never seen such gaudy public transportation. I will have pictures soon.

No comments: