After an early start to our day in Baguio (you can read about it in our previous post) and a rejuvenating nap, we awoke ready to head over to Camp John Hay – a popular destination spot for tourists and celebrities of the Philippines. It is known as an escape from the sweltering heat and humidity of the lower levels of the Philippines because of its high elevation in the Cordillera mountains. The Camp is popular for its restaurants, shops, lodges, and large golf course. Prior to its existence as a tourist hub, the grounds were originally established as a base for the Philippine and United States armed forces back in the beginning of the 20th century and was heavily utilized during World War II. We were eager to seek out what the restaurants were serving up because we were always trying to seek out more alternatives beyond the typical meals we had in Manila. We read in our Lonely Planet book guide that Baguio had the most diverse and tasteful food selection in all of the Philippines and we wanted to put that statement to the test.
We began to put all of our belongings together so that we could be on our way when we realized that we couldn’t find our point and shoot camera. After scouring the entire room through all of its nooks and crannies and sifting through our personal belongings, we finally came to the conclusion that Stacey had most likely left it on the counter of an optical eyewear shop at the SM mall earlier that day when I was trying out some frames. It was upsetting to the both of us – our trip to the north Luzon had just lifted off and there were so many places, adventures, and moments that we wanted to capture (I have to point out that Stacey also almost lost her camera previously in Cebu but luckily recovered it, you can read about that situation here).
Anyways, my head began began to boil which happens anytime we lose anything and somehow Stacey managed to stay calm the way she always does despite the fact it was her own camera. She preferred not to sit around and sulk about it, something I need to learn how to do, and she suggested that we head back to SM mall to see if we can track it down and get lucky finding our lost camera a second time. We hopped into a cab and were soon at the counter of the optical store crossing our fingers. After no luck, we gave the security and lost and found a try. We had to navigate our way down towards the basement of the mall through a maze of hallways and doors until we finally reached the security office. There we discovered that they hadn’t found anything but they were so inclined to help us out as much as possible by requesting that we leave our cell numbers, names, and description of the camera in case it was found. Its hard to imagine local mall security in the US helping out as much as they did, yet another reason why I love the genuine personality of my people back in the Motherland so much. Stacey finally came to the conclusion that she wanted to just purchase a new camera because it was essential that we documented our experiences of the North. After dodging in and out of shops and comparing prices, she ended up settling on a cheaper Polaroid where its quality did not compare at all to our lost reliable Canon SD700 but at least we had something. Finally, we left the mall and headed out in a cab to our initial destination for the evening.
Although Camp John Hay is a part of Baguio city, from what I remember its a decent drive out through quieter roads and forests. After passing the main gate and gigantic retreat lodges that catered to the wealthy which is reflected through their glamorous exteriors, our driver dropped us off at the main strip where all the restaurants and shops were located. We were both hungry again and so we glanced through the menus and judged the ambiance of every dining establishment and finally settled on Carlo’s pizza, a cozy joint with a wood interior that really makes you feel like you’re up int he mountains (I think Stace chose it because its name was the same of Piolo Pascual’s character on the hit Filipino sitcom “Lovers in Paris“). We ended up ordering a large pizza split down the middle with pepperoni on one side and sausage/mushrooms on the other – Stace and I can never agree on one thing when it comes to food, its one of the biggest problems in our relationship. Service was great and the food came in a relatively short amount of time. We scarfed down the entire pie and found it to be satisfying, nothing comparable to the pizzas back home in the states but much better than those we’ve sampled in Manila. I still had the craving to fill my gut to the brim and my sweet tooth begged for more. We walked down a few shops to a cafe where I had some warm Cassava cake (if you’ve never had Cassava cake I suggest that you visit your closest Filipino friend or store and try it, its one of my favorite desserts).
At that point, I was finally happy and full. We strolled through the strip peering in through the shops which includes international company giants Nike and Adidas but nothing really appealed to us and so we were prepared to go home. Due to the fact Camp John Hays is on the outskirts of Baguio, it took us a while to finally catch a cab. We went home and knocked out in preparation for our departure to the wonderful land of Sagada.
The next morning, we packed our bags, took a cab to the station, purchased our tickets to Sagada (~P350 each), and boarded the North bound bus 1 hour later. We said goodbye to Baguio and witnessed a long procession marching through the streets on our way out. What lied ahead was the longest 6 hours we spent traveling as we endured an uncomfortable, bumpy, congested, and dizzying transporation bus. Sagada here we come.