Quick escape to the highest point in PH (Part 3: Banaue, Buscalan, Atok)

The last part of our tour is a quick visit to Atok, Benguet – the highest point of the Philippine Highway System. Its a foggy, cold, gloomy town that I don’t think gets sunny ever. It was a shocking detour for us knowing such civilization exists. Yup, I know some of you are also not aware that there is a place like Atok but yes this sleepy humble town is a reality, it gives me a Forks Town vibe from the Twilight movie.

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Anyway, it was great experience, new discovery and bringing a different feel on our tour. It’s so chilling there and all you can see is fog. They have lots of succulents and veggies plantation since the weather is conducive and I guess the soil there is healthy. We all took photos and videos, lots of it cause the place is so horror “ish”.. haha! Then, we went to Baguio for dinner and another long drive back to Manila

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The jewel of Buscalan , Kalinga- Apo Whang-od (Part 2: Banaue, Buscalan, Atok)

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From Banaue rice terraces we took another hour or two drive to Butbut village where we will start our trek up to Brgy Buscalan, Kalinga, Apayao. A 30 mins-1 hr hike depends on your pace, the trail is a bit challenging since the pathways are very narrow and you’ll be at the edge of a “bangin” or a cliff. But I didn’t feel tired since even if it’s a bit steep the scenery is just so amazing.

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This is the trail, narrow cliffs ahead!

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Wild pigs just roam around the village like pet dogs in subdivisions, It’s a rich calm village with friendly places and cute kids eager to see new visitors which is a common thing in their village. Since with Whang-od being featured on various blogs, TV shows and hailed as a National Artist the place was swarmed by tourists.

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Pro tip #1: Bring some candies and chocolates (or old clothes, slippers and toys if you’re feeling generous) for the kids, they are not demanding but it’s always nice to share.

Our homestay is a nice kubo with a modern bathroom (ironic but impressive and convenient). It has a nice view of more rice terraces and mountains. We settled in for a bit before exploring the small village and heading to Whang-od’s home for Tats (For those who don’t know Whang-od, she is the Philippines National Artist known for her traditional tattoo designs of the Butbut tribe where she uses charcoal and pomelo thorns).

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The line was long we didn’t think we will be accommodated that day but patience is the key. Grateful that Whang-od is in the mood to be friendly (locals says she’s a bit moody). She loved our group and offer jokes mostly green jokes… haha!  And yes she gropes our boys’ treasure balls !!!(naught naughty whang od). After our session with whang od we were all satisfied and happy.

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Pro tip #2: Just an insider tip, I’ve observed locals often offer you to just have your tattoo with whang-od’s grandkids since the line for those who wants to be inked with the national artist is long and that she can only do her signature. Those grand kids are teenage girls which some of their work is good but not all the time, and the price is way much higher than whang od (double or triple the price). Totally not fair and not worth it. So if I were you, just take all patience you have and wait for your turn to whang od herself. Promise it’s all worth it –the long hour ride and the dangerous hike!!!!

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Then dinner time came, we were so lucky to have an organizer who is also a gourmet chef! He prepared a boodle fight for us that we were silent the whole time because our mouths are just busy munching all the food. There was no electricity that time but we are told that this is not the case all the time. We just made use of it for some candle lit conversations inside the kubo with one of the group serenading us with a guitar.

The morning after, was the best part of the whole trip for me. I fell so relaxed and energized at the same time, it’s like I slept for the whole week. It’s just so calm and peaceful, it beats the spas in the metro. We just didn’t get the chance to witness the famous sunrise in their village since there’s a bit of sprinkle but nonetheless the air is so crisp and clean and their own Buscalan coffee is the perfect mix to a beautiful morning.

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Our chef spoiled us again with an abundant breakfast, garnishing and all. Then before lunchtime we head out for the trek home. Buscalan was so good to us I wanna wrap it in a box with me.

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Banaue Rice Terraces: Tradition was not lost (Part 1: Banaue, Buscalan, Atok)

I’m so excited with this trip since this is the first one that we’ll be travelling with friends and their baes. So we dub this as the #couples retreat, so it’s me and my hachimitsu (bf), a high school friend and her beau, and my office mate and his wife.

We book the tour thru a travel agency/organizers called Travelers hub, you can reach them on Facebook on this link: https://www.facebook.com/Hubtravelers/. The trip was priced Php 2700/pax for a group of 12-14 persons. It includes Banaue, Buscalan, and Atok tour with meals, homestay, van, guide, bag tags and complimentary shirts.

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The drive honestly was a long one; I think 8-10 hours in a van. But it was okay since you have great company and amazing views on your window. Mountain province really lives up to its name. Villages and towns situated in the top of the mountains. The villages usually comprised of 10-20 families only, like 50-100 individuals I think, a close-knit community which makes it more special and intimate.

 

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If you’re looking for the perfect nature retreat where you can have great coffee, beautiful view, clean air and tattoo-this tour is for you. We travel around 9:00 pm at Sunday night then we arrived at Banaue around 5:00am the next morning. Had an appetizing breakfast with a view of the Banaue rice terraces. It was really majestic, having to see it for yourself when I only see it before on books, postcards, posters and on money bills.

And it makes me happy that even if the place is being civilized and modernized, tradition was still not lost. In this agricultural country, traditions (rice planting/harvest customs) like that is important to be protected.  It is one of the treasures and charm of our country. So without further ado, I’ll let you lurk on these beautiful view of Banaue Rice Terraces. Combining the beauty of nature and the genius ways of humans.

Second look on Baguio City (Second Day)

I know this is a super late post, but life happened. So I’m just posting now my blog on my 2nd day in baguio. On my first blog, you probably know already how much I love thy city. So on our second day, we continue to explore it.

First stop we headed to Tam-awan Village, it was a mix of nature, culture and tradition trip for us.  It has a rich history of the natives and tribes and their beliefs. It was both enchanting and chilly at the same time. With chants, charms, sacred places and stories about witches, shaman and all the likes. But it was great experience, plus there’s a bonus hike at the top with fresh minty air and pine trees around you.

Then we went Bencab’s museum, which is a bit further from the city proper but because they’re taxis are very cheap we just paid PHP 96.00 for the fare. Since we arrived lunchtime we went straight to the museum’s in-house Café –Café Isabel. The café has overlooking view of the gardens and mountains, which is so wonderful. The food there is absolute amazement, I mean I love it because they were my kinds of foods. We had omelet, chicken and pasta and of course coffee. Budget for two persons is PHP 1000.00 Then, after a satisfying lunch it’s time to explore the four floors museums. It was full of works from genius Filipino artists and also history of Benguet as well.

Then, last stop was a creepy visit at the hunted Old Diplomat Hotel. No jokes, it really does have that creepy vibe. I know I’m a scaredy cat and I may have bias towards these things but the hotel gives you that feeling like someone is watching you, yikes! But even if I got scared it’s a must visit for the sake of having a diverse Baguio experience. Just don’t go there at the break of dusk.

So, anyway on our last night we just roam around SM Baguio, at their public market to buy pasalubong and souvenirs and of course make sulit of the night market where I scored two beautiful jackets. Feel free to ask me questions.

Redefining Baguio City (First day)

Baguio City in the Philippines is not only known for being the country’s summer capital, its cold weather, and strawberries. But for true blooded wanderers and locals, Baguio is loved for its romantic charm,mysterious enthralls and warm embrace. Because if you went there, you just wanna live there, that kind of charm.

Anyway, if you’ll visit Baguio for the first time i know you will go to Mines View Park, PMA, Burham Park, Strawberry farm and other spot your local tourist guide will suggest. But if you wanna amp your tour let’s explore in a mix of adventure, nature and culture.

I’ll share with you my humble itinerary in Baguio when I went there last April 7-9, 2018. I’ve been to this city, twice, the first time i live there for almost a month where i spend  my first Baguio Christmas. The second  time is during Panagbenga Festival. So this will be third time and i definitely want to make the most of it.

Its roughly a 6-7 hours bus ride which costs Php 450.00/pax but if you want travel comfortably and faster (5hrs) you can opt for the executive bus costing Php 750.00. Modern buses with comfort rooms, more leg room and even usb outlets for charging. You can book in advance online at this site  https://www.victoryliner.com/.

It’s always nice to stay at the center of the city, so you can easily roam around even at nighttime. Taxis and jeepneys are everywhere especially if you’re not visiting on peak seasons. Taxis offer lower rates than in Manila and they are all polite and honest (susuklian ka kahit piso nalang).

We arrived lunchtime so we head straight to Chocolate de batirol inside Camp John hay, it has nifty interiors. We tried bangus rice(Php160.00) and pork adobo(Php220.00) that tastes good. We opt to its famous tsokolate, we enjoyed the traditional flavor (Php 80.00) but so disappointed with the almond flavor(Php90.00) it tastes like medicine and menthol combined, so eww. I remember almond being sweet and nutty and there’s nothing sweet in their almond version. We had suman sa lihia (Php 64.00) for dessert and it’s my fave in there, you should try it too.DSCF1458

After a satisfying lunch, we went to the Bell Amphitheater, house and the gardens around it. It is a historic site giving insights on the beginnings of Baguio City. With all the pine trees and cabin feels, it is so picturesque and a bit American (as the first dwellers/discoverers of Baguio are American Soldiers).

Then, to pump up our adrenalin we headed to its neighbor-Tree Top Adventure. We tried the silver surfer, pretty cool and scary at the same time. It goes fast, then slow, your standing so if you fear heights your knees may wobble and that’s a problem. The other ride we tried is the canopy ride, which I enjoyed. Its super chill, since it’s like riding an open cable car and enjoying the view of pine trees. The 2 rides cost Php 450.00/pax.

Because I haven’t visited the Mansion and wright park, we went there. There are too many people, and we just took mandatory picture, the wright park was poorly managed as there’s a lot of trash and the water fountain is dirty. We ended our first day by trying out the famous strawberry taho and ice cream.

 

 

 

KKO KKO- Seoul Chicken and Cheese Fondue experience

If you’re a cheese and chicken lover like me, we’ll i think you’ll love it here. This is owned by celebrity Grace Lee, korean in nature so you’re sure you’ll be getting authentic korean taste in here. They have several branches in the metro and we went to the one in Taguig. It is located at the Ground floor of Market Market, along restaurants outside, besides North Park. Ambiance is so Korean, with kpop music and videos playing in the background. A lot of Koreans were also eating that time, another affirmation that their food is 100% Korean.

Tip: book in advance thru booky app to get a Php 300-500 off your bill (minimum of Php 1000.00).

My favorite is the chicken cheese fondue – we ordered the original cheese their best seller, plain fries and spicy chili for the chicken. The cheese was a total bomb, it goes so well with the fries, onion rings and even with the spicy chili chicken.

Next favorite is the yang nyum chicken, it is so good. We ordered the best seller garlic flavor and so happy with the servings even if we only got the half size.

The rabokki i think is a kimchi flavored ramen which is a bit okey for me. But if you’re  a big fan of kimchi flavor then this will be a hit for you. the menu says its not spicy but for my sweet tongue it is a bit spicy in a tolerable way. But i will not order this again since it is a bit “nakaka-umay” after 2 bites.

The kimchi fried rice was okay for me, but again if you’re a fan of kimchi this is for you. I guess it was a bad choice for us since the chicken and the ramen is already too flavorful that it would actually best partnered with some plain rice to savor most the flavor.

Peach crush is so cute literally. Since my hands are taller than drink, but its nice drink that offers a sweet flavor a break from the spicy.

KKO KKO is definitely a recommended place for me. Their chickens and cheese fondue is to die for and the servings are actually kinda huge in a very reasonable price.

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Chicken Cheese Fondue -Php 658.00 (half) good for 3-4 persons