Another short trip to Baguio! We really just wanted to visit the Christmas Village because we passed by The Manor on the way back from Le Monet to our hotel during our last visit.
Ok, I had no preparations at all for this trip. I actually thought I won’t be able to go because of what I experienced in Romblon a few days ago and I was really tired. I just couldn’t back out because our room was non-refundable. Gelai and I couldn’t get any bus tickets online, so we’d have to take our chances the next day. I managed to do a slide shift, so I was able to get off work 3 hours earlier. Gelai was able to get off work at 4:30am. Irick also backed out at around 10pm on Friday night so I ended up going with just Celine and Gelai. Celine went much earlier. Her bus left Manila at 1am and was already in Baguio super early in the morning.
Gelai and I decided to go to Genesis instead of Victory Liner. We went to the main terminal first, which is where the Joy Bus terminal is. Gosh, the list was super long. So, we went to the other terminal where the normal aircon buses are, it’s not that far anyway. For the normal aircon buses, they leave every hour and there is no selling of tickets, you just queue, get on the bus, and the ticket selling is done on the bus. Also, I feel like there’s fewer people here than at Victory Liner. It’s just that the trip was so long. We left at 6am in Cubao and arrived in Baguio between 12:30-1pm. There were a lot of stopovers, and we didn’t take any of the expressways. The good thing though is that we didn’t really encounter any traffic going into the city itself, which is unlike last time.
Our first task upon arrival is to buy our ticket back to Manila. We wanted to take the Joy Bus this time because we wanted to be comfortable. The buses that weekend were all fully booked! The earliest Joy Bus to Cubao available is at 5am. It was too late, but we really didn’t have a choice. And then it was lunch!
We were so hungry! I had breakfast while waiting for Gelai but by then, 8-9 hrs has passed since my last meal. Although, of course, I had some snacks during the stopovers. We had lunch at Solibao! Ok, I lived in Baguio for 5 years, but I never had the opportunity to eat here! There were a lot of people because it was lunch time, but they had a lot of space upstairs and it’s actually a lot bigger than downstairs. I loved the Christmas decorations, too! Gelai and I ordered sinigang bagnet, because we wanted some hot soup to battle the cold weather. It was sooo good! I also had their puto bumbong shake, which I really liked.
We initially wanted to book somewhere in Camp John Hay, but we ended up booking a room at Outlook Ridge, which is really not bad at all. It has the same view as Lemon and Olives, since they are in the same area. Well, actually the same view as Kamiseta Hotel, too. Right next to it is Baguio Townhomes, which looked like Swiss chalets. The room we booked is actually an apartment, through booking.com. I’m not sure how this actually works because we’re pretty sure someone lives in that apartment. Not sure if booking.com has something similar to Airbnb or Agoda homes now. Anyway, so our apartment has two rooms, a living room, and a kitchen, and it’s ideal for 6 people (per the listing). I would say though that comfortably, it would be good for 5. Celine stayed in one room, while Gelai and I stayed in the other. The bed and blanket were super comfy, I ended up taking a 5-6hr nap. LOL. We ended up going out at around 9pm on Saturday night. We decided to go to the Christmas Village the next day and just go out to eat.
We soon realized this was going to be more difficult than we thought. There were several restaurants close to Outlook Ridge, but they were all closed by then. We ended up walking to Pizza Volante near Wright Park, which is around 1.5 kms from our place. We couldn’t book a Grab and there were no taxis going our way. It wasn’t that bad since it was cold, but just a bit dark in some areas, so we’re a bit scared at the time (and we were joking around about the freaking white van >_<).
You can always depend on a Pizza Volante when you’re in Baguio because all their branches are open for 24 hours. We were so relieved when we finally saw the place. LOL. There was a bit of wait, there was one group waiting with us, but it didn’t really take that long. The branch in Wright Park is really huge and has an outdoor setting. I presume most would want to have a table outside. But not us. We very much prefer a table indoors – which we got. By the way, just like Solibao, I have not eaten in Pizza Volante before. Not even the one located along Session Road. So many firsts on this trip. 🙂 We ordered a large plate of shrimp pasta, King George pizza, 1.5 Coke, and a soup for each one of us. Funny though, we ate the soup last because we were still hungry after that pizza and pasta combo and it was the perfect time for soup because of the cold weather. After dinner, we went home (with our 1.5 Coke bottle in tow), and this time, we were able to flag a cab home. We all slept not too long after.
We did all of our Baguio activities on Sunday. We had a lazy morning, just watched Youtube videos and ate our leftovers for breakfast. We stayed until checkout time, because I mean, we didn’t really have a lot of plans. But before we left, photoshoot at Outlook Ridge, LOL.
And then it was time for lunch. We went to Decades the night before because I read it’s open until midnight. But when we got there, it turns out that the restaurant is only open until 9pm, and it’s the bar downstairs that’s open until midnight. There was no food, so we just took photos really briefly and looked for another place.
But the restaurant was definitely open for lunch so we had our Sunday lunch here – which was a very very good idea! I had Benguet coffee and their salted egg wings rice meal. Celine ordered the other flavor, tamarind sauce something. Both are good but I think I liked Celine’s better! It was good to have tried both. ^^ They also use red (or black?) rice so that’s also good. I was super satisfied with my meal, and the presentation was really nice. The view was also to die for, like I said, the view from the houses or places along Outlook Drive are all the same beautiful pine trees.
CAMP JOHN HAY
There was an event that weekend at Session Road, so it was definitely not in our plans to go there. The traffic will just piss us off. Anyway, there’s so many things to in Camp John Hay, we didn’t really have to go far. So Camp John Hay has this historical trail ticket that sells for only PHP44 and covers 5 places you can visit. You have the Bell House, Amphitheater, Totem Pole, The Lost Cemetery of Negativism, and Secret Garden.
The Manor is just right next to the Bell House, so we inquired about their Christmas Village. I also read a bit about the Christmas Village and got a bit skeptical about it. I realized that the Christmas Village is actually at the Baguio Country Club, which is different from what they have at the Manor. I am not really feeling all the Marvel and Game of Thrones stuff. I mean, I’m a fan of both, but do I really want to see those in a Christmas Village? Not really. There is no connection. It felt like one of those resorts with huge statues. Eek. Anyway, it seems that their Christmas Village is more our jam, so we bought tickets, but the lights show starts at 6pm. I think it was around 4pm but it’s already open and we can get in. I mean technically it’s open all the time because it’s located at the garden of the Manor. It’s just that the “events” start in the evening and that’s when you need tickets. We took a few photos in the garden, while we still have some daylight. But honestly, I think the place looks better at night.
TSOKOLATE DE BATIROL
While waiting for 6pm, we had merienda at Tsokolate de Batirol. This is not too far from The Manor. Ok, I totally confused it with the place Celine and I went to last year. That is Tsokolateria, actually, that’s why the vibe and menu are different. There was actually a little bit of wait time, but not that long. I have to say though that the receptionist is so amazing at customer service. He’s so nice! You wouldn’t feel bad at all about waiting. We ordered our own flavor of chocolates, I had the Baguio chocolate, which is strawberry-flavored. Celine had cinnamon, and Gelai had chocolate with sprinkles. Then, we had two bibingkas. The bibingka was delicious, because it was soft and was cooked perfectly. It was a nice merienda outdoors.
VILLE DE NOEL
We then walked back to the Manor just in time for the meet and greet with Elsa and Anna. We actually missed the light show but it’s done every hour, so we were able to see the entire thing again at 7pm. Ok, this is the Christmas Village I was expecting! Theirs is called Ville de Noel, and other than the light show and meet and greet, they obviously have amazing Christmas decorations, real tall Christmas trees, and they have different activities! They even have a smores section, complete with bonfire and we really wanted to do it but then we didn’t want to smell like smoke, since we’ll be travelling home in an aircon bus in just a few hours. They even had fake snow which was kinda fun HAHAHA
That was our last stop before going back to our hotel, taking our stuff, and going to the bus terminal. It was still super early, so we decided to leave our bags at a place at the terminal. (Apparently, there is a store where you can store your luggage for PHP20 per day, the clock resets at midnight.) Celine’s bus back to Manila is at 10pm and she didn’t have to check in until 9pm. Gelai and I went to see the last full show of Frozen 2 at SM Baguio. Long story short, I fell asleep during the climax of the movie, so I actually need to see that again. LOL. But then, since I had some time to nap, I had enough energy for the night market.
I was on a mission to find a coat for my trip to Korea, and a cute beret. We scoured all the stores, and I managed to find a thick knitted topper coat (I don’t even know what it’s called, LOL) at the last minute. Just right before we were about to exit. We also tried some street food. I wasn’t really that hungry, so street food was perfect. It only took us a little over an hour to go through all the stalls in the night market. It was quicker than expected because some of the stalls are already closing or have closed. It was only around midnight then. I think it’s until 3am so I was surprised that they were closing so early.
We then walked back to the bus terminal to wait for our 5am bus to Cubao. At around 2am, we realized that we are sleepy, but it was still tolerable, but not the cold. We were waiting at one of the benches outside because the ticket office (where we initially planned to wait) was closed. When the 2am bus arrived, I heard that they were calling for chance passengers so there were vacant seats on the Joy Bus. It’s just that these are bound to Pasay. Gelai asked the conductor and we ended up getting seats on the 3am bus to Pasay. We just had to pay for the rebooking fee (10% of the ticket price), plus the fare difference, which really isn’t so bad because leaving 2 hours early and being in a comfortable bus is just what we really needed at that time. Also, in the morning, we heard from the conductor that the 5am bus broke down. We don’t even know what could have happened to us if we ended up getting on that 5am bus. By 7am, we were already in the city, but it took us another 1.5 hrs to get to the terminal due to Manila traffic. We had breakfast at Chowking and took a GrabCar home.
To end this post, just some flower photos around Baguio~