After returning from Villa Escudero into the mayhem of Manila, it was a quick shower, more packing and on to a luxury night bus straight to Baguio City… the land of my father.
Baguio City is about 5 hours north of Manila, 6.5 hours if you count traffic and rest stops. It is up in the mountains so the climate and terrain is much different than other parts of the islands. There are plenty hills, green pine trees and a nice cool 70 degree (Fahrenheit) temperature. It’s less crowded than Manila, you feel like you can actually breathe out there. The views from the hills are amazing. If you wake up early enough you can rise to the sound of a rooster and even catch the fog rolling in, and it is truly humbling and breathtaking.
I assume because the weather is so beautiful in Baguio that it encourages a larger array of outdoor activities to choose from. Luckily for me, my father’s family home as well as the townhouse my parents are building are both very close to Camp John Hay. For those who don’t know, Camp John Hay used to be a United States Military Base starting in 1903 and wasn’t released back to the Philippine Government until 1991. It has now become a tourist attractio, residential location and country club! Talk about an upgrade.
After a walk up the hill to grab a taxi, it was a quick 10 minute ride to Camp John Hay where we had lunch in the Club House. (It is members only in that area, so feel free to try and make friends with someone who has a membership! Totally worth it!) The food was exceptional and you have a great view of the golf course! It’s a nice break from everyday life in the Philippines, but as delicious as their food was, I didn’t fly across the world to look at a golf course.
The real fun of the area are their outdoor activities. They utilize the surrounding forest well with various “thrill seeking” adventures. They had a variety of zip lining options and even a tree jump! I opted for the superman zip line and the tree jump.
The superman is easy enough, you get harnessed in a horizontal manner with your belly down and are hurled through the air so it feels as if you are flying. Great view of the surrounding area! It was a real shame I needed my hands to balance because I would have loved to take pictures! Now, the tree jump was where the real adrenaline rush is! You are close to 200 hundred feet in the air (they have tall trees!) And you literally fall out of a tree. That’s it. The whole experience lasts about 15 seconds. I’ve been skydiving… but there is something about the ground rushing towards you at such a close distance. It gives a different type of fear.
The tickets for both activities came with access to hiking trails and viewpoints within the park. Best part was that everything all together cost me about $20 US!
After my tree top adventures, I thought I would calm it down a bit with a fun little horse ride. Wright Park is outside of Camp John Hay, but only by 5 minutes in a taxi. This was one of my favorite things to do in Baguio when I was a child and visiting the city. I figured I owed it to nostalgia for one more ride.
At a low cost of $15, I rented a horse for an hour and a half. The trail takes you near residential areas and goes at a slow enough pace that you can appreciate your surroundings. Once back inside of Wright Park, that’s where you can ride at faster speeds around their circular, dirt track. This isn’t the most exciting activity ever, but it’s something different and definitely something I can’t readily do in Las Vegas.
According to my fitness tracker, I had walked about 8.5 miles throughout the day at the camp. I ended the day at the open air market! (More about that in another post, for now, just know it was massive and so cool!) Due to my limited time restrictions, I didn’t get to spend more than one night in Baguio, but I wish I could have! I was informed at the market that strawberries are their #1 crop and you can actually go to strawberry fields and pick them yourself! I think that is reason enough for me to make sure I come back very soon. Now that my parents own a place there, fingers crossed that it will be sooner than 9 years! 🙂