Saturday, April 20, 2013

It's Baguio-nning to feel a lot like Christmas

Every few months in South East Asia I'm lured into the highlands by the prospect of scenic views, forgetting all about the even more tempting cooler climate until I'm blasted in the face with cold air and filled with warm, yuletide nostalgia. It's ridiculous.

I first diagnosed this phenomenon in a blog post two years ago when a summer day in the highlands of Bali conjured thoughts and feelings of a typical childhood morning during the Christmas school holidays, waking up at 6 o'clock sharp to watch Alfred J Kwak before adding a few more pages to the pointlessly ongoing Crazy the Cat Annual 1995 and annoying my mother by rearranging the living room chairs to create an ergonomically unsound reading hub and losing myself in a Narnia book for a few hours.

It wasn't even that cold in Bali. My body's become such a wuss. More so. It was forged by the biting winds and hammering rains of England and that's always where it'll feel most comfortable, but like a boring mainstream person my tolerance of warm and sunny climes has gradually turned into affection, and my enjoyment of inclemence is limited to a few days at a time.

But the nostalgia's still there, and when we arrived in the cool mountain town of Baguio as a stopover on the way to Sagada, I convinced Jackie to extend our stay by a couple of nights - if she wants to spend time in the UK, she'll need to undergo some gruelling orientation in temperamental weather first, but mostly I wanted to continue blissing out on the paranormal contentment I was feeling.

The fact that we were back together after a few weeks apart might have had something to do with that too...


With all these perilous hillside houses, Baguio is
the Brixham of South Korea of the Philippines

There isn't much to see in the city itself. Even the biggest park is off limits, though this sign favoured cryptic motivational slogans over helpful clarification

Still, it's worth walking around, as you can never be sure quite what you'll see

With no established tourist routes, we had to rely on instinct and guesswork when directing a clueless taxi to unknown points on a grossly inaccurate map

Baguio Heritage Hill was a winner, combining grand views with a dilapidated ghost building

You know how much I love those

When traffic stress started to erode my Christmas spirit,
Lourdes Grotto brought it back with its name alone (250 steps)

Unfortunately, there was no Santa waiting to greet me at the top.
At least the birthday boy made an appearance

Christmas dinner. I've had worse.
(The hotel restaurant closed at 7.30, alright?)

By the way, my camera's LCD display broke last week, so like a pre-digital photographer heading eagerly to the chemist I have no idea how these photos will turn out until I load them onto the laptop. Look forward to cropped heads and wonky vistas in the days ahead until I can be bothered to replace it

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