Strawberries and flowers: Baguio 2017! ♥

When Ashley asked me a couple of weeks ago if we (Francis, Kaye, and I) would like to come to Baguio with them during the long weekends, I immediately said yes! Because #1: Ashley and Justin are such a good company to be with, , and #2: I’ve never been to Baguio. :)

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One week before the trip, we looked for a place to stay via AirBNB.  Ashley found a transient house which was not too far from Baguio’s city center, with a loft-type condominium unit that could fit 5-6 people. :) I saved 1,000pesos-worth of AirBNB points in my account, which we spent on the cleaning fee (which we later thought was a bit pricey, haha). We were still lucky to find a good place to stay, since the date we picked for the trip was actually the peak of Panagbenga Festival (we didn’t know this back then lol).

Note: Panagbenga Festival (Flower Festival) is a month-long festival in Baguio every February, celebrating the season of blooming (spring).

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Warning: This post is very long and photo-heavy ^^

♥ DAY 1 – Saturday ♥

On the day of the trip, Kaye, Francis and I woke up at 4am to get ready. We left the house at 5:30 am and got to Bocaue Exit at 6:30 am, where we were supposed to meet with Ashley and Justin at 7am. Since we got there early, we had enough time to eat breakfast at a convenience store!

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Kaye’s outfit was so cool 8)

Ashley and Justin came to pick us up half an hour later. They hired a driver, Richard, because Justin needed to rest. We split all the expenses, by the way! :)

Here are some pictures while we were driving North:

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Kaye is riding shotgun because she has motion sickness lol

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It doesn’t show here but we had a lot of laughs on the ride (Kaye’s fault hahaha).

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The view along NLEX is so niiiice

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It says Baguio City but we’re still more than a hundred miles away haha (according to GPS Kaye)

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First signs of Panagbenga!

We had a couple of stop-overs along the way. This one was along SCTEX because Richard and Justin wanted to have some coffee.

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This rest stop has a cute cafe in it called Cafe Amazon.

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They have these fancy tables with potpourri in them!  ♥

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Kaye is so photogenic *_*

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And Ashley too!

(Wow, I sure have a lot of photos for a stop over, haha)

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We continued our journey northward. I learned that TPLEX is 60 km of continuous road with no rest stops whatsoever. Richard thought it’d never end, lol.

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After some time, we’ve finally arrived in Benguet! But we still have a long way to go, driving up the mountains.

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We haven’t even arrived at Baguio yet but there were already a lot of flowers everywhere!

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The road snaked around and between cliffs and mountains.

After a long drive up, down, and around mountains, we finally entered Baguio!

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We kept on opening the car windows to check if it was already chilly outside hahaha (tourists..LOL) :))

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Spot the lion! :) We didn’t take a picture with the famous lion head statue because it was swarming with other tourists. Also, look at that steep zigzag road!

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Literally blooming flowers everywhere, wow

It was already past lunchtime so we decided to grab lunch before heading to Nardi-Mar, our AirBNB transient home. It was a Saturday and the eve of the festival, so there were lots of people everywhere! The main streets of Baguio were jam-packed with cars and the traffic was terrible. >< Luckily we have…Waze. Hahaha! No, seriously, Waze is such a helpful app! It got us around heavy-traffic by directing us to scenic alternate routes. Yay for Waze! :D

Before the trip, Ashley prepared a list of cafes and restaurants we could check out while we were there. First one on the list was Cafe Yagam, so we went there for lunch.

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Some coffee berries being dried. A couple of Japanese ladies who were working on them demonstrated to me how coffee beans are made! So cool *A*

The place was very pretty and home-y. It reminded me of Studio Ghibli films. :)

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Yup, Studio Ghibli x Benguet. :)

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Ashley and I ordered their Benguet specialty dish, while Francis and Richard ordered sizzling sisig. Kaye and Justin (who doesn’t like unusual food lol), ordered bolognese. :))

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Surprisingly VERY spicy

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Kaye and Justin’s “couldn’t go wrong” order haha

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Pinikpikan with etag (traditional chicken stew with smoked meat)

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Justin also ordered Benguet coffee.

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Taken by Richard, because it was so difficult to do a decent groupfie. :)) Wow I look so puffy wth

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After lunch, we set out again to find Nardi-Mar. It took us a bit long to get there because of the traffic. I fell asleep on the way and when I woke up we were already there! :)

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My favorite thing about Nardi-Mar is the view! We’re on the 2nd floor so we have a good view of the city. When we arrived, the fog was just setting in because it drizzled a bit.

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We met our host, Tita M. :) She welcomed us warmly and shared tips on how to get around especially during heavy Panagbenga traffic. The first one is: to walk. ^^

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So, we decided to walk around the area, then to head to the city center. Before leaving, we took some #OOTD photos first haha

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KayeBiblee :))

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I regretted wearing a short skirt. My legs were freezing GDI

We headed out on foot like what Tita M advised. The area surrounding our place looked like a normal town, but a lot colder and with more flowers and pine trees. :))

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Wow there are no tricycles here

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Some plants I often see being sold in Manila in plant shops are littered around here like weeds! :O

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Look at this. This looks like it’s from a fairytale, but it’s just a hodge-podge of different flowering street plants :O (A random man was sleeping under this, I wasn’t able to take a picture)

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View from where we were standing while we were resting our feet

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We got hungry from all the walking, luckily we passed by this barbecue (isaw) stand!

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The lady from the barbecue stand said that this kitten is their lucky charm. :3 How cute ><

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20 pesos worth of isaw

While we were walking, we also passed by this big group of cats! There were like 20 or so cats and kittens on this spot. It was crazy!

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Ashley couldn’t help herself from taking a photo with them haha

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Out of all the cats, there was this one big dog among them. He looked like he was their guardian. My favorite cat from the group is that chill-looking small kitten beside him! *dying from cuteness*

After a LOT of walking, we finally arrived at the city center. My feet were about to detach from my legs at this point. We walked for about 45 minutes without sitting down. =A=

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We got to Burnham Park to sit on the grass to rest. A lot of people were already there in preparation (and anticipation) of the events for tomorrow, which was the most-awaited Panagbenga parade.

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Justin bought two bags of steamed peanuts for us to enjoy while sitting on the grass. We all joked around and talked about silly stuff, and just had a jolly good time! :) We also tried our best (again) to take a decent group selfie. We failed, obviously:

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Nice groupfie

There was also an ice cream vendor in the park, so we bought some strawberry ice cream. There were small chunks of strawberries in it! ♥

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So instagrammable

After resting, we walked further into the park. There were so many people that it was hard to take photos of anything, haha. We managed to take these photos though:

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Some plants for sale inside the park

There was also some kind of a landscaping contest inside the park.

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I wasn’t able to take more photos because I..got hungry again. Hahah

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There were lots of food stalls inside the park. I bought this cup of binatog for 20 pesos. So yummy!

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Then we spotted some hydrangeas! They’re one of Ashley’s favorite flowers. :)

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A few steps more and we arrived at the famous Burnham Park lake. I wanted to try the boat ride but there were too many people and it was already getting dark (this sounds stupid but I was scared of falling into the water because it was getting dark). Whaat

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What an appealing photo

Finally we went to the “track” zone, which was also filled with tourists.

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Finally a groupfie with all our faces in it

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Love this girl <3

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Honestly the cold made me feel so sleepy.. :)

We decided to leave the crowded park to try to look for ukay-ukay (thrift) shops. We walked to Session Road where they’re supposedly located, but for some reason we quit searching after a few minutes. I can’t even remember why we didn’t go into any of the ukay-ukay shops we found (probably because we were too tired at that point).

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So, instead of ukay-shopping like we planned, we just looked for a cafe/restaurant to stay in until dinner. Almost all restaurants were full, so we decided to just buy food and eat at our Nardi-Mar unit.

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There were lost of flower-themed decorations around!

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The city was still so beautiful at night.

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We found Il Padrino cafe and we decided to make it a rendezvous point since we were all going out to buy food from different places.

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After buying food, we called Richard to pick us up. He had some trouble reaching us because the traffic got worse in the evening. :))

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It was so cold! I loved it even though my legs were freezing. :D Richard arrived a few minutes later and we all headed back to Nardi-Mar for dinner and rest.

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The view from our veranda was so beautiful!

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We got pizza, fries, chips, steak, and fried chicken. :)))

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After dinner, we chatted a bit more, then we tried to operate the TV (we tried watching a movie on it but we couldn’t make the USB work for some reason). So, we just watched some late night TV shows/news while each of us cleaned up, then decided to rest early for tomorrow’s activities!

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Check out the awesome view from Francis’s bed!

♥ DAY 2 – Sunday ♥

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It was already 9:30 am when I woke up. By the way, the parade started at 8:00 am, but it was ok since we didn’t really plan on seeing it. ^^ Our itinerary for today was mainly Camp John Hay and Minesview Park.

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Tita M was growing strawberries in her flower pots :o

We decided to cook our own food for dinner tonight so Francis and I went to the nearby wet market to buy raw pork and chicken for BBQ. We marinated them back at the loft and refrigerated them until later.

Kaye went to church early so we just fetched her on the way to Camp John Hay.

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Camp John Hay is like something from my fairytale dreams. I feel like I’ve been here before even though it’s my first time. *-* The trees and plants are so beautiful, even the color of the ground is so pretty!

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Of course, we couldn’t resist taking photos! :D ~this was our plan all along, stay out of the Panagbenga crowd and take pretty pictures in the forest~

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My sisters ♥

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Yihee

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I love you, tree

Kaye was super hungry because she haven’t had any breakfast yet, so we tried to look for a place to eat.

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Saw these pastel pink (presumably strawberry-flavored) cake breads on a rack!

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Kaye spotted a row of yellow flowers and forgot about being hungry LOL

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The first places we checked for seats were full, so we decided to head to the restaurants near the park entrance. While walking back to the entrance, we saw an eco-trail, and it was full of trees and flowers, like a fairytale! So naturally we stopped by for pictures! :D Check out this photo spam: (I’m so happy with these photos by the way, they look so magical!)

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These next photos were taken from Francis’ phone:

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derp

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fave!

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I just wish people didn’t leave their trash all around. It was depressing to see plastic bottles and junk food wrappers stuck behind trees and tangled with the flowers. =___=

Finally we continued to walk back to the park entrance to find a place to eat some lunch.

Lol sorry for taking so long

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Have a break, Prof! :)

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Spot Francis :D

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Yiheeee

We saw this cafe when we entered the park earlier, it’s called “Everything Nice”. We were curious about it and luckily, there were still available tables, so we decided to eat here.

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Pretty view and pretty girl :D

They have a lot of food choices, which is good!

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No such thing as a perfect group photo amirite?

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The food arrived! Time to eat~

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Justin’s Baguio coffee

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Francis bought me some potato wedges (those are Kaye’s fingers because she said she was so hungry LOL)

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Francis’s Baguio Longganisa

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Kaye, Justin, and Richard ordered Beef Tapa

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Ashley’s Crispy Tilapia

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BBQ Baby Backribs for me!

After lunch, we walked back into the park again. :D

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Flowers. Everywhere. Is it always like this here? :O My Mom would be so happy to live in Baguio, haha!

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While walking we were attracted to this huge brick wall. :))

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I wanted to take a picture in every corner of this park, it’s crazy.

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Sweg

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Kawaiiiiiiiii

Meanwhile, Kaye was also having a minishoot with Francis hahaha

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Do it like the emoji

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KayeBiblee

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Blending in

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Not staged at all

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Nope

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Really thankful to my friends for taking nice pictures of me. Haha

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Can’t reach my feet

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Food belly realness

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We sat down on the grass once more to just relax.

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The guy on the far side of the mat is Richard, in case you’re wondering. :D

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After a few minutes, we decided to drive to Minesview Park. When we got there, the car couldn’t even move because the streets were so crowded! Luckily, a parking space just became vacant while we were approaching so we immediately claimed it, haha :D

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Spotted a taho vendor!

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Justin bought an ube taho

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Kaye and I bought our very first strawberry taho!

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So yum! I wish it was eaten with a spoon though (or none, just not a straw), because once I’ve sipped all the strawberry goodness, it just tasted like bland tofu juice with hints of strawberry ;_;

Minesview park was by far the most crowded of all the Baguio parks I’ve been to since yesterday. Maybe because it’s smaller compared to the others? Anyway, there was also a lot of food stalls and plant/flower shops in it. It also has an Ifugao Museum (which we didn’t go to because there were so many people).

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There were also white horses dyed pink, and 2 cute St. Bernards. I didn’t take a photo of any of them because they all looked so tired.. T___T They must have been so overwhelmed by the huge crowd? I’m not sure though, I think I can just sympathize because I have a big dog at home and they reminded me of her when she gets super tired. :c

PS. I’m sure they’re taking good care of the animals though! Just a reminder for tourists like us to take it easy and to give these animals some space once in a while. :)

Anyway, we followed Ashley and Justin towards the view deck of the park. Again, there were so many people! We squeezed in on the side to get a couple of shots, then we left hahaha.

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It was so cloudy so all photos during this afternoon are dark ><

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I’m sure the view can be better appreciated if it weren’t so crowded, but it’s understandable since Panagbenga is the biggest event of the year here.

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That crowd. There were lots of signs that said “Be careful of pickpockets” :O //held on tight to my bag

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Besties

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I love dried squid asdasdhklfhklad

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I love corn too!

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Got myself a grilled dried squid! It’s a bit tougher than the ones I’ve tried before, but it’s ok!

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Also couldn’t resist this. <3

After Minesview, Ashley, Justin, and Francis went to church, then Richard drove Kaye and I to Choco-late de Batirol, a famous cocoa cafe in Baguio.

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This place is quite famous so there were lots of people. We had to wait to be seated inside. There were seats outside but it was drizzling so we couldn’t stay there. :D

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Realized my camera doesn’t have a bluetooth/wifi function so I couldn’t transfer my photos to my phone lol

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I ordered these, while Kaye ordered the ice-blended version. It’s yummy and nutty but a bit too strong for my taste, after all I’m slightly allergic to chocolate. (I kept on sneezing, it was so embarrassing haha)

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It was already dark when the others got back from church, but we had to buy some stuff from SM so we headed there first before going back to our unit.

When we got there, a couple of Korean teens stopped in front of me and said “Cheese in the Trap” excitedly! *A* Thank you, hair :D

Kaye, Francis, and I went to the grocery to buy lettuce and BBQ sauce.

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When we were all done, we drove back to Nardi-mar for our.. BBQ party!!! <3

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Nardi-Mar has this central outdoor kitchen and BBQ grill. They also have this outdoor dining spot overlooking the city as well!

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Our marinated meats came out nicely. *3*

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We were the only guests there that night so we had the place to ourselves.

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BBQ master

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The viewww

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It was extremely cold. I used my other jacket as a blanket when I sat down.

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Brrrr

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I was in charge of cutting the meats. Good thing the outdoor kitchen had enough kitchen utensils!

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Lettuce eat! :D I wasn’t able to take any more photos because my camera’s battery died. :)) Anyway, we had a lot of fun that night! It was freezing outside by we enjoyed each other’s warm company. I’ll never forget those moments!

♥ DAY 3 – Monday ♥

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Good morning! It’s our last day here :)

The morning sky was so pretty.

I woke up at 6am to have some breakfast, because we were supposed to head out by 8am. We had a lot planned today so we wanted to start as early as possible. But, the rest of the group was still fast asleep. :))

When Kaye woke up, she made some coffee and I made some Blendy matcha latte.

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Tuna bread breakfast!

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We were supposed to check out by 12 noon, but we decided to check out early so we won’t have to rush to return before 12. When everyone woke up, we packed our bags and got ready to leave. :)

We left by 8:30 am, and said our goodbyes to our temporary home at Nardi-Mar. :)

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Bye bye and thank you for the fun memories~ ♥

Our last activities involved driving to La Trinidad, Benguet, outside of Baguio.

We chanced upon the famous colorful houses in Benguet! I was so excited because I’ve only seen it in pictures. They’re so colorful, aaaAHH

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Spot the 3-storey ukay-ukay!

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Large strawberries painted on walls

We found out that aside from Panagbenga (Flower) Festival, it was also… Strawberry Festival! Wow what a lucky chance! :D

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This wasn’t just a strawberry farm, because lots of other crops and vegetables were also being farmed here!

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Hahaha this picture is so funny to me

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I wore a “farming” OOTD wheee

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Ok in fairness, this strawberry ice cream tastes better that the one we had in the park. This is much more creamy and has more strawberry chunks in it!

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If you’re planning to buy souvenirs, buy them here. They sell just as cheap as the ones in the palengke (maybe sometimes even cheaper), and it’s not too crowded.

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There are also a lot of food stalls around with lots of ~free taste~ 8)

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Entrance to the Strawberry Farms is free, you just have to register in their log book / sheet.

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The place is called “farms”, as in plural, because it is composed of little farms owned/managed by different farmers (from what we observed).

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Look at all those strawberries!

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Kaye was so excited when we spotted a sunflower garden inside the farm. There’s a 10-pesos entrance fee per person at the gate of the garden.

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It was hard to take photos that day though, because there were a lot of people photobombing our shots, haha!

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Back to the fields! ♥ Some farmers sold their fresh harvest directly in front of their farm. These bags of fresh lettuce were only 50 pesos each!

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Wow these lettuces look so fat and satisfying

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A few moments later, we encountered a farmer who asked us if we wanted to do strawberry picking, which is why we really went here! :D He took us to his farm slot and gave us small baskets and scissors. As of today, the rates are:

Strawberry prices:

If you pick them yourself: 450php / kilo

Pre-picked strawberries: 200php / kilo

Off to work we go!

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Light red ones are not so ripe yet, and will ripen in 2-3 days. They last longer than the very ripe ones (dark red in color), which need to be consumed until the next day.

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Hehehe so cute

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Tip: The fields are muddy, so wear appropriate shoes for this activity. Some farms have boots you can borrow, some don’t. So better bring your own! (We didn’t :c )

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We decided to get 1 kilo as a group and divided it among ourselves.

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Yay! Strawberry picking : done!

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We went back to the entrance to buy souvenirs from the shops. (It was a very long walk!)

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Tip: When buying lengua de gato, make sure you get the premium brands (ask the vendor!), because most of the 3-for-100php ones are not really lengua de gato, or not as milky as the original ones.

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We bought pre-picked strawberries here.

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Strawberry auntie was so willing to pose! <3

We also bought some strawberry wine (so sweet, it barely has alcohol in it..I love it), some broccoli (100php for 3kilos!), oranges, ube jam, and the usual peanut brittle, strawberry jam, lengua de gato, etc.

Our next stop was Bahong Flower Farms, but it was already lunchtime by then so we looked for a place to eat first. We found “Mommy La Restaurant” along the way, and we decided to eat there.

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Their servings were big yet affordable! The food was really yummy, our favorite was this Bihon Guisado! :)

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After lunch we continued on our way to the flower farms. It was far and hard to find without Waze. *A* The slopes were steep and narrow, and incoming traffic can be very tricky without a skilled driver! (Thanks, Richard!)

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Some buildings were painted with roses.

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When we got there, there wasn’t really much to see because the workers said they’ve just harvested the flowers for delivery to Manila. However, they mentioned a “view deck” somewhere “down the road”. (?) So Francis, Ashley, Kaye, and I set out to find it, while Justin and Richard stayed in the car to rest.

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Turns out that the view deck was really, really far from where we were parked. We were the only tourists there haha, everything was peaceful (and creepy because we didn’t really know where we were going). We just followed the road, up and down slopes, until we saw a glimpse of what could be the “view deck”.

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If you look closely, you can see some roofs that for us looked like some sort of a resort or huge garden. For all we knew, this could be the view deck! Haha it seemed so far but we’ve already walked too far to quit now.

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Let’s go!

After going down a very steep and high slope (which we regretted later when it was time to go back), and crossing a bridge, we saw this sign:

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Aha!  It was indeed the view deck! :D

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The gate was closed so we tried to find a doorbell, then a man who was arranging potted plants from a short distance shouted to us “Pasok lang po kayo, bukas yan” (“Just enter, it’s open”). So we went in! :D

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The steps leading up to the view deck were really narrow and steep, so we climbed them carefully.

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The place was beautifully landscaped! It was like a hidden garden.

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No one else was around. No staff, nor other tourists.

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It felt like we had the whole place to ourselves! It was relaxing and a bit creepy, hahaha.

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The view was breathtaking! A lot better than what we saw in Minesview, to be honest!

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*hugs Benguet*

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Of course, we took lots of photos! We were a bit scared to explore the other parts because it was so..quiet. :D

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Worth the hike

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The sky was getting darker so we decided to head back to the car. I knew retracing our steps would be very hard since we went down a lot of high slopes earlier, now we have to climb them.. OTL

Halfway back to the car, we gave up and just sat on a big rock. Haha I was palpitating like crazy! //thyroid problems

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Extremely exhausted :))

We called Richard and Justin on the phone to come pick us up, because we were too tired to walk any further hahaha. Turns out they were already on their way to find us because we were gone for too long. :))

We drove back to the Strawberry Farms to buy some plants for Mom because we weren’t able to find any in Bahong.

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The plants here are a lot cheaper than in Manila!

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Happy mom, happy life

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After eating some fishballs and kikiam for merienda, we finally decided that it was time to go home. :) ♥

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We had some extra adventures on the ride home (like that strange smell..lol) :))), but I’ll end this here. :3 Thank you Ash and Justin for driving us all the way back to Sapang Palay ;__; Will forever remember this kindness ♥

I’ll never ever forget this fun trip! This is our 2nd trip with Ashley and Justin, and we really enjoyed their company. They’re simple, real, funny, and kind. I love them! :D Looking forward to more adventures with them ♥

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Family ♥

Thanks for reading all the way to the end! :) Hope to enjoyed this post. I really want to travel more this year! ;_; Where to go next?? *_*

Cheers, Chichi ♥