When we last left off, I had recovered from my culture shock, and had enjoyed a WONDERFUL party at Silverio’s Restaurant in Dagupan City, Pangasinan. If you get a chance to go there, you will enjoy the food, I am sure. Just make sure you get the pancit WITHOUT the liver!! LOL! The manager was great in setting up everything, and ensuring our guests were served promptly and courteously. Most of the food was good. What was not, was because of my extreme dislike for liver. The band was good, and even allowed other to sing on stage. I’m not sure if that’s a normal occurance, or one just for our party. Plus, others in the restaurant got into the swing of things with our party and seemed to enjoy the entertainment as well.
So, It’s the day after our big day. I’m recovering in the aircon. I don’t want to leave the house. But, for some reason our fruit is disappearing at an alarming rate. I’ve always loved fruit, but I can’t seem to keep it in the house here. It’s a good thing. I’m eating healthier. So, a trip to Dagupan is arranged through the house keepers driver. He arrives and we’re on our way to get more fruit. Had I known we could have just gone to the local market, I NEVER would have hired the driver so many times. Hey, I’m an American, but I don’t have to eat all American type fruit. I found out later that they thought I would not like their fruits, or their market. It’s a shame, I would have liked to have gone to the market to check it out, at least once. We buy other things on this trip too, as we’re preparing for a ROAD TRIP!!!! Yes, I said it. A road trip! Baguio City is calling my name! Except I think it is being pronounced “Lobster”. Stay with me here, it’ll all come together.
So, we’ve got our provisions for the trip, and then some. I don’t have much time left on the island, and I want to spend the rest of it with Joan’s family, getting to know them a little more. I’ve invited them to Baguio, and they’ve readily accepted. They’ve been there before and know what they want me to see!! I’m excited!!! It’s a long trip, I’m told, so we prepare out things and rise early. The sound of a scooter horn blares through the early morning air before the roosters have crowed. I think they might even be angry at the early awakening! We gather our things and take them downstairs to the van. They’re loaded into the back, and we head off to pick up more passengers. What I didn’t understand is that this trip is one that involved much more planning than I had thought. Food has been prepared. Bags are packed. Dishes are loaded into a picnic basket(yogi would be proud) and water has been contained into large canisters for drinking. Now comes the sound of pitter patter and flip flopping of feet coming as if in a herd. How are all of these people going to fit in this one van? It doesn’t seem possible, but I feel like I’m at the circus as all these provisions, and twelve people get into the van for the trip. And you know what? I’m not crowded!!! I told you from another article I don’t like driving this van, but it sure does hold a LOT of people and provisions!
I’ve been asked which way I want to go up to Baguio. Seeing that I have never been there, and haven’t a clue which ways there are, I simply say… “Whatever way you normally go”. I think that was a mistake. I don’t know yet for sure, and won’t know until I go there again when I get there, but this road was horrible. There was a lot of construction, it was narrow, and the cliffs were right by the roadside. Now, for any of you Americans that are reading this that have traveled the back country roads of Kentucky or Tennessee and know about narrow roads and cliffs, this is worse. Much worse! Part of this may be because I prefer to be behind the wheel of a vehicle when in this situation. I will honestly say I have a trust issue when it comes to my life inside a motor vehicle. Too many accidents when I was a passenger is the cause. My cure, I drive everywhere! So, I’m at the mercy of our faithful driver. The same driver that picked me up from Manila. The same driver that turned the sidewalk into a express lane. But, he is doing pretty good. Thank God for traffic, or I’m sure he would have passed someone on a blind curve on a road with no guard rails! We stop to use the CR(comfort room). That’s Filipino for bathroom. I’ve learned that one by now. I mean, I have had to use the CR at least once in the last 8 days. I’m fine and don’t need to use it. I’m told it costs money. Seriously? Ok. I shell out money for the CR, only to find that they’re taking in their own t.p. anyway. Wait a second, I have to pay to use the bathroom, but then I have to bring my own toilet paper? What am I paying for? Ok, culture shock just set in again.
We’re back on the road. It’s winding, it’s curving, it’s slow. It’s bumpy. It’s an adventure! I honestly don’t mind it. It’s different, and that’s what I wanted!! I know it may sound like I’m complaining on this article, but I’m really having a good time!
We stop again!! This time, I get out of the van and I’m staring at the largest Lion’s International lion’s head I’ve ever seen! I don’t know if this thing is carved from rock, or simply a LOT of concrete, but it is a major tourist attraction spot for Baguio. We’re only about half way up the mountain, but everyone seems to stop and get their photo taken here. It’s a pretty steep drop off below, as this mountain is steep. Vendors are here too, hocking their wares. I buy two hats. One my wife liked with the many striped colors, and a black one that simply says Baguio on it. My brother liked the one I had chosen, so I let him have it. My wife still has hers, and wears it occasionally to this day.
Our trip continues, and we stop at a place called Wright Park. Everyone gets out of the van, and they tell me, “you might not want to get out”. When I ask why, they say because it smells like animals. I have to tell them, I live in the country in the U.S. I smell cow and horse poop every day. No smell out there can offend me. So, I get out of the van and we start to walk towards the sites. And oh, what sites they are. Pink, Purple, brown and white horses as far as the eye can see. But these aren’t real horses. Ok, they’re real, but they are tiny. A friend of mine had a dog as big as one of these things once! Ponies! It’s not horse rides, it’s pony rides!! I’m dying laughing at the site of it all. “Horse ride sir?”, I hear from behind me? I turn to see a Filipino worker asking ME if I want to ride a horse. Seriously? I could pick this horse up and take it for a ride!!! “I’m to big for that thing” I tell him. “Oh no, sir, we have big horses too”, as he points to a real sized horse. What he doesn’t know, is that horses and I don’t get along. I’ve been bitten too many times, or charged by some that just barely got away with their lives, shortly after I got away with mine! I kindly deny his request, and thank him for the offer. My wife poses with the horse of her choice. A beautiful white horse with a pink mane. It’s a “My Little Pony” pony!!! I pose next to the horse with her, and feel once again like a giant on display. After I buy my Mother-in-law and Sister-in-law some plants, we load into the van and continue our trip. The trip is as much as the adventure as the destination, remember!
We arrive in Baguio City! We park our van along the sidewalks of Burnham Park. We unload our van and take everything to the grassy area surrounding the large pond dyed green. If it’s not dyed green, they have a serious algae problem which should be contained. But, since the top was pristine, I guessed it was dyed that color. As soon as we make our way to the green grass, we are bombarded by vendors. An old woman selling mats for a picnic was first. That was fine as far as I was concerned because I didn’t see any picnic tables here. The price asked by the woman brought anger from my new family. Apparently, she was trying to rip me off. They yelled at her repeatedly, and finally settled on a price. I bought two. They came in handy that day, as the grass where we picnicked was still covered in dew.
We also had a lumpia vendor come by at just the right time. We were, after all, about to eat. And we didn’t have lumpia! So, I bought a LOT of veggie lumpia and we ate until we were content. The food was good, the company was better! After our meal, and a rest, we walked around the pond, catching the stares of many. While I was not the only white guy there, I was the biggest, whitest, and I will add, most handsome! Just kidding. We took lots of pictures of everything around. In fact, my youngest brother-in-law had the camera most of the time, so the pictures we have from there, were ones he took. I do have to thank him for that! Thanks Ruel!
After Burnham park, we went to Minesview. More photo opportunities simply MUST be obtained by the Filipinos! As a guy with a VERY bad knee, that walk up those steps with awkward stone steps was a KILLER on me!! I have to say, I will probably NEVER go back there again! No thanks. And the view wasn’t that great. I could see that if I climbed the nearest trash dump near my house. I wasn’t impressed, and found it to be more of a tourist attraction to hawk souvenirs than anything special. If it had meaning to the Igorot people, it didn’t any seem to have the same meaning any longer. Did I mention photo opportunities here?
The trip went on! We arrived at The Mansion. I saw it. We didn’t go in. I don’t even know if you can get in. We simply stopped to take pictures at a gazebo type structure, and to be attacked by a vendor selling paintings. We haggled and came to an agreement on price, and I bought two. He took them off the frames, rolled them, and put them into a tube that he said would be fine for the airport. (They were) They are now reframed and hanging on the walls in our home.
We move on! We stop at a place called Lourdes Grotto. I’m told there are 252 steps to get to the top. Wow! Have fun walking those steps! This knee isn’t bending one more time, unless it is to get back into the van! They look at me like I’m joking, but they quickly realize, I am not. I tell them they can go to the top and I will wait for them, but they decide to take photos at the bottom of the steps, and we can move on.
SWEET!!! I’m happy as a pig in shit right about now! (Sorry if you need to edit that one out Bob) LOL! I did manage to walk back to the van, and buy some peanut brittle to take back to the house with us. My family bought some quail eggs which I had never eaten before. The kids were eating them like candy! So, I tried it. It’s definitely an acquired taste. I might try them again, but not by themselves. Maybe they need a dip of vinegar or something. They were very dry.
Will this trip EVER end? So, earlier I mentioned someone calling my name and it sounded like “lobster” It is at this point on the ride home that I realize, I did not wear a hat all day. Previously, I was in the shade, in front of a fan, trying not to melt. But, in Baguio, the weather was beautiful and it was awesome to be able to enjoy the weather. As you will notice from my photo, I have a short hair cut. When I was in the Philippines, I had it shaved to the skin. I realize, I’m sunburned.
And not just ANY sunburn, I’m talking sun sickness, blistering sunburn!! We arrive home and unload the van at my in-laws home. We travel back to the house belonging to the aunt of my wife, and get everything inside. This is where I tell her that being white isn’t all it is cracked up to be. Everyone in the Philippines spends a lot of money on soaps, bleaches, and other things to whiten themselves. Well, that night my wife found out being white, as white as me, is a horrible thing. The blistering began. Sun sickness kicked into high gear. I was overheated, and in serious need of the CR and t.p.! I was sick most of the night. When I awoke, most of the blisters had broken, and was oozing clear fluids. She quickly changed her mind on wanting to be as white as me! I laugh because this has been an ongoing event in my life. I’ve experienced it before. Usually, on a day when I am having too much fun to realize I am a lechon baboy, slowly cooking until I’m crisp and tender.
Our trip, was a success. We all had a good time, and I got to spend some quality time with my new family.
Until next time, paalam, ingat and God bless!
At the time of this writing, I am 40 years old. I’ve been married to my Filipina wife since December 2009. She is from the Province of Pangasinan, Philippines. I was born and raised in the Metro Detroit area in Michigan. I’ve worked in many fields throughout my short career, mostly in Architecture, computers, and law enforcement. I’m medically retired from the U.S. Government due to a back injury and look forward to our move to the Philippines. My interests here were yard work, guns, and hanging out with friends. But because of my back injury, I’ve had to shorten what I can do to just hanging out with friends. Not a bad thing when you’re retired, right!? Also, I’m sure I’ll find some new interests when I get to the RP. We don’t yet know where we will be moving to exactly, but I expect it to be on the main island of Luzon. I look forward to moving there, getting healthier, and experiencing island life.