Week 17 (June 27th-July 3rd): Playing Mancala in Baguio

Monday June 27: Honoring new friendships and San Juan here we come!

Last night we decided to post-pone our trip to San Juan until tonight. We were feeling pretty tired from our Saturday evening. For those who are new here, we go to San Juan, La Union once a month for Fred’s work. It’s about a 10 hour bus ride away from Manila. On Saturday evening, two of my hiking buddies came over for food and drinks. They also slept over: traffic in Manila being so bad, sleeping over can help in the enjoyment a long evening with friends and take off of one’s mind how long it will take to get home. It was lovely and amazing and I had such a great time. I really like these two guys. Hanging out with TJ is a good lesson in how friendship can supersede language barriers. At first, I didn’t see how funny he is, because a lot of his humor doesn’t translate well into English, but now I get it more and more, I see the underlining wit in what he says and the intelligence behind that wit. We laugh a lot when he is around. Tearz is thoughtful, introspective and so kind. I also see through him the kind of friendship that gets forged out of hard climbs. Tearz walked with me the hole time when I was lagging behind on mount Amuyao, sick with explosive diarrhea. This has linked me to him in a way that is very different then just friendship built from common interest, for instance. One thing’s for sure, I will never forget either f them.

Anyway,  today will be a writing, cleaning and packing day. Nothing special.

I am enjoying monsoon, with it’s short lived tropical storms which pop up in the middle of the afternoon and leave as quickly as they came. Everything is lush and green.

June 29: An over view of the week.

Tonight, I am at a hotel restaurant, having a beer and enjoying live music. I think most people find it strange that I would be sitting alone at a bar here. I get stared at a lot when I do this. But it’s a nice place to read and write and the music is lovely. I refuse to let others dictate my enjoyment of the moment.

Truth be told, this week is pretty boring. We needed to renew our visas, as per usual every two months and we found out that everytime we leave the country we start over, meaning that the first time we renew after exiting, the visa renewal is only good for 1 month, rather then 2. So, my Thailand trip made visa things more complicated because now I have to come back to San Juan earlier then expected. Point being, our visa renewal day is each time frustrating and it’s hard to get reliable information on cost and duration, which always seems to fluctuate. But, it’s a necessary evil, so that’s that.

I still love San Juan every time I go. It’s a Paradise mostly devoid of tourists and the beach is magnificent regardless of how boring I claim it to be, I really to enjoy being here.

July 2nd to 4th: A weekend in Baguio, the Summer country

Fred and I are back in Baguio, the so called Summer country of Luzon island. Due to it’s elevation and a number of geographical/environmental factors, Bagguio is particularly cold, about  15 degree Celsius cooler than the rest of the island, on average. Therefore, Manila residents and others go to Baguio for summer holidays to get away from the heat. It is also a short two hour bus ride away from San Juan, so we decided to come for a weekend excursion. We had passed through the city one evening before… As we were meeting up from a group headed from Manila to Mount Ulap, also in Benguet province, where Bagguio is located. We had at the time, spotted a few nifty looking spots and thought It might be nice to come spend some time here. So, here we are.

We ended up spending Saturday-Sunday here and we are now Monday leaving on the bus. We didn’t get a chance to see the Easter weaving room, which I had hoped to see. The weaving room is what is sounds like; an opportunity to see traditional Igorot weavers at work and purchase some of the resulting artifacts. We went on Sunday, but it’s closed on Suundays, apparently. I’d thought of staying a bit longer today (Fred needed to be back in San Juan for work in the afternoon). However, I seem to be experiencing some Illness or rather-I suspect altitude sickness is the culprit, but who knows. I think it’s incredible how human bodies can incrementally become acustomed to things like living in elevation, which without long term exposure makes us feel nauseous, sluggish and even more seriously ill. Conversely, this elevation can seem innocuous to someone who has grown up with it. It appears as a poignant metaphor for life, no? Getting accustomed to hardship is key if we are to survive in it, through it, but it may render us blind to this very hardship and seem surprising to see others struggle so vehemently when first exposed to it.

Anyway, in Bagguio, I found this amazing nifty bookstore we had spotted last time we were here. It has awesome wooden shelves all the way up to the ceiling and a small mezzanine/nook near the ceiling with some books and chairs to sit and read in. We stopped by the Hill station Hotel restaurant and ate ridiculous desserts. We bought these adorable postcards at the bookstore and on Sunday evening, as the evening, monsoon heavy rains came in, we got drenched shopping at the artisanal market, and grabbed a cab. We then stopped by a delicious ramen soup, ate our warming soups and Vietnamese coffee and wrote our postcards. We then eventually went back to the Mountain Lodge inn where we were staying . We had hoped that if we waited long enough at the restaurant, the rain would abait, but it went on all night, so we made our way to the inn, not very far from the ramen place. We hung out in the incredible cozy lobby in front of the fire place all evening. It was so very welcome after getting caught in the cold rain. We read the books we had bought at the neat used book store we came across trying to get the the Easter weaving room and played with our newly purchase Mancala game set. It was cozy while listening the rain rattling on the roof and the yard’s tiles. And now, back to San Juan!



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