Saturday, February 28, 2009

In Baguio

I've been in Baguio City for four days now, adapting to the time zone change and taking in the local sights amidst family obligations. My nephew is quite something. He's two weeks old, yet looks older. He is already trying to lift up his head and can hold his own bottle. We are staying on the grounds of Camp John Hay, formerly John Hay Air Base, a recreational facility originally built at the turn of the 20th century as a getaway for soldiers. We are situated a mile above sea level, so the climate is rather temperate in comparison to the rest of the country. The highs here have been around 80 degrees with low humidity. When the US military lease on their bases ended here in 1991, all properties reverted back to the Filipino government and they began working on adapting the property for public use. They brought in Jack Nicklaus to redesign the golf course (a sport I don't particularly have any interest in, but am expected to play in the next week) and demolished most of the military buildings and facilities. They have turned it into a prominent tourist attraction for the wealthy in Asia. We are currently renting the private residence of a general who owns the home, but is rarely ever here. The place offers practically every amenity you can think of, so there have been many walks, hikes and time spent out in the sun. (I am a rather startling shade of red at the moment). I've also just started adjusting to the new sleep schedule. Tonight is the first night I've stayed up past 11PM and I've been getting up around 7AM. Who'd have thought it?

I arrived midnight on Wednesday where I met my brother at the Clark International Airport (formerly Clark Airbase, and one of the largest airstrips in the world). There is one thing I really enjoy when I fly and that is disembarking on the tarmac. There's something decidedly old school about that, like in the older films. We got a taxi to take us to the bus station. Fate was on our side and the moment we arrived at the station, a bus to Baguio arrived. It's a four and a half hour ride from Angeles to Baguio. After enduring one of the coldest rides (I had to put my sweater back on and unearth my scarf - my brother, who lives in the incredibly hot Singapore, borrowed my fleece and has yet to actually not wear it). We arrived at Clark at 5 in the morning where we quickly passed out.

Things have been mostly lowkey, trips to town to see the baby and walking around for the most part. My father has been helping my brother paint the in-law's home in the downtown area. We've all had ample time to spend with the baby (one of two newborns currently in the vicinity - my sister-in-law comes from a family of seven children, twenty-five grandchildren and an undecided amount of great-grandchildren - almost all living in town). Loving the exchange rate and iced green tea lattes at Starbucks. There is one in the major mall across the street from my sister-in-law's home and here on the Camp John Hay grounds. The one thing I cannot get over is the politeness of the baristas. They ask for your name on the cup, greet you with the name you've given. The kicker? When you're leaving they wish you a goodbye -by name. I am going to like it here.

The only nightmare? The driving. How I long for the braving of New York City traffic. Every time you cross a street here, you only dare at your own risk and your life is in question. We will be venturing out of town for some day trips and the absorption of the local culture. Will keep you posted on where we go and what we do!

3 comments:

Esther said...

Mmmm, iced green tea lattes sound great. Glad you're enjoying yourself, getting to know your nephew. Please keep us posted. I love reading travel stories.

miles said...

I miss you Kevin!

miles said...

THE ABSENCE OF KEVIN IN MY LIFE IS STAGGERING. COME BACK, KEVIN DALY...COME BACK....