October 31, 2011

Halloween Weekend Part 1: Sleeping in a Haunted Mansion in Baguio

We celebrated Halloween last week, as you saw, so that left this weekend open. I told Lady Hiva we should go to Baguio and stay in one of the old mansions several colleagues stay in when they go on holiday. There is one room that is rumored to have a ghost. I told Hiva that we should ask for that room and that would be Halloween enough! She said, “If you do that you can go and stay by yourself!” I did not specify which room we wanted and when they made the assignments for the house, guess which one we got…yep the haunted room! *Doo, doom, doom* HAHA

We left for Baguio at 3am to beat the holiday traffic. The drive was pretty uneventful for most of the way. We had made musubi for the drive (terkiaki chicken of course, I still can’t do the Spam kind) so we had plenty to eat. Hiva slept so I gave myself philosophical speeches like how the car in front of me needed to learn to commit to one lane and all of our lives would be so much better (Driving in two lanes gets us all nowhere).

The sunrise over the rice fields as we were driving was spectacular! We stopped at the Shell petrol station in La Union, Pangasinan to see if the Kennon road was open. There are apparently two roads to Baguio: Marcos Highway and Kennon Road. Kennon Road is more scenic and faster but  is also ‘dangerous,' especially during the rainy season.  Sure enough, Kennon Road was open! The view was outstanding—cliffs, mountains, and waterfalls all inclusive. We were happy we chose Kennon, despite the two temporary bridges that had warning signs: “Weak Bridge, enter at your own risk.” YIKES. I can see how it would be dangerous if it was raining, some of the waterfalls are pouring right onto the road, similar to a raft ride at a theme park where you try not to be the one that gets wet as you pass the water.  It took us about 4 ½ hours to drive from Manila to Baguio.

Baguio is beautiful! Houses and buildings are perched on steep mountaintops and pine trees flavor the air deliciously. It seems like a Filipino version of cities like Wellington, NZ or Hong Kong. There are parks and trees everywhere! We loved it.

We arrived at the mansion and took the tour—in broad daylight, of course—it is gorgeous! It felt like we were staying in Jackson Hole, WY with the beautiful views, the crisp air, and the pine smells. We saw no signs of ghosts either…yet.

It was still early in the morning so we went exploring the city. Camp John Hay was our first stop. CJH was created by Americans several years ago when they decided Baguio would be a good place to have a city—I can see why they liked it, it feels like the States. At CJH there are restaurants, a golf course, and a few hotels. Hiva and I went to the Tree Top Adventure Camp. For a fee you can do several different types of zip-lining. The first was a 60 foot free-fall. Lady offered for me to go first. As I was dangling from a harness, 60 feet up and only a little guy holding a rope to stop me from splattering and a 4 inch mattress below, I presume to stop my fall—however I knew if I hit that mattress I would splatter anyway-- I had the thought, “This may not be such a good idea.” Before I could say anything, they dropped me!

Actually, as I am typing I realized I get myself into that situation too often; where something looks fun and adventurous and then half-way through the experience it dawns on me that I had not thoroughly processed the situation…hmm…but, on the bright side, I am not dead yet!

Hiva and I did the other two zip-lines: One like superman that I did not like because the harness was biting into my hip bones, and the other was “surfing” (more like a swing) and when I tried to make it fun by swiveling, they yelled at me that it was unsafe. Ahhh…*sigh* I never learn. I mean, seriously, why wouldn’t it be safe to swing back and forth on a cable suspended above the trees? (See what I mean about getting myself into these situations? Hopefully my life insurance guy does not follow our blog)

Next Lady Hiva wanted to buy some famous Baguio Peanut Brittle and Ube jam from the Good Shepherd Convent. The peanut brittle is so thin and crisp, we could see why our coworkers put in a request for it when they found out we were going to Baguio. The ube jam is made fresh daily so if you get there early enough in the morning, the jars are still warm.  As for the ube jam, we still haven't figured out how or what to eat it with but it's not bad. The nuns and youth make these products to sell and raise money for scholarships.

Baguio is well known for their strawberry fields, so we went to check it out! It is between harvest seasons so there were no strawberries to pick, but we saw the fields and bought some souvenirs. There is also the huge Public Market and Burnham Park in the center of Baguio, so we went to explore it too. It was wonderful to see all of the fresh vegetables that were being sold at the market. Hiva kept saying, “We need to come back here before we go home.” They also were selling fresh cut flowers. Now, I would say that I am only average height, but I had to laugh because the tent-like market place was set up for smaller people so Lady and I both had to walk hunched over as we looked at flowers!

In the evening we ate at two quaint-artsy places: Café By the Ruins for dinner and Choco-late for a snack. Both had a fun atmosphere, being partially inside and partially outside, and made the night enjoyable. We ended the evening in Burnham Park’s manmade lake paddling boats. The stars were out and the crickets too seemed to be enjoying the evening experience too. This is not something you get to do in Manila!

As we came back to the room for the night we walked upstairs and saw that our room door was open. Did we leave the door open? If we did not open it, who did? As we pushed the creaky door inwards to the dark room scared of what, or who, we would see, we both held our breath. *Do do do do dooo*  Nobody was there though.

As we were getting ready to go to bed I went into the closet and as I passed the mirror I saw a handprint fading on it…but it was not mine! *weent, weent, weent* Did we check into the Bates Hotel?

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