I find a base of operations in the Philippines.
“I think Baguio will be a place that I keep coming back to,” spoke Hiro, a Japanese traveler who had been here three times. He sets up camp in this city every once in a while for three or four months at a time, studying English in a program for people from other East Asian countries. “Even after I am done with my studies I think I will stay here for two or three more months,” he continued.
Hiro has been all over the world, but it was something about Baguio that got him.
I understand this.
To walk down the streets of this city is to float through a thick cloud of automobile exhaust, the streets are jammed with cars — you can walk faster — and the sidewalks are jammed with people.
But there is a good feel here anyway. You can walk up to people and just start a conversation, foreigners are not oddities nor really seen as sources of easy cash, so nobody bothers you. There are little cafes on almost every block.
Baguio sits in the tropics at around 1,500 feet. This latitude and altitude produce a climate that could be called perfect all year round. It’s always either t-shirt or jacket weather — the range of temperature that the human animal is best adapted for. This lack of weather induced difficulty means that you don’t need to waste time thinking about if you are going to be too cold or hot; you can just go outside wearing the same thing everyday and be comfortable.
It’s funny how people in so many parts of the world spend their times fighting the weather. In hot climates people put their time and energy into getting cool. In cold climates people invest a lot of effort into staying warm.
This struggle is foreign in Baguio — a place that you can come to, be outside, and just be.