Ours, at the moment, is Bontoc Road in La Trinidad, and we’ll be here for at least a week or two. Once we had secured our most basic necessity–the internet–we were ready to cover a few other bases: healthy food and a gym.
After yesterday’s walk up and down the road, we ended up at a cafe across the street from where we’re staying with 50mbps instead of speeds of one to one-and-a-half you’ll typically find in this area. I’m more than relieved to have found this place because I usually need at least 10mbps to teach my online classes.
Health 101 was actually our first stop in yesterday’s search for solid wifi, as recommended by a friend, and the fact that they served good food was a welcome bonus.
Since we’d already had lunch at the farm, we tried the whole-wheat veggie-meat siopaos and the kids got a slice of Orea cheesecake, plus coffee (for us, not the kids). All of the above cost us only 215 pesos or just over 4 US dollars. The wifi was decent but we did only get about 1.5mbps (so much for high expectations).
Our merienda (a Filipino word for an afternoon snack that is usually an entire meal) was certainly healthy and quite tasty as well.
A cup of coffee will set you back 35 pesos and a siopao costs the same. That’s about 70 cents in US dollars.
The slice of cheesecake for 75 pesos was not at all sweet, which some may love and others may not. It all depends on what you’re used to, I suppose.
The menu includes all kinds of healthy and tasty looking meals, and they also serve fresh juices with ingredients like carrot, apple, ginger, and beet (or all of the above); no sugar, no cream, no ice. I had hoped to grab one on my way out today, but unfortunately, they don’t have take-out cups. I do intend to go back for lunch.
Next up for healthy living on the road: a gym.
The closest one to where we’re staying is Builders Fitness & Wellness.
You can get a walk-in session for 80 pesos, or 120 with a trainer. Personally, I’m looking for advanced MMA training and for that, I’ll be heading to Team Lakay just two kilometers down the road.
This gym is perfect for my companion though, as he recently started a weight training and mass building regimen in Manila and wants to keep that up. We’ve even portioned and packed his protein shake for travel.
The gym has equipment for weight training and cardio, as well as an area for boxing, kicking boxing, and basic MMA training. A session of fight training will cost you 160 pesos–less than half of what you’d pay at most gyms in Manila.
My companion tells me that they would like me to teach them Muay Thai; he tends to forget that I’m just a beginner when he tells people that I fight. But hey, the gym is nearby and sometimes the best way to learn is by teaching.
For now, I need to get over this annoying head cold and get my strength back.
Forgetting about health for a moment, I have taken my daughter to McDonald’s for a happy meal, the play place, and the wifi. She’s collecting little ponies; I couldn’t help it.
I let her eat the fries and burger even though I won’t touch it–and don’t even get me started on the “orange drink”–but only because I don’t see how it will do me any good right now.
I’m one of those parents who believes you can’t deprive kids (or any humans for that matter) of junk food entirely. I’ll let her have it about once a month so she grows up healthy and not hating me for the deprivation of such a basic childhood experience as the happy meal. Seems like a win-win to me.
Update: lunch time!
I’ve gone back to Health 101 and ordered the Seize of the Day, which is salmon served with spinach and brown rice, and that carrot-beet-apple-ginger juice. This crazy concoction is actually quite good. The spicy ginger is something I personally enjoy, but if you didn’t I imagine you would simply leave that ingredient out.
Looking around, I see people being served generous salads on large bowl-like plates with all kinds of colorful goodies: bright purple juliennes of beet, crispy orange camote (sweet potato) wedges, dark green broccoli and light, crispy lettuce.
I wasn’t sure a salad would fill me up as this is quite a late lunch and I’ll be needing a bit of energy, but now I’m thinking a serving like that absolutely could have cut it.
No regrets though: I’ve got my “seize of the day” fish to look forward to.
The server must have been misinformed because the fish is not salmon (I know that because salmon is pink and this fish is white), at least not today, but it is delicious.
The soup that came with my meal was full of healthy bits and my spinach was supremely fresh and cooked in a white sauce–my all-time childhood favorite way on the planet to eat spinach.
Oh, mushrooms too. There’s something new to process.
If we’re being completely honest, finding healthy food in the Philippines can be quite a challenge. Unless you’re eating freshly caught seafood grilled on the beach, you’ll find that most local dishes are very sweet, very fatty, very salty, or in some cases all of the above.
I do have my healthy Filipino favorites, such as sinigang, a sour vegetable soup served with fish or another kind of meat, or the classic chop suey. However, maintaining a healthy and well-balanced diet on the road in the Philippines would be a lot more difficult without places like Health 101.
I am truly impressed by their wonderfully healthy menu and the generous servings of fresh vegetables included in just about every meal. That may be another one of the perks of being in Baguio: it is the vegetable capital of the Philippines.