Baguio-Sagada Escapade

While most people were having noche buena, I was traversing TPLEX to Baguio City with C and Z on the other aisle of a de luxe Victory Liner bus. I was asleep half of the trip for it was freezing inside the vehicle that was so conducive for a quasi-uncomfortable slumber. It was also a strenuous battle with the Hydra in GoW (first time player / late bloomer). But I, together with rest of the passengers woke up when we were almost there.

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We arrived at the bus terminal around 3:30 A.M. and welcomed by the city’s frigid temperature. Me and C had a quick smoke and took a cab to the house where we would be staying for a day.

It felt nice that Baguio greeted us with a wonderful impression. The taxi driver was honest and polite. Then there was Ate Virgie: the genial and accommodating owner of the dwelling.

We hit the shower anon upon checking in our room to clean up.

Water heaters are indeed a big necessity in Benguet. Being thousands of feet above sea level, taking a bath becomes a big challenge for man. The ball-shrinking, nipple-hardening algid water in Baguio is the shit.

After flushing out the unholy dirt of the Metro from our bodies, we set to snooze with the cold, doobie-smelling Baguio air penetrating through our blankets.

We didn’t actually sleep enough because when the sun broke up three hours later, we started preparing for our exploration.

We literally traipsed from Upper QM to Burnham Park to SM Baguio to Session Road to the public market to that steep ukay-ukay street and to the City Hall. We bought some small stuff and whatnot and tried some interesting and not-so-appealing grubs en route. Then we took a cab back to Upper QM when night time gave a hint.

We prepared for our own dinner because the house where we were staying had an actual kitchen. Then we opted to just chill and rest to have enough energy for the main adventure latterly.

I needed to spend some time outside trying to make a reservation to almost any transient house where we could stay in our next destination. Weak signals under the roof from both networks. I managed to find some lodges through on-line browsing that I called one by one. It was fully-booked everywhere. Everyone of them said they would ring or SMS me back if they already got vacant rooms. So I bit and waited for about an hour. “Waited”, by the way, means smoking Marlboro and having chit-chats with some locals drinking under a huge pine tree. They were kind to me that they gave me a few shots of brandy and let me have a bite of their pulutan. Later I found out it was dog meat.

Then my phone rang and there’s a woman on the other line politely offering an attic room for a steal. I said “yes”, out of desperation, and went inside for the good news.

Lodging secured. We called it a day.

6 A.M. in Dangwa Terminal and the queue for the bus tickets going to Sagada was as long as the patience of the passengers who failed to get the remaining morning trips.

We really wanted to travel early, but the only schedule available left was 1 P.M., so we bit and waited for six hours. “Waited”, by the way, means strolling around Session Road and food-tripping.

Finally, it was time.

The six-hour Sagada trip was not the most comfortable ride that I ever had. It was a mixture of awe, joy, slight fear, and amazement. But the scenery was so beautiful I could cry. It was fascinating. The roads, they said were scary and dangerous, but for me, it was safer than, let’s say, Aurora Province. I’ve had worse.

After battling the cliffs of Mountain Province and two stopovers, we arrived Sagada proper. It was around 7 P.M. and it was dark. We didn’t reach the bus terminal because we alighted in front of the house were we would stay for about two days.

Misty Lodge is a comely transient abode. It is a neat, cozy, three-floor domicile with a little restaurant on the ground floor.

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Since it was dinner time and we three were so exhausted from the trip, we treated ourselves with Misty Lodge’s home-made cheeseburgers and pizza. They didn’t have Redhorse beer (too bad) but San Miguel Pale Pilsen did the trick.

We freshened up then lulled our drained-up bodies in our attic room. There’s a book shelf beside our door so I flipped through the seemingly inviting hardcovers but decided to just read some of my e-books. Kratos was also calling me to continue the quest.

We had to wake up early for our 5 A.M. call time so once again, we mustered our guts to face the more powerful force of ball-shrinking, nipple-hardening cold water.

We tagged along with a family in Sir Aweng’s jeepney going to the peak of Mt. Kiltepan. I know it’s too mainstream nowadays, but being a witness to a beautiful sunrise is quite an experience. I love it.

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Sagada early mornings are more exciting than of Baguio’s. If you’re staying far-flung from the town proper (like Misty Lodge), you have to go on foot (there are no short trip rides) in order to amble around and go where most adventures are nigher: the town proper itself.

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Of course, it wasn’t a hassle for us since the rustic neighborhood is fresh and overwhelming, adding the chance to interact with the accommodating and friendly locals. It was quite a romp.

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We headed back to base in the afternoon to rest and have merienda. Cez took a nap while me and Ziann picked some fallen pine cones.

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The latter was so tired in the evening that she fell asleep anon. Skipping dinner. C and I had some beer and pizza downstairs.

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There was a traditional party nearby where the silent vicinity was filled with authentic ethnic music. Nice jam.

There was also a sudden power interruption so the only sources of light available were our flashlights and the house’s emergency lamps/candles. We didn’t complain for it was still cold and more stars appeared in the sky. It was a beautiful night. We stayed a little while warming our hands in the fireplace.

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The power came back in the morning after taking another cold bath.Too bad we had to leave because C had work the following day. The only problem in traveling is indeed time. We hitched at Sir Aweng’s jeepney to town where the bus terminal is located.

We were there at around 9 A.M. but since the queue was as long as the list of great memories that we had in that place, we waited for two hours. “Waited”, by the way, means eating two bowls of sapid lugaw with hardboiled native chicken egg and trying every comestible from the local peddlers. Our kind of breakfast.

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The bus back to Benguet arrived at 11 A.M. Once again, we had a six-hour, two-stop-over journey to the cliffs of Mountain Province. Same thrill, different side of the bus.

Probably, the final challenge of the journey was the long queue of passengers going back to Manila. We didn’t have ticket reservations so we fell in line. It was from the ticket booth of the Victory Liner bus terminal going outside at the back of the edifice, so we waited for two hours. “Waited”, by the way, means alternating in the line while having dinner and regular bio and yosi breaks.

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Our trip would be at 11 P.M. so again, we waited for two hours. “Waited”, by the way, means going to SM Baguio to grab more souvenirs and eats, and making plans of settling in that city. We asked around on how’s life like there and it’s quite convincing that we decided to settle there someday.

The trip back to Manila was a four-hour de luxe Victory Liner bus ride, with snoring passengers and a sleepy stewardess. I fell asleep after thirty minutes of figuring out how to save Oracle from falling.

We reached Cubao – Quezon City at exactly 4 A.M.

C went straight to work. She was late, of course. Me and Ziann went home and continued our slumber in our own itchy beds and reeking pillows. No more blanket of stars. No more ball-shrinking, nipple-hardening cold water. No more doobie-smelling mist. No more tall pine trees and cool mountain breeze.

We’re back home. We’re back to reality.

To conclude this, it was a pleasant trip and we enjoyed every second of it. We are looking forward to do it again.

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