(OK, no more procrastinating. Here’s the last leg of my Sagada trip. Sorry it took so long.)
So I woke up at about 3:30AM, got dressed, got my shit together, and headed down the lobby to check out and wait for our tour driver. Why so early? We were headed to Kiltepan Peak to see the famed “sea of clouds” hopefully roll into view. It’s one of the most popular attractions in Sagada, so getting there early wasn’t just to catch the sunrise but to get a patch of ground not occupied by another hopeful tourist.
Now, remember I said the day before that I had a plan about reclaiming the front seat? Well, when Huey, Louie, and Dewey finally came down and the van arrived, I asked if one of them would be willing to sit up front between me and the driver. Remember my Day 1 seatmate said she wanted to sit with her friend? I figured this would be a win-win arrangement. Well, win-win-meh, I assume; I have no inkling of the actual feelings of the guy who volunteered. So yeah, I pretty much bullied my way up to the front seat. I know I sound awful, but I regret nothing.
Anyway, we got to the other tourists’ hotel to meet with the others. I told the two girls about the new arrangement and they seemed fine with it. After loading their things into the van, we were asked to board a waiting jeep that would take us to the peak. It was dark and cold, by the way, so be sure to wear something warm.
I don’t really remember what time we got there; let’s just say it was 5AM, but there were already a slew of people waiting for the whole spectacle. I have to admit, I was mildly disappointed we didn’t get the full experience—I guess Mother Nature didn’t consider us worthy enough to witness the entire sea—but it was still quite a show.
After a few shots (I think it was around 6AM by then), we went to an area where tables and food kiosks were set up so we could have a light breakfast. The driver said earlier we’d grab a more substantial one on the road. We rode the jeepney back to the van and set off for Benguet.
It was not without mishaps, though. At one point, we had to abandon the original road out when, after nights of rain, we found it blocked by boulders and rubble from the mountain. We turned back and took a different road. I wasn’t complaining, though, because that was one of the best fucking road trips I had ever had. Keep that in mind: The path from Sagada to Baguio (and vice versa) was full of the most unbelievable natural sights I hope I’ll get to see again someday. I wish I had a better camera; my phone was not good enough to do justice to the scenes that unfolded in front of me so I just soaked it all in.
We reached our official breakfast place (I forgot the name) in Benguet at about 9:30AM. Then we were on the road again to see the “Highest Point of the Philippine Highway System” along Halsema Highway. Again, you really need a great camera on the way; I was so awestruck, I couldn’t sleep, and that’s coming from a person who’s usually zonked out during long rides.
We finally reach the highest peak—7,400 feet above sea level, according to a marker—aaaaaand everything’s shrouded in fog. Everything. We couldn’t enjoy the supposed view because of it. So much for that.
Driving away from the peak, the fog was as thick as ever, and the roads were winding and narrow, with a drop-off on one side. On top of that, it started raining, so that was another adventure for us, the driver trying to see through the fog and rain as big trucks coming from the opposite direction come barreling down next to us.
After successfully avoiding death, we head for La Trinidad’s Strawberry Farm, where none of us picked strawberries, opting instead to walk around and shop for souvenirs and vegetables.
For lunch, we headed to Baguio, where most of us decided to go to one place, this restaurant called Solibao. Yes, you read that right: I went with them. And I was already regretting it after walking three feet from our van. It was one of the most uncomfortable lunches I had ever experienced. Not that they did anything wrong; in fact, they were nice, which made me feel uneasy. Finally, about an hour and a half later, we were back on the road and en route to Manila. (I think I failed to mention that my entire body at this point was on fire; all of the walking and trekking we did over the past few days finally caught up to me, so it was hell even walking a flight of stairs.)
Overall, this trip was probably the most physically taxing I had ever taken (my muscles were still sore days after getting back home). But I don’t regret any of it. Would I do it again? Let’s not go crazy. That road trip was truly magical, though, and I would love to explore Lumiang Cave next time.
Before I go, as usual, here’s the total cost of my trip:
Tour package – Php4,290
(By the way, kudos to 8Wonders Travel and Tours—particulary to Ms. Fewen Bernas—for being incredibly responsive to my inquiries, as well as to the friendly tour driver, Arnold Roxas, for his commendable road skills.)
Breakfast – Php175
Lunch – Php155
Spelunking fee – Php150
Tour guide tips – Php300
Dinner – Php185
Breakfast – Php80
Bomok-od Falls tour guides – Php200
Jeep ride to St. Matthew – Php40
Lunch – Php150
Pottery demo viewing – Php15
Hanging Coffins tour guide fee – Php100
Dinner – Php150
Snacks – Php57
Jeep to Kiltepan Peak – Php50
Breakfast – Php105
Bathroom visits – Php6
Lunch – Php135
Pasalubong – Php330
Driver tip – Php300
(Note: Had I not eaten so much expensive crappy food, I probably could have saved money. Oh well, life’s a bitch.)
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