Our Big Mountain Adventure Day 2 – Surviving the Drive to Sagada

posted by 08/11/2015 4 Comments

Driving through Baguio

We woke on our first morning in Baguio to the most stunning day. The air was crispy cool, the sun was soft and warm and the view of the mountains from our hotel was just stunning. We were on the road at 9.30am and were expecting about a five hour trip. We got to Sagada at 5pm…a little disheveled, our nerves having being given a good shake-up.  


Unsealed road

Driving from Baguio to Sagada there are apparently two roads you can take. SB chose the route, he was chief navigator. He assured me it was the ‘good’ road, the ‘quickest’ road and the ‘safest’ road.

Just out of Baguio the road got rough. Really rough. Unfinished roads that only a good size 4 wheel drive could survive. Not too big though, as the crumbling roadside would see a car easily lose footing and plummet down into the ravines below. This particular road was badly affected by the typhoon the previous week and so the mud slides had caused quite a lot of destruction. Some parts of the road were totally broken away, some parts were flooded, some parts were just mud and the fear of getting bogged was high.

A washed out part of the road

The roads became even curlier than the previous day, with sharp blind corners you held your breath for. Large buses familiar with this road would just fang it around corners taking up precious room on your side of the road. Jeepneys were a constant driving along and in areas where a good stretch of road was destroyed and down to one lane, it was roulette as to who got right of way if you happened to come bumper to bumper with oncoming traffic. There was often nowhere to go and reversing back on these roads was like being blindfolded, waiting for one of two outcomes. I had visions of our car plummeting over the edge and our bodies getting eaten by bears before someone found my smashed up mobile phone as it played Justine Clarke’s ‘Little Day Out’ on repeat…

Photos do not do this scene justice

I spent this ride in the back seat with the children, holding onto my children the way a mother who is terrified does. Not wanting to let the grip loosen for fear your child will slip out of your arms. Seven hours of this. Seven. Hours. Of. This.
Once again, photographs failed to capture the extent of damage to the road.

The irony of this situation was that within this intense fear I was feeling, I was also feeling almighty awe at the absolute gorgeousness of the mountains. Seeing how the farmers cut their fields into the mountain sides made me think they must hang by their toe nails planting cabbages up this high. Looking at the lovely patterns the fields made in the landscape helped calm me at times I felt overwhelmed by fear. So I learned quickly that it was worth looking outwards at this incredible sight, not down, and definitely not out the front window.

Roadside waterfall

There was charm and appeal at the small villages we passed through. We drove past ‘Thank you, please come again’ signs for a lot of these villages that are so small you blinked and missed them. Waterfalls fell out of the mountains in all directions, often onto the roads and it was so delightful to drive past with your window down feeling the fresh cool spray of water on your face.


We stopped for lunch in a charming village called Kabayan. This was the point I realized we had taken the wrong road as this was a town I was hoping we would come to and explore the Mummy Caves, where bodies were preserved and placed to rest. However my research had indicated the road was rough (ah – yaha!) and we did not have time for that on this trip so I bypassed that idea.

Where we stopped for lunch in Kabayan

Yet here we were, in this little town. We found ourselves sitting in a quaint little restaurant built into the mountain side having a delicious lunch of chicken adobo, pork soup and rice. The only dishes it happened to serve. We chatted with some local farmers who were enjoying their lunch and the children played with some other children who were there.

Waiting in line for the debris to be cleared up

We were soon on the road again, eager to get moving as we were losing daylight and the thought of driving in these conditions at night was not in any way a prospect for us. After another few hours our road met with the ‘good’ road and we had another hour or so which was a whole lot less scary.

Finally we found ourselves entering Sagada. The landscape had changed and our road was winding between rocky terrain on each side. It was like we were entering a different world. Little buildings with personality appeared nestled into the trees and the rocks. I started to become very excited, this was my dream to come here, and we had arrived.
The sun was setting and we needed to find our accommodation so after asking directions we drove just out of town a little, up another rough road to find the lodge we were staying at. We looked at this gorgeous A-framed wooden and glass home overlooking mountain ranges and said ‘wow’.
After unpacking the car, exploring this house and dealing with a few issues you find when booking accommodation in the Philippines, we were settling in. I-Bug and SB went into town to find food, and I got the children showered and ready for bed. The fire in the lounge room was lit and we were settled in for the night, preparing for our big adventure the following day. Tomorrow we would start getting to know this town that I have been dreaming of visiting for the longest time. Would it be as magical an experience as I was anticipating? 

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Sheryl Rose 09/11/2015 at 11:01 pm

Wow you took some amazing pictures 2 of which I pinned to one of my Pinterest boards. I'm glad you made that long trip safely.

Salty Bug 09/11/2015 at 11:29 pm

Thanks, you know going through my pics I was amazed I got anything decent considering how rough it was.

Marie Loerzel 17/11/2015 at 6:03 am

Those waterfalls look completely worth a death defying drive!

Salty Bug 18/11/2015 at 8:13 am

LOL, the scenery was just beautiful.


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