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.
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.
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…
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.
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.
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.
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.