Thursday, September 18, 2008

The thrill of traveling spontaneously

Pardon me for borrowing the title of Peter Weir's classic movie "The Year of Living Dangerously" but I felt it's got a nice ring to it and its phonetic equivalent conveys the circumstances of our most recent trip. 

With the threat of storm Marce still upon us last Thursday, ironwulf and I decided to call off the trip at 6.30pm. So, imagine my surprise while relaxing at home on a Thursday night and getting a call at 8 saying we proceed. I'm a light packer so assembling everything comes second nature though it's kind of a 180 degree spin, mentally, to grasp that a do-not-much weekend is going to be a travel-far-north-weekend. The previous three times I went to Sagada, I was alone, so this trip is special as I have my best buddy in tow (or shall I say, he towed me) with no real itinerary in mind other than to chill out and slack off.

Not that I needed much prodding. I enjoy going there, especially when I need to introspect. the almost half-day road travel alone is sort of a treat to me, enabling me to meet new people, interact with the locals, be an observer, learn new things. Even the stopovers are a treat - to stretch one's back and limbs after hours of traveling alternately on smooth then rough, then rougher roads; to have a sip of steaming coffee to heat the gut and warm the heart; and to goof off by exhaling then watching your breath disperse like smoke in the cool air.
I can't say enough of the views from Halsema, the country's highest highway - breathtaking mountains and terraces perpetually wrapped in mists. even the overcast conditions can't take away the raw beauty of the scenery.

Riding the 11pm Victory Liner Bus trip, we arrived in Baguio by 4.30am, had a leisurely breakfast of steaming ma mi and coffee before catching the earliest Rising Sun Bus to Bontoc at 6. we perused the interesting displays at the Bontoc Museum post-lunch before riding a jeep enroute to Sagada.

It was nice to see this Shangri-la has not changed much from the last time we visited, save for a new municipal hall being constructed in its old location as well as a few new inns and eating places. Even old reliable st. jo's inn got a really impressive renovation. It was like coming home again.
RATES AND TRANSPO INFO: HIRE/FARE FROM MUNICIPAL HALL TO THE SIGHTS: Big Cave (Sumaging) 1 way – P250/waiting – P400 • Cave connection – Lumiang Burial Cave 1 way – P200/waiting – P250 • Big falls via Bangaan 1 way – P400/ waiting - P 550 / via Agud 1 way – P550/waiting – P700 • Kiltepan Tower Junction 1 way – P250 • Bokong Falls 1 way – P250/waiting – P250 • Lake Danum – P500 • Echo Valley – P100 • Mt. Ampacao base – P250 • one day tour –P1,800 

Bontoc, 1 way – P1,500 • Banaue, 1 way – P4,000 • Mainit Hot Spring, waiting – P3,000 • Maligcong Rice Rerraces, waiting – P2,500 • Baguio, 1 way – P8,000 • Bagabag, 1 way – P7,000 • Lagaue, 1 way – P5,500 • Manila, 1 way – P16,000 • Vigan, 1 way – P14,000 • Santiago, 1 way – P8,000 

STANDARD GUIDE RATES: CAVE CONNECTION(1 – 2 pax) P800(3 pax) P1,200(4 or more pax) P400/pax • CAVING – (1 – 4 pax) P400 • (5 pax) P500 • (6 – 9 pax) P800 • (10 pax) p900 • (11 – 14 pax) p1,200 • TREKKING/BIG FALLS OR MT. AMPACAO -(1 – 10 pax) P600 • (11 – 15 pax) P800 • (16 – 20 pax) P1,200 • TREKKING MT. POLIS – (1 – 10 pax) P1,200 • (11 – 15 pax) P1,500 • SIGHTSEEING(3 sights) – (1 – 10 pax) P400 • (11 – 15 pax) P600 • (16 – 20 pax) P800 (choose from any of the ff. spots: Lumiang Burial Caves, Kiltepan Viewpoint, Echo Valley, Bokong Falls, Underground River, Lake Danum) • ESCORT – Sugong Hanging Coffins and Burial Cave – P200
SCHEDULE OF BUSES (Sagada – Baguio) 6am • 7am • 8am • 9am • 10am • last trip – 1pm • (Baguio – Sagada) 6.30am • 8.30am • 9.30am • 10.30am • 11.30am • last trip – 1pm • (Banaue – Manila) auto bus – 6pm • florida – 8pm • (Banaue – Baguio) 1st bus – 4pm • 2nd bus – 5pm • 3rd bus – 6.30pm • SCHEDULE OF JEEPNEYS (Sagada – Bontoc) 6.30am • 7am • 7.30am • 8am • 8.30am • 9am • 9.30am • 10am • 11am • 12nn • last trip – 1pm • (Bontoc – Sagada) 8.30am • 9.30am • 10.15am • 11am • 11.45am • 12.30pm • 1.15pm • 2pm • 2.45pm • 3.30pm • 4.15pm • 5pm • last trip – 5.30pm 

TRIPS TO BANAUE: (JEEPNEY) (Bontoc – Banaue) 7am • 10am • last trip – 1pm • (BUS) 7am • 7.30am • last trip – 8.30am 

Schedule of trips are subject to change without notice. passengers are requested to be at the waiting area at least 30 minutes before the scheduled departure of transport. • GL Lizardo buses from Baguio emanate from the old Dangwa station • Rising Sun buses bound for bontoc emanate from the Baguio slaughterhouse • Cable Tours ply the Manila-Bontoc-Sagada route. contact them at 0928.6267293 (Sagada) • 0918.5216790 / 0928.2305330 (Manila)
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