Real deal backpacking in the mountains.
Sitting on top of the world famous rice terraces is a refreshing way to hangout. It was field preparation when I was there and the view was already stunning. Must be mind-blowing then when it’s almost harvest time, when the grains ripen, painting the fields golden yellow to brown.
Taking a breather on the Viewpoint-Bocos Trail a.k.a Bannawor Trail, in Banaue, Ifugao, Philippines. One of the nicest things I’ve done while home. Difficult, tiring yet awe-inspiring!
I looked out the window and saw two round giant steel structures up the mountain towering over Marcos Highway. “That’s Mickey Mouse’s ears,” my older brother quipped. “Nah, those are radars on Mt. Sto. Tomas,” he tweaked with a grin.
From that day on, I promised myself to one day make it there. Come rain or shine, clear skies or thick clouds hanging by, I always yearn for “the day” every time I look out the window.
Then at long last, the day arrived after a decade and a half.
Dark skies and light drizzle almost stalled our trip. I kept whispering to God to not let us face a heavy downpour. It was like, “Now or never!”
We took a Green Valley-bound jeepney from Chugum Street, next to the jeepney terminal bound for Irisan at the old Bayanihan Hotel, opposite Burnham Park.
The road going up is about 95% developed and is accessible to both private and public transports. Jeepneys stop at Mt. Kabuyao where the radars are. Yes, it’s Mt. Kabuyao and not Mt. Sto. Tomas as most of us think. The latter is another 4 kilometers up (and we saved that for another trip due to time).
A jeepney ride costs 12 pesos and the journey takes about 30 minutes. However, for a more challenging trip, why not walk your way up.
We got off the jeepney at the Marcos Highway-Green Valley Junction and started our walk from there. It was leisurely at first, stopping from time to time for photographs. We started moving faster after stopping by the Police Station to register and pay the environmental fee. By then, we were already very behind time.
The road became steeper as we progressed and the view more awe-inspiring the higher we went. It was quarter to 5 in the evening when we reached Mt. Kabuyao, almost 3 hours journey including those times we stopped to indulge ourselves in the beauty before us and pose in front of the camera.
Despite the not so good weather while in the City and the caveat of a heavy downpour while on the road, we were greeted by sunny skies when we got there.
Vegetable gardens surround Mt. Kabuyao. Cauliflowers, cabbages, carrots and more abound. So while it is amusing to experience the cool embrace of fog from time to time coupled by strong, cool winds, brace yourself for some chicken dang scent.
The view of the city below is mesmerizing. One moment you could see it clearly, a minute later it’s engulfed by clouds, a minute after it is peeping through the fog.
Another interesting sight here is the Stations of the Cross. I’ve learned that this is where parishioners of the Conversion of St. Paul Parish of Tuba, Benguet gather during Holy Week. Being a Catholic myself, I wonder how inspiring it must be to commemorate Jesus’ passion and death here on Good Friday with the serenity of the place.
A few meters down the radars is a rainwater catch basin. This supplies water to the City of Baguio. The sunset here is breathtaking. Niko just couldn’t stop clicking away.
After spending a few minutes watching the sun set, painting the horizon in shades of yellow, orange, blue and gray, we headed back to the road to catch the last trip back to the City. Unfortunately, we missed it. We then had to trek back as the chance of getting a cab here at 5:30 in the afternoon is very slim.
The sun was setting down so fast that we had to descend as fast as we could. The view of the city with all the lights on was so stunning but there was no time to waste. We only have our mobile phones to light our path and the road was dark and empty. I didn’t have the heart to trade our safety for an amazing shot, especially not with my nephew in tow. We finally got a taxi home a few meters before the police outpost.
A climb to Kabuyao is easy, inexpensive and quite a treat. We spent about Php 200.00 for food, fees and fare with the taxi taking up the big chunk. It is one perfect escape in a snap from the “hurly burly” life in the city. Just an advice for budget travelers like me, do keep track of time and do keep a flashlight handy. Unless of course you know someone from there or you have the guts to knock on someone’s house and stay overnight. Better yet, a morning trek would be nicer.
Until next time. Remember, no matter what gets on the way, always keep the Faith, follow your Heart, stay Safe and travel Light.