After a day and a half in Sagada, I caught the morning bus from Sagada directly to Baguio. The route takes 6 or so hours and traverses the scenic Halsema Hwy, including passing over the highest point on any road in the Philippines. I tried, unsuccessfully, to take some pictures/video out the window of the bus. I also scoped out where my stop would be the next day to make my start on Mt. Timbak.
When the bus arrived in Baguio, I managed to make my way to my hotel. The room was small and musty, but I only needed it for about 36 hours. I arranged to sleep there one night and leave for my 2 am bus the following evening. I took the time to buy my bus ticket and buy a few snacks for the next day. Knowing that I’d be getting up early the next day, I tried to sleep and ignore the mustiness and occasional cockroach in my room.
Early the next day, I set out for the bust station to catch the 6 am bus back toward Sagada. The ride took almost two hours and I nervously watched out the window for my stop, worried that I’d miss it and end up going farther than I wanted. When I asked the bus driver a few times about my stop, he reassured me “not yet!” Eventually we stopped and I was the lone person to get off the bus.
Following the rather steep road up and up, it eventually changed from a paved road to a dirt path. I followed the path past houses and farms, calling out to and wishing a good morning to all that I passed. Nervous that I may not be in the correct place, I asked several women out working in their gardens the way. Each time, they gestured me along the way I was going.
After a while, the path turned into some of the gardens and across the stone and dirt ledges of the terraces. As I climbed, I gained a small entourage of young boys and a couple dogs. They asked me where I was going (in true Pinoy fashion) and tagged along for a while. After a while, I came out on the top of the hill and I could see my destination in the distance. The remainder of the way involved bushwhacking through some tall grass across a ridge to the peak of the mountain. At the top, in addition to an antenna, there was a shrine and three crosses in the Calvary style. I paused here for lunch and some photos before making my descent.
I was a bit worried about making my bus back to Baguio, I knew that the buses didn’t run very late into the afternoon and I had no desire to get stranded in the Benguet countryside with my things in my Baguio hotel room and a ticket for a bus that evening. My fears were completely unnecessary, since I’d gotten such an early start on the day I was back at the road around noon and back in Baguio before 3 pm.
After braving the shower in my hotel, I ventured to a local vegetarian restaurant much beloved by PCVs for a late afternoon meal and continued to wander around downtown Baguio. Failing miserably at napping in my stuffy hotel room, I packed my things and failed miserably at using Jedi-mind-trick to persuade a couple of cockroaches to “go out the way they came.” Eventually, I decided it was fruitless to wait around in my room; I checked out and made my way to the bus station to wait for my early morning bus back to Manila for the last leg of my time in the Philippines.