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Old 02-25-2010, 07:06 AM   #1
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North Luzon, Philippines Ride

North Luzon, Philippines Ride

Motorcycle: Honda XR 200 from Nice-Bike at 550 Pesos per day. Deposit of 2000 Pesos and passport are required.
Distance Covered: ~1500KM
Reference: Lonely Planet Philippines and GPS Map
Spendings: 18,500 Pesos (= 400 USD) excluding air tickets and insurance
Quick Review: Lively festivals, glorious mountains, majestic rice terraces and interesting hill tribes

Angeles > Baguio > (Kabayan) > Sagada > (Bontoc) > Banaue > Penablanca > (Claveria) > Vigan > Capas (Mt Pinatubo) > Angeles

Anti-Clockwise loop around North Luzon, Philippines.

Day 01 - SG to Angeles

Field Ave, the happening street of Angeles City. I took a complimentary ride from Bluefields Hotel to town to buy a SIM card.

Being such a good boy, I spent the rest of the night reading. Noli Me Tangere (Touch Me Not) was written by Jose Rizal, national hero of the Philippines. The book is said to be instrumental to the awakening of Filipinos' sense of national identity and indirectly caused the 1896 Philippine Revolution. F. Sionil Jose is one of the most famous English language writers of Philippines. Don Vincente is part of his Rosales Saga. I read the first book, Dusk (Po-on), before coming to Philippines.

Day 02 - Angeles to Baguio

Attended the Philppine International Hot Air Ballon Fiesta at Clark. Everybody waiting with anticipation for the hot air balloons.

Besides hot air balloons and other flying objects, there are performances, exhibitions and bazaars.
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Old 02-25-2010, 07:08 AM   #2
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Got my XR200 motorbike. Condition of the bike is very good.

Performing band along the way to Baguio

Rosales is now a modern city. SM City is a mall that can be found in major cities in Philippines.

It's a day of festivals - Chinese New Year, Hot Air Balloon Fiesta, Valentine's Day and Panagbenga. Panagbenga festival is also known as the Baguio Flower Festival.

Flower displays everywhere

Burnham Park becomes a place of activities. There are street stalls and concerts.

Jeepney is a cheap form of transport in Philippines. Jeepneys are also mobile works of art.

Sunset at Baguio

Night view of Baguio

Enjoyed some street snacks

Was woken up by fireworks. Took some obligatory photos and went back to bed.
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Old 02-25-2010, 07:09 AM   #3
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Day 03 - Baguio to Sagada

Knowing it would be a long day, I started off early. Plan was to visit Mt Cabuyao and Mt Santo Tomas in the early morning, then back to Burnham Hotel in Baguio. After that, would travel on Halsema Highway to Sagada and visit the Timbac mummies caves along the way.

The start of unpaved roads

I want to grow up as tall as you!

Halfway between Mt Cabuyao and Mt Santo Tomas, I found the roads too rough for comfort. Decided to u-turn.

Fell shortly after I turned back.

My feet were worse. A big difference if I just bothered to wear gloves and wear proper footwear. I hope I learned.

Washed up, shopped for gloves and thick socks before continuing my way with a limp. Changing gear hurts my injured foot. Anyway, above photo shows the highest point of Philippines highway system which is around 2255m.

There are 2 ways to reach Kabayan Timbac caves. From Kabayan town proper or from a road cut recently from Halsema Highway. The latter route was met with controversy. It's probably more culturally sensitive to take a Ibaloi guide from Kabayan. Anyway, the signboard to the turn off from Halsema Highway was missing. It took me a lot of asking and backtracking to get onto the correct path. One can ride all the way to the caves. But I parked my bike at Montogo Elementary School and hiked 30 mins because the roads were slightly rough.

The keyholder. The guide told me she's Igorot but I'm not sure if she's Ibaloi.

Mummy at first cave. I must be corrupted by the movies but I was expecting something better preserved.

My guide opened the coffin at the second cave

and the mummy moved her hand to shield herself from the sun.

Hiked back to Montogo Elementary School and took a short break.

Kids at play

En route to Sagada, tourist mecca.

Lemon pies at Lemon Pies House
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Old 02-25-2010, 07:14 AM   #4
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Day 04 - Sagada to Banaue

Sagada Sugong Hanging Coffins. Stare hard.

Misty morning at Sagada

Sagada Lumiang Burial Cave

Echo Vally Viewpoint was just beyond Sagada Christian cemetery. Did you know that Philippines is the only predominantly Christian nation in Asia where 90% claims to be Christian?

Echo Valley. There are other hikes in Sagada but I excused myself.

Left Sagada for Bontoc

Bontoc Museum. Nice little museum tells you about the different tribes and there are some excellent photos.

Kaingin or slash-and-burn agriculture persist in North Luzon

Bay-yo rice terraces. The benefit of being on your vehicle is that you can stop whenever there is something interesting.

Long road to Banaue

Tourist at Banaue view-point.

Banaue rice terraces

My original plan included a visit to Batad rice terraces. But I heard that the road from Banaue to Batad is rough and it's mostly hiking at Batad. I gave it a miss and stay at Banaue.
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Old 02-25-2010, 07:15 AM   #5
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Day 05 - Banaue to Penablanca

Started off very early as it's a long way to Penablanca in Cagayan province. I decided to take the Halsema highway through Kalinga province. Looking back, I should have taken the easier road through Isabela province.

At another Banaue view point

It's always very cold in the morning on the mountains. It's just 2000m++. I wonder how I can cope with Mt Kinabalu.

The road from Bontoc to Lubuguan was rough. It's about 10% paved. This is a good section of the road.

Soon the road narrowed and construction vehicles blocked the way.

Whenever 2 vehicles meet, one had to reverse to find a wider spot where 2 could pass each other. It's sometimes easier for a motorcycle.

But not always. A bus broke down and I was stuck for around half an hour.

Puddles of muddy water along the way is common.

But there are still nice scenery to admire.

After an 8 hour ride, I finally reached Callao Caves in Penablanca. At per limestone cave SOP, the guide would point out the resemblance of each rock to a certain animal. In the photo, there is a gorilla, a merlion and all you can imagine.

A chapel in the cave. You can hold a church wedding here, subjected to approval.

Callao Caves Resort is located at the other side of the Pinacanauan River.

Pinacanauan river. One can pay 600 Pesos for a bangka ride to view thousands of bats leaving the caves at dusk. I wasn't willing to pay and had a glimpse of some small fruit bats flying pass the resort.

Haha, I got a Honeymoon Suite. I am all alone in the resort.
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Old 02-25-2010, 07:15 AM   #6
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Day 06 - Penablanca to Vigan

Another long ride. I was to cover 400km+ today.

To make things more interesting, it rained.

Stopped by Claveria, a beach town for lunch.

Claveria beach

I enjoyed the northwestern coastal roads. Slightly winding, well-paved, mountains on the left and water on the right.

Cape Bojeador Lighthouse

North Luzon's most famous church - Paoay Church.

Jollibee fastfood restaurant is in every major city/town in North Luzon. I just had to try it. Sarap Nito!

Food stalls at Plaza Burgos in Vigan

How can I resist an Empanada?

Mestizo district of Vigan at night
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Old 02-25-2010, 07:16 AM   #7
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Day 07 - Vigan to Capas

Grandpa's Inn, nice cozy place where I stayed.

St Paul Cathedral in Vigan

Padre Jose Burgos National Museum. Father Jose Burgos was executed by the Spanish in 1872. As a champion of native clergymen, he was accused by the Spanish of mutiny.

The museum houses various Ilocano artefacts.

After a long dusty ride to Capas, I visited Chow King, a popular restaurant in Philippines, for dinner. At 49 Pesos for a plate of fried rice and glass of iced tea, it's definitely valued for money.

Day 08 - Capas to Angeles

Rode to Santa Juliana and joined 2 German tourists on a 4WD tour to Mt Pinatubo. I paid 1500 Pesos for the tour. If I am to take the 4WD alone, it would cost me 4000 Pesos. To reach Mt Pinatubo crater lake, it would involved a 1.5hr bumpy drive and a 20 mins hike. The road was quite bad and I was glad they don't allow me to ride my motorcycle up the trail.

Aeta people of Mt Pinatubo.

Short easy hike to the crater lake

Mt Pinatubo crater lake. Mt Pinatubo erupted in 1991, the largest eruption in the past few decades.

Wikipedia mentioned that "Global temperatures dropped by about 0.5 C (0.9 F), and ozone depletion temporarily increased substantially." after the eruption.

After the eruption, Mt Pinatubo remains active with the most recent activity registered in 2002.

Late morning and the place is getting crowded.

After a hefty lunch (part of the 1500 pesos package), I rode back to Capas for my backpack which I deposited at Mr. Blue Hotel and continued to Angeles. After a short nap, I returned the motorcycle to nice-bike and visited SM Clark mall where I bought some sourvenirs. Goldilocks Polvoron is worth buying.

Day 09 - Angeles to SG
Took a jeepney to Clarks airport and flew home!

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Old 02-25-2010, 07:39 AM   #8
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Nice pics...

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Old 02-25-2010, 07:56 AM   #9
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Fascinating ride, report and pics!! Sounds like a really affordable and pleasurable adventure ride. Thanks for sharing it!
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Old 02-25-2010, 08:38 AM   #10
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Thanks for the ride report. I'm a Filipino living in the US now but I would like to go back next year and do a ride like yours. I can't wait. You gave me some great ideas.
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Old 02-25-2010, 09:34 AM   #11
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Beautiful. Thanks for taking us along some very picturesque landscpes in the East. Great going pare.
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Old 02-25-2010, 11:56 AM   #12
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Thanks for posting. Great pictures and looks like a great area to ride. Would sure like to ride there sometime.
Ks-Rydr.... Two-lane blacktop isn't a highway, it's an attitude !
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Old 02-27-2010, 06:29 PM   #13
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Fantastic pics and report! I love it there and cant wait to go back and hopefully ride that north loop.
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Old 02-27-2010, 08:15 PM   #14
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Great RR
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Old 02-28-2010, 05:09 AM   #15
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Very nice RR. It brings back memories down through Claveria to Vigan. Thanks for posting
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