Getting to the Halsema Highway

Baguio Travel Blog

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I did manage to wake up at a good hour, but not by fault of my own.  My alarm wasn’t due to go off for a little while long, but instead I woke to the sounds of a guitar being strum.  I shared the room with two other guys, and one of them was playing the guitar, attempting to be quiet, if that’s not oxymoronic, at first light >.<  At least it got me up and about I suppose.  Luckily my head wasn’t throbbing too much, so a slightly earlier than planned shower was on the cards. 


I had plenty of time to get some breakfast before finding the Victory Liner bus terminal in Pasay.  Making the time wasn’t a problem at all and I got to Baguio without any trouble at all.  On arrival I walked towards the main town and found the aptly named Harrison Inn, well, expecting the highest of quality from the namesake, I booked in and was very pleased with what I got – HBO and a hot shower!  There was no air conditioning or fan though, but given the temperature is a darn sight cooler in the North, I wouldn’t be needing either.  Films and an early night – perfect.




I didn’t really like Baguio.  I had it down as more of a stop gap on the way up to the rice terraces than anything else, and whilst walking around I noticed it’s a very hilly, pretty dirty, student city.  Most annoyingly though was I couldn’t find an ATM machine that accepted Western cards >.<  Oh no!  Well, I had a reasonable amount on me as I’d read you cannot get money outside of Baguio, but I was hoping to be well covered, not cutting it fine.  Ah well, I had no other options now.  I kept a decent amount of money to one side so I could at least afford a bus back to Manila if/when I ran out of money, and would have to see how far I could get on what I had on me.


I found my way to Dangwa station and boarded a bus to Sagada.  I had come this way as I was pretty excited to go to Sagada via the Helsema Highway which is said to be one of the most scenic drives you can take in the world.  After actually taking it, I would have to agree with that assessment (not that I’ve driven every road in the world, but I have driven through the Alps and the Big Sur to compare with).  The road snakes around corners opening up into valleys where you can see for miles and stare at the wild rivers and pretty streams alongside the man made wonders of the rice terraces.  Despite the bumps and bruises, I really enjoyed this bus journey.  The very fact that a lot of the roads are unfinished makes it kind of special in a way, such that you get a first to do this kind of feeling.


The perilous journey left me with a numb ass by the time I got to Sagada, but I quickly got over that and fell in love with the laid back vibe of the place.  It’s just such a good little town.  The place is picture perfect; cheap, so cheap; hassle-free; and has such a lovely friendly atmosphere.  I was the only tourist in town that night, but I did feel like a strange at all; on the contrary, I felt so welcome, I knew I would love my nights here and not want to leave. 


There’s no a great deal to do in the evenings, but for me, just sitting out on the balcony, having a read, listen to the sounds of cicadas and the occasional dog bark was just perfectly relaxing and tranquil.  I’m a bit of an astronomy geek sometimes and just love to look upwards and ask the big questions.  Well here in Sagada, I could see a beautiful blanket of stars without a cities light pollution to contend with.  I spent a few minutes watching the twinkles from shimmering effects before turning in.  It actually reminded me of happy days in Arizona, only out there had I seen a full night sky similar to this before.

TravellinChic says:
great write up :)
Posted on: Jan 06, 2013
matthew says:
Go soon before it gets all built up. That was the experience!!! The views will always be stunning though
Posted on: May 23, 2010
marietone says:
can't wait to experience the twists and turns of halsema hwy!
Posted on: May 21, 2010
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