Thursday, June 25, 2015

Cordillera Again (beat the summer heat of 2015): Motorcycle Riding

Day 1: Taguig to Mt. Santo Tomas, Benguet
Date: March 28, 2015
Route Taken: Taguig – Angat – Candaba – Tarlac – Asin Road – Baguio – Mt. Santo Tomas

     Yearly, as much as I can, I am trying to visit Cordillera Region and exploring new route. It could be during the peak of the cold months or during the peak of the summer months. And this year, we choose to visit it on a summer month to at least escape the heat of the city even for a few days.
     It’s been a year since my Dad rode his bike due to ankle injury and now that he is ready, I rode with him again hitting the twisty road of the Cordillera Mountains.
     Part of the preparation is to seek approval of leave from work, but I got difficulty securing one and I had it confirmed and approved late. So we almost got no time to prepare the bike and plan the route. We plot our initial route and agreed that it would be flexible depending on situation and circumstances, so here it goes…

    I haven’t experienced to ride the back roads of Baliwag to Candaba to Tarlac, so we choose to use this route instead of the common Mac Arthur Highway route. The road via this route is too narrow for high speed but the good thing here is you have a good view of Mt. Arayat all the way along Pampanga area.

     Had a quick breakfast in Baliwag and continue riding heading Tarlac. Filled our gas tanks in Tarlac City and filled our hungry stomach in Carmen, Pangasinan for our lunch.

     After lunch, we’ve rested in Carmen for more than an hour before we hit the road again. And we got so lucky to hit the heavy traffic from Urdaneta, Pangasinan to La Union that made us a bit sleepy. So upon reaching Rosario, La Union, we stopped again for a while to shake our heads, take some energy drinks and rest our tired and sleepy eyes.

     Then continue riding going up to Baguio via Tubao – Asin Road again. If you can remember, this is the same route I’ve taken last year in going up to Mt. Santo Tomas.

     This is one of the tourist attractions here in Asin Road, the Asin Tunnels.

      It’s already dark when we reached Baguio. We first dropped by in the place of a co-rider and MCP forumer Argon who is already based in Baguio for some chats and wish for lucks for our 2015 version of Cordillera Exploration. It was already past 9 PM when we start rolling heading up the mountain of Santo Tomas. It’s very difficult for off-road bikes having weak lamp to manage the less lighted and foggy terrain going up the mountain, but crawling inch by inch, we safely arrive on our target destination to end this day which is in sitio La Presa. We paid the tent space fee of P250 each and we are already free to choose where to pitch our tents. Fixed our things and ourselves, had few bottles of beer and we ended the day.

== END OF DAY 1 ==

Day 2: Mt. Santo Tomas to Abatan, Benguet
Date: March 29, 2015
Route Taken: Mt. Santo Tomas / Mt. Cabuyao – Baguio – Halsema Highway – Abatan, Benguet

     It’s nice to wake-up again on a cold and foggy morning at the foot of Mt. Santo Tomas, and had our free brewed coffee and breakfast courtesy of the land lady.

     Prepared ourselves, prepared the bikes and photo opts with Sitio La Presa in the background. This place in Mt. Cabuyao is actually sitio Pungayan but became famous to be called sitio La Presa because of the TV program Forevermore that was shot in this place and they called it on the TV program as sitio La Presa.

     After the necessary preparations, we started moving up north to km 26 of Halsema Highway where we took our early lunch at Guerilla Saddle 66th Infantry Restaurant. This place was become famous to travelers specially to motorcycle riders as their rest stop going to Mountain Province or the nearby provinces. It was named as that because its place was the battleground of the 66th Infantry Battalion when they fought against Japanese Army during World War II.

     We had an hour of rest after our meal, and then we continued riding again, stopping at some landmarks and beautiful spots along Halsema Highway.

Cordillera Mountain Range as seen from Halsema Highway:

Halsema Highway Half Tunnel:

Highest Point of the Philippine Highway System with an elevation of 7400 feet above sea level:

    Before Highest Point, we have observed that my Dad’s bike is not in optimum performance anymore. We’ve tried to make some adjustments at Highest Point and planning to look for motorcycle mechanic on the next town, but the problem gets worst and worst up to the point that we are running at max speed of almost 10km/h. And the situation became more difficult when the heavy rain started to pour. Riding in slow pace on the twisty and rolling mountains with heavy fog that has almost zero visibility, we manage to reach the town of Abatan, Benguet safe. Looked for available mechanic but most of the establishments are already closed as it is Sunday today and we arrived in the town past 5pm. We then decided to end our day today and better to look for mechanic as our first itinerary the next morning.

     Had our dinner and few bottles of beer and we ended the day.

==End of Day 2==

You may also like:

Cordillera 2014 (day 1 and 2):                             Cordillera 2014 (day 3 and 4):


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