We didn’t get stopped and arrived in Baguio in the late afternoon. We walked to our old hotel and they gave us the same deal as before. We checked in and took off for the tourist information centre. The last time we were here we’d stopped by and they had been very helpful. We hoped they would be able to help us get to the mummies and back – the reason for the backtracking. They were fantastic again and sure enough we could do the hike from Baguio in a day. We spent the rest of the day looking in shops, getting a bite to eat and enjoying Baguio.
After our yummy free breakfast we caught a local bus to the mummies. We had to take a north bound bus and get off about 2 hours into the ride at a dirt road that led up to them. About 6 minutes from our stop the bus stopped for a meal break – for 30 freaking minutes. We weren’t sure exactly how much longer we had so just waited. We did get lucky and found a candy store beside the restaurant everyone was eating in. The candy store had pretty much every kind of candy we loved from back home. We bought a small stash and then pigged out.
We finally got dropped at our stop and started the hike up, up, up into the mountains. It was very steep, wet and slippery. It rained off and on and the clouds would roll in and along the valley we overlooked and out the other side. When the clouds were gone my favorite most amazing scenery so far could be seen. It was just more terraces but I could see farther (when the clouds were gone) and more terraces than I’d ever seen. They were so high up the mountains that some were in the clouds permanently. I know you must be thinking I’m crazy and I can’t believe I’m saying this but, this is by far my favorite area so far. I’d suggest anyone tight on time just get as far as Baguio and do this hike. I kept stopping, staring and repeating amazing, stunning, beautiful… A truck pulled up behind us and the guy offered a ride that I gladly took. We jumped in the back and bounced up then over the side of the mountain. At one point he stopped and asked us where we were going. He had thought we were going to a village in the valley so when we told him we just wanted to see the mummies he said we’d already passed it…back at the top of the mountain. Oh no! We’d taken a ride down – only to have to walk back up again. I hate up.
On the way up two ladies were behind us and when we were at the path to the mummies they found the lady with the key for us. They are locked up to protect them from vandals. The very old lady practically skipped down the old moss covered steps and made me look and feel really bad! She unlocked an iron gate into a small cave and smiled at us. to be honest I was a bit surprised. James mumbled something about seeing the mummies and she said to go ahead and open the coffins up. Huh? James crawled into the tiny cave and did just that; opened the coffins. It seemed a bit creepy to me so I offered to take pictures. We weren’t allowed to take pictures inside the cave so I just hung around outside while James rooted inside the coffins. Gross! In about 5 minutes he was done and we were on our way back up the mossy steps. The walk here has been stunning but the mummies a bit anticlimactic.
A good hour into our hike back to the main road we came across a cute little goat. Well, once I figured out he wasn’t a male with horns I thought he was cute. He was tied to a tree beside the road and blocked it as we walked up. I wasn’t sure if he would be territorial and ram us so sent James ahead, with a rock. The cutie was friendly and just wanted to check us out. I felt bad so gave him the banana from my lunch. James was upset I gave him the peels but they eat stuff like that, they are walking compost piles. Just one of the many reasons I am getting one as soon as I get home.
We made it back to the main road before it really started to rain and were quickly picked up by a passing bus. A bus that did the same meal break as our morning bus. Six minutes into the ride home the bus pulled in so we headed to the candy store to stock up again.
We were back in Baguio earlier than we thought so I grabbed the computer and went to a busy café and spent the rest of the day blogging. Just as Happy Hour started (the pm one) James showed up and we had a few beers and snacks. After Happy Hour ended we decided that Baguio had too many good restaurants to stay in one place so went for a pizza..then for more beers and dessert. And I wonder why I’m not losing weight.
Sketchy rest stop
We were going back to Manila today but weren’t in a rush so after breakfast I went to the cute café and James went to pick up our laundry. Getting your laundry done seems like luxury, and for the most part it’s pretty nice but…it took us hours to find one in Baguio and had to pay extra for rush because normally they take four days. Other places have lost our stuff, stained our stuff, written on our stuff and then there was the dog pee incident. I will be so happy to have my own machine again. We finally had to make our way to the bus station and board our deluxe bus. We paid $5 more per person and got a cute stewardess, huge lazy boy style seats, water and a snack and WIFI! Yes, wifi. It was a bit flakey in the mountains but it worked really well. I’d say it’s likely better than the connection they have at the cottage.
The five hours ended up being 7.5 and it was dark and pouring rain when we got back to Manila. At the bus station two young guys were trying to help us get a cab but they were making it so much worse. It’s hard to get a cab on a sunny day in Manila but when it rains it’s impossible. The guys kept calling cabs in and telling the driver we were going to the airport. Once we got face to face with the driver and corrected the destination he’s say no thanks and drive away. UGH! James finally yelled at the two guys and we tried on our own. It took us a while and some bartering but we finally got a cab. Traffic is also so much worse in the rain and it took over an hour to get to our hostel. We checked in, I showered and went to bed in record time.
Manila – again – and raining, really, really, really hard. We were booked on a midnight ferry, had to check out of our room by 11 am (but thankfully we could hang around the common areas) and find something to do inside. So we went to the mall. We had lunch and planned on seeing a movie but when we got to the theatre they said it was out of order. So…we went to another mall. Sad, I know, but it was still pouring rain and as much as we like dour hostel it was busting at the seams with people who’d been stuck inside for almost two whole days. In the cab line (which took almost an hour) we met an Australian flight attendant who was going to the same place as us so we decided to share a cab. It meant we spent the next two hours together (the traffic was the worst I’ve ever seen it) and had a great chat.
The Mall of Asia is impressive even if it’s just a mall. It’s Philippines’ largest and the world’s third largest mall at 407,000 square-meters. It has almost four hectares of floor space and 8000 parking spots. It even had an ice-rink with real snow falling over it. We took a look around and headed to the movie theatre, we’d spent so much time in Manila already. James picked and it was so bad I’m too embarrassed to even say what it was. After the movie we joined the taxi line once again and spent almost another hour in a cab. Malls & Cabs of Manila will the title of this stop!
At the hostel we cleaned up, had a bite to eat and went looking for yet another cab. We were off to catch our first overnight ferry. The rain had let up and for once we actually drove in the cab instead of sitting in it. When we pulled up to the guard gate he told the driver to take us to the ticket booth, we tried to explain we already had tickets but they both ignored us. So we got out at the ticket booth. A few minutes later we knew why we were here. The ferry had been cancelled – something about an investigation after a couple of them ran aground. Crap! We asked why they didn’t contact us and were told they called everyone but we had an international number so didn’t bother. Grrrrrrrr. We had booked it online and received our confirmation through email and asked why they didn’t email us. He just shrugged and started to process our refund. I went to look for a cab…
We knew our hostel was full but headed there anyways. We hoped they might be able to help us find a spot at midnight. They were surprised to see us but not that the ferry was cancelled, I guess there have been some issues with it lately and with the storms they’ve been cancelling a lot. We asked out a place to stay and they offered us the room they’d just finished painting; but only after we smelled it to make sure we were okay with the paint fumes. It also didn’t have curtains yet and the morning sun would likely wake us early. We took it, and then spent the next hour or so trying to find a flight to Coron the next day. We had reservations and other flights booked and were not happy to be stuck in wet Manila. But on the bright side this is the first flight/bus/boat that has been cancelled since we left last March, not bad really.
Side Note: When you enter any mall in the Philippines you have to go through a security check. They have male and female lines, check your bags and give you a good pat down.
We got lucky and found a cheap flight to Coron for today. After checking out, again, we climbed back into a cab, again, and headed to the airport. We figured it’d been too easy so told the driver the wrong terminal, got out, went into the building and walked around confused for a few minutes before finding an information desk. Then we were back into another cab. OMFG! Just get me out of here! This time we went to the right terminal and with only a few minutes to spare got checked in. We were finally on our way to Coron.