I have no problem staying on the road at night on less remote areas during my motorcycle trips. For example, I once rode for 22 hours to Samar. When I first explored the Cordillera Region, I barely made it out of Banaue before dark and rode the rest of the 350 kms way back to Laguna until past 2AM the following day. And my 9-hour Bicol trips has 4 or 5 hours before sunrise or after sunset. Even those 100-km quick trips are not daylight dependent.
Yeah, I’m a badass overflowing with courage even the Chico dams couldn’t contain it (had it been built)!
So in Kalinga, when I was told several times it was impossible to reach Sagada before nightfall, I just shrugged and told myself, “Then I’d better hope my auxiliary lights can last for 3 hours, cause I’m not stopping.” Anyway, the road has been impressive so far and the conditions did not really pose a serious threat other than driving off cliffs or getting buried by landslides.
After the brief stop to appreciate the Chico River Irrigation Dam, I got back on the road. Shortly afterwards, I was heading towards a mountain with a curvature that took me back to my
Calculus Trigonometry Class (… or was that Algebra?). At the foot of that mountain was Chico River which was so close, a half-tunnel a few meters long needed to be carved to make a 2-lane road.
I was still enjoying the ride along side Chico River when the view “leveled up”.
I first came up on its side and from that viewpoint it was like the common rice terraces you see in this area. I moved on, and turned my attention to the opposite side of the road which is a very steep mountainside. Worried a few rocks could trickle down on me as I pass, I focused for any movement on the rocky mountain.
When I momentarily turned my attention back on the road, I caught a glimpse of the terraces again in between a few gaps in the bushes. Just when I thought I have passed the captivating terraces, I was actually going around it and about to get the best view. Out loud, I blurted out, WOOOOWW!! I completely fogged out the helmet visor.
I thought I’ll stay for a quick snack as I imagine the crackers I have filled with mozzarella cheese, ham, beef, sausage…. :drool: But when the wind picked up a little, some small rocks came loose and fell from the mountain. A warning shot, eh? I got back on the motorcycle and continued onto the winding road.
The scenery was just awesome and sometimes finding a good viewing spot is tricky… And dangerous! Positioning myself and the motorcycle to take the photos of the hanging bridge, I managed to stop just a few feet from the edge. At first I thought I was fine and started taking pictures without getting off the motorcycle. My upper body was turned sideways and when I pushed a little more, I started losing my balance on the motorcycle. Luckily, my exhausted, wobbly knee kept us from tipping over the cliff!
Speaking of luck, some local motorcycle riders were having none of it… Or maybe they were really lucky they only suffered minor scrapes when a rider and a passenger skidded on a wet surface and went down. A short while later, they passed me and the way they were recklessly driving (without helmets, btw) really impressed me especially since they just crashed moments ago. I guess they’re just used to it.
That tunnel is part of a hill with a whole side of it scraped off to give way to the road.
Turn after turn, I marvel at the beauty of Kalinga. Then, it occurred to me that I won’t get to enjoy the view at night. And that sunlight is fading fast. Timecheck, it’s 05:15 PM.
I definitely want to see the rest of Kalinga on the route I’m on. Time to find a place to stay for the night.
The locals pointed me to Pines Inn and Restaurant. I got a room and settled in. Then, I went out again to see more of Lubuagan. I didn’t get very far because it got dark quickly.I went back to Pines for dinner.
I ordered chicken with red rice and shared the table with about a dozen people. They were talking to each other in a different dialect(s) and only speak Tagalog when they are directly talking to me. I got a little paranoid and thought at one point they were conniving about butchering me and performing some voodoo ritual while they skin me alive. I hate horror movies!
I stayed at the porch enjoying the scenery. Sure, it was very dark beyond the outskirts of town but the sky was just stunning. With very few houses and fewer streetlights, not to mention zero pollution, even the faint stars and constellations were visible. There were barely anyone out by 09:00 PM so I went inside and settled in for the night. The cheap China-made extension wire I brought with me was not working so I am only able to use one power outlet. I set an alarm to wake me up around midnight so I can swap charging my electronic devices.
Next thing I knew, I woke up in the pitch black room. I got up and groped for the switch. Nothing. I look at the phone and it’s not charging. I peeked outside the room and I couldn’t see anything. My heart started pounding faster. The eerie sound of the orchestra composed of crickets, frogs, and God-knows-what added to the suspense of this unfortunate event. I tried cowering back to bed but the slightest rustling noise or a slight itch to my legs just fueled my imagination more. Thank you, “Are You Afraid of the Dark?“
Yes, I take those motorcycle rides at night and somehow qualifies me to be the next Ghostbuster or something but that’s at 80kph. Even a white lady knows she shouldn’t try that levitating shit wandering into my path. If I’m not on my motorcycle, I’m really just a Shaggy or a Scooby-doo.
So I got up and forced myself out of the room and into the living room. There were no lights. I proceeded to the balcony and for a moment, I totally forgot about my fear. The sky is lit up with millions of stars! It was fascinating! The sky was bright enough to show the outline of the houses and the terrain. Clearly, the power to the town has been cut.
The Blackberry backlighting isn’t bright enough so I wanted my flashlight. I left it with Dhona downstairs outside the hotel. Getting there was another problem. Not only do I have to find my way in the dark, creepy hallways but there were dogs growling ferociously outside by the door. I let them bark for a long while hoping someone would wake up but no one came. I went back upstairs and tried finding the inn keeper. I called out and knocked on all the doors but no one answered. I was all alone. Where were all the people I shared dinner with?
I felt so stupid not talking to them about things like this before going to bed. I thought about going to the third floor but I got chills just staring up the stairs. I gave up and went back to my room and started packing using the phone’s backlighting. It was frightening to be flashing the phone around. It felt like something could jump at me from the darkness at any moment.
Around 5AM, the lights finally went back on and I managed to find the room where the owner was staying. I got my things loaded on the motorcycle and I left before sunrise. It’s a harrowing ordeal and I was just glad I’m finally back to the safety of the motorcycle.