After two relaxing relaxing weeks on the beach, my wife, Carrie, and I set off on a whirlwind adventure to end our time in the Philippines.

Over the next five days, we would spend 48.7 hours traveling 1,150 kilometers in 15 different vehicles. What follows is a summary of our journey.

Sunset over Cabanbanan beach on Romblon Island
Sunset over Cabanbanan beach on Romblon Island

. . .

11:00 am, Tuesday
Cabanbanan Resorts, Romblon Island

We bid adiu to our beachfront paradise and boarded the same small boat that took us scuba diving every day. Our destination was Romblon Town

Total time: 30 minutes

Our boat from Cabanbanan Resorts to Romblon Town Pier
Our boat from Cabanbanan Resorts to Romblon Town Pier

 . . .

1:00 pm, Tuesday
Romblon Town Pier, Romblon Island

From the Romblon Town pier, we caught an overnight ferry boat back to mainland Luzon.

The Maria Xenia Montenegro Lines Ferry from Romblon Island to Batangas Pier in the Philippines
The Maria Xenia Montenegro Lines Ferry from Romblon Island to Batangas Pier in the Philippines

.

Our beds were in a communal area on the top deck of the boat and we spent the night surrounded by locals, crying babies, diesel engines and the cock-a-doodle-doos of roosters.

Total time: 14 hours

People sleeping alongside each other with a rooster keeping guard on the Maria Xenia Ferry
People sleeping alongside each other with a rooster keeping guard on the Maria Xenia Ferry

 . . .

4:00 am, Wednesday
Batangas Pier, Luzon

Just before sunrise, the Maria Xenia reached Luzon Island and we joined the herd of sleepy passengers shuffling off the boat before boarding a cramped bus to Manila.

Our goal for the day was to make it all the way to Sagada: a 513 kilometer journey.

Total time: 2 hours

It's tough being 6'3" while traveling in Asia
It’s tough being 6’3″ while traveling in Asia

. . .

6:00 am, Wednesday
Manila, Philippines

Thank goodness for the kindness of strangers. After being dropped off underneath a highway overpass, Carrie and I had no idea where to find the bus to Sagada. The first two bus stations we asked had never even heard of the place.

Fortunately, a sweet Filipino couple saw our distress and offered to help us find the right bus. We must have followed them for more than a mile and stopped at a handful of other stations before learning that we had to go to Bagiuo first.

Total time: 30 minutes

A bus station in Manila, similar to the one we caught our next bus from
A bus station in Manila, similar to the one we caught our next bus from

. . .

7:30 am, Wednesday
Cubao, Manila

Finally on a bus to Bagiuo and free of our heavy bags, Carrie and I quickly fell asleep for much of the ride.

Total time: 6 hours

Our bus to Bagiuo was just like this one, except the company was Victory Liner
Our bus to Bagiuo was just like this one, except the company was Victory Liner

. . .

2:30 pm, Wednesday
Bagiuo, Philippines

Having missed the last bus to Sagada, we decided to get as close as we could before calling it a day. On the broken-English recommendation of a bus station employee, we boarded a bus to a town “one hour away.” 

About two hours into the ride, Carrie and I concluded that we actually were going one hour away from Sagada. Or so we hoped. 

Total time: 5.5 hours

Our bus from Bagiuo to Bontoc, stopped at a rest area in La Trinidad Benguet, Philippines
Our bus from Bagiuo to Bontoc, stopped at a rest area in La Trinidad Benguet, Philippines

 . . .

8:30 pm, Wednesday
Bontoc, Mountain Provence

Our assumption was correct, as the bus dropped us off in a small town called Bontoc, which is an hour drive from Sagada. Exhausted from our journey, we checked into the first hotel we could find and got some much-needed sleep.

. . .

9:15 am, Thursday
Bontoc

The next morning we boarded a converted World War II jeep (know in the Philippines as a Jeepney) for the bumpy and winding conclusion to our journey.

Total time: 1 hour

A Jeepney parked in Sagada
A Jeepney parked in Sagada

. . .

10:15 am, Thursday
Sagada, Philippines

Despite still being exhausted, we spent our afternoon wandering and hiking around Sagada, visiting a beautiful old church and cemetery and exploring the town’s main attraction: coffins that hang from mountainsides.

Coffins hang from the mountainside in Sagada, Philippines
Coffins hang from the mountainside in Sagada, Philippines

. . .

10:30 am, Friday
Sagada

The road from Sagada to Banaue is filled with an endless landscape of UNESCO World Heritage rice terraces. Knowing that I would want to stop and take photographs every 50 feet, Carrie and I treated ourselves to a private air conditioned car for the ride.

What we got was a run-down old van with springy seats, no AC, a very friendly driver and his two friends who came along for the ride and to keep him company.

Our rickety private van for the drive from Sagada to Banaue
Our rickety private van for the drive from Sagada to Banaue

.

Regardless of the condition of the van, it was completely worth the money. Photo opportunities were plentiful and my personal favorite stop was the fog-shrouded Bay-Yo Rice Terraces.

Total time: 3 hours, with stopping

The Bay-Yo Rice Terraces in Bontoc, Mountain Province, Cordilleras, Philippines
The Bay-Yo Rice Terraces in Bontoc, Mountain Province, Cordilleras, Philippines

 . . .

1:30 pm, Friday
Banaue, Cordilleras

By the time we arrived in Banaue, had lunch, found a tricycle driver and had him take us to our hotel, the sun was almost gone. So, we called it a day and hired the difver to take us on a tour of the Banuae rice terraces for the next morning.

The first stop (at 7:37 am) on our tour of the Banaue region's rice terraces
The first stop (at 7:37 am) on our tour of the Banaue region’s rice terraces

. . .

7:30 am, Saturday
Banaue

A Filipino tricycle consists of a motorcycle with a teeny sidecar bolted to the side. It’s meant to seat several local people; not two giant Westerners. Yet, that’s exactly what Carrie and I crammed into for our tour of Banaue and its surrounding communities.

With metal rods and bolts digging into our backs and sides, we bumped our way up and down rocky roads and steep mountainsides. Fortunately, the tricycle stopped every few minutes for yet another sweeping panoramic view of the rice-filled green landscape.

Throughout the whole trip, Alfredo, our driver, offered information on the different sights and some history of the region. We couldn’t have asked for a more kind and good-humored guide.

Total time: 6 hours

Alfredo and his tricycle in the middle of our tour
Alfredo and his tricycle in the middle of our tour

. . .

2:00 pm, Saturday
Banaue

Carrie had a flight to India at 6:00am on Sunday from Manila. I had a flight to Taiwan at noon on Monday from Angeles City: about two hours north of Manila.

Our plan was to take a bus to Manila together before saying goodbye at the terminal. But first, we boarded a Jeepney for the three hour ride to Solano.

Total time: 1 hour

A Jeetney in Manila
A Jeetney in Manila

 . . .

3:00 pm, Saturday
Lagawe

An hour into our ride, we arrived in a small town and had to transfer Jeetneys. This was unfortunate, as we finally had gotten comfortable on the other Jeetney and now had to squeeze in with two dozen+ locals for the remainder of our journey.

Total time: 2 hours

Carrie inside an empty Jeetney in Bantac
Carrie inside an empty Jeetney in Bantac

. . .

5:00 pm, Saturday
Solano, Philippines

After being dropped off a gas station in the middle of Solano, we were surrounded by tricycle drivers offering to drive us to the “bus station.”

A more accurate statement would have been, ”I’ll drive you to a street corner in front of a gas station and McDonalds where you can wait for a passing bus to Manila.”

Total time: 10 minutes

Carrie and I squeezing into a Tricycle on Romblon Island, which I think was a bit bigger than Alfredo's in Banaue
Carrie and I squeezing into a Tricycle on Romblon Island, which I think was a bit bigger than Alfredo’s in Banaue

 . . .

6:00 pm, Sunday
Solano

Sure enough, the tricycle driver’s drop-off point was confirmed by at least a dozen locals and after dinner and a brief wait we boarded a bus to Manila.

Total time 6.5 hours

The inside of a deluxe bus in the Philippines
The inside of a deluxe bus in the Philippines

. . .

12:30am, Sunday
Angeles City, Luzon

When our bus stopped in Angeles City, I decided to say goodbye to Carrie there rather than go all the way to Manila and back up the next day.

A former Air Force base, Angeles City is notorious for prostitution. Upon arriving, I asked a tricycle driver for a “nice hotel, no bedbugs, no prostitutes.” He proceeded to drive me directly into the city center: a haven for dirty hotels and prostitution.

Telling him that I didn’t want that, he drove me to another hotel that had a decent overpriced room.

Total time: 30 minutes

The lineup of Tricycle drivers that was waiting for me at the Dao Mabalacat Bus Terminal in Angeles City
The lineup of Tricycle drivers that was waiting for me at the Dao Mabalacat Bus Terminal in Angeles City

. . .

Epilogue 

I spent the next 36 hours catching up on work in my hotel and avoiding Angeles at all cost.

When I finally left on Monday morning, I realized that the hotel he took me to was about 2 blocks from the bus station. Oh well, at least my flight to Taiwan only cost $31.

The Air Asia plane that flew me to Taiwan from Clark International Airport in the Philippines
The Air Asia plane that flew me to Taiwan from Clark International Airport in the Philippines

 

Trip Summary

Time: 48.7 hours
Distance: 1,150 kilometers
Different Vehicles: 14

Share the Journey

  • http://www.happinessplunge.com Adam Pervez

    Wow, what an adventure! I was pickpocketed for the first time in a jeepney in Cebu so my affinity for them has disappeared. But I liked the tricycles. Hope you were able to avoid the nastiness in Angeles. Just outside the city you can fly a microlight aircraft, which is what I did while I was there.

    • http://www.AdventuresofaGoodMan.com Greg Goodman

      Sorry to hear about the pickpocketing, but aside from that you’ve got to admit they are a very unique way to travel. If I ever find myself in Angeles again, I’ll have to check out the aircraft.

  • http://wheresidewalksend.com Ian Ord – Where Sidewalks End

    This is awesome! I’ll be spending a little more than 48 hours (roughly 2 weeks) travelling to many of the same spots, leaving tomorrow!! Perfect timing to get me even more excited about this trip! Thanks Greg!!

    • http://www.AdventuresofaGoodMan.com Greg Goodman

      Awesome Ian, have a blast! Can’t wait to read your post on it :)

  • http://themostalive.com/ Ash Clark

    Reading this sends a cold shudder down my spine about travelling in the Philippines. NOTHING is easy there.
    Love that shot of the rice terraces, I was at my whits end when I had a chance to go there and opted to remain in Manila, kicking myself now!

    • http://www.AdventuresofaGoodMan.com Greg Goodman

      Nope. Nothing at all easy about getting around the Philippines. But the destinations are so worth it!

  • http://splendorinthelemongrass.com Susan

    So I know this was supposed to be about the trials and tribulations of traveling, but I can’t get over how much I love the way the jeepneys and jeetneys LOOK. Like, I want to paint my imaginary house jeetney teal…

    • http://www.AdventuresofaGoodMan.com Greg Goodman

      Thanks for your comment, Susan. That would be a beautiful room. Though, I will say, Jeepneys come in all colors. It’s whatever the owner/driver decided. So basically, you could paint your room any color and it will match a Jeepney somewhere :)

  • http://jackietravels.com Jackie D

    Wow. I was just in Central America this January and I thought it was difficult to get around THERE. You and The Philippines win.

    • http://www.AdventuresofaGoodMan.com Greg Goodman

      LOL, I have quite a few stories about Central America and some crazy commutes. India too, but yes, I would have to give the award to the Philippines.

  • http://www.mytravelthirst.com Mariana Calleja / TravelThirst

    Holly travel! This was quite a journey…I can only think on sleep hours. Great piece of advice too! ;)

    • http://www.AdventuresofaGoodMan.com Greg Goodman

      Thanks for your comment, Mariana. I think I just got tired again thinking about the journey.

  • http://www.thepaperplanesblog.com Alana – Paper Planes

    Good Lord… Do you feel like you need to go back to the beach now for a break??

    • http://www.AdventuresofaGoodMan.com Greg Goodman

      Oh Alana, nothing would make me happier than to be back on that beach!

  • http://onmyfeetorinmymind.com/ Erik

    It sounds like it was worth it, but holy hell Greg, what an incredible amount of hassle to get there! At least it made an excellent blog post and provided an experience you’ll never forget….

    • http://www.AdventuresofaGoodMan.com Greg Goodman

      Haha, thanks Erik. It was totally, 1000%, worth every minute of travel. But whew, I have no need to do anything like that again any time soon.

  • http://www.danielmcbane.com/ Daniel McBane

    I’ve seen pictures of those coffins before, but had no idea they were in the Philippines. I think after spending that much time being squeezed into some very uncomfortable looking vehicles, I would have actually felt a little envious of the corpses in their spacious coffins.

    • http://www.AdventuresofaGoodMan.com Greg Goodman

      HAHAHAHAHA! Thanks for the hilarious comment.