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traveling

The Road to Balbalan, KalingaJun 20, 2011

The Road to Balbalan, Kalinga

Balbalan or Balbalasang?
My good Manang from the hotel gave me sound tips on catching the first trip bound for Tabuc. But I really get off at the junction of Tomiangan to catch another jeep for Balbalan/Balbalasan. It's important to catch that jeep as it may be the only trip that day. Missing it means going back to Lubuagan or going to Tabuc to spend another night. At that point, I still didn't know if I wanted to go all the way to Balbalasang or stop by Balbalan.

Jeep Conductor
The jeep I boarded had a friendly conductor. We were both on top of the jeep and he shared his life on the road with an ethnic musical band. He was cool. Upon reaching Tomiangan, he even refused my P20 payment. P20 goes a longer way in that part of the country so it was a generous gesture.

Wild Wild West
In Tomiangan, I was assured that I haven't missed the first trip yet. Pretty soon, the Balbalasang jeep arrived. It was full inside and it was full on top too. The only place I could squeeze my butt was on top of 2 tires that were already on top of the jeep. The tires were loosely fastened and the wobbling was amplified. I was not comfortable specially when the jeep made a turn and the tires would sway on the ravine side - I would lose sight of the road shoulder and see the ravine right underneath me. Whoa! The road from Tomiangan to Balbalan is more rugged, more isolated and offered a more pristine look at the landscape. It felt like the wild wild west!

The Pig and the Chickens
At some point, I managed to sit on the tubular rails beside a hysterical pig with a big basket full of chickens behind my back. It was the most uncomfortable seat I've had in my journey (and my most memorable). On the rough sections, my butt would bang on the tubular rails - ouch! The pig would also be so uncomfortable inside a tight sack that it would give out loud shrieks as the sack flung around and rub on my side. At some point, it was able to stick its nostril out of the sack for some ventilation. The chickens were also tightly packed inside the basket that they'd stick their head out of the opening and tickle my back. I was uncomfortable, but not nearly as uncomfortable as the pig or the chickens. I'd have to say I was even the lucky one.

Nothing to Do in Balbalan?
I tried to find out what I could do in Balbalan. I asked the locals, the police, the hotel staff, but they were all telling me the same thing - that there was nothing else to do there. They said I could go into the jungle and see the monkeys, but there was no guide. I was not in a rush. I could stay a few days here if there are things to see or do. Frustrated, I just roamed around the poblacion taking pictures of the place. In my gut, I knew a remote mountain town would have so much to offer. But since they'd been born and raised here, they don't even notice it. I've seen that happen many times. In some remote places with fantastic views, they make lodging places with rooms facing the road instead of the view!

In fairness though, when I met someone in Balbalasang (a few days later), he told me about some great things to see and do here, one of which is to visit a subterranean river. But this river has no marker on the street so you wouldn't notice it, no guide, in fact, nobody seems to see the tourism potential of the place.

No Interaction
I was hurting for interaction. But the locals weren't too open and there was no tourist around either. I ended up reading a book again.

Got to Get that Jeep
As for my ride the following day, I was getting many versions of where I should wait for the jeep. Some said I should just wait at the hotel, some said the nearby junction will do, etc. I was apprehensive. If I miss that jeep, that would mean another day's stay here. To be sure, I simply walked further out to the main road just to ensure my ride. True enough, when I boarded the jeep, it by-passed poblacion altogether!

Balbalasang Here I Come!
I was excited. It has been 12 days since I left Dumaguete to start my trip for Balbalasang. Now, I'm just a few hours away!

--- TheLoneRider

How to Get to Balbalan from Lubuagan:
  1. At the Lubuagan Poblacion, wait for the 6:30 am jeep bound for Tabuc, but get off at Tomiangan junction. P20, 40 mins.
  2. From Tomiangan, wait for the jeep bound for either Balbalasang or Balbalan. It should pass around 8:00 am. I was told there's a second trip following closely. But best to catch the first! Tell the jeep driver to drop you off at the Balbalan Hotel (if you don't tell him, he may not pass by the hotel) Php 100.00, 3 hours
Travel Tips:
  • Balbalan Hostel - P200/person/room, mobile: +(63)939.795.0092
  • ask more than one person for any questions. You'll get different answers. Follow the common denominator. Don't take chances. Missing anything may mean 1 more day.
  • top load yourself!

01lubuagan_town 02fancy_house 03rough_road 04roadslide
05fog 06jeep_conductor 07roadwash 08tomiangan
09jeepride 10scenic_view 11tight_squeeze 12village
13toploading 14fallen_tree 15tree_cutting 16traffic
17tight_turn 18high_altitude 19mountain_view 20stuck_pig
21moving_ahead 22ravineside 23rear_hanging 24balbalan
25balbalan_view 26basketball 27carinderia 28waiting_jeep

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Comments:

Samantha A. RegaladoSamantha A. Regalado
(Aug 14, 2011) You know, you should write a book about all your escapades! what you do is very inspiring and not everyone can do what you do! :)





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