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The Wild Road Trip to AbraJun 21, 2011

The Wild Road Trip to Abra

Rain and No Threads
After waiting a whole week for this once-a-week jeep trip to Abra, I was already giddy. The 8:00 am jeep didn't pass until almost 10:00 am. I'm just glad I can move on again. It rained the entire night and it was still drizzling in the morning - no top-loading for me...sigh! The road was wet and slippery, the jeep tires, bald with no thread whatsoever - a disaster waiting to happen. Nearly all public transportation in that part of the country have worn-out threads.

Jeep Can't Make It
Sure enough, at the slightest of inclines, the jeep's wheels started spinning. At first, we all just got off, had the jeep back-off, race the engine, and then gun it to build momentum to ride out the mud. But that was only if we were lucky. Lots of times, we all get off, get some rocks and scrape-off dry soil from the mountain slope to cover the wet tracks. When that didn't work, we would pull the jeep from the front and push it from behind.

Rocks, Soil, Push and Pull
We would be able to move by a meter until the jeep would bog-down again. We would have to repeat the process again - get off, get some rocks, shovel some dry soil, put them on the track, push from behind and pull from the front. We kept doing this on a per meter basis. If the incline was 7 meters before it leveled, then we'd do the process 7 times! It was exhausting. We were all muddied but there was no choice. If we wanted to cross the mountain range into Abra, we all had to pitch in. At some point, even that didn't work. We had to weight the jeep with heavy rocks and do the same routine of looking for rocks and dry soil.....and so on.

Reaching Bangued
Miraculously, as we inched our way through the inclines, we reached the highest point of the mountain - 1740 MASL (meters above sea level). From then on, it was cruising along the winding top. I was even surprised. I didn't really think we'd get there. I thought at some point, an incline would be too steep to get us over it and we would be forced to turn back. It got cold and we were losing daylight. We were suppposed to reach Abra at 1:00 pm if things were normal. It was already 6:00 pm by the time we reached Bangued, the capital of Abra.

Where to Go?
I was dropped off at the Partas Bus station. At that point, I was tired and sleepy from doing all that pushing and pulling. I had no plan on where to go from Bangued. I somehow entertained the thought of top-loading myself on the coastal road to Claveria. It would have been cool seeing the beach with wind blowing in my face on top of the bus or jeep. After Claveria, I thought about going to Tuguegarao to do some caving.

But somehow, I couldn't get my body to agree to it. There was a lot of foot dragging as I pursued the thought. It didn't feel right. Maybe because it was raining and dark. Going to Claveria at that time was no longer a top-loading option. We lost so much time on the mountain road to Abra. Besides, with all that rain, do I really want to go caving? Flash floods inside the cave filled my mind.

Being Honest
I had to stop all the mental pushing and pulling and get real. I asked myself the question: What did I really want to do? The honest answer was, I wanted to be drinking cold beer in a blues bar with friends. With that admission, I took the 7:00 pm Manila-bound bus. After 8.5 hours, (at 3:30 am), I got off the bus in Cubao, Quezon City, and crashed into my Dad's place. The following day, I was already partying at the Backdoor Blues Cafe with Elwyn and his merry crew.

I just realized my 3-week journey into the Kalinga was already over.

--- TheLoneRider

How to Get to Bangued, Abra from Balbalasang
  1. There's a jeep in Balbalasang that makes a trip once a week, on Saturdays, 8:00 am. Best to seek him out on Friday (ask around the village) and confirm if he's making the trip the following day. 3 hours (normal), P250. Driver cell: 0926.114.6981. It's possible to go to Balbalasang from Bangued too, on Sundays (8:00 am at the Shell Station) when this same jeep goes back to Balbalasang. Text driver for details.
How to Get to Manila from Bangued
  1. Take a pedicab/tricycle and ask to be dropped off at the Partas Bus station. There are many trips to Manila. Trip takes 8.5 hours, P685, air-conditioned bus.

01jeepride 02muddy_road 03mud_stuck 04muddy_muddy
05mountain_road 06pulling_jeep 07pushing_jeep 08no_thread
09cleaning_area 10unloading_rocks 11mountain_view 12partas_bus

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