AnneMarie and Andrew

Annemarie and Andrew – Trekking Asia

Baguio to Sagada

The trip to Sagada was a distance of 130km and was scheduled to take 6 hours. It would take us along the Halsema Highway. This is ranked in the top 10 deadliest roads in the world.

Our bus looked like it had seen better days but I wasn’t aware of the danger the road posed so I was happy enough, although I did wonder why Annemarie didn’t look too happy.

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As we made our way out of Baguio the bus would stop for anyone who waved their arm. I don’t know whether the people waved at the last second or the bus driver didn’t see them, but he would slam the brakes on and come to a sudden dead stop every time, throwing us around on our seats. At these stops the bus was loaded with all manner of goods, from metal pipes, metal sheeting, huge boxes of unknown items and even a huge bowl filled with water which I think held mussels.

Finally we got out of the city and the road started to climb and wind around the side of the hills. Every time we went round a corner we would slide on our seats. At first this was acceptable, but soon it became obvious that the whole journey would be like this. The road literally followed every curve and contour of the hillside, meaning there was a corner about every 2-3 seconds.

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The driver also preferred to drive like a racing driver, accelerate hard wherever possible and brake hard into every corner. So we slid forward just before every corner, slid side-to-side around the corner before being thrown around again with the acceleration. Just in case this wasn’t annoying or uncomfortable enough the road was not smooth and the suspension had long since given up, meaning we felt every hole and uneven section of road.

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That might have been OK if the road had also been closer to the bottom of the mountain than it was to the top. For most of the journey there was a huge drop off the side of the road, many hundreds of meters down to the valley floor. The driver didn’t care, he kept slamming the brakes on and throwing the bus into each corner as fast as he could. Other drivers might use the gears to control the speed but not our driver, on downhill sections he changed UP gears and went faster only to whack the brakes before the next bend. Worryingly, he sped past the signs asking drivers to test their brakes and went just as fast past the signs warning of accidents on that section of road.

When we reached a low section of road close to the river on the valley floor the bus had a horrible smell of burning brakes. But our driver continued to slam the brakes on to stop the bus whenever anyone wanted to get on or off. Only once in the 6 hour drive were the gears used to maintain speed.

On the bright side the views were pretty good so we got some OK photos from the bus window. The downside was that for 6 hours we just couldn’t stay still in our seats; everyone else on the bus didn’t seem to move an inch yet no matter what brace position, muscle clenching or how hard we held on we slid side to side.

We reached Sagada around 2:30pm feeling a bit shaken and very eager to relax and enjoy the simple things like sitting still. It was a long 6 hour journey.

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