Travel Date: 28 October – 1 November 2016
For the fourth time within a span of one year, I went back up North.
The entire trip was technically last minute. Initially, I planned to do a second attempt at summiting Mt. Pulag then head to Buscalan afterwards to get my third and final tattoo from Grace. But for one reason or another, I cancelled out on everything and decided to do a solo trip around Bontoc instead.
Having recently been devastated by typhoon Lawin (international name: Haima), most roads were closed due to landslides and damaged bridges. Instead of one long bus ride from Baguio, travelers had to cross a footbridge and transfer to shuttles upon reaching Sabang.
In Bontoc, I went back to Maligcong to visit a good friend of mine to kick-start a library project for her homestay.
Feel free to start your own #BookStay Project to help remote villages have their own library!
I stayed in Maligcong to revisit Mt. Kufafey and have another attempt at exploring the rice terraces. But as luck would have it, it was once again Te-er, a local holiday that prohibits people from entering the terraces as the spirits “cleanse and bless” the area.
From Maligcong, I went back down to Bontoc to visit another friend there.
After chatting up with my friend, I left Bontoc to check out another village I haven’t been before: Mainit.
Mainit is a small village about an hour away by jeepney from Bontoc Town Proper. It passes through the small village of Guina-ang via rough roads. The village is famous amongst the locals for its hot springs. Mainit in English means “hot”.
Reaching Mainit, the jeepney stops at a community basketball court. From there, I hiked for a couple of minutes to reach the small mountain community.
There are two man-made pools in the village. The hot spring nearest the biggest pool had a small stream coming out of it. The locals placed tubes to direct the water from the hot spring into the pools.
Water from the hot spring actually flows throughout the village, making it hot and humid. A few steps from the pools, I saw another hot spring with a more powerful burst of water.
They say that the location of the springs changes from time to time. It is believed that the village of Mainit stands atop a dormant volcano.
The village was eerily quiet when I was there. After enjoying a few minutes dipping my tired feet in the pool, I decided to go back down to the basketball court to catch a jeepney back to Bontoc.
The travel back to Bontoc was a bit of an adventure. It was already 4pm and rain started pouring. With no network signal and the last trip to Bontoc gone, I had to walk for about an hour towards the only hotel in the village. Once I got there, the person manning the place was charging me Php 1,500 for a night (almost 30USD), which was waaaayy beyond my budget.
I decided to wait out by the road, praying to hitch a ride. I was resigned to staying overnight when a group of local teenagers saw me and asked why I was there. After telling them my situation, they asked if I wanted to join their trek down to Bontoc instead. I said “Of course!” and joined the group until we reached Guina-ang where my friend was finally able to pick me up.
My exciting day ended with an awesome sunset road trip down Bontoc. The view was certainly the cherry on top.
Watch this video summary of my Maligcong – Mainit adventure!
Ingat and see you on the road!
How to get there:
From Baguio, head to the slaughter house to catch the first trip to Bontoc at 5am. Php 212
From Bontoc Town Proper, get off near the market and ask around for the jeepney heading to Maligcong for Mt. Kufafey, Php 20; or Mainit for the Hot Springs, Php 40. Ride top load for the best experience.
You can also opt to hike Mainit from Maligcong. Ask Ate Vilma for a guide. It takes about 2-3 hours, depending on your pace.
Where to stay:
Vilma’s Homestay can accommodate solo traveler and groups. She cooks the most delicious meals and provides unlimited Kalinga coffee and mountain tea. Rate: 300 php / Breakfast: 50php, Meal: 90php per. Like her FB Fanpage.
There are no hostels in Mainit yet. I recommend doing this as a day trip.
There are no ATMs, so bring enough cash.
Always ask for trip schedules before heading out.
Read about my first Mt. Kufafey climb here.
Know a place I should discover? Or want to travel together? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org