Thursday, May 9, 2013

Mt. Pulag (Kabayan, Benguet): Topload Ride to the Playground of Gods

Kabayan, Benguet
Feb 24-26, 2012

Title: The Road to the Playground of Gods

(This is a recount of my first encounter with the sea of clouds and surreal slopes that Mt. Pulag has become synonymous with.
The cringe, exhaustion, extreme heat, thin air, dropping temp, breathtaking sunrise and soap-opera worthy experience
are the 
bits and pieces of memories I have with this mountain.) 

~ A piece of paradise where clouds roll by
painted with diamonds that gleams at night
Cradle of souls where dreams do fly
a piece of sky that shines so bright ~

(morning glory at the summit of Mt. Pulag)

The Top Load Way

~ There is freedom in our soul.... as we dance and take this stroll...
There is passion in our hearts... like painted works of art
Close your eyes and dream, relive this fantasy...
Open your soul and scream, believe and it'll be easy...~

(moments on top: our topload experience en route Mt. Pulag)

Within minutes we were hitting the road again. This time, we’re not inside the jeepney, but atop the moving vehicle. In any adventure in the mountainous province of Cordillera Autonomous Region, top-load experience should be included in the “must do / priority” list of things to do, otherwise you’d be missing half of the fun. 

It was my first time to experience top-load riding. If not for my friends, I wouldn’t even have the guts to try it. They say that life begins at the end of your comfort zone. Whoever said it must have experienced life to the fullest. I couldn’t even begin to describe the fear, thrill, joy, agitation… that rocked my whole body the second the jeep started its upward roll in the zigzagged road. Whatever it was that I felt died in the ear-splitting screams of fear and delight amongst us. 

For minutes, I was paralyzed in my position; tightly clinging at the small piece of metal handrail that maintains my whole balance. We were all sited on the cold metal railings, our butts suffering every onslaught of bumps and humps that met us, every lump and crack on the highway. There were no harnesses to catch us, no second takes, no excuses…. Choosing to ride atop a jeepney, instead of comfortably lying in the cushion-filled sits, seemed the most foolish thing to do, especially if there’s practically no one inside the vehicle. 

~To be young and free, wild and glee ~
(images taken during of our topload ride to Mt. Pulag)

But I tell you, it wouldn’t take 10 minutes before you realize that worries are reserved for those who over-think and over-analyze. If not for the top-load ride, Mt. Pulag could just be another incredible climb, given the cold climate and spectacular views. But other countries could offer almost similar grandeur, similar coldness, similar features… What those other places can’t obviously is that jeepney ride, that top-load experience en route the mountain trail, where thrill and fear takes you to different state of awe and blow; an authentic salvo to experience the adventure of Cordilleran life. 

It took 10 minutes or less before I regained and maintained my balance and enjoyed the 360 degrees of unhindered view. Ten (10) minutes to realize I just conquered a fear: I let go and trusted myself. Ten (10) minutes to understand I made the right choice. The next 10 minutes was a kaleidoscopic thrill, a feast for the senses. I didn’t realize I was smiling from ear to ear. So far, the best jeepney ride of my life happened there. 


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