Mt. Ulap (Into the Clouds)

Ulap is the Tagalog word for cloud. And in the most literal sense, we were in the clouds for almost the entire length of our hike, including the overnight camping.

Expectations were this:

-Sea of clouds

-Waking up early to watch the sunrise

-Milky Way

Well, reality had some other plans. But even if we’d been ‘fogged’ and rained and all that, it was still a memorable experience for all of us. We could have asked for a nicer weather, but then again, the rain and the cold wasn’t so bad.

But first, if you’re planning to go to Mt. Ulap, these things, based on experience, are a must:

-Dri-fit clothes; anything other than cotton 😂

-Extra slippers

-Lots of socks

-Gloves (2 pairs in case the other gets wet)

-Bonnet

-Cap

-Thermal jacket or raincoat would do just as long are wearing something warm underneath it

There are a few stores (that sells hot coffee, rice, canned tuna, ulam, noodles) at the camping area, so you don’t really need to bring food aside from the ones you need for the hike. There’s also a CR, don’t worry. It’s very decent and fit for your personal needs. I doubt that anyone takes a shower at the camping site, given the temperature.

We originally thought that since it was still summer (or just very the start of the rainy season), it wouldn’t be that cold. We were so wrong. We got rained a lot and it was really foggy. So expect the unexpected and bring those jackets. Don’t forget your raincoat.

Let’s start from the top. It all started at 1 in the morning; location: Cubao.

It was a long weekend, which, again, slipped our mind, so getting a bus ticket was a tough call. The earliest trip to Baguio City at Victory Liner was 11am. They weren’t the only bus station offering a ride to Baguio. So we kept on walking, hoping to buy a ticket, until we were approached by someone (this might be dangerous but then we were walking at a very crowded street and this really happens outside the bus terminals) and said that there was a van going to Baguio waiting to be filled.

We checked it. It was parked right outside Chowking. Then we decided that this might be the only ride available, so we went ahead together with a few group of friends who were also heading to Baguio. (Van fare: Php 600; Bus – Php 475)

It was around five in the morning when we’d arrived at Baguio City. We were hungry, so we asked the cab driver to bring us to a nice place to eat. He brought us to Good Taste, which was open 24/7. It was later on when we’d found out that it was a good thing that we went there early in the morning and got a seat, because the place was always full.

When the food was served, we realized why the cab driver brought us here. Their food is tasty and budget-friendly. We felt like we ate more than what we had paid for. Another cab driver told us later on that the owner had a farm, so he could offer the meals at a much lower cost.

After that, we went to the market to buy some things we needed for the hike, like gloves and bonnet and food. We didn’t know there was a store at the camping site. So yes, I would gladly inform you that you didn’t need to buy tons of food and take it with you. Saving you all the trouble, there were two stores at the camping site and you wouldn’t go hungry.

After that, we rode a jeep going to Ampucao Elementary School. The road was right beside the mountain cliff. But it was fun and safe. The locals were also very friendly. With no sleep at all, we dozed off for a while and they looked after us and our things. And then they made sure that we wouldn’t miss our stop. It was around an hour ride to Ampucao Elementary School from Baguio City. (Fare: Php 31)

At the Ampucao Elementary School, we registered for the hike and paid the fees. See their FB Page for updated list of fees: https://www.facebook.com/mtUlap/

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There, we had a short orientation and the mountain was introduced to us. We had been assigned Kuya Daniel as our guide.

Also, at the elementary school, if you’re a first-timer when it comes to hiking or a beginner, go buy that stick that they’re selling. It’s only Php 25. It will be a great help.

So yes, after the orientation, we were on our way and the raindrops started falling… just a little bit.

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See that heavy bag? We were in a rush to prepare everything that the porter would carry; that was why most of my stuff didn’t make it to the bag that they would bring to the campsite. And together with almost 3L of fluids, I was panting for air on our way up. Let me remind you again that there are stores at the camping site. Do yourselves a favor and just bring a small bottle of water and/or a small bottle of Gatorade. It will do. You can buy the rest at the store. 😂

So yes, eventually, we reached the start of the hike. To think that this was just the start. It was no joke climbing up here.

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After a few minutes of walking, we finally saw a glimpse of the sea of clouds from afar. We jokingly told ourselves that we could go home now because we already saw one.

 

This was when the walking saga resumed. Mt. Ulap was an easy trail, just up and down the hills. The only difficulties that we’d encountered were the rain and the heavy fog. It made the path slippery. We had to keep a close watch on our steps, or else we might slide down. Our guide, Kuya Daniel, made sure that we’d end up in one piece. We owe him a lot.

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This was the first scenic rock formation that we’d encountered. We honestly thought we were already at the Gungal Rock with all the walking we did. Nah, we hadn’t even reached the first peak. So much for our wishful thinking. 😂

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You know trouble is coming because the fog was closing in. Like what they said in the Hunger Games series…. fog is catching. 😂

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A few more hills later, we finally reached the first peak. This was when it got really, really cold. Raindrops started to fall again and the fog was closing in. In fact, by the time we were walking to the second peak, the fog was upon us.

With raincoats and gloves, we continued. The air was cold and strong at some parts of the trail.

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We made a stop and ate our late lunch at 3pm. We only had jellyace in our bags. 😂 All our foods had been carried by the porter to the camping site. We forgot to pack at least some breads. #magaling 😂

After eating jellyace, we went ahead and pressed on to the second peak.

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The fog covered the Gungal Rock when we got there. This was the second peak. The rock itself was also slippery. And yet, my friends climbed up there. 👏

I didn’t risk it because my backpack was so heavy and it was hard to put down without removing my raincoat and consequentially getting wet. Cold and wet was not what you were aiming to be with this kind of weather.

So I sat there and waited for them.

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After that, this was when we met the cows. They were so healthy. It was the first thing we’d noticed. Cows and cows later, we were on our way to the second campsite.

So yes, the path became tricky from this point on because of the rain. I slipped once, but gladly stayed on the path. Same for my friend. The muddy path made it hard to walk. Kuya Daniel pointed where we should walk instead. As much as we could help it, we walked on the grass.

 

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A few hills later, we finally arrived at the second camping site, just beneath the summit. But with the fog and rain, we didn’t get to look around the place that much. Plus we were so tired and sleepless. As soon as we ate that cup of rice and canned tuna, we got ready for bed.

We rented two tents, and that was where we were supposed to sleep. But given the strong winds, Kuya Daniel, whose cousin-in-law was the store owner, let us sleep inside the said store.

They were so kind and accommodating to us. 😭 If we slept inside the tents, I doubted if we would have any sleep at all. Even inside a room, it was still soooooooo cold during the early hours of the morning. I woke up several times because of it.

At this point, I’d already given up on seeing the Milky Way. I woke up at 11pm the night to use the CR and there was no star in sight. Oh, and the camping site was very safe and you didn’t have to worry about a thing, other than your tent getting carried away by the wind. There was a tent that got destroyed that night because of the wind.

The morning after…

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So yes, with almost zero visibility around us, we didn’t get to climb up to the summit and see the sea of clouds. We were in the clouds instead. They were around us.

By this time, we put on whatever clothes were available. My previous jacket got wet and I didn’t have that much choice but to put on my other remaining jacket that I was intending to use for Baguio and whatever shirts were in my bag.

After eating rice and canned tune again (we loved this combination), we packed our things and the porter carried them down ahead of us.

And then, we were on our way down… yes, all wrapped up.

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Let me show you a video of how thick was the fog and the strength of the wind:

Even if the weather was like this, it was safe to go down. You would see where you would be walking, plus there were steps. So even if the path down was steep, you only had to go step by step.

It was a new thing they’d placed because of the incidents of people slipping down, especially during the rainy season. Now, you didn’t have to worry about slipping. Just be careful going down the man-made stairs and you’d be fine.

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The scenery was also something. It felt like we were in a movie.

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Finally, we reached the end of the hike. We made it. 😍

There was a shower area at the end of the hike. That was also where the vans and the jeep were located. You could rent a van if you were in a hurry. But we rode the jeep and waited for it to be full. The fare was Php 50 back to Baguio City.

It took a while for the jeep to be filled and so the fourteen of us just divided the remaining fare among ourselves so that we could go back to Baguio City. We paid Php 71 each instead, and we were back in Baguio in an hour.

When we’d arrived in Baguio City, we headed straight to our lodging house, Lyn’s Trasient Homes, located at 79-B City Camp Alley, Baguio City. The first warning sign was this: When I was inquiring for room availability and such, their replies were fast. After I placed the deposit, they didn’t bother replying to any of my messages. This was the first red flag. I believe it’s only fair to warn fellow backpackers out there.

So yes, even if they didn’t reply after my deposit, we grabbed a taxi and went there. Maybe they were just busy (for the past three days) because we’d been accommodated when we got there.

The room we’d been assigned was Room 2-C. It was located at the second floor. For the amount of Php 1500 per night, the room was okay and worth it. The CR was clean and shower’s working.

After settling in, we hurriedly went to Bencab, because it would close in about two hours and we wanted to see the museum. The cab rate, including the waiting and picking us up because it was out of the usual way for cab drivers, was Php 300/hour.

We stayed for more than two hours and went to have our very late lunch/dinner. Our kind and witty cab driver brought us to 50’s Diner at Kennon Road. There were two 50’s Diner, but the other one was always full so he brought us to Kennon Road. And true to his words, we got a seat.

The food here was budget-friendly and very tasty. I don’t know but maybe all the food in Baguio are like this. 50’s Diner is a must for a hungry barkada.

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After that, we headed to Victory Terminal to get a bus ticket for tomorrow. The earliest we got was 5:05pm. We took it. Tip: buy tickets right away. We should have brought ours before climbing Mt. Ulap. We were aiming for a 2:00pm ticket.

And then we headed to the night market.

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The night market was really something. It is a must-try for those who are going to Baguio City. Fun and one of a kind experience. Plus, if you know how to look, you’ll get awesome bargains for a very low price.

After going around the night market, we reached the end of the road and saw the food stalls. We dared ourselves to eat the 1-day old chicken. 😂

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The vendor removed the bile for us, so that we wouldn’t be that traumatized. He wasn’t able to remove everything, but it was a dare-worthy try. The vinegar was very yummy, though. It neutralized everything. 😅

So yes, after this, things got really, really exciting. From vacation mode to action/thriller movie real quick.

So yes, we went back to our transient house. It was around ten at night. We turned on the TV and watched. After several minutes, we’d decided to call it a day and sleep.

It turned out that there were no blankets in the room, so we went outside to look for one. That was when we had heard it, a fight ensued outside amongst the locals who were drinking and several people we didn’t know. Later on, we’d found out that the victims were occupants of the same transient house where we were staying.

Based on the stories, the fight started when a taxi driver accidentally hit the table of the locals drinking right outside the transient house. And because the taxi driver was already out of the scene, a drunk local turned their anger to the ones who got off the taxi. Poor guys. They could have been us, to be honest. We also got off the taxi a few minutes ago.

We saw it ourselves because we were at the veranda and witnessed the whole thing. This certain man was shouting at two (?) guys across the street. Those two looked so terrified. We thought it was only a petty fight and the man would sober up a bit and go home. But then things got rough, and then we heard what seemingly sounded like gunshots.

Alarmed, we went back to our room and turned off the lights. We could hear people screaming outside and there was crying. We locked the door; there was no double lock and it could easily be kicked down if anyone would try. So we took our phones and hid inside the bathroom.

There was someone who climbed up the stairs and we didn’t know who it was. We also thought we had heard someone trying to open the doors. We were terrified.

Shaking in fear, we called the police. We told them where we were and what we heard. Their response had been quick, but those few minutes of waiting had been agonizing. We didn’t go outside until we could verify that it was safe; that those people were really the police.

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The police didn’t believe that those were gunshots and insisted that maybe we only heard it wrong. Thankfully, no one got hurt from what we saw. The locals also suggested that it must have been a broken bottle or something. But no, it was the sound of a fire after another. We could never be too sure, but we heard it and we wouldn’t be at peace staying for even a few minutes at that place.

This was also when we’d found out that there was no caretaker at the building. We were by ourselves, and the gate was open for anyone to go in and out whenever they wanted. It was very unsafe. The contact number they’d provided us was also unreachable at that time.

The police also insisted for us to stay, saying that they would be patrolling the area. But with the building like that, we told them that we would like to look for another room.

We packed our bags in a hurry. Getting on the police car, the police helped us find a safe place to stay that night.

The policemen were very understanding and kind. They patiently knocked from one transient room to another as we looked for a place to stay. We never thought that we’d be riding the police car at one in the morning.

One thing they’d suggested that we should do if we were looking for a transient place is to contact the police station and get a recommendation. True enough, the place they’d brought us had gates that were locked at night. The neighborhood was peaceful.

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Here’s the calling card of the place where we stayed:

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I would highly recommend this place. The rate was Php 2500/night. It was good for eight to ten people. They lock the gates at night and the rooms were clean. Very spacious. Plus there’s a double lock on the door.

With our minds at ease, we soundly slept that night. Come morning and we were strolling around Baguio City before departing later that afternoon.

While looking for a place to eat, we stumbled at this eatery–Panadero Street Bakeshop and Eatery. It was near the public market. Their food was so affordable and so, so good. I definitely enjoyed their adobong pusit. Awww, I suddenly craved for it. And Baguio’s kapeng Barako is a must try. I’m not sure if it’s the same one at Batangas, but I’m forever a fan of kapeng Barako (a local vareity of coffee beans).

And the flower shops around Burnham Park! I especially loved the carnations. So pretty.

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With the lack of time, we didn’t get to visit the other tourist destinations like Mines View Park and Botanical Garden. But we’ll be back here for sure! Except for what happened that night and the fact that it could happen anywhere, all of the people here are so warm and friendly. The weather was just right, so good. And who knows, we might go back for a sight of the Milky Way Galaxy, Mt. Ulap, when the weather’s fair. 💛

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