Thursday, June 01, 2006

The Trip to Baguio

After spending one day and night in Manila, we headed up to Baguio City ... north of Manila in the Mountains. We left early and flew Asian Spirit ... in a YS-11 ... an old turboprop airliner. After taking off, we quickly climbed to ~10,000 feet. The grey color of Manila slowly began to be sprinkled with green, and the quantity of green again continued to grow as we flew north away from Metro manila.

As we continued our flight, the spots of green continued to grow until we were over a large flat valley with some large winding rivers. Various roads - paved and otherwise - cut convoluted paths between farms, towns, and open ground. All of these roads seemed to wind in strange directions with no rhyme or reason. Below, one large river wound below us, leaving groups of buildings, and maybe whole towns, stranded on empty oxbows. And then the foothills appeared.

It was impressive to see the mountains rise from the valley as a series of large sharp ridges. The river winding below us came from a valley in between some of these ridges, and a large reservior with a dam had been built to hold back its waters. The mountains continued to rise. And rise! All of the sudden the stewardess announced that we were approaching Baguio ... and the mountains continued to climb up towards our altitude. Below us there were now a few roads winding up the jagged mountain sides ... all looking like dirt roads. And then the first towns appeared up in the mountains. As we passed over one of the larger ones ... now looking only a few thousand feet below us ... I caught site of a runway cut into the mountains ... one end spilling out over a shear mountain face. Baguio Airport?

As we now passed that runway the plane began to turn ... yep ... that's Baguio! I actually shot some pretty good footage of the landing ... amazing mountain with a mix of small homes and big mansions. The vacation homes of the upper-class, mixed with the homes of the average people. We continued to bank hard left ... circling around to the other end of the runway that I saw ... to land in the direction of the shear mountain face. As we got lower and lower there were all sorts of streams and rivers flowing down the mountain, with waterfalls all over the place. We continued to decend, and finally touched down. We're in Baguio!

As we exited the aircraft, it was immediately cooler than Manila ... by far! Nice. We wandered the parking lot ... found a cab ... and headed to Session Road ... one of the main roads in Baguio. I'll write more later.


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