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Bontoc to lubuagan will be less than 6 hrs. From Bontoc to Tinglayan the road is ok, gravelled and graded, but some areas are narrow. From tinglayan to Lubuagan, its twisty and ascending, But you are rewarded with a beautiful view of the river below and rice terraces beside it. Just before entering lubuagan, a panoramic view of the rice terraces and town welcomes you. This will be day 1.
Dat 2 will be from Lubuagan to Bangued Abra. The road from Lubuagan to Salegseg, Balbalan is not marked at all and there are several forks which I cant remember anymore. From Salegseg to the boundary between abra and kalinga, the scenery gets better with the forest cover starting to thicken up to the boundary.
After the boundary ther are 2 forks on the right side one which lead down to the town of Bangilo and the other to the of malibcong. This where the Balwegs come from. There are no formal accomodation in these towns, but the pine trees here are thick and big.
Following the abra- kalinga road, the next populated area is the licuan baay area. From there its a winding long mountain road down to Langangilang. The Bridge here is longer than the Quirino bridge near vigan, and its been washed away several time by the mighty abra river. The floods can overflow over the bridge when a rainy typhoon passes nearby. Accomodations is available in Bangued. There are vt'ers who comes from abra so they might suggest some places to go such as the calaba acrossing, the victoria hill which overlook the town , the old church in Tayum, and 2 spring resorts in the nearby town of pennarubia. The trip from Lubuagan to Bangued can be done in a day and you can stay another day for sightseeing.
If you are not satisfied with road massage that you are getting, you can then proceed down to tagudin ilocos sur and take the jucntion which will take you to cervantes ilocos sur via the bessang pass. Accomodation is avalibale in Cervantes. From Here you can either go to Bontoc directly by crossing the abra river again or go take the cervantes-mangkayan-lepanto- halsema highway crossing in Buguias. Take the left to Bontoc or right to Baguio on the Halsema junction. This route will be alongside the Abra river and it seemed to me that the source of the abra river is just nearby.This leg can be a 2 day leasurely pace or it can be done also in one day.
To be safe and sure you need to have a 4x4 pickup, van or suv for this trip and have 2 spare tires ready. The local do it without the 4x4 but with higher road clearance and several "kalso" boys while navigating the slippery or steep parts of the road. Do it also during the summertime or december when the there is less rain.
Updated Jun 11, 2009
The kids of the villages shouted something like “El Cano” when I came along. I have to assume it means something like “the white guy.” They are mostly somewhat shy when it comes to the camera, but there are a few hams in the bunch. One group of kids made a game out of getting as close to me as they could before running away when they saw me bring the camera up to eye level.
Written Jun 18, 2008