Race to the bottom

As I was saying in my previous post, waking up early – we left at 5am to the La Trinidad jeepney terminal because we were kiasu and also because we had no clue what time the jeepneys to Ampucao (registration centre for Mt Ulap) left. At the terminal we didn’t see any jeepney with Ampucao as a destination and then were approached by a man asking where we were going. Of course we became guarded immediately because you know, two girls in a foreign land. He proclaimed that his jeepney would take us to Ampucao and leaves at 6.30am. 

Thankfully this was another truthful man and we weren’t actually being kidnapped. In fact we took the front seat in the jeepney – so fun! And not all squashed up. Also, sitting in the front seat made me realise that ALL his meters were non functional.

The registration centre at Ampucao was actually in a school. The guide told us we would take 7 hours for the return hike to all 3 peaks – Ambanaw Paway, Gungal and Ulap. Game on (spoiler alert: we did it in under 4!).


Ulap was a very enjoyable hike for us because we loved the intensity of it and the freedom of having our own guide (and no one to hold us back). Explains why we did the hike so fast. It was challenging at parts but nothing too killer. The views were amazing. 

It was an intensely hot and sunny day so we were utterly sunburnt at the end of it.


We had actually planned this trip based on a picture of the rock at Gungal that I had seen on my Explore page on instagram. Reminded me of Trolltunga. What a world we live in. 

Said rock. And how it looks like from the other angle. Not gonna lie, my legs were shaking as I crawled across the rock for this shot. It was surprisingly steep. 

The third peak, Ulap, had a more Sound of Mysic quality to it because of its flat rolling grassy peak. 

On our descend from the summits we stopped by a rest station where other hikers were eating (rice with toppings, no less – very Filipino). Out of the blue this guy came to us and introduced himself as a journalist for an online news site and asked if he could interview me. Embarrassingly enough I agreed. One of the questions was how I came to know about Mt Ulap and I gave the instagram answer. He asked if they could follow us down the mountain, videoing us along the way. I declined and thankfully I did – I had a bout of tummy upset midway down and had to beg the guide to ask a bewildered villager to let me use her toilet shed. Highly awkward. 

Anyway we reached the base, Santa Fe, first and thought that we just had to wait for more hikers to reach before the jeepney back would depart. We had waited for 2 hours until we realised that most groups had their own private arrangements back to the city and also that the jeepney would only leave at 4pm…not funny at all. 

Thankfully the journalists who interviewed me were kind enough to offer us a ride back to the city! They had to make a few quick stops for one more interview and one errand to run, but they literally dropped us off at our doorstep. Eternally grateful and I realised then that we have been too guarded against Filipinos and most of them were actually honest and good people…at least outside of Manila (like what the journalists said). 

Unbelievable luck continued in the Philippines, thanks to the goodwill of the people. Will update for Mt Pulag when I get better internet (hopefully at the airport). 

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