27-Dec-2005 -- After visiting successfully the confluence just one degree to the south: 17°N 122°E in the morning of December 27th, we raced again towards the north crossing the bigger towns of Ilagan and Tuguegarao. We took our lunch at 11:20 AM in Tuguegarao and filled up my gas tank here.
Destinations were the towns of Baggao and San Jose, interior towns with dirt road about 50 kilometers deep from the main provincial road. Somewhere few kilometers further east from these towns was the location of 18°N 122°E. With the aid of Google Earth satellite photo, the confluence is less than 60 meters away from a road towards the mountains of Sierra Madre.
After several queries from the residents along the way, we were able to confirm that the routes to the confluence from the town of San Jose are the following barrios: Dalla, Tallang, Remus, Sta. Margarita and Blue Water. Blue Water is a place usually visited by few foreigners who liked to go cave hunting. We thought that the Google Earth road led to this remote place, Blue Water.
But because of heavy rain for the last few days, the roads were muddy and slippery even for my four-wheel drive pickup. We were still hoping that the road would be manageable but in the last half kilometer of this trip, about 4.5 kilometer short of the confluence, the road were getting worse and the last straw was a 15-degree grade muddy road with wheel tracks about a foot deep, a telltale clue that a vehicle had difficulty going up. Also, the last farmer we spoke to said that nobody was able to go through this road anymore for several days since the heavy rain. He said the route was characterized with grades up & down. My experience with muddy road like these were bad and considering we still would have to travel 4.5 kilometers with these kind of road, it was highly likely that a misjudgment in going down a steep downgrade can get us stranded because going up is more difficult. It was wise to drop the attempt.
Best time to make another attempt is definitely in summer.
So we headed back to the main road & resumed our journey. We made it to Aparri at 5:40 PM, the northernmost town of Luzon. Aparri was such a sleepy town that we have trouble finding a restaurant to eat dinner so we decided to proceed our trip to Pagudpud Beach, about 200 kilometers more. We took our quick snack/dinner in Sanchez Mira from a rolling burger stall along the road. We reached Arinaya Beach Resort in Pagudpud at 10:10 PM and slept in an open rented cottage. The place was so cold & windy, Santah had to wear three layers of clothes. The beach sand is dirty white & granular and it reminded me of the beach in Phuket, Thailand and no wonder this is a tourist destination.
Next morning, December 28th at 7:50 AM we resumed our journey & made it to Batac at 10:15 AM, the town where we saw the preserved remains of Ferdinand E. Marcos in a transparent glass casket open for public viewing. We moved on and made another scheduled stop in Vigan at 12:00 Noon where we took our lunch & spent about an hour walking through Crisologo Street, the street where the Spanish Era type of houses are lined and preserved for the tourists.
Then it was a non-stop travel all the way to Manila trying to catch the specially prepared dinner of my sons, Remus, Roy & Ruel for the 62nd birthday of their mother, Santah. It was a late dinner at 10:10 PM. We traveled 1,558 kilometers in 37 moving hours with average speed of 47 kph for the whole journey.
Not bad to end the journey with two successful confluences out of three attempts.