[Licuan-Baay] ► Unscripted Off-Road Back-Riding to the Chocolate Mountains

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"This is no longer a part of the script but it is essential to make the story worthy. This is purely an escape and a beautiful way of getting lost!"

The path was not easy. It requires that you must get physical and brave. And I said, it is unscripted because it is not the type of off-road riding designed for packaged/paid-tours wherein the things you are going to see and the so-called "off-road" you are going to take is like a script of a movie that is already written and anticipated and it mainly caters the thrill designed for tourists paying for the touristy off-road rides.

Licuan-Baay,

I call this natural wonder as Chocolate Mountains.


So this pick-up back-riding adventure has a different script. The script is on the spot and it requires a driver who can go on the spot and a guide who is knowledgeable enough about the destination to keep the story going.

The destination is the town of Licuan-Baay, a place not recommended for solo travelers (as per assessment) and an overnight stay for strangers is a scene that should be cut by the director of the movie. If you haven't heard about that town, I have made an introduction post to help you get an idea what to expect there (click here) but of course, that intro post is just the surface. We will explore this town deeper in the upcoming posts of this series.

...and I miss these instant friends!


I was riding at the back of a pick-up. It was a personal choice. Although I was given a chance to ride like a prince, I preferred to savor the view of this first-time-to-see destination. I wanted a bigger space where I can rotate my body 360degrees. I practically didn't want to miss any good thing.

With me at the back are two men whom I have met for the first time. We don't know each other but an instant friendship was established.

We devised ways to make our stay at the back comfortable and adaptable. But it turned out to be more memorable than comfortable.

The fast-running car has left us awed as we pass the road amidst wide post-rainy season brown grazing fields then slowly but surely, the road has been successful enough to conceal that we are already ascending to a higher altitude.

Prelims: Pine-clad mountains, Eucalyptus-topped hills

Pine trees growing naturally along the road

Eucalyptus-topped post-rainy days brown hills.

The start of the ride will not allow you yet to see the Chocolate Mountains as I call it because those preliminary mountains host pine trees naturally while some are intentionally planted with eucalyptus that give a menthol-y smell to the air.

But if you try to notice them, mostly are low-rise mountains and hills already covered with post-rainy days brown grasses. 

The smooth start

The start of the ride was smooth. As you go farther, the scene becomes different. Totally different from the capital town -- empty road that gradually turns rough and those mountain views not seen in the capital town.

I was just enjoying the smooth ride as we gradually ascend to the mountains. All I know that time is I will be seeing heavily-forested lush green mountains of December.
_______________

As we were going farther, more remote than ever, I was expecting that the mountains must have thicker woods and hardcorely verdant mountains but the script of the real-life movie where I was a part was just unpredictable. 

You don't know what will happen next and how the story will end because as I go deeper to the Cordilleras, the mountains start to become brown.

"Oh, where am I going?" I asked myself. The place becomes more strange every second and the movie has turned oblivious for the ending.

However I know, this will be more exciting. I have erased all the expectations in my mind and just waited what will happen next - not certain but I think it is much better. At least, I know I am in good hands and I am safe wherever they will take me.

The real score has come. The flow is no longer smooth, it starts to become bumpy and dusty as the environment starts to turn brown and the sun has poured out heat to indirectly squeeze out our sweat.

It becomes tiring and more challenging I know but it becomes more thrilling. This is no longer a part of the script but it is essential to make the story worthy. This is purely an escape and a beautiful way of getting lost!

Licuan-Baay is the name, the home of this brown paradise. These natural features are higher/taller than Bohol's Chocolate Hills but they are less known, undiscovered and too remote to see. As the off-road back-riding becomes more intense, the reward becomes more alleviating.

There it appears and this is now real! The pine-clad and eucalyptus-topped mountains have just diverted my expectations. It was like a tremendous mound of chocolates!!!

The view is surreal! I can't help but to take cycles of deep breathes and it took me few minutes before sinking-in to the point that what I was seeing is real.

Actually the town is too huge that a day is not enough to explore the place and it could be costly and butt-numbing. My white shirt has turned cream and my dark skin has turned whiter because it was totally covered with dusts.

Endless mound of chocolates, that is. But I am not telling that all mountains in Licuan-Baay look like this. There are also green mountains and mind you, these chocolate mountains (a personal name I coined for these mountains) turn green during rainy days. Check out the photo below.

There's nothing to lose, rain or shine, there's something magnificent to see. If this is the price, I would not mind traveling off-road once again and every now and then.

As we were winding the off-roads in the Chocolate Mountains, I thought I have already penetrated deep the Abrenian Cordilleras but I was wrong, we are still going deeper and those brown mountains were just a grand welcome. We're still at the surface of the town! The town is really huge and it is composed of two unofficial districts called Licuan and Baay.

I was able to penetrate more of the Baay side and it is another story as the road is getting intensely excruciating and the challenge is getting exclusive for the brave and the determined. For those who can not take a more extreme level of off-road traveling, think twice.

Military escort turned photographer (photo op)

The adventure was made possible through these people (Candid shot)

Look at those mountains at the back!


The story doesn't stop here. The scene got more intense and thrilling as we go deeper in the town. This is the real sense of adventure. Now I am feeling how to get really lost wonderfully! 

I discovered great things in Baay, but before reaching the inner barangays, it requires that we have to survive the next part of the challenge. To be continued...

Map of Abra showing the location of Licuan-Baay


Licuan Baay Series: Part 1 | You are Reading Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 Part 6 | Part 7

comment 4 #TownFolks Commented :

Christian | LAKAD Pilipinas on January 14, 2013 at 7:44 PM said...

I'm not sure if I missed it pero bakit daw brown yung mountains? Nakalbo ba sya o sadyang walang tumutubo na trees dun?

Magnificent view by the way :)

EDMARATION #TownExplorer on January 14, 2013 at 8:26 PM said...

Christian | LAKAD Pilipinas | Sabi ng mga guide kuya ay dati na siyang ganito. The topsoil is not capable of holding more trees because of the consistency (raw). Kasi noong bata pa raw sila ay ganito na talaga :) A large expanse of the province has this type of natural feature. They turn green during rainy days. At this point, the grasses are brown thus making the mountains brown due to the lack of rain to water the soil.

kenneth cruz on January 15, 2013 at 2:54 PM said...

A great post you got there. The place is great too! I wish I could visit their soon. Isn't it too hot there? But I guess that would be better than raining. Considering the road, it'll be hard to travel when it's wet. Maybe by this or next summer. If ever, by any small chance that you got to travel here in Bataan, I know a great place for accommodation. The Fav Hotel is just great for travelers who wants to stay a day or two here in Bataan. You can check them out here http://favhotel.net/
Is there any place you might suggests us in case we go there this year?
Thanks in advance.

EDMARATION #TownExplorer on January 15, 2013 at 9:06 PM said...

kenneth cruz | It is not too hot here, it is actually a bit cooler due to the altitude of the town :) About traveling during rainy seasons, yes, the road becomes muddy during rainy days but the mountains become green and you won't see brown mountains. I think it is better to travel during summer where the rough roads are friendlier, lols.

I'll check on that when I go to Bataan thanks!

And if you want go here this year, there is no place to stay, unless you know someone here where you can stay overnight because you really need to stay here overnight. Public transports leave the this town to the capital town of Bangued then comes back the next day already. So going and leaving the town via a public utility jeep is once every other day.

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