Saturday, May 03, 2014

Saturday, May 03, 2014
A perfect hillside sanctuary of peace and serenity, a brief escape from the town center will lead you to seek asylum at this little haven called The Heritage Café and Picnic Grove.

It was an excruciatingly hot sunny day I marched along the Halsema Highway on the way to see the scenic rice terraces I’ve passed by right before reaching the town of Bontoc yesterday from Sagada.  I saw this picturesque scene along the highway and I have to get a close inspection after getting my eyeglasses fixed at the optical which was unfortunately closed during the Labor Day, May 1.

I hailed a tricycle as the sun is scorching hot, at 9 pesos and 5 minutes traverse of the three-wheeled vehicle along the highway, I reached the scene of the lengthy hanging bridge that connects the highway to the rice terraces on the other end with the rustling muddy river down below. 
I can’t seem to figure out how to get to the bridge as it is a little down below the main road, so I decided to get pass it and walk along the highway to take pictures of the rice terraces.  A moment of walking leads me to the entrance gate of a small café with couple of dogs barking at me pacified by a small boy, I entered the café and ordered a cup of hot coffee, in a hot sunny day!

At the back of the café lies a beautiful garden, a grove with small promenade and a patio overlooking the flowing river down below and the cascading rice terraces with a distant view of the town of Bontoc in the horizon.  It’s a refreshing picturesque sight, the wind is blowing, the butterflies flying around, the river rustles, the place is on top of a hill with two gushing rivers on both sides, and a small waterfalls on a distance.  A piece of paradise not too distant from the town center waiting to be discovered.

The owner, a spunky lady and her son were the only people in the place.  She began expressing her future plans for the place and it’s a brief chronicle of the grove.  The small lobby used to be a restaurant but a night venue nowadays, but the grove itself with its well-manicured garden and the viewpoints serves as venues for picnicking families and groups during the weekends.  Rightly so, because the place is truly invigorating, it’s quiet there, placid and once you get past the highway entrance, you’re out in a different world far from the slowly progressing town center of Bontoc.

What to order: Brewed coffee, beer, some liquor, meals.

Insider Tip:   Bring your family or group, buy some provisions from the wet market (fish or meat) and have a barbecue party at the grove.  You can even employ the help of the owner to prepare meals for you at her kitchen.  The place sells drinks so you are not allowed to bring your own or pay a corkage fee.  There’s a minimal fee for the use of the grove for groups and family.

Tricycle fare from Bontoc town center to The Heritage Cafe
P 9.00
How to get there:
If you have your own vehicle, drive up the Halsema Highway in the direction of Sagada, get a little pass the Kadchog stone-walled terraces and the grove is in the corner before the highway bends to the right.
Public transport – take a tricycle from the town center and ask to be dropped at the grove, 9 pesos fare and it’s around 5 minutes or less.
Address: Halsema Highway, Bontoc, Mountain Province, Philippines
Google Map Direction: The Heritage Café & Picnic Grove.


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