I met someone in Vietnam, a Canadian writer and a traveler for years, who said she haven't had the time to write in her blog. Her last entry was 8 months ago. No one reads it anyway, she said. Then I told her, you shouldn't stop writing, you have a lot to share to people. Then that night, as she was sitting in front of our hostel's computer, while waiting patiently for the slow internet to upload her video, she wrote in her blog. And there I was, happy to have convinced someone, I thought of my own blog. Saying to her you should not stop blogging was like saying it to myself. Hehe. It's been nine months since my last entry! So here it goes. My first birth for 2012, and hopefully ten more or so.
Me and my friends went to Sagada last March 2-4, my second travel for 2012 (my first was in Vietnam, but I'll deal with that soon). I lived in Baguio for almost one year, been to Ifugao thrice, but never have I stepped in Sagada until days ago. In general, Sagada was tiring, serene, simple, cheap.
GOING THERE: We took Cable Tours Bus Line, Manila-Bontoc. It leaves daily at 8:30 pm. The station is just between Trinity College and the line of restos and coffee shop after St. Lukes, E. Rodriquez Ave. It took us twelve hours to Bontoc, with a short stop over to see rice terraces. Ticket is P650.
When we reached Bontoc, we took a jeepney going up to Sagada for about an hour; we arrived at about 10am. Once we're there, we registered at their Tourism Office, a few blocks from the jeepney stop. They said it was for safety and for their statistics. There are a couple of guest houses and home stays to choose from, and we checked in at Sagada Guest House near the Tourism Office. A single bed costs P250/night, and a shared restroom per floor. It was clean and beds are comfortable :)
And so our day started...
Day 1: THE ECHO VALLEY, WEAVING and SMALL FALLS
|Letting his lungs out!|
We trekked this without a guide, just wandering around and following the trail paths. At some point, from a distant, we saw the hanging coffins.
|During pre-colonial times, Sagadians believed in animism, a belief that spirits dwell in nature, in rocks, in caves, in trees. These spirits carry the dead to heaven. Hence, the hanging coffins. Sagadians were naturally good climbers.|
|One of the various caves in the Echo Valley|
|Another cave in the eastern part of the valley|
Small Falls. To get here, we went down by the rice fields. There is a bigger falls, about a few kilometers from this small one. But was around 4pm when we arrived on the small falls, so we didn't have the time to trek the bigger one.
Day Two: KILTEPAN, MARLBORO MOUNTAINS, LUMIANG BURIAL CAVE, SUMAGING CAVE
|Map going to Kiltepan and Marlboro Mountains from Sagada Guest House. This was the drawing of our guide. Since on this day, it was just me and my friend who's going here, renting a jeepney was too expensive. So we decided to walk.|
From our guest house, we walked for approximately three kilometers to Kiltepan to see the sunrise! The local guide we contacted drew us a map going here. We started walking at 4:30am, then arrived at 5:30, just in time for sunrise. Our feet, after an hour of walking and climbing didn't feel like hurting when we saw this.
|It's better to go here if it rained the day before, because the clouds then would be all the way where we were standing.|
|From the view deck, you can see in front the rice terraces. To our right is the sunrise.|
|My sun-kissed friend|
We left almost 7am, and we saw these white flowers along the way.
Since we were so tired after walking to Kiltepan, we changed our plan to trek all the way to Marlboro Mountains, which would have taken us 2 hours of trekking, considering we are real photo bums and we walk liesurely. We decided to rent a vehicle that would take us at least nearer to the top of the mountains. No horses here, by the way, just cows.
|Cow traffic. Good thing we didn't walk.|
|As we went higher, it got impossible for the vehicle to pass through as the paths got narrower. So there was still a part of it that we hiked. It's a nice way to breathe fresh air and appreciate nature better.|
|At the top|
|It's like the movie Sound of Music.|
The Lumaing Burial Cave. For caving, we found it best to get a local guide. The Lumiang Cave is the start of the cave connection, ending in Sumaging Cave. We're not confident to take this connection so we didn't do it. We paid our guide about P500 for the two caves.
|Coffins juxtaposed and placed on top of another.|
|A gecko wood carving on one of the coffins|
On the way to the Sumaging Cave, we saw this magnificent view of rice terraces.
|Our guide said this is the golf course of Sagada.|
Sumaging Cave. You have an option if you want to take the secret path once you reached the King's Curtain formation inside. It's a more adventurous path. We took it and we finished it for about 30mins, although this can depend on your pace and how many you are. The last part of this secret path is going to the water of about 3ft. We went inside Suamging at around 3pm, and went out past 6pm.
|A guideline before entering the cave. Kabunyan is the main god of Sagadians.|
|On top of the King's Curtain formation is a hole with deep water.|
The King's Curtain
|Going in the cold water marked the end of the secret pathway.|
Sagada was believed to be submerged in water millions of years ago. You will find shell fossils embedded on some of the walls.
Day Three: POTTERY AND BACK TO MANILA
Our route was Sagada-Baguio-Manila. The bus going to Baguio leaves daily, every hour starting at 5am up to 1pm. TIP: You have to go to the station earlier than your time because it will leave as soon as it's full. If you miss the 1pm, you can take the bus going to Bontoc which leaves at 3pm. So on our last day, we just went to the pottery house by foot, about 20-30 mins walk from Sagada Guest House. We were lucky to have met a potter and she went there with us. There is a fee for the demo, and P100 more if you want to try it out and make a bowl or a pot or whatever you like. I was able to make a bowl :) Unluckily, my two camera batteries were drained due to the cold weather, and I was such an idiot not to bring a charger. At the end of the session, our potter was really kind enough to give me one of the mugs she made. Unluckily for me again, it broke while it was in the bus. So here's my only souvenir for this experience, a glued mug.
For now, these photos will remind me of how peaceful and adventurous our trip was. One could really feel physically and mentally healthy here. No wonder foreigners stay here for months, some even a year. I wish to go back here soon, go camping in Marlboro Mountains, bring salt for the happy cows, brace for the cave connection, see if the bowl I made was completed, and buy myself a new lead-free mug. :)