“Travel while you can”. I literally take this seriously because I barely knew that this is my second love other than my boyfriend.
It was the last week of January when I came up with an idea to try solo traveling at Sagada, Mountain Province. I discussed my plan with my boyfriend/travel buddy and of course, as expected, he didn’t buy my idea of me doing it alone. Before I realized it, we already formed a group of 4 to explore the famous place for just exclusive 2 days and 1 night tour that we have on our calendar.
February 06, 2016, with the help of previous experiences, I dared to declare that everything was set and good.
Hotel, transportation and itineraries were on paper. It was a hard loaded Saturday in the office that time, but nothing can stop us in pursuing one of the traveler’s dream destination.
It’s 07:00pm when four of us met each other at the North Gate of DLSU (where we work). With all the excitement, we take a cab going to the Bus terminal. Luckily, with the help of co-bloggers, I found a bus company (Coda Line) who offers trip direct to Sagada. I was able to book 3 weeks in advance to ensure seating reservation. With the anticipation of heavy traffic going to Quezon City, we leave at DLSU at exactly 07:30pm. Other traveler had been already in the station when we arrived, but because our bus will leave 11:00pm and it’s just 08:00 at that moment, we decided to take our dinner first.
No traffic along the way, excitement strikes us, maybe the reasons why even we’ve gone through a very long and tiring day in the office before we left, we managed to stay up until midnight.
02.07.2016, 06:30am we forced to awaken ourselves because our bus had a stop over and we need to use the restroom. It’s freezing cold. I gazed up the small signage and I now realized that we were in the provincial capital. Bontoc is known as the central of whole Mt. Province. It’s two and a half hours away from Banaue. Aside from its cold weather, the main attraction here is its gigantic rice terraces. Glad to realize that we were now located 3568ft elevation above sea level.
After a few minutes, we begin to long ride again. According to the bus driver, an additional two and a half hours left to reach our final destination.
We remain awake because we cannot help but appreciate the beauty of nature embedded along the way. As we go higher and higher , the roads became steeper. That time, the temperature is dropping low and the streets were covered heavily by fogs.
And at last, here we are at the terminal.
5000ft above sea level, we reached our final target. It’s approximately 16 degree Celcius. It’s like a dream come true.
FB status : “ Touchdown Sagada, Mt. Province”
The adventure is now officially begin.
According to statistics, Sagad is a 5th class municipality with estimatedly has 12-15,000 people residing in there.
Sagada is nestled in a valley at the upper end of the Malitep tributary of the Chico River some one and a half kilometers above sea level in the Central Cordillera Mountains, enveloped between the main Cordillera Ranges and the Ilocos Range.
On our first day, we decided to attend the mass first to seek for His guidance and protection for the activities that we will be up to the whole travel period.
After church , we proceed to the Tourism Office to process registration and pay for the environmental fees (P35.00 per Head).
We were just feeling some disappointment for a bit when the registration for tourist guide going to Sumaguing Cave announces that it was temporarily closed for visitors. I looked at my itinerary in shock saying “What is a Sagada Adventure without Sumaguing Cave?”.
Activities must go on. I change the plan immediately. Reversing the Day 1 versus Day 2 activities in a split of seconds was the fastest among decisions I’ve ever made I swear.
The checked – in time is normally 03:00pm but the Hotel allowed us to leave our belongings in their counter. By the way, Shamrock Tavern was one of the low cost hotel experience in my entire travel history (P1600 good for 4 persons) with high service quality. We also arranged for transportation with them (P2000.00 good for 2 days).
Though Sagada is all about walking and the distances from one spot to another was quit short, having an itinerary of like what ours contain, for just just two days,well I will definitely recommend you guys to hire a vehicle for your convenience.
You may also consider the checklist stated below :
Our first destination is Bomod-ok Falls. I always use this reminder whenever I go physical – You do mind over body most of the time”. This one is very exhausting and energy draining activity. The way going to the Big Falls has been quiet easier than the never ending assault way back.
Used proper footwear and bring ion drinks.
The view of the falls is really rewarding. Indeed, it’s worth all the walks and sweat. We consumed almost 3 hours with that activity.
Next stop is the Lake Danum.
With less expectation of good sunset and reflecting green trees color that mirror their selves in the water , we reached the place. The water is brown , there was no sunset because of the gloomy weather, but the temperature made it unforgettable. As we touch our feet to the ground, we started to get pale and shaking involuntarily. It was between 8-9 degree Celcius low.
We ended up our day with a good dinner. We choose to do it in our hotel because all the famous restaurants in Sagada had so many customers and in long queues.
09:00pm – Signing Off. Good cold night’s sleep with a double thick blanket wrapped around our body.
Day 2, we were all up 03:30 am.
We were challenged to chase the most famous sunrise at the Mt. Province. We arrived at Mt. Kiltepan around 04:15am on that Day. We thought it’s easy because we will just stand there and wait for the sun to come up. But the test is up again, that place was even colder than the Lake Danum experience of us.
We waited for an hour and a half. But there was no sunrise, only the glimpse of the mountain came out and hide again after a few moments. You will hear people screaming over excitement. You will see hope despite of the again gloomy weather and cloudy sky.
We left Kiltepan without experiencing the magical sun-up, but I will always say that by just being in that place , I feel blessed and grateful of having a once in a lifetime event standing there. I dwell, hope and inspiration to my fellow traveler.
We immediately proceed to our next stop.
Our driver served as our guide. We’ll gonna walk again. We passed through the what they so called Calvary Hill. We went directly to the Hanging Coffins and enjoy the story behind , while our driver was trying to tell us what’s in there.
The ECHO Valley experience will never be complete without experiencing the “echo” itself. I shout out as loud as I can several times. And it feels so good.
Oh men, it’s a never ending assault really going up into the highway.
Done with Calvary Hill, Echo Valley and Hanging Coffin.
We’re heading down to Lumiang cave when we suddenly realized that we have so much fun and so much walking-trekking things. We don’t really mind getting tired, aching knees and blisters in our feet.
We reached the Lumiang Cave (Burial Cave) entrance.And yes, It isn’t like we go down from our vehicle and that’s it.
We walk again.
It’s kinda creepy at first. Oh and by the way , we had our guide for Sumaguing to direct us going to Lumiang Cave also.
He says “Gusto nyong makakita ng buto ng tao? “ Haha Hundreds of coffins in front of us. The guide says “ Lola ng asawa ko yong isa dyan”. I don’t know how real was that, but it is kinda amazing thing. The coffins were smaller that the standard size, the oldest believed to be about 500 years old. Many are carved with images of lizards – symbols of long life and fertility. Across the road from the steps, peer down at another cave featuring more coffins.
Animistic Applai elders continue to be entombed in the caves surrounding Sagada – if they can afford it. The gods demand the sacrifice of more than 20 pigs and three times as many chickens for the privilege of being buried in the caves (cto Lonely Planet ).
Final destination. Sumaguing Cave.
It was like a dream come through. I just really wanted this one.
We started the walk on the rocks going deeper and deeper. There were slippery parts, some are rough, some are even unexpected.
The guide was so patient with us, they help us all the way until we suddenly start the final activity.
It’s not easy, not even a normal thing to do.
I must be proud to admit that I am suffering from my second day monthly period and severe dysmhennorea when I go for that adventure, but then again because I wanted it for so long, I had to make it. My knees were even complaining and inflamed inside, but I keep on moving. I wanted to finish this with full of gratitude and not complaining at all. Am suppressing all the pains and negative thoughts I hav that time.
And then we reached the bottom of the cave. It’s fantastic. It feels no similar to the previous experiences. It’s a fulfillment.
“I Survived Sumaguing Cave” I shouted. But the guide said “Pag nakalabas ka na Ma’am , saka ka sumigaw” . I laughed. Assault again.? And then we’re out from the cave after two long hours.
Breath shorten and exhausted, we rest for a couple of minutes.
We ended up dining in at the famous “ Gaia Café” . This was along the area.
We and the guide together with Kuya Driver deserves an appetizing late lunch.
Sagada brewed coffee (with cashew milk) was one of the best in this place together with the organic Chocolate Muffin. Oh! and before I forgot, one of the superlative wine I ever taste can also be found in Sagada, the Bignay/Bugnay Wine.
Two days, one night with a lot of stories to tell. Surely, this will be part of my book and this will be preserve lifetime.
That was one of my most concise and remarkable travel so far.
Looking forward for more.