Sagada in two days and two nights

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January 6th 2008
Published: January 6th 2008EDIT THIS ENTRY

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A Tricycle Named Dessert DeulerA Tricycle Named Dessert DeulerA Tricycle Named Dessert Deuler

The tricycle is the major form of transport in Bontoc, Mountain Province. As the name of the province suggests, the area is mountainous and definitely is not a barren dessert wasteland. Most jeepney and tricycle owners in the Philippines name their automobiles after saints and countries where their relatives reside (e.g. Saudi Arabia, Canada, USA)
Sagada is one of the best kept secrets of northern Philippines. Nestled in the Mountain Province where winding dirt roads and lush forests have protected it from the commercialism ever so evident in Manila and it's neighboring provinces. Not a McDonald's outlet or Starbucks is in sight, which is quite refreshing for once. This is not to say though that Sagada is primitive and backward! The natives of Sagada speak good conversational English and I was quite surprised at the number of international tourists. During our brief two day stay in Sagada, we met and exchanged stories with British nationals, Americans, Koreans and Europeans. I don't know if it's the spirit of this enchanting town, but everyone was just warm and accommodating. I guess the relative smallness of the Sagada fostered this type of tight-knit community feeling.

Food here is clean, cheap, organic and abundant. The prices are standardized (PhP 100 per meal) for all restaurants and each serving of rice is good for two people. Good food places we tried are Alfredo's, Masferre's and the Yoghurt House.

We stayed at the Sagada Guest House where we shared a common bathroom. It is only PhP 200/person/night but the bathroom
A view of the Rice Terraces from the JeepneyA view of the Rice Terraces from the JeepneyA view of the Rice Terraces from the Jeepney

We took a jeepney ride from Bontoc to Sagada. The 30-45 minute ride costs PhP 35 (USD 1 = PhP 45). Remember to hold on tight! The jeepney ride is a bumpy one because of the rough dirt roads. And although you may get a preview of the crisp and cool air of Sagada, you may also be taking in some of the floating road dust or worse, the exhaust of another vehicle right in front of you.
is typical of public toilets in the Philippines: it is smelly, has no tissue paper and has no warm running water. If you want better accommodations, reserve way in advance in St. Joseph's Inn. It is more expensive but I guess you get what you pay for.

Exploring Sagada is best done with a travel guide. They are all trained by experienced trekkers and mountaineers and know the terrain like the back of their hand. For the cave connection, where we went through Lumiang and Sumaging cave, we spent PhP 400 each. For the sight seeing of Eco Valley where the hanging coffins are, the trek to the small water falls at Bokkong and the Underground River, we spent PhP 300 each. The Tourism Office makes it a point that there is a good ratio of trekkers to tour guides (usually 2:1 for caving and 4:1 for sight seeing) for safety reasons. And do bring cash and small bills. There are no ATMs or credit cards in the area.

One more tip: bring clothes that dry quickly like gym clothes and swim suits. Nothing is worse than getting the sniffles the next day because of being drenched in
Kildapawan Rice TerracesKildapawan Rice TerracesKildapawan Rice Terraces

Breath taking view from the jogging and mountain bike trail near Rock Inn. Waking up at 5 AM to see the sun through the clouds was well worth it.
wet clothes while in cold weather. Whether you'll be going to the water falls, the underground river or even inside the two caves, I assure you, you will get wet! Also packing muddy clothes may be quite a hassle so you may also opt to have your clothes laundered by the locals as well.

(US Dollar 1 = Philippine Peso 45)

Additional photos below
Photos: 12, Displayed: 12


Bokkong Rice TerracesBokkong Rice Terraces
Bokkong Rice Terraces

Up close and personal with "palay" (the rice plant). I pay homage to the place where my food comes from.
The Hanging CoffinsThe Hanging Coffins
The Hanging Coffins

This is the traditional way the people of Sagada bury their family. Although the modern cemetery has made it's way to this part of the Philippines, some locals still opt to be buried the good old fashioned way.. Facing the heavens.
The Modern Hanging CoffinsThe Modern Hanging Coffins
The Modern Hanging Coffins

The most recent addition to the hanging coffins are of course, in color! See the cross? Episcopalian Christianity is predominantly practiced by the "modern" people of Sagada.
The Underground RiverThe Underground River
The Underground River

A view from the top.. We'll be getting there in a few minutes.
River Crablets River Crablets
River Crablets

Good thing I got home with all my toes intact! Just kidding, I didn't hear of anyone getting bitten by these crablets. That is the adult size.
The Cave ConnectionThe Cave Connection
The Cave Connection

Traverse through two connecting caves--Lumiang and Sumaging--using ropes and steady rocks to anchor our weight.
The Small Water FallsThe Small Water Falls
The Small Water Falls

Come in for a dip! You are most welcome to do so if you can stand the icy cold water.
Sagada Weaving LadiesSagada Weaving Ladies
Sagada Weaving Ladies

I was dreading the AC of the bus ride back to Manila so I purchased a Sagada hand woven scarf for PhP 240 (USD 1 = PhP 45)
Jogging TrailJogging Trail
Jogging Trail

The rich red soil of Sagada, home to towering pine trees.

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