Less than a day in Sagada

This post has been in my drafts for so long. Hopefully, anything I share here will still be of help when you go to Sagada. 🙂



Late of last year, I went on an out of the country vacation, but I still felt burnt out. (It must have been too short. LOL!) So I asked my boyfriend we go out on a weekend for a change of environment and to relieve some work-related stress. He suggested Sagada as he was also offered a free trip there. I said I want somewhere I can relax, but what happened was far from it. But of course, a trip’s outcome depends on how we make of it.





I only saw the trip’s itinerary the day before. I felt unprepared for the schedule that laid ahead. When the boyfriend and I arrived at the meetup point, it was then I found out that the tour group comprised of joiners. I was awkward at first (I’m no social butterfly) but eventually felt comfortable.



The meetup was at 9 PM, but they had to move it to 11 PM. There were joiners from Davao who were late because of the flight delay. I was ok with that delay because I wanted to make sure I had everything I needed. We left as soon as the Davao joiners arrived, which was past midnight, and the ride has been smooth until we arrived in Nueva Ecija.



If memory serves me right, we got there at around 3-4 AM. I kept falling asleep, and I remember that we hardly moved from our spot.  Two overturned trucks caused a traffic jam, which affected hundreds of people for sure. I’m glad I didn’t have coffee the night before; otherwise, my bladder would be torture for me.



Nueva Ecija



20181130_062948 Nueva Ecija


There was a sudden build-up in all the eateries along the way due to the traffic.  It was almost lunch and we haven’t had breakfast. We felt sorry for our driver who hasn’t had a proper rest, so we told him that any eatery would do.



20181130_131032 Kuya Lar's or Erel Ihaw-Ihaw Lunch, Nueva Vizcaya


The eatery we went to is Kuya Lars or Erel (there were two names written on the menu). There was hardly anything left from the menu that other customers just had instant noodles. Fortunately, there was some stew left and a fried fish for my boyfriend and me to order. The fish didn’t look appetizing at all though, so I had to add red eggs and tomatoes.



Banaue



20181130_165410 Banaue


We arrived in Banaue before 5 PM. We were supposed to be there for breakfast at 6AM. Think of that time difference! Later on, I will share our supposed itinerary.



20181130_164759 Banaue


I couldn’t take a lot of photos anymore because it was overcast. I just took a few, then looked around for souvenirs and shared coffee with my boyfriend.



Sagada



We arrived in Sagada just in time for dinner yet too late to do the scheduled activities.



20181130_201946 Sagada
Warm food!


20181130_202101 Sagada Dinner
Forgot the name of the place


After dinner, we checked in. The accommodation was a house with two bedrooms, a kitchen, a T&B, and another bathroom. It seemed small for our group. Some had to sleep in the living room space, but we were still comfortable even though it was so cold.



Kiltepan viewpoint for sunrise viewing



With a few crossed out, our itinerary was crammed into one day. We had an early start the following day. Well, besides the tight schedule, we had to see the sunrise at the Kiltepan Viewpoint. Our call time was 4:30 AM.



The hike up Kiltepan started at around 5:30 AM. I guess most of those affected by the traffic jam were tourists, so it was no surprise there was a huge crowd also heading up Kiltepan.



The path was also muddy, which made the hike more strenuous. Also, the hike looked like a cult procession in the dark. Haha! People played music, and I overheard some share stories about their pet dogs. 🙂



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5:40AM. Hundreds of steps more before we reached the top.


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Finally reached Kiltepan viewpoint at 5:51AM


The area looked disastrous—there were so many food stalls and trash, and the ground was almost bare of grass.



20181201_060136 Sagada - Archie and Shabby
Make this


The boyfriend and I had breakfast as we waited for the sunrise. I had congee while the boyfriend had bland champorado (sweet chocolate rice porridge). I wanted champorado too, but I’m lactose intolerant. 😛 The congee was ridiculously expensive. I guess the cost is mostly for the effort of bringing the ingredients up? Anyway, after breakfast, we looked for a not too crowded spot so we can get some nice sunrise photos and videos.



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That fog! But it began to clear up.


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Some went to the next hill because of lesser people.


Yep, that (in the photo) is already “lesser people” so imagine how it looks from where I was.



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20181201_061312 Sagada - Shabby


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The sunrise makin a peek-a-boo lols


The sea of clouds is breathtaking by itself.



20181201_062653 Sagada


The sunrise was beautiful and even more so as the sea of clouds slowly dispersed. I suddenly had an overwhelming feeling of gratitude for being alive and for witnessing that beauty. 🙂



I am pleased with the results of the photos in spite of the crowd.  The Kiltepan Viewpoint is “known for panoramic sunrise views over surrounding mountains and rice terraces” and is a must-visit if you go to Sagada. I read that the view deck is accessible by transportation (4WD vehicles and jeepneys). However, at the time, only half the muddy route was passable.



20181201_065425 Sagada


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I thought we were done, but boy was I very wrong! We hiked for two hours more. Luwa dila amp



20181201_065921 Sagada


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I did my best not to get my legs scratched from walking through plants and climbing fallen trees.



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We had a short rest here after an hour of hiking.


If you know the name of this place, please let me know/leave a comment.



Blue Soil Hills



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30 Minutes later, we arrived in Blue Soil Hill. The pool blue soil looks like snow in the photos, especially when some are (still) in their jackets.



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I didn’t take a closer look at the soil anymore. I was hungry, and my legs hardly cooperated, so I just stayed at the spot where I took this photo.



20181201_094848 Sagada - Shabby
Fuck


I was doing a good job keeping my legs getting scratched until that very last step from the hike. Ugh!



Late Breakfast/Early Lunch near Sumaguing Cave



As soon as our group gathered at the end of the Kiltepan-Marlboro Hills hike trail, we left for Sumaguing Cave. Spelunking involves swimming, which I thought might not be good (at least for me) after hours of hiking. Also, we already checked out in the morning before the sunrise viewing. There wouldn’t be an opportunity to shower and freshen up until we get home. 



20181201_101038 Sagada Lunch
I know, fries and milkfish with rice is an odd pairing. LOL


Some of us who were quick to decide to skip spelunking had late breakfast/late lunch instead at the restaurant across the cave. I wanted to order everything from the restaurant’s menu!



Echo Valley, Church of Saint Mary the Virgin, and Hanging Coffins



The Echo Valley, Church of Saint Mary the Virgin, and Hanging Coffins are in one area, which was a relief for me (I was exhausted!) until I found out that we had to hike again.



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Church of Saint Mary the Virgin


We hiked again to the Hanging Coffins. They constructed flights of stairs, but they’re steep! If my knees could talk, I’m sure they’d be screaming.



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Hanging Coffins


The Igorot people, an ethnic group who usually live in the mountains in Northern Luzon, have been practicing the hanging coffins ritual for centuries. The reason for hanging the coffins is said to be for the quick passage of the spirits to heaven. Here are a couple of sites you can read on this ancient ritual. Of course, Google can provide more resources. 😛





Visitors must be careful at the small view deck for the hanging coffins. Everyone should also be mindful of the location as it is, after all, a burial site. It could just be me, but I found it weird seeing people take selfies (with big smiles even) with the coffins as their background. 



The Echo Valley is visible along the way to the Hanging Coffins. Some shouted to test the echo but were told to keep quiet out of respect of the residents. 



This area was our last stop in Sagada by the way.



Highest Point



On our way to Baguio, we stopped at the supposedly highest point in the Philippine Highway System located in Halsema Highway in Atok, Benguet, having an elevation of 2,255m (7,400ft) above sea level.



20181201_162045 Atok, Benguet
View from the highest point


I mentioned “supposedly highest point” because there’s a new one. Rappler covered this news. Good thing I visited when that point in Benguet was still considered the highest. LOL



Glenn 50’s Diner



We arrived too late in Baguio to visit a strawberry farm, so we just had dinner at Glenn 50’s Diner. I must have been very groggy because I didn’t enjoy my food.



20181201_195649 Glenn 50's Diner, Baguio


20181201_202057 Glenn 50's Diner Dinner


Man, I forgot what I ordered. I think I had the Hot and Spicy Chicken. It was underwhelming and not spicy at all.






So the overnight trip ends there. It was an enjoyable experience overall. I met new friends who I am still in contact with through Facebook, which I think is cool. 🙂



Itinerary



Day 0



  • 0900pm etd in manila


Day 1



  • 0600 Banaue ETA and breakfast
  • 0700 Banaue ETD to sagada
  • 0900 Sagada ETA and start of tour

    • Sagada weaving

    • Church of Saint Mary the Virgin

    • Echo Valley

    • Hanging Coffins


  • 1200 Check-in  and lunch
  • 1400 Caving (Lumiang and Sumaguing Caves)
  • 1700 Lake Danum (sunset)
  • 1800 Back to accommodation then dinner/Free time


Day 2



  • 0430 Wakeup call 
  • 0500 Kiltepan (for sunrise viewing)
  • 0630 Breakfast
  • 0700 Marlboro Hills/Blue Soil
  • 0900 Falls (small falls)
  • 1130 Checkout
  • 1200 Sagada ETD
  • 1300 Lunch at Benguet
  • 1430 Baguio ETA (La Trinidad)
    • Strawberry farm
  • 1800 Baguio ETD
  • 2300 Manila ETA


Travel Agency



The travel agency we went with was Juvinile Travel and Tours. They offer many destination options and itineraries are pre-planned, which is rather convenient. The rates are not bad at all, considering the following inclusions:



  • Accommodation
  • Permits
  • Entrance fees 
  • Breakfast (for some tours)


The management keeps in touch with their drivers to ascertain everyone’s safety and the tour is on time.



I’m not sponsored to do this post in case it sounds like that. LOL! I just had a good experience with the tour in spite of the uncontrollable circumstances.


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