Saturday, March 2, 2013

What to See in Sagada: Day 1

Where: Sagada, Mountain Province
What: 1st day of our tour

With no time to spare for even a quick shower, we just got our room assignments and changed clothes before they hauled us out of the hotel again (hey, it's cold there! We don't smell, or anything...believe me). It was already around 3:30 PM and our first stop was...

1. Church of St. Mary the Virgin
    Trivia: The Americans had a huge influence on this little town, probably more than the Spanish.

Founded in 1904.
 2. Echo Valley & Cemetery

The long and steep walk towards the cemetery from the church.
The cemetery, with our tour guide Kuya Gareth (and our photographer from Solomon Tours in the background, hehe).
 During November 1, the locals celebrate their All Saints Day and at the same time their Panag-apoy Festival here in this cemetery. They use firewoods  instead of candles to put on their beloved graves come dusk falls. What a sight it is! I hope to witness it at one time.

A first taste of the winding and fence-less pathways, on foot. Can you those edges? I advise you not to look at your left or right lest you want to be freaked out by the height you're actually situated at.
I was scared! Haha. I did not dare go down, the soil was too slippery for my peace of mind. Plus I'm wearing slippers. I don't have the confidence.
How I wish the view from my window at our house is like this. Aaaah....
From where we were standing, we were to go to that massive limestone rock because that is where the Hanging Coffins are. Yes, walk. Nope, no slides or cable cars. Just plain feet like how the ancients did it.
Of course, this is the Echo Valley. Of course, it is known for, er, echoes. So my classmates yelled at the mountains, one of them even had the gall to shout, "PARA SA UNO!" And no, it was not our professors who answered back but the mountains. Though this garnered a few laughs from other tourists with us there.

The trip downwards. I was 'monkey-walking' all the way, letting my butt bounce on the rocks and soil. If only it's feasible to throw ourselves and roll, roll, roll towards the coffins.
And here it is folks! Can you guess why the Ifugaos put up their dead ones high above their heads and leave them, er, hanging around?
Slope is the name of the game in Sagada.
3. Underground River

Crossing the river, hopping on slimy rocks.
At the entrance of the Underground River. And this was where we shall just be.
Okay, so we ventured a bit inside but that's because the way out was also there. We did not go far enough in the dark abyss though, this was no time for spelunking.
The beautiful formations of the what was thought to be once submerged underwater cave.

I was saying, 'Carry on!' and 'More! I'm not even that tired.' Internally, I was all WHENWILLALLTHISWALKINGENDIAMSOFREAKINGTIRED. Haha. Still having fun, still having fun. It's not always I actually move and be physical and all go on treks and hikes like this.

5. Bokong Falls
    So we were very exhausted and my body was screaming at me to lie down in a bed fast. But our tour guides were not that merciful. So for a late sunset trek we climbed down once more to this falls.

Walking among the rice terraces fields.

It's a small circular greenish pool, but we did not swim. Do you know how deep it is? Twelve feet. Yep, our tour guide proved it by dipping a bamboo pole twice as he is and we saw it be submerged. There wasn't even a declining slope, just a plain drop from where I stand.
So the hike back up was double the challenge for me. Aside from my worry over my slippers versus the slippery soil, my body was a bit trembling already from fatigue. And I must tell you, the path was no piece of cake! It was so steep and narrow, and I try my darnednest not to look, not to look, not to look at the cliff at the edge of my feet. I was so terrified of falling at this point. 
The sun's already setting at this point.



6. Ganduyan Museum

    So we were very exhausted and my body was screaming at me to lie down in a bed fast. But our tour guides were not that merciful. I'm sorry if I repeated that last sentence, but that was what happened again. Apparently, we still have one more stop. Kuya Gareth was able to convince us with the promise that we won't be walking anymore. We all sighed with relief.
  
Indeed, it was a breather. We just sat down in the airconditioned  room and listened to the fascinating talk about history and culture by the owner, Mrs. Christina Aben. She speaks so well and all throughout in English, and her stories really piqued our interest. I recommend this tour very much. The artifacts and the stories behind them are amusing. My brain sure picked up a lot.

That concludes Day One! We were given the rest of the night to rest. Oh, what I had for dinner: Pinikpikan, the popular dish in Sagada. It looks a lot like nilaga but the taste was very different, and it has both chicken and pork and vegetables. Our side veggies were big! And we ate red rice, not much difference in taste but was it so filling. 
So, clad in a t-shirt and jogging pants and sweatshirt, and with two blankets wrapped around me, I fell asleep comfortably. And no, no aircon in the whole hotel.

TIME OF MY LIFE. <3 <3 <3
Location: Sagada, Philippines

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