Exploring Sagada and Banaue: May 18–23, 2011
This trip is one of my most unforgettable experience when I was still single — with the most number of side trips and the farthest place I’ve been to. Sagada and Banaue are located at the northern part of Luzon. This is also the first time that we came from 3 different circle of friends (with common friends), but eventually became friends and got along just fine during this 4-Day trip.
The trip was carefully planned and researched for less than 3 months only. We were 12 who finally agreed on this trip. Please see link below for our estimated budget (for Sagada only) prepared by my close friend, Riel.
Our trip was tiring for our scheduled flight was late in the evening — to avoid heavy traffic in Metro Manila and be able to arrive in Sagada while the sun is still up. The van we rented for the whole trip fetched us at NAIA Terminal 3 and we just slept inside while on our way to Sagada.
The driver needed at least an hour of sleep so we stopped at Baguio City and decided to have our breakfast at McDonald’s. There was no time to stroll around the city for we only had a limited time there. After Baguio, we stopped by (excluding the number of times we had to stop whenever one of us needs to use a toilet) at The Highest Point.
One good thing about about going on a road trip to the northern part of Luzon is that they have public toilets where you can pay for only Php 5–10 per head. This is convenient especially for those travelling in private or rented vehicles for you can stop by and go on bio-breaks and take pictures if there are good views. We even stopped by at the boundary of Mountain Province, stood at the middle of the road and had a group picture.
The trip from Manila to Sagada took us 16 hours (including the stop overs) and arrived at Residential Lodge around 4pm — where the owners greeted us with warm welcome, left our things and had our super late lunch at Yoghurt House — a few blocks away from where we were staying. The foods they served were affordable and in big sizes, including their yogurt which most of us did not appreciate it as it was too sour — maybe because we were not used to eating yogurt which are not frozen.
After our late lunch, we took a quick tour around Sagada town proper: St. Mary’s Church, Sagada Weaving, and Ganduyan Museum. And then went back to Residential Lodge to rest for the next day’s adventure.
Because we woke up late from the tiresome long road travel, we were unable to see the sunrise at Kilpetan but still enjoyed the view and took pictures. Our next stop was a short trekk to Echo Valley and Hanging Coffins where we got lost — for we did not get a tour guide. Fortunately, an old man passed by — so we asked for directions going to there. Our lunch was at a nearby restaurant from where we were staying before we went to our next destination: the Sumaguing-Lumiang connecting caves which will take us 4 hours before we will emerge from the end of the second cave — this time we already have two local tour guides. It was my first time to enter a cave — and I explored not just one but two caves! It was not easy because I’m quite scared of the dark, plus with all the small and big holes that we went thru, my mind was having all these crazy imaginations. Although there were a lot of challenges exploring the caves, not to mention that there were no helmets provided to us, it was all worth it especially when we reached the main attraction — the stalactites and stalagmites formations. We all got wet exploring those caves — and unfortunately I was unable to bring an extra pair of clothes for I did not expect a lot of water and mud inside — not to mention the stinky smell of bat shits. Finally, our last stop for the day was at Lake Danum. Since it was so cold and I was all wet, I just went out of the van for a while to take some pictures and then went back inside.
We checked out early at Residential Lodge then head out to Bomok-od Falls — with a local guide. Trekk going to and and from the falls took us 3–4 hours. The group just enjoyed the view and took pictures but two of our companions took a dip in the falls which was so cold.
On our way to Banaue, we noticed a burned smell of rubber while the window of the van was opened. So we informed the driver to pull over, and to our surprise it was the wheel of the van that got totally burned and tore down. We were just blessed that nothing bad happened to us.
It was already dark when we arrived at People’s Lodge and Restaurant in Banaue so we just had our dinner there. In fairness to the place, it was clean, not to mention affordable, and feels like a home away from home.
My legs were so numb from exploring Sagada so I decided no to go with the group to explore Batad — where the popular Rice Terraces is found. My friend Maya and I, including the driver were in charge of the group’s belongings. We just strolled around the town of Banaue, took some pictures, and even bought some souvenirs.
It was around noon that the group met us and head back to Manila where the rest of the group will catch their flight going back to Cebu — while some of us stayed at Riel’s place to stroll around the city the next day before our evening flight.
For those planning to visit Sagada and Banaue, I suggest that you research the place first so you will know what clothes and gears to bring and what shoes to wear — because that was my mistake. Even if you go with a group, you also have to do some research yourself especially if it involves trekking and caves.