Echo Valley Monster
Trip Start Oct 01, 2011
217Trip End May 05, 2012
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Our plan has changed slightly. The reason for coming up north on Luzon is to see the Bannaue rice terraces which are often described as the 8th wonder of the world (along with about 40 other things). However due to the travel arrangements back to Manila it makes sense to go to Sagada first, this is fine, Sagada sounds nice anyway.
We got up at 5:30 and rushed to the bus station for the 6am bus. We rushed and arrived sweating for the bus that was actually 6:30. Great, nothing like starting the day hungry and sweaty. There are a few Westerners on the bus, the first bunch we have seen since the roof garden in Manila. This isn't a complaint more an observation, again we chose the Philippines knowing there would be less white folk. Plus you only yearn to see familiar coloured faces when the locals are staring, unhelpful, leering cunts, I'm looking at you Malaysia you fucking cunt of a country.
In the wait for the bus to leave it was warm so I opened the window. When we set off it was too windy so I tried to close it but I couldn't, I got so angry I bashed at it with my elbow, all this did was really hurt my elbow so we moved seats. An old guy got on a few minutes later, sat down and gently closed the window. Gutted. The bus drive to Sagada is spectacular. The roads are barely a mix of dangerous bends and pre laid gravel. Nowhere in the Western world would you get huge buses going along this type of road. You can't watch any tv or do anything that require concentration so it was a pretty dull 4 or 5 hours.
We arrived in Sagada at 1pm and checked into the first nice looking hotel. Finally a reasonable priced room. No internet or bathroom in the room though. The roof terrace is amazing though, the tiny town is in a valley and the terrace looks down on everything.
We went to tourist information and enquired about a few different things that we had read about. They have adventure caving and a few other activities that sounded cool but also didn't sound much different to other stuff we have done. I want to go caving, Charlotte is less keen, we will do it tomorrow morning. Today we opted against a guide, bought a map and went in search of the hanging coffins and Echo valley.
We managed to get lost almost immediately for about 30min before going back on ourselves and then bumping into an old lady who literally went out of her way to take us in the right direction. The right direction led out onto a cliff face where a couple of Canadians were waiting for a bloke to come back up the cliff after viewing the hanging coffins. We eventually decided to descend the side of the 'cliff' and down into Echo Valley. The hanging coffins are exactly as advertised, old wooden coffins that are hanging from the side of a big rock. They believe that the soul will return or something along those lines.
It began to spit. We had a choice, we could follow our crude map through the unknown of the valley or we could go back up the way we came and do nothing. We went for the walk. There is no path or any sort of help in terms of where to go, we just followed a stream and hoped for the best. The spitting turned to torrential rain. The dirt turned to slippy mud and the steam culminated at an underground river/cave. There was no way we could go back as climbing back up the steep 'cliff' side would have been impossible now. We climbed up a couple of slippy rocks in search of a way up and out of the river. Eventually we found that if we walked through the river we could climb over two big rocks and then pull ourselves up a slanted area of mud. It felt far more dramatic at the time than it does when I'm re-writing this but I was loving it. We finally pulled ourselves up and took a few pictures of us covered in mud from our numerous slips and falls getting to this point.
The rain eased off a little but the path back to the town was still sketchy. We walked up what looked like a path leading up the cliff. I walked first. We got half way up only to find a crude fence next to a small cave like alcove. I sort of leant around the fence and then all of a sudden something came running/flying out of the cave. It was big. I fucking shit myself and ran back down the hill where Charlotte was stood, still slippy from the rain it was no way suitable for someone running full pelt and shouting "go go go" and I promptly smashed into Charlotte knocking her into brambles. We scrambled down the hill and back to the bottom. Charlotte was a bit grazed but nothing too bad. I have no idea what the animal was but it was pretty large, in hindsight it was clearly 'running' away from me and not towards me. I intend to ask a local what it could be.
After this we bumped into a semi lost Westerner (origin undetermined) who led us back through a cave and up to the town. I had a nap back at the hotel before we went for tea at a wooden lodge that evokes images of skiing and snow etc. The curry was on the bone meaning it was instantly shit regardless of what it tasted of. The chicken was on the bone should I say.
The evening ended in the lobby of the hotel doing some bits on the internet. The intention tomorrow is to wake up early to do the caving and then get a bus to Bontoc which is a slight change of plan but it gets us closer to Bannaue without having to spend another full day in Sagada.