From Baguio we set off towards the mountains on a 6 hour journey that would eventually get us to Sagada. A gorgeous little town, which has a great laid back feel to it and is surrounded by mountains and rice terraces. Perfect! If you’re ever in the Philippines this place is definitely worth a visit.
I’d been quite apprehensive about the journey. Six hours at the hands of ill-reputed suicidal drivers doing a hundred miles an hour over winding roads with sheer drops down very high mountains had me in a slight panic. (Even just saying that sentence out loud leaves me breathless!). It just didn’t sound like much fun. Luckily, modern medicine and Paul’s dad had provided me with an anti-nausea travel pill that had the added effects of keeping me calm. It was worth it’s weight in gold!
The journey turned out to be one of the most breath-taking trips I’ve ever been on. Sure, every time I looked out of the window I couldn’t even see the edge of the mountain, but the scenery was too beautiful to worry about silly little things like our bus toppling off the side. Besides, I’d prayed to my guardian angel for protection….the Philippines has helped me discover a new found faith in guardian angels. There have been so many opportunities for me to pray for protection and so far it’s worked a treat!
So we finally made it to Sagada. To continue on my religious theme we stayed at St. Joseph’s House. I’m sure their cottages were gorgeous but we couldn’t afford them and instead had to stay in tiny rooms that had nothing saintly about them. Poor Ashley and Anna, we were dragging them to the most basic lodgings we could find. Our showers were cold water only, but as the owner pointed out, we could heat buckets of water by (and I kid you not here) dropping a heating element in the water. She finished off her instructions by warning us not to touch the water while the element was in it. Glad you pointed that out Ma’am.
The scenery around us more than made up for our grubby rooms and so the next morning we set off to explore as much of the surroundings as we possibly could. Our FIRST trek of the day (yes we did more than one) was to a waterfall. We hiked down a mountain and across rice terraces for an hour. As far as our eyes could see there were fields full of bright green shoots neatly planted in rows of gooey mud. The feeling of walking along tiny narrow walls, completely surrounded by rice terraces was nothing short of magical. How do I know it was gooey mud? A slight slip of the foot meant I plunged straight into one of the fields leaving a gaping hole where once there were neat shoots. Oops.
The waterfall itself was huge with an inviting lagoon you could swim in. I watched on with envy as Paul, Ash and Anna went for a dip. An infected mosquito bite on my butt (a parting gift from Vietnam) meant I couldn’t get wet. I guess this point is as good as any to tell you that for a whole 2 weeks I couldn’t sit down properly!! Ah the joys of tropical destinations. I’ll let Paul continue with the rest while I continue feeling sorry for myself!
On our way back from the waterfall we bumped into a group of Filipino students that were also visiting the area. In the 10 mins of conversation we had with them we learnt all the hand signals to " cuss" people with and I even learnt a local dance! I thought that I picked up the moves quite quickly but by looking at the faces of the girls behind me in our photo I may be deluding myself.
Our 2nd trek of the day was to a place called Echo valley. For once the name was very accurate. You really could hear your echo all across the valley. It was a beautiful place with lovely rock formations and vegetation everywhere. In one of the entrances to a cave they had " Hanging coffins" a local custom where instead of burying you in the earth they leave you in your coffin hanging off a cliff face! It was very surreal. I mean what if you were afraid of heights!
After our trip to the hanging coffins we decided to do a 3rd trek, yes, a 3rd trek to some coffins in a cave. I don't know why we got this fixation with seeing coffins but we were all determined to see more. After what seemed like a million miles we finally found our cave with coffins. Now this was more like it. There were coffins stacked everywhere. They all looked very old and some even had there lids ajar! What with the sun going down, the dampness of the cave and the aforementioned coffins it was all very spooky. Hence why we did not hang about down there too long!
As we had done 3 TREKS!!! We paid a guy to drive us back to our guest-house. He was not even a taxi driver but we offered him an offer he could not refuse. After a lovely dinner where I had the best chips ever we all collapsed in our beds because we had done 3 TREKS!!!
Paul, Karen, Ashley, & Anna xxx