Easier Path To Heaven?
Trip Start Aug 06, 2011
144Trip End Ongoing
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The Hanging Coffins Of Sagada don’t have any of the expected links to ancient mythology, dark beliefs, or mysterious customs. It seems that a couple thousand years ago one of the locals developed the notion (presumably out of desperation after leading something less than a virtuous lifestyle) that his chances for access to the gates of heaven would be enhanced if he were a little closer than some of the others buried in the nearby graveyard. The coffins are hung from a limestone cliff side or secured to cave walls but how they got there probably involved a significant effort of either ropes to lower the coffins down the cliff or some sort of timber scaffolding to raise the coffins to the appropriate height.We were told that families continue to use the coffins today sometimes removing the bones of previous residents to make room!! The corpses are smoked to preserve them throughout the requisite 5-day pre-burial feast and as the bodies are pushed into the smallish coffins, the cracking and even breaking of bones often occurs as the process is completed
For efficiency and time management we had actually stopped in at a restaurant to order lunch before trekking out to see the Hanging Coffins. After guessing what menu item was available for ordering (we have learned that Filipino menus are more vision than reality so you order an item, find out it’s “finished”, and you move on to your next choice- this can continue for quite some time, and at no point will the waitress with the big smile ever offer to tell you what might be available but neither will she see the problem with having a menu that lists so many items that are “finished”), we wandered off safe in the knowledge that a hot meal would be waiting when we returned saving us all kinds of time- of course the cooking only started once we got back but you just can’t get upset because the waitress is singing and the cook is dancing. This surprisingly poor but amazingly friendly customer service that we are bumping into all through the Philippines is starting to rival the Jeepneys as a lasting memory of the country.
The afternoon saw DH challenging her Splunking demons- the last time we were in a proper cave was in a water-filled version in Guatemala and DH broke her hand after slipping and falling. Another day, another cave, more water, and a whole lot of climbing straight down over slippery rocks (and bats- lot’s of squeaking bats)