Unburied in Sagada

Trip Start Dec 03, 2012
1
7
38
Trip End Jan 09, 2013


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Flag of Philippines  ,
Sunday, December 9, 2012

Tunnel Trap
Getting out of Banaue to Sagada was no hassle. Firstly a two hours jeepney ride to Bontoc through high mountains. Then another jeepney transfer from Bontoc to Sagada. Oliver from Chill-Out guesthouse Manila, recommended that I sit on the jeepney roof for the Bontoc-Sagada journey for the scenic ride. What he failed to tell me is the one lane narrow mountain tunnel shortly out of Bontoc. 

The other two Swiss travelers were enjoying the breeze when I quickly realised that we were heading into that tunnel. I yelled out "Wow! Tunnel!!" and we literally had 5 seconds to duck the rocky ceiling by lying flat on our backs! We reckoned we were only 15 cm from scrapping out faces to pieces. The driver didn't warn us and the jeepney going at high speed wasn't helping either. We were lucky. Extremely lucky. For escaping a certain death or face disfiguration from the tunnel. In return we did enjoy some stunning mountainous landscape on the roof with cool winds on our faces.
 
Sagada Town
The ride into Sagada was short - just under 40 minutes. Sagada town felt small but really charming and peaceful. The cool climate was one factor and the siting of Sagada in a mountain valley another. Headed straight to Canaway and George guesthouse down the road but they had no available vacancies. For a cheaper price of 300 php (and no other options, high season apparently) I checked in at George Annex guesthouse even further and isolated away from town. 

Sagada seemed to be very quiet at this time. Only to realize that many pinoy eyes were transfixed to the TV broadcast of Pacquiao vs Marquez boxing match. I was just finishing my lunch when Marquez basically demolished Pacquiao with a knockout in the sixth round. This was utterly demoralizing for the people of the Philippines especially when after typhoon Bopha left a trail of destruction in Mindanao also the birthplace of the renowned boxer. 
 
Coffins are Hanging
I set out to Echo Valley in search of the famous Hanging Coffins. Although I found the view of the coffins from the viewpoint, my first attempt to locate the coffins by descending unto unmarked trails landed me in thick thorny bushes and I had to retraced my tracks. 

Back on the main trail with twigs in my hair and deep scratches all over my arms, I met a local group returning from the Hanging Coffins site and was pointed to the right direction (or rather right trail) down. Shortly after, I caught up with the two Swiss travelers from the jeepney ride. At this point, I had already missed the turnoff point to the Hanging Coffins site and we were already too far down the muddy trail to backtrack up. So I decided to push along and complete the trek. Muddy and slippery slopes - Cambulo shortcut all over again! 

Along the way, had I not looked up, I would have missed the sight of a few morbid looking coffins wrenched precariously in a cave high up on the cliff face. As we trekked further towards a small stream, it led us to a huge cave where the stream continues into an underground river. We had to climb our way up the rock face as none of us brought torches to navigate our way into the cave and out to the other end. That was fine as I wasn't prepared to get wet especially with my camera in tow. I was informed that water level might get up to waist height. 
 
Bana's Cafe
Back at the main road, we walked back to town really flat out or at least I was. I was having coffee at Bana's Cafe when I met Steve from England, who now lives in Manila with his filippino family. He reckoned Sagada had commercialized so much yet her charms still remain. There are indeed many new buildings going up but Sagada in her beautiful mountain setting, proved to be still seductive.
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