Saturday, April 10, 2010

Sagada, Banaue and Baguio

     My summer get-away for 2010 is quite different.  Why I said so?  Normally I go to beautiful beaches in the country to feel the summer heat of the sun.  This time we explored the Cordillera.

     From Baguio to Sagada, we passed the paved and non-paved roads and a never ending curved roads.  Though it took us 4 hours to reach Sagada, the trip was still worthwhile as we traversed the top of Cordillera’s spectacular range of mountains, some mini rice terraces, a river beside a rice farm, and surely a different sight to please your eyes.

Trekking and Caving at Sagada
April 1, 2010

    After a long trip, we arrived in Sagada before noon.  During that time, the town was packed with foreign and local tourists, so it took us some time to look for accommodation.  We booked at Green House Inn at a cheap price of Php 500 per night.

     As we walked down the main road leading to the caves, we dined first in one of the best restaurant in Sagada at Yoghurt House.  They served us with mouth watering homemade yogurt topped with strawberry, banana, and pinipig.  Also, with fresh garden salad with tuna to complete our meal.   A healthy food to start our adventure!

     After we had our lunch, we inquired at the Tourist Center about the place we want to see.  Since we’re not going inside the caves, the tourism staff was so helpful to teach us how to get there by ourselves.  But in case you’ll do the spelunking, you are required to have a guide, because the trail inside the cave is dangerous.  The price of a tour guide is reasonable and you could also share it with other tourists.

     While walking on our way to the caves, we stopped and saw on the far right side of the road the Dokiw Hanging Coffins.  Just a couple of meters away, we saw the beautiful Kapayaw Rice Fields.  Then we trekked down to Lumiang Cave, where the hanging coffins can be found.  Lastly, we visited the Sumaging Cave.

     Going back to the town plaza, we dropped by at the Lemon Pie, a must try in Sagada.  Their specialties are lemon pie of course, egg pie, lemon tea and mountain tea.  It was my first time to eat a lemon pie and it tasted good, same also with their teas.  The pie is affordable for just a slice of Php 20 and a cup of tea for Php 15 only.

     In the evening, we had our dinner at Bamboo House.  Just beside it is the Kimchi Bar where we spent a few hours drinking a beer, chatting with Koreans, and listening to Jun Utleg’s songs, a great local singer in Cordillera who performed that night.

     The next morning, we checked out early to catch the jeep bound for Bontoc.  Other option is to arrange a private van to Bontoc or Baguio through the Tourist Information Center.

The 8th Wonder of the World
April 2, 2010

     Travel time from Sagada to Bontoc is a 3-hour ride. Then another 3-hour ride from Bontoc to Banaue.  We arrived in Banaue, Ifugao at around 2PM and booked at Stairway Inn with the help of tricycle driver who took us there.

     Going to on some tourist spot of Banaue is not cheap.  The price is too expensive for the transportation and the guide.  The tourist center is not accommodating too. Here, money is all what matters in most establishments and even at tourist centers. They won’t make an effort to group you with others, so better coordinate with other tourists to share the package tour.

     Nothing is free, not even directions.  No one will help you how to go around the way locals do on regular commute.  Sadly, a disappointing attitude of the locals that needs to be restored just like their own rice terraces.

     Even at Stairway Inn where we booked for a night, has no electric outlet inside the room.  You have to pay an extra amount just to charge your mobile phone and camera.  They don’t even have a hot shower, so you need to endure the ice cold water when you take a shower.

     Since, the way to view point is not that far, we opted to go on foot just to see the Banaue Rice Terraces built by the Ifugaos 2,000 years ago and passed on from generation to generation.  They even discourage us to walk because they said it’s too far.  But 30 minutes of walk here is nothing compared to Lignon Hill in Legaspi City and Mt. Tapyas in Coron.  Not only that, you’ll get to see the many sides of Banaue Rice Terraces and save 200 to 500 pesos of tricycle ride.

     We only had a one night stay in Banaue because we need to be back in Baguio the next day.  There are buses bound for Baguio, but we were not able to catch the first trip, so we took the Bontoc trip instead.

     On our way to Bontoc, we saw the magnificent view of Bay-yo Rice Terraces.  We even asked the jeepney driver to stop for a moment, so we could take a photo of it.  We’re so lucky to catch a few shots of it.
Revisiting Baguio City
April 3-4, 2010

    We arrived in La Trinidad, Benguet at 5PM and shopped for fresh strawberries at Strawberry Farm.  You can even harvest strawberries for fun.

Strawberry Farm, La Trinidad

    That night in Baguio City we dined at 18BC Restobar just to see the Power Puff Curl Band performed, because of my friend’s request.  The vocalist is the son of Jun Utleg the one we watched at Sagada.  He looks like his dad and a good performer too.

The Mansion

    The following morning I toured around Baguio City.   I revisited the Mines View Park and Burnham Park.  Also, visited for the first time the Botanical Garden, Wright Park and The Mansion.

Mines View Park

 Burnham Park

Wright Park

Botanical Garden

    After touring around the city and while waiting for my bus schedule bound for Manila, I spent my vacant hours at Figaro – SM Baguio, savoring the strong aroma of cafĂ© mocha and Figaro’s cakes, with the cold wind touching my skin.

How to get there?

Manila to Baguio City:
Victory Liner Bus Station in Pasay City or Cubao bound for Baguio City

Baguio City to Sagada:
GL Transit Bus Terminal bound for Sagada

Baguio City to Banaue
Sun Rise Bus Terminal bound for Bontoc, then a jeepney ride to Banaue

Sagada to Banaue
Jeepney trip to Bontoc, then a jeepney trip to Banaue


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