My Sagada vacation was a series of good timings, coincidences and surprises. At the start of the week, I was able to finish the bulk of my office tasks and settled things the best that I could so I won’t be bugged by any unfinished tasks, at least that was my “gut feel”. I was ready to unravel the gift I had chosen for myself for my birthday a few days back. Armed with all the information I was able to gather online about the place, I finally set off for Sagada. As usual, I was by myself. I went to Sagada with pictures in my mind based on the numerous blogs and raves I read. When I finally reached the place all the pictures turned miniscule as compared to the enormous beauty that was right in front of me. I remember the text message I replied to a friend when he asked me how the place was…I said “…maiiyak ka sa ganda”.
At first, I planned to explore the place by myself, at least the spots that are just a stone throw away from the town proper where I opted to stay. Upon registering in the Municipal Hall, I was surprised to learn that there was a traveling family who is from my hometown. I was even more surprised when I met them in the small falls and learned that they were also staying at Residential Lodge. It was their second to the last day in Sagada. The small falls was second in my list upon arrival. The first was a late lunch at the Yoghurt House. The three ladies (sisters and a cousin) and I became instant friends. It was my first half day in Sagada and I have found new friends already.
The following day, my new friends and I went spelunking and our first stop was Sumaging cave. We had a guide, Raffy, who was very passionate about his job.
He spoke very well in English and I was very impressed. Even more impressing was the fact that almost everybody in the town from the small children playing in the streets to the tinderas in the mini-stores were all good English-speakers. If they sense that you are a visitor, they would opt to use English as the first Language. It was definitely an adventure conquering this cave. It was dark, slippery, and the water running inside was cold. 150 meters below was a pool of icy crystal clear water which happened to be the dead end of the cave. It was also where we found the 20 million year-old seashell fossils stuck by the cave walls. My jaws literally dropped upon the sight of the fossils. When I as a child I thought of becoming an Archeologist or a Paleontologist someday. Next stop were the burial caves. These sights again tickled my childhood fantasies as some of the coffins were at least a hundred years old.
After lunch, I went to Echo Valley by myself and enjoyed the solace in the Calgary Hill. During the late afternoon, I went with my friends to the Lemon Pie House for a snack. I have not tasted a lemon pie before but I must say it was one of the best pies I have tasted not to mention that it was only 20 pesos per slice. The lemon pie went well with the local mountain tea, and reminded me of the calamansi muffins in Real Coffee in Boracay which I also rave so much about. We capped the night with a bottle of beer at Log Cabin Restaurant although it was barely 9 PM. Apparently, establishments in Sagada closes at 9PM as part of the curfew. Night time is Sagada is cold. It reminded me of winter when I was still living abroad.
On my third day, I met another set of friends also staying at the lodge.
They had a pre-arranged tour for the entire day going to spots like the Big Falls, Lake Danum, Sagada pottery, and Mt Ampacao. They rented a car for the whole day sightseeing and got a tour guide also. I asked one of them if I could tag along and they were more than happy to have me in the group. I guess Sagada exudes a contagious aura that makes everyone feel light and kindhearted. When you’re there it's not hard to notice people and share a smile or a hello even the person you just come across with down the street, unlike when you are in the city where everything seems obscure. Of all the spots we visited during the entire day, Mt Ampacao was the icing on the cake. It was also the last spot that we visited last.
Mt Ampacao sunset
We started to hike at around 330PM and the starting point was Lake Danum. On our way going to peak of the mountain, Kirk, our guide, showed us some strange and interesting plants growing in the mountain. We picked some wild berries along the way and I was brave enough to try 3 of them and they all tasted good. It was also my first time to see a real pitcher plant. We arrived at the peak of the mountain just minutes before sunset. The view was breathtaking. On one side was the view of the quaint town of Sagada and on its back was the mighty Mt Polis. On the other side were lush forest of pine trees and above them was an endless sea of clouds. Fogs kissing the mountainside…chilly breeze brushing on my cheeks….
I was in awe. It was dark when we descended from the mountain and headed for the lodge. For dinner, I had a burger at Masferre’s and I drooled over the fried potatoes side dish.
Sagada Pottery. The local Capodimonte!!
The next day, I got up at around 5 AM to catch the first trip of the bus bound for Baguio at 6AM. Before I knew it, I was leaving the place that has touched me so much and up for yet another exciting adventure in Baguio….