watching over the border
From Banaue, it was a 3 hour trip to get to Sagada. The road leading to Sagada winded along the side of the mountains. At least we weren't in danger of getting lost, it seemed like it was the only way to go. A very tall statue of Mother Mary marked the border of Ifugao and Mountain Province, Mt. Polis. We also passed the Bayyo rice terraces near Bontoc, a sign that we had been traveling for almost 2 hours already.
Our first stop in Sagada was the Municipal hall, where we registered, paid the environmental fee, and inquired about the rates for hiring a guide.
looking down from Mt. Polis
We had a late lunch in Yoghurt House, and though it was famous for its yoghurt the pasta was pretty good, too! I ordered the pasta with grilled eggplant and basil, and a banana-granola yoghurt. Yummy! Next was to decide on what we were going to do. Of the possible activities -- caving, trekking, or sightseeing, we chose caving. At that moment we were kind of allergic to trekking (hahaha). Since it's a maximum of 5 people per guide, we had to get 2 guides (P800). The cave we were to explore was the Sumaging cave.
The entrance to the cave was slippery so we had to be very careful. The limestone, water, and guano (!) made it seem muddy. Our guides told us that if we were unsure of our footing, we should just sit and move down one step at a time, slowly.
Better to get our hands and bodies dirty than fall down the cave. You could also hear the sound of the bats. After the slippery part of the cave, we noticed that the rocks we were walking on changed. And we didn't hear the bats any longer. We had to remove our sandals because our feet would have a better grip. From this part on we would get wet so we left our cameras behind or with our guide. Didn't really want to take a risk. Specially after finding out that we would have to cross a pool in the cave where the water was chest level.
They've named some of the rock formations there, based on things they resemble -- elephant, pig pen, pregnant woman, hiding turtle, man (husband of the pregnant woman? hehe), king's curtain, and terraces.
Bayyo rice terraces
There was a particular formation that looked like a bunch of bananas or "saging" which was where the cave's name was derived. The area they call "swimming pool" had a small falls, too. Near it, our guide pointed out to us the fish fossils and shells on the wall. Thousands of years ago, this cave, or even the whole of Sagada was under water. Quite fascinating ;)
We didn't have much time left because we had to be on our way back to Banaue before dark. In just a few minutes we got a glimpse of the burial cave and hanging coffins, which could be seen from the side of the road. The coffins were carved out of tree trunks, and were small because the bodies were in a fetal position.