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  1. #1
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    Sagada Adventure 2016

    Hi again! Last weekend, a friend and I went to the town of Sagada in Mountain Province. It's been on my bucket list for some time, so when a friend told me that she was going to Sagada, I jumped at the opportunity. I thought I was done with traveling for this summer season (because of the recent KL-Laos-Th-Myanmar trip - which was a bit costly too), but I figured that Sagada is local & we would be backpacking, it wouldn't cost me too much.

    In my opinion, Sagada is one of those places that one should go to while young, because the adventures may not be doable anymore for people of a more advanced age - due to size, fitness level or heart conditions. Of course, there are many "seasoned" individuals who are still very fit, but sometimes they are more of the exception, than the norm.

    From wikipedia: Sagada is a 5th class municipality, with a population of 11,244 people. It is located 275 km (171 mi) north of Manila and 140 km (87 mi) from Baguio, a major city in the north of the Philippines.

    I'll still continue with the Myanmar thread, but since my Boracay thread, it has been one of my goals to show places in the Philippines and somehow promote tourism. So I'll post this thread and update the Myanmar thread, depending on my mood on which stories to tell (as well as time & internet concerns).

  2. #2
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    This Sagada trip was a DIY trip, like most of my trips. My friend/colleague and I went to the Victory Liner (Cubao branch) station directly from the office. We arrived there at 10 pm and wanted to get the 11pm bus to Baguio City, but all seats were taken already. The earliest trip that we got was the 1am bus, which left at 1:30am. We arrived at the Baguio bus station ~7:30 am, so 6 hours of travel on the night bus. Last time I went to Baguio, it took ~5 h from Cubao.

    From the station, we took a taxi to Center Mall (?) which is near the bus station for Sagada-bound buses. Fortunately, we were able to get seats for the 8:30 am bus (2nd to the last row!). It took us ~6h to reach Sagada from Baguio.

    Here's a map for better visualization.


    The trip to Sagada took around the same number of hours as that of Cubao to Baguio because of long & winding mountainous roads. My friend went to Sagada in 2009 and back then she said that it took 8-9 hours to reach Sagada from Baguio, because of rough roads.
    Last edited by katie23; 03-06-2016 at 08:19 PM. Reason: added info

  3. #3
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    From wikipedia: Sagada is famous for its hanging coffins. This is a traditional way of burying people that is still utilized. (note - according to my guide, they don't allow this anymore. The last person allowed to have a hanging coffin was in Dec. 2010).

    Still from wiki: Popular activities include trekking, exploring both caves and waterfalls, spelunking, bonfires, picnics, rapelling, exploring historical sites, nature hikes and participating in tribal celebrations.

    Note: for the outdoor activities, one must have a guide. They don't allow trekking to places on a DIY basis anymore, for safety reasons. Sagada is becoming popular among the backpacking circuit (local and international) and the local government is trying to regulate tourism, as well as care for the safety of tourists.

    Note: my friend and I did the Echo Valley nature trail (trekking), as well as the Cave Connection. In the Cave Connection, you enter through one cave (Lumiang Cave) and exit through another (Sumaguing Cave). I would classify the Cave Connection as "difficult", since in some places, you have to contort yourself to fit into the crevices in the rocks, or use a rope to hoist yourself up or go down the rocks, or else you'll fall into a dark abyss. Some places are very slippery too, so they need careful maneuvering. For an "easy to moderate" cave experience, they recommend going to Sumaguing cave only (same entry and exit point). On the way out, we saw some senior citizens doing the Sumaguing cave trail.

    On our last day, we woke up very early to see the sunrise at Mt. Kiltepan. There was a sea of clouds. The view was breathtaking and the experience was magical.
    Last edited by katie23; 03-06-2016 at 08:20 PM. Reason: added info

  4. #4
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    beerlaodrinker's Avatar
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    Great stuff as usual Katie. Looking forward to more, I think the Philippines is highly under rated as a tourist destination personally, plenty of things to see and do once you get out in the province, I'm not big on Manila and usually get out of there as soon as possible, a day or nights enough for me, I'm not a big city guy.

  5. #5
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    Sagada is part of the CAR or Cordillera Administrative Region. It consists of five provinces, namely Benguet (where Baguio City is located), Mountain Province (where Sagada is located), Ifugao, Abra and Kalinga Apayao. It's a very mountainous region and it is home to several indigenous tribes. In the olden days, these tribes would wage wars against each other.

    According to C, my friend's friend, who is a native of Kalinga, natives of the Cordilleras are all called Igorot. There are many sub-tribes, like Ifugao, Kalinga, etc. Many of them speak Ilocano, which is spoken in the north (Ilocos Region, Region I), but some also speak their tribal dialects. The guides can speak in English or Filipino (Tagalog) and they also usually can speak in Ilocano.

    Here's a map (that I saw painted on a wall) of the Cordillera Administrative Region.



    The last time that I went to Baguio city was >10 years ago. Baguio and Sagada are high up in the mountains and we sometimes call people from that area "highlanders". I'm a lowlander.

  6. #6
    Member Baas Babelaas's Avatar
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    Nice one Kate. I was just reading up on incoming tourist stats, and they predict about 5-6 mil. this year. They (the tourist board) reckon it's difficult to get European and American tourist in, for a variety of reasons, so they are going to focus on getting in Asian tourists (please not Chinese).

    Not nearly as many as Thailand, but I like it that way. I go to the Philippines to get away from chaotic tourist crowds (and why I don't visit Thailand anymore, amongst other reasons).

    Going to get some pics up?

    I'll be in your lovely country next month, for two weeks, perhaps we can meet up this time?

    EDIT: I know you're crazy busy with work and stuff, but you need to start working on a travel blog/book/e-book.
    Proud captain of Muppet Hunters United

  7. #7
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    Nice, Katie, but where are the Sagada goat bikini pics?

  8. #8
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    As stated earlier, from the Victory Liner station in Baguio City, we took a taxi to the station for Sagada-bound buses. Taxis in Baguio use the meter and they don't have aircon - but they don't need A/C since it's naturally cool there. When I was there, temps were prolly 22-26 C during daytime. During Dec-Jan, temps sometimes reach 5-6 C.

    The Cubao-Baguio bus was airconditioned, 4 seats in a row (regular aircon). There are also deluxe buses, 3 seats in a row (aircon, reclining seats).

    The Sagada-bound buses are non-airconditioned, 4 seats per row. Here are some pics of the station for Sagada-bound buses.




  9. #9
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    In 1996 I was working for an exploration company In the cordillera. We had a copper project that got stalled for a couple of Years due to the fact that someone took some pot shots at the helicopter that we had commissioned to fly in some potential investors resulting in 1 Canadian dead , we asked all the questions to the PNP and it was blamed on the new people's army. The truth was it was a 16 year old ifugao who stole the rifle of the cafgue( spelling!) we were paying the NPA there " progressional tax" and never had a problem with them., quite a wild place really but that said I don't think tourists would have a problem.

  10. #10
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    @BLD - yeah, even I don't like Manila, and I'm a local. It's hot, noisy, trafficky, polluted, during rainy season, it becomes flooded, etc. Some provinces are very nice (and underrated, I agree). Having traveled a bit around SEA, I can see that the Phils lacks so much in terms of infrastructure - airports, seaports, highways, public toilets, etc. There's still a lot of room for improvement. What I can say in the positive is that mostly, customer service is good (I think some will agree with me). With the new president, there's talk of changing the constitution to a federal form of government. I haven't read so much about it, but for now, I would agree to the switch to federalism, so that resources won't be all centralized & concentrated in the Manila area & surrounds. I've seen the Cordilleras, as well as Western Visayas recently (Christmas break), and many areas in those regions are still very much underdeveloped.

    @baas - yeah, will put up more pics. As to the Chinese tourists, mixed feelings. Sure, they'll bring in money, but they'll bring in their loudness and trashy ways. (some areas have a lot of trash already, they don't need to add to that) Re: meet-up, PM or email me.

    @betty - sorry, no sexy goat pics. Didn't see a single mountain goat during my trip. There are some gurl yuppies in shorts, though, so watch out.

  11. #11
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    @BLD - it was CAFGU (Citizens Armed Forces Guerrilla Unit - if I'm not mistaken). I don't hear of much activity in the north re: the NPA nowadays. They're prolly still there but not very active. They're more active in the Visayas and Mindanao. Plus, Mindanao has other problematic units, like the Abu Sayaff and other groups. <sigh> As for tourist safety, as long as they don't stray from the tourist path (and they have a guide), then they should be okay. On our last day, we wanted to go to a waterfalls (Bomod-ok), but there was an advisory from the municipal government that it was closed for several days. I think it's because it had rained the past days and the trail might be slippery or dangerous for tourists.

  12. #12
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    You'll have to buy tickets from the counter/window.







    If you don't want a DIY trip, there are many travel agencies offering tours to Sagada. They use minivans and usually leave on a Thurs or Fri night, then leave Sagada on Sunday, after breakfast, so that people are back in Manila by the afternoon or evening of Sunday.

  13. #13
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    Yeah that was it, I Cafgu. Anyway that 1 armed ifugao caused a lot of shit, apparently was already a local bad ass,Heard he got " salvaged" pissed of his ifugao bros to. Anamists different gods , different devils?

  14. #14
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    In the recent months (or is it years?), there has been buzz about Whang Od, the tattoo master from Buscalan in Kalinga Apayao. I read about Whang Od from a travel article (forgot if it's CNN or BBC). Last Feb., when I did the Mt. Pinatubo trek, one of the Spanish backpackers I went trekking with said that after Pinatubo, they would go to Baguio, then on to Kalinga to see Whang Od. One of them wanted to get a tattoo from her.

    My friend R, who was my travel buddy for the Sagada trip, said that she heard about Whang Od from a (white) friend of hers, then upon hearing from her foreign friend, that's when she turned to google. Seems that Whang Od is more famous among foreign backpackers than among Filipinos. However, nowadays due to social media, Whang Od is becoming famous among the younger crowd here too.

    My friend and I joked that we should go to Kalinga and get a tattoo from Whang Od! Well, we didn't have enough time (and I don't want a tattoo). But I do want to see Whang Od! Maybe in my next adventure...

    Anyway, here are some blogs about Whang Od and Buscalan.
    Whang Od Tribal Tattoo - The Broke Backpacker
    Travel Guide: Buscalan (Tinglayan) | Lakwatsero

  15. #15
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    Some pics of Baguio from the bus. IMO, Baguio is ugly now. Full of houses, less trees. I first went to Baguio when I was ~7 y.o. My mom attended a seminar/conference and employees were allowed to bring their kids. We stayed in the dorm of a University. Back then, there were more trees and less people. It was a lovely time (or maybe my memories are also biased because everything seems magical when you're a kid).






  16. #16
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    After Baguio, we passed by the town of La Trinidad, which is the capital of Benguet province. Baguio and La Trinidad are famous for strawberries and strawberry jams, due to the cooler climate. Many farmers from neighboring towns bring their produce to La Trinidad and Baguio, like cabbages, carrots, celery, cauliflower, broccoli & other cold climate veggies, which then get distributed to other provinces & cities, including Manila.






  17. #17
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    @BLD - yeah, some of the tribes up north are animists, not Christian. They have different practices and beliefs. If I were a social scientist or anthropologist, it would be a good project to write down, video & document their traditions and beliefs, as most are rapidly changing due to modernization (as with all countries with hill tribes or indigenous peoples).

    At last, the mountains!



    Had a pit stop here


    There's more to the Phils than Manila, Angeles City or Subic.

  18. #18
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    These photos were taken during the 6h bus ride to Sagada. Some of those hours were spent sleeping. We went on the night bus to Baguio then went directly to Sagada, so by this time we've been traveling for 12+ hours (including waiting time).




  19. #19
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    Another pit stop in the town of Atok, Benguet.



    Saw a couple of backpackers. I think they're on their way back to Baguio.


  20. #20
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  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by katie23
    It's been on my bucket list
    But youre only 30

  22. #22
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    On with the show... saw some rice terraces too. These were taken from a moving bus, so they may not be the best of shots.




  23. #23
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    @dillinger - I think everyone has a bucket list, whether they're in their 20s, 30s, 40s, 50s and so on.

    Anyway, it was nice to see that there are power lines in the mountains.


  24. #24
    Member Baas Babelaas's Avatar
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    Awesome pics. You seem to have that camera planted in your hand, at the right time.

    I have a good impression of the PI, though only having only spent two nights in Manila, 7 days in Palawan, 7 in Boracay, 10 in Puerto Galera.

    Touch wood, no bad stuff has happened to me, unlike Thailand (drugged and robbed, phone lifted, money lifted - three different occasions).

    Will be taking down some small gifts for people I met in PG last time.

    The beauty of it all is I can hop on a boat and head to another island if I want to (though Oriental Mindoro suits me just fine for a short break).

  25. #25
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    As I was searching for food in my backpack (we didn't stop for a real, sit-down breakfast), I saw this - the pack was fully distended. I remembered my Chemistry lessons. Boyle's law at work: higher elevation, lower air pressure, larger volume.




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