Note: This is a continuation of Part 4

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Afterward, we went to Sagada Weaving. Here, one can watch the skillful weavers (but no pics allowed) make the durable Sagada cloth that are made into bags, wallets, purses, and3098_1123742646096_1002990736_30399579_4009513_n even shoes and in turn are sold in their store:

Oops, there goes my budget: I bought a backpack for P520 and a wallet for around a hundred pesos (right)

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Next, we dropped by The Orchard, a garden restaurant and café where you can pick fruits (if in season) and pay for them later but there were none when we arrived…. So we just lounged around and chillaxed a bit. 3098_1123742486092_1002990736_30399575_1486658_nWe liked the flowers most especially the lady slippers adorning the entrance (left pic).

Native baskets are hung from the ceiling in the restaurant, adding charm to the interiors (at right)

3098_1123742686097_1002990736_30399580_6168336_nFor lunch, we went back to the town.  Four of us chose to eat at Masferre Restaurant. We ordered and shared home-cooked style Pinoy meals: papaitan, chopsuey, and adobo (Cordillera-style). By this time we noticed that there were so many Holy Week tourists (local and foreign) in Sagada, it was like being in Baguio (well, almost).  This wasn’t like this 5 to 10 years ago, I heard.  The town then was quiet, and charmingly quaint during the Holy Week.  Now, inns were fully booked that some tourists had to be turned away.

Meantime, I was a bit nervous about the next activity we were going to have in the afternoon. We were going inside Sumaguing Cave.  I heard stories how difficult it would be to explore it with super slippery trails.  I was bracing myself for an arduous adventure ahead…n589437526_2811974_5857961

We were advised to wet-proof our gadgets and cameras. I chose not to bring mine since it was also advisable to keep your hands free while spelunking.  The  cave’s snapshots shown here are some that I grabbed later on from my tour-mates’ FB pages (thanks to Lori B. and Alejandro M!).

Some of the cave formations that we managed to see…

Well, what can I say… Frankly, it was a bit nightmarish for me. Some parts of the cave were smelly (with all the 3240_1131626925711_1078384336_30391307_8262156_nbat poo and stuff) and slippery.  Plus there were so many people inside that it caused ‘traffic jams’ (pic at left). The place was crowded and brightly-lit by the kerosene lamps held by cave guides, that somehow, I feel like we were inside a mall or something.

The inside of the cave was enormous.  And some of the paths were scary and steep. I was too preoccupied with trying NOT to fall that I found myself not enjoying the cave and its natural wonders anymore.

Then, someone said “I can’t go in any further” (I swear it wasn’t me).  Someone agreed (again, not me) and before we know it, majority of us did not want to venture forth anymore (and that included me–ashamedly).  I can’t say I n589437526_2811972_7469479was disappointed that the spelunking was cut short–I was also tired.  But looking back, I wished that we DID finish it—we could have seen the unusual cave formations ahead and the underground river.  Oh, well. Maybe if I was a few years younger…this would have been a cinch for me. But at that time in Sumaguing, I was only dreaming of a long hot shower to get of rid of the guano stench.

Light at the end?: Travel Tip No. 2 – Before you try spelunking inside Sumaguing, BRACE yourself for a difficult (and dirty) ordeal.  Don’t go in if you think you can’t do it.  And if you do, FINISH it. Don’t give up.  It’s also embarrassing to your spelunking mates who may want to reach the end if you give up.  Some paths are hard but you will survive.  Promise.

3098_1124268859251_1002990736_30401119_7368544_nAfter showering (I stayed in the bathroom for an hour!), EmJ, Zbeth and I went and got the steaming arroz caldo porridge we had been craving for since the previous day.  We got it at Strawberry Café (left).  With pinikpikan chicken, boiled egg, and dayap juice, this comfort food (for 60 pesos) hits the spot alright! Yum!

b (=^‥^=) d ニャッ!purr~~

And then, for one last craving, off we went for a slice of lemon pie. But 3098_1123742766099_1002990736_30399582_7505147_nagain, we were disappointed to find out that Lemon Pie resto ran out of pies, and so we settled for lemon tea instead. Anong lasa? Lemon siempre!

3098_1124268939253_1002990736_30401121_2038824_nWe tried to finish shopping for souvenir items like shirts, blueberry jam, oatmeal cookies, ponchos, caps, mittens, scarves, coffee, tea, etc. before the curfew starts.  Then, we had our last dinner in Sagada (since we’re set to go home tomorrow). We had sisig, and onion rings, and strawberry wine at Alapo Inn’s resto (left pic).

Meanwhile, outside, there was a semi-full 3098_1124268899252_1002990736_30401120_3270010_nmoon over at Mt. Ampucao.  I took a picture of it with my cellcam, and this is the only clear shot of it:

Good Friday moon with a mysterious shining cross: We stood and wondered where the cross was coming from. Other people saw it, too, and took pictures of it.  We surmised that it may be coming from a communications tower at Mt. Ampucao.  This coincidence (it was a Good Friday—the day Jesus was crucified on the cross) made us say a little prayer and reflect: Ayan tuloy…Di naman dapat puro good times na lang kami! Magdasal at magpasalamat naman sa matiwasay na byahe at masayahing bakasyon!

I also prayed for a safe journey home for the next day…

To be continued… Part 6 (The Last Day)

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Note: This is a continuation of Part 3

“Mas mataas pa tayo sa clouds! (We’re higher than the clouds!)”

Excited voices woke me up at 6 am on Good Friday.  Apparently, my fellow travelers staying in the other dorm rooms at Alapo Inn were already up and about; thrilled about whatever they’re seeing outside. I got up, too, went to the window, and this is what I saw:

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A Sagada morning (above): Are these clouds or just a foggy morning? Being brkfstlowlanders all of our lives, we couldn’t tell (hehe, that’s how we are–we even get easily excited at the sight of a mere pine tree).  Whatever it was, it made me want to shower and dress up quickly.  No time to waste… there’s a long and bustling day ahead!

Breakfast awaits (at left): Included in the organized tour that we availed of were daily breakfast meals at the nearby St. Jo’s Café. We were served skinless longganisa, omelette and native fried rice, plus ‘bottomless’ Sagada brew. A perfect hearty meal to face a grueling day. Carbo-loading ito!

Then we were off to our activities for the day–nature trekking, cave exploring, and more (!) picture-taking and eating (^o^)丿だー:

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Grab on!: this is what they call ‘top load’ traveling (literally meaning, riding on top of jeepneys while traversing across rough terrains). Only for the fit and super-adventurous. And that doesn’t include me. No freakin’ way.

3098_1123742006080_1002990736_30399564_8059214_n Into the woods: We passed different kinds of pine trees along the way to our destination. I heard that 10 years ago, there were not enough modes of transportation to help you go around the place–one had to just walk and hike. Now, vans and jeepneys can be rented for around a thousand pesos (including the driver’s fee).  The roads are still rugged but that’s just part of what this place is all about.

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Care to take a dip?: Wha-? Brown water at Lake Danum? They said it’s usually blue but since it rained the previous day, it turned brown.  Oh, well. We took pics of it, anyway.

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The view during the hike on the way to the falls.

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The rice field terraces up close: young green rice plants. So this is what they look like…

n589437526_2811835_7803308We trekked across the fields and muddy trails.  Since I was afraid of slipping, falling and landing on my butt, I grabbed at whatever sturdy branches and leaves as much as I can.  I was able to manage much to my relief.

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At last, we reached a small waterfalls. Whew! The water was so cold, almost icy to the touch.  It was tempting to take a dip or explore the area a bit more but we still had places to go to:

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Next, we visited a viewing point that took our breath away:

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Wow! Now this was more like it!: “Profile Pic! Profile Pic!” we exclaimed when we reached the viewing point. There was another magnificent view at Mt. Ampucao but going there would require a lot of huffing and puffing since it was higher in altitude.  This one may not be as high in altitude but all the same, we were immensely ecstatic about it.

Umaga pa lang yan pero ang dami na… at meron pa…

To be continued….Part 5 (A Good Friday PM)

Note: this is a continuation of Part 2

By 2 pm, we finally reached the municipality of Sagada.  It was cold, of course, and as soon as we settled in our gear at Alapo Inn, it rained.  We were supposed to start touring the place but because of the rain, we had to postpone it.  So instead, we showered and freshened up.

The first thing we checked out is food, siempre naman(!) ★(*^-゚)⌒☆Wink!:

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After the rain: traversing a Sagada street on our way in search of an afternoon snack.

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Sagada yogurt with strawberries, banana and granola from the much-talked about Yoghurt House. There were a lot of customers that some would opt to eat outside.  Since there were too many orders, the yogurt we got tasted too sour; not enough time to let the cream ferment before it was served.

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Next, we went to the Municipal Hall and registered as tourists.

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Travel Tip 1: first thing to do also is to buy a map of Sagada. One can be bought from any of the souvenir stores that dot along the streets.

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We strolled around admiring the landscape and pine trees.  We also milled about in the market, checking out wares and stuff (mountain tea sold for 10 pesos; cinnamon bread for P17) and before we know it, it was already dark.

foodEmJ was craving for hot arroz caldo (rice porridge) and so was I but we couldn’t find any. So we settled for Shamrock Cafe. I ordered garden salad and cheese omelette (left) which were superb and satisfying nevertheless. It was also my first time to try out Sagada brewed coffee.

For desert, we wanted to try lemon pie at Lemon Pie (where else?) but we gave up because we had to hurry back to our inn before the curfew comes into effect at 9 pm. We slept early (with socks and mittens on to combat the cold cold night) because we had to rest and be ready to take on the next day’s adventures…

To be continued… Part 4