It was a long, backbreaking, butt-busting ride. Half a day on the road with half of Manila packed in vans, cars, jeeps and buses weaving through the winding roads to Banaue and Sagada. Obviously, the long weekend lured many city people to check out the mountain air and remote villages in Mountain Province. The van we hired for our group of 7 pax was actually very comfortable. BUT, it was a very lonnnnnggg ride. Traffic along zigzag routes kept us glued to our seats, munching junk snacks whenever we wake up from brief naps.

 

 

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Topload! (I wouldn’t dare…) Photo Credits: Peter

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Love this photo of Manong and his wooden bike. Sagada 2012. (Peter, you do have an eye for great photos like this one!)

 

 

By the time we found this old man in his local “Igorot” costume with his wooden bike, we had the sun shining on us. As well on the Banaue Rice Terraces. Having tinkered with my camera on the long ride, I messed up and couldn’t put the cam to its original settings. Too much light, good only for zoomed-in and close up shots. What did I do? And we just got here! Thank God I was traveling with 2 photography nuts. Many of the shots here were taken by Peter and my niece Sarah. A few i took, using my iPhone cam. Thank you, Peter and Sarah. Thank you, Siri!

 

 

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Banaue Rice Terraces. How about waking up from a long, butt-busting van ride to a vista such as this? Photo Credits: Peter

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Lovely View of the Rice Terraces @ Banaue.

 

 

By the time we reached Sagada Homestay, we were all feeling like old men and old hags. Dropped our bags, napped for an hour or so, before checking out the hanging coffins and the “punishing” SUMAGUING Caves. Lunch was in Masferre’s while dinner was in this hip joint called Kimchi Cafe and Bar. A tiny eccentric place that easily transforms into a charming folk house as soon as the sun sets. This is where you find good, artistic use for bottle caps 🙂

 

 

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Masferre’s for Lunch. But what we really wanted to do was lie down and sleep!

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Dinner at Kimchi Cafe and Bar. Look at how they used bottle caps to decorate the place. Perfect with bottles of beer and music by Bob Marley!

 

 

After SUMAGUING Cave, I was completely wasted. Got out of the cave at 7pm and found my niece asking nearly everyone coming out if they’ve seen me with my guide James. Sarah has been here before and it was she who had so much faith I can do this spelunking expedition. She regrets now she didn’t catch on video the first words off my mouth as I climbed out of the cave :-0

 

 

The long, hot shower was very soothing. As I cleaned my feet and legs of mud, I realized why I kept slipping on the climb up. Too wasted to wash my own muddied clothes, I gave them away. No Internet, no TV as I didn’t need any prodding to hit the sack. As I closed my eyes, I must have fallen asleep just as my back touched the bed. I woke up at 2am just as my niece got in. I barely heard all the banter among tourists around a bonfire just outside the Homestay. I sensed the fun, the drunkenness, even the coquettish laughter from women speaking English with varied accents. It would have been fun to eavesdrop but my body and all my senses were longing to get back to sleep. SUMAGUING Cave does that to you.

 

 

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Don’t I look LOST? Sumaguing Cave. Thank you Peter, for this shot.

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Hanging Coffins. And we did ask. The natives used ladders to put and hang these wooden boxes bearing their dead. If you look closely, you’d find a skull and some bones on top of one of the boxes. Photo Credits: Peter

 

 

Knocked out good and completely re-energized for the Kiltepan sunrise, I even managed to make my coffee before stepping out of the Sagada Homestay. While some went for more “punishment” via the Bomod-ok Falls, others checked out the terraced rice paddies, more hanging coffins and rock gardens. You looking at me? You guessed right. No falls for me. Having stubbed my big toe inside the cave, I’m not doing any more trekking to explore natural waterfalls in Sagada.

 

 

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NO, I’m not following the leader. Terraced rice paddies in Sagada.

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Fresh mountain air. Great mountain view. Sagada.

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Sagada. Mountain Province. Philippines.

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