The North Remembers

Yes! You got it right. I am a big fan of Game of Thrones. This article is not about that series though, but the long hours of travel can be compared to the Starks’ journey going back to Winterfell.

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Korea? (c) Juvy

Traveling could be pretty exhausting. The long hours of bus rides can be boring, annoying, and disturbing. But if you are a bee, busy wandering a beautiful garden, and transferring from one flower to another is a challenge then who cares? For people like us, to travel is to live, and long hours of rides were included in the package.

This is not my first time to Baguio but it is to the other parts of northern Philippines. Thus, excitement didn’t make me sleep. LOL. Our flight was scheduled 4:35 am but I was wide awake since 1:00 am.

We arrived at around 6am, and we were like running outside the airport to catch the first trip bound for Baguio in Dau Terminal. Outside the airport awaits an air-conditioned jeepney that will take us to the bus station. We were all amazed. Hey! We don’t have an air-conditioned jeepney in Cebu. We should have this. Like seriously!

There were only 3 of us in our group so I was amused when I heard someone speak in Bisaya dialect, “Huh? Tag 50 na ang plite? 20 ra man nis una kuya!” I automatically looked at them and made friends since we were heading the same destination.

Remember that a good friend was once a stranger.

New found friends! (c) Juvy

We arrived in Baguio City after 1 pm. The supposedly 4 hours bus ride from Dau-Baguio became 6 hours due to heavy traffic in Urdaneta. (Dau-Baguio is Php306.00)

Our new friend, Ram, said that the last trip for Sagada is 2 pm. It would be a big hassle if we wouldn’t make it on time. Before we reached the terminal in Baguio, three of them got off the bus and I was shocked because they didn’t wave us goodbye. I got the “hey-don’t-leave-us” look and just sighed heavily. Then, Tada! We found them at Dangwa Terminal. They purposely got off the bus earlier so they could catch the last trip and actually reserved a seat for us. Aww.. my heart.. (You need to secure a ticket first Php212.00 before getting in the bus)

And yes, you are right again. We didn’t make it to the last trip for Baguio-Sagada but there’s a last trip for Baguio-Bontoc Benguet, so we took another route. Then, someone will pick us up at the intersection for Sagada. (Cro Sagada-Sagada Proper is Php100.00) Good thing that these 3 had been to Sagada so they already contacted a tour guide before the trip.

With an additional friend who joined us from Baguio, we arrived in Sagada at quarter to 9 pm. Whew! T’was a 7 hour ride! I was so worried for my butt. Hah!

After roaming around looking for something to eat, we had dinner in Happy Restaurant and had their famous Pork Sinigang, Pinikpikang Manok and Arrozcaldo. The freezy weather of the place demanded for a meal that is something hot. (Price range is Php150-200)

We settled at Kanip-Aw Pine Lodge at Php300.00/night per pax. It’s a great place to stay. It’s cozy, quiet and you can even stay solo in 1 room for 300 pesos. Good deal, right? Plus, there is a great view in the morning!

Are you ready for Sagada Adventures? Coz, we are!

We woke up early the next morning. I guess that was 3am when I heard Ram banging the door. Our guide will pick us up and we will go to Mt Kiltepan. If you happen to watched the movie “That Thing Called Tadhana” of Angelica Panganiban, well, this is it, bes! Mag mo-move-on kami ang peg!

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Mt Kiltepan (c) Rye

We waited for hours to see the sea of clouds. But since it’s already a rainy season, we were blessed with too much clouds. Not too bad for first timers though. Then, we went on a little tour (Mt Kiltepan – St Mary’s Church – Sagada Anglican Cemetery – Hanging Coffins – Echo Valley). Prices for the package is usually Php750/pax but can be negotiable. I tell you friend, you’ll need to work out on your convincing powers. Hehe.

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@ St Mary’s Church (c) Juvy
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My feelings are dead. @Anglican Cemetery (c) Ram
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Pakihanap ng paki ko dyan. @Hanging Coffins
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Ecchhhooooo.. ooo.. ooo.. @Echo Valley (c) Ram

Going back and forth, we rode on top of the jeepney. In Bisaya, we call it Topload. If you haven’t tried, I strongly urge you to try so you can see the beauty of Sagada and it also adds fun to the whole journey.

on top of the jeepney (c) Ram

After shouting “Ayoko Na!” in the Echo Valley and snaps some photos with the dead at the Hanging Coffins, we ate breakfast near the market where they offer delicious meal at affordable prices before we went back to our cabin.

Same guide will accompany us for the whole day tour, so after a little rest, we hurriedly changed outfits. And do you mind stepping into the water on a cold weather? If yes, then let’s chase waterfalls!

You can enjoy chasing waterfalls in Sagada and it was already included in the tour package. Amazing, isn’t it? The view going to the waterfalls won’t disappoint you. Just remember to have a lot of energy before going there or you’ll be out of breath. You’ll trek for about 45 mins. You must be physically ready. You need to condition yourself for weeks before the trip because the slope will kill you.

Pongas Falls

After chasing waterfalls, we decided to visit the famous caves of Sagada. But to add challenge, we did Cave Connection. We entered Lumiang Burial Cave and traversed along Sumaguing Cave.

Cave Connection fee is Php400.00/pax. No, it’s not actually pricey. Imagine the 3-4 hours trek and spelunking inside the cave. It was dangerous, exhausting and creepy, no doubt but the fee is nothing compared to what you are about to experience and if you do cave connection, you will never feel the same way in every cave ever again.

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when the world is upside down…

For those who are plus size, no worries. You can fit in or you can go a different route if you’re not sure. And by the way, you can give your cameras to the tour guides. They can be your photographers, too. Uh uh, they know how to take the right angle, darling. Chill! Pero wag masyadong umawra, bes.

We were able to come out the cave at quarter to 6pm. And after changing into our clean clothes, we treat ourselves at Sagada’s Yogurt House. (Price Range is Php180.00-250.00)

After a yummy dinner, we called it a night.

“Blessed are the curious for they shall have adventures.” -Lovelle Drachman

Actually, on the third day, our group was supposedly scheduled to go back to Baguio but since the other 3 (Ram and company) planned to go to Buscalan, Kalinga Apayao, the twins got excited and totally forgot our own itinerary.

My friend who lives in Baguio had to go back as he has work on Monday, leaving me confused on what to choose. I was the one who invited him and it is a shame on my part if I will let him go home alone. However, I was thinking that since I was already in Sagada, it wouldn’t hurt to be a little curious of the next town. My soul is thirsty of adventure and I am obliged to follow it. haha! So I decided to go along with my friends and he understood. You wouldn’t know when you will be able to go back or if you can go back at all, so explore as much as you can. Side tripping, it is!

From Sagada, we rode a jeepney going to Bontoc for Php40.00. Then, rode another jeepney going to Bugnay at Php100.00. From Bugnay, Kalinga, we rode a motorcycle going to the drop off center for Buscalan at Php100.00.

While on our way, I was thinking that the house of Apo Whang Od (the oldest traditional tattoo artist in the world) is somewhere down the root of the mountains. I was shocked to find out that it was actually on top of the mountain. Man, you gotta be kidding me!

But no matter how tired you are, do not miss the opportunity to look around. Beautiful things need to be treasured. So look well and keep them in your heart.

A tour guide was waiting for us at the drop off center. There was no signal and we were lucky to have contacted him. (Tour guide fee is Php250.00/pax) It was also raining so hard that day because of typhoon #2 in Kalinga, so we don’t have much choice but to trek in the mountains on our wet clothes.

After trekking in a dangerous cliff for about an hour, we reached the registration center of Buscalan with our tongues out because of exhaustion. ( Registration fee is Php75.00)

Buscalan Tattoo Village don’t have a hostel so we need to stay with one of the families. Talking about foster family for a night!

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One big happy family! (c) Juvy

We settled in one of home stay accommodations found in Buscalan at Php250.00/night per pax. All 6 of us, stayed in one large room. Yay! Pillow fight!

The fee includes unlimited rice and coffee. (Kalinga rice and coffee are soooo yummy that you even want to stay longer). You just need to buy your own viand. There is a store in Bugnay where you can buy canned goods and biscuits.

Before we slept that night, we already asked a tattoo schedule with Apo Whang Od for the next day. She has a lot of customers and it was a First Come, First Serve basis. Apo Whang Od gives the price and it will depend on the size and design.

Early the next morning, before the tattoo session, we took some snaps around the village.

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1 cup of tasty black coffee with a great view, please! (c) Juvy

We were able to get a tattoo before our trip back to Baguio. It was a traditional tattoo and if you have a little pain tolerance, then… abort mission. I repeat, abort mission. It was painful that it bleeds. Really!

As for me, I just got a cute compass tattoo (Igorot symbol).

Before noon, we went down to Bugnay to ride a bus back to Bontoc. (Fare is Php80.00) Last trip for Bontoc is 11am. This time, topload on a bus! on a dangerous cliff! Waahhh!

The Buwis Buhay Squad (c) Ram

For another long bus ride that seems like forever, we arrived in Baguio City at around 8 pm. We were so thankful to arrived safe as the trip was risky due to zero visibility. We stayed at Baguio Inn near the Victory Liners Bus Terminal for only Php300.00/night per pax. We then had dinner at 50 Diners. The service is great, food is delicious and the price is superb!

With our energies restored, we went to Baguio’s night market where you can negotiate good stuff at a good price.

Baguio is known of their Wagwag Market and your trip wouldn’t be complete if you miss it. We all bought nice pair of shoes at Wagwag before going back to the inn. You can get yourself a pair of sneakers at Php250.00. Sweaters can be bought at Php20.00. They also have leather jackets at Php250.00. Wait, I see a lot of cowboys here! Boots!

We got up early that day and planned to have a stroll around the city before leaving. We ate breakfast at Great Taste and enjoyed the meal big time!

Only Baguio sells Strawberry Taho. I don’t eat taho but I have this attitude of tasting delicacies of places where I travel.

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Strawberry Taho

Baguio is known as Strawberry City, too!

Mine’s View Park have this photo tricks that include animals which I believe is an animal exploitation. So please, be a tourist that have a heart for animals and nature. Paying for them is like tolerating them. You can still have pictures without dragging those poor animals into the park.

Outside Mine’s View, there are lost of stalls that sells pasalubong like jams, food, bonnets and scarfs. They also have keychains that cost Php5.00-10.00 each.

By 2:30 pm, we hurriedly went to Victory Liner Bus Terminal. We arrived at Dau Terminal at 7 pm. Then, took off at 9 pm back to Cebu City.

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I catch flights, not feelings. (c) Juvy

Just like all other journeys, everything comes to an end. We might have been able to escape reality for a while but we still need to come back to where we came from. Yes, it’s sad but for travelers, it is an another long period of planning where to go next.

“We don’t work; we are saving for the next trip.”

So until then backpackers!

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