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Adventure Log : Sagada 2010 - Explored until Exhaustion, Ate until Explosion

I’m back from an annual Sagada escapade with my two good friends from college. We hiked, chilled, chatted, laughed, contemplated and ate as if there was no tomorrow. It was such a great way to jump-start another adventure-filled year. My friends will also be joining me at the 2010 climbathon this October in Mt. Kinabalu and all the hiking and running we did was part of our training.

Route : Manila-Bontoc-Sagada-Baguio-Manila
Here are the highlights of our trip:

• Following a map I purchased last year from one of the souveneir shops in Sagada, we trekked until our legs and lungs gave up. During the first day, we explored Central and Western Sagada. Central Sagada is where Bokong Falls is (small falls, as in really small) and the underground river. Western Sagada is where you can find the pottery shop and Lake Danum. There’s also a high spot near Lake Danum where you can get a spectacular view of the sunset – another one of the many attractions in Sagada.

On our second day, we tested our limits and hiked until we slumped on the soil in the middle of Eastern Sagada out of exhaustion. We started the day with a mountain run in Western Sagada’s Mt. Ampacao, Sagada’s highest point at 1889+ MASL. Then after eating at Lemon Pie House and freshening up, we set off for Eastern Sagada in search of the Marlboro Country which we thought of at the last minute. It is really more ideal to trek with a guide so he can show you around and share some information but we wanted time to bond with each other and just walk where ever our feet could take us so we did not avail of one.

Sagada has great guides who charge very reasonably, just ask the Tourism office when you register upon your arrival. For your personal safety, do register at the office since there are many trekking trails scattered around Sagada that will tempt the explorer in you. You don’t want to get lost in the cold.)We did not find the Marlboro Country but we did saw a nice spot to chat, sleep and do nothing. We also had snacks at Rock Café which is where the rock and orange farm is – new attractions in Sagada. It’s pretty amazing. I’ve never been to a rock farm before so it was a fun experience. I felt like a kid seeing an amusement park for the first time.

• I lost 1,000 pesos in Baguio! must have fallen off when I paid for something. That money could have got me another one-way ticket to Bontoc plus something else. I really hope it went to someone who needed it. The other casualty was my travel dolly Tofu who lost one eye while we were trekking on the second day. On the brighter side of things - I was finally able to try  Cordillera Coffee at the upper ground level of SM Baguio. It also has a branch in Marikina but I wanted to try the one in Baguio. I read an article online that the owners help the coffee farmers sell their beans at a fair market price so you're sipping coffee for a good cause. What a great reason to drink coffee!

• Had two days of icy cold bath – the kind of water that numbs your skin and pricks like a needle. We rarely get to do this in Manila so why not enjoy it while we’re there right?

• Ate to our heart’s delight – drank all the coffee I can drink; It’s really cheap here. A good brew costs about 25 pesos a cup in almost all cafes. I was also able to ate two huge slices of my favorite carrot cake with white icing from Strawberry Café which only costs 25 pesos/slice ; was finally able to try the food at Masferre and Lemon Pie House (food at 70 pesos above) ; Was able to try Civet coffee for the first time (most expensive coffee in the world) which is served in Bana’s Café at 150 pesos a cup. I looove coffee but I do not have a discriminating taste. The coffee taste just has to be strong for me to enjoy it so I can’t really describe how good it is.

• Had coffee under the pine trees at Sagada Pottery while gnawing on choc nut.

• Witnessed the opening parade of a week-long fiesta in Sagada. I often tell people that I am not into festivities but since I’m not watching out for it, I often make a mistake of traveling during a fiesta or right before the fiesta. It is a fun affair but I don’t like huge crowds. I’ve seen enough from the city.

Updated Travel Information:
Manila to Bontoc : via Cable Tours Bus :– 650 pesos (aircon); Travel Time : 12 hours
Bontoc to Sagada : Jeep at 45 pesos : Travel Time : 45 minutes
Our home in Sagada : Olahbinan Inn (200 pesos/head a night; common bath; hot shower not included. I think they have rooms with private baths though and they do offer hot shower, just ask them. We went for the cheaper options thus, no hot shower). If I go back to Sagada, I would definitely stay here again. I feel so at home in here plus the people managing this place are nice.
Food expenses : Most rice meals cost 100 pesos and above (satisfying serving); drinks not included

For more information, I suggest you visit the Sagada Genuine Guides site. It’s got every basic information you need to get to Sagada. I also wrote some information in my blog when we first visited Sagada last year.

You can also opt to go for a Banaue-Sagada route or Banaue-Sagada-Baguio or whatever floats your boat as it’s all going to depend on your budget, interests and time.

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