Thursday, May 1, 2014

Manila - Banaue - Sagada


I’ve been wanted to visit this place since I started reading travel blogs, Sagada is always on my bucket list. As much as I want to set my foot on this place finances and my work schedules forbid me, but I promised myself that 2014 as a gift for myself I will be travelling Sagada even I’m alone.
I called the Ohayami Bus 3 weeks before the trip and asked them to reserve a seat for me and will pay it a week before the date of my departure. But unfortunately, when I visited them to pay for my ticket it was fully booked and they said I had no reservation, I had no choice but to adjust my date of departure.

A month before the trip, I texted and e_mail some of my chosen accommodation but did not received any reply from them, I did not worry about it, I just thought that I just acquire it once I get there and that was the  worst move that I’ve done on this trip.

Day 1 
I was kinda excited about this trip, I will be alone and finally I can say Hello to SAGADA and say my “HI” to Banawe, I left home 1 ½ hours before my schedule trip in Sampaloc, I was surprised when I learned that most of the passengers are foreigners, you can count the Filipinos on this bus.
At 10:00pm, the bus left Manila, my seat mate is a Filipino and she’s going home to Lagawe, we had a little chit chat and when I woke up, it’s already 5:45am, I didn’t know how many bus stops we had and when did my seat mate left, my eyes was hurting because of the sunrise, but I forced myself to wake up to have a sightseeing along the way.
Arrival In Banawe
6:45am, the Ohayami bus park near the Tourism Office in Banawe, I asked some locals the exact location of Peoples Lodge to have my breakfast.

Scenic View from People's Lodge Viewpoint
Peoples Lodge offered a breakfast Meal ranges from P100.00 to P150.00, they also have free wi-fi and had a scenic view at their back and feast your eyes on this spot while waiting for your breakfast.

 The food was blunt for my taste maybe because it was too early and I don’t usually eat my breakfast at 7:00am
P120.00 Meal
Being alone in this unfamiliar territory was not really scary, why? because this is still Philippines, and people can communicate in English and Tagalog aside from their dialect, and I read in some forum and blogs that Banawe and Sagada has a low crime rate, I just observed my surroundings, smile and I didn’t  hesitate to ask some locals.

While having my breakfast, someone approach me if I am going to SAGADA, and I said yes, so he asked for P300.00 and wrote my name in a yellow pad and informed me that they will call us once we leave.

At 8:30pm, we left Banawe going to SAGADA, again, most passengers are foreigner, the jeepney will make a stopover to some Tourist Spot to take some pictures (this is the advantage of taking this route). I met a French guy, we had a good conversation while on road, together with his 2 companions they are roaming around the Philippines and he asked me if I already travelled abroad, I said NO because I wanted to explore my own country first before I go out in my neighboring country so I can boast how beautiful it is, and I don’t want to be ignorant in my native land and he agreed with me, he even asked for some recommendation where to explore because they are planning to extend their vacation here.

I met also a Filipino Priest from China and his assistant from Poland together with a soon to be priest, a native from Banawe serves as their guide, I asked them if I can tag on their sumaguing cave and agreed to divide all the expenses (sumaguing cave and van rental).
My Sumaguing Cave Companion
11:45pm Arrived in Sagada. After our registration at Tourism Office (P35.00) we get also guides and van for our activity on that afternoon. As I said, I don’t have any confirmed accommodation and I was shocked to know that all the Lodges and Inns were fully book till Monday, they can only accommodate me for a day, and I need to check out next day, after scouting 10 lodges I finally gave up and check inn at George Guest House, I immediately change my clothes, I just leave my worries about my next day accommodation, I don’t want to ruined my vacation, I just Prayed  and ask God’s favor to give me another one night in Sagada.

And now… Let me take you inside Sumaguing cave…

 The tour guide will give a briefing about the caving and will tell you the do’s and don’ts so listened very carefully.

The cave was quite slippery, I know I had no practice on this activity but I just keep on praying for God’s protection upon us, Our light from the Lamp died when we reached the Curtains, and so, my companion from Poland doesn’t want to continue, but the Priest encourage me to go on and they will just wait for me and I nodded and I didn’t regret because I wouldn’t be able to see this one.

The Caving was very tiring and we are all famished the moment we went back to the “light” ;)
Going up is much easier than going down, the cave was been packed when we headed back to our entry point. We bought food to feed our stomach and relax our sore feet before we proceeded on our next destination, our other companion bid his goodbye to us because he need to catch the last Jeepney back to Bontoc.

I didn’t bother to climbed down because my feet is already shaking and I’m not sure if I still can make it to go back if I dare to climbed down, so I just took some shot from above.

Last Destination..
I really don’t have a good shot on those hanging coffin so I just waited for my two companions.

We shared 267.00 each (for 3 person) for this activity and as we parted ways, the priest says something like this “Ella, if you will encounter some problems or troubles, don’t hesitate to go with us, you know where we are staying right?, I said “Yes po, thank you!” (po, means giving respect) See, God gave me good people on this trip.

I run to the guesthouse and took a quick bath, the heater was not working properly so I just suffer from the freezing  water  L

At that moment, I was thanking God for giving me such people like them and gave me a safe trip from Manila to Sagada and for giving me strength to finish my “extreme activity” (for me!) on that day and again for providing even a one night accommodation and pleaded again to give me another one night.

The Guesthouse provide a free wi-fi and good thing the signal in my room is good, I scouted some accommodation in Baguio but unfortunately it was also fully booked because of the long Holiday and the forthcoming festival, as I mentioned, I don’t want to worry that much, after a few calls and negative feedback accommodation in Baguio, I took a little nap and pray.

At 5:30pm I decided to have my early dinner at Salt and Pepper
Salt and Pepper - P280.00 Meal (Missed it already)
 And because my whole body is aching and the temperature was getting cold I ended up getting back to my room and rest instead of roaming around the community, I packed my things again and prepared myself for check out next day, but I was hoping for an opportunity and that I leave it to God.

Lesson Learn No 1. Make an advance reservation for you accommodation and make sure you call them not text or e_mail to confirm your permanent home. J because as I inquire some locals there that SAGADA right now is one of the most visited place in North.

Lesson Learn No 2. Do not panic, just pray to God to give you peace of mind and wisdom on what to do. Panic will not relieve the situation, it will just ruin everything as the
Proverbs 6:3 “Trust in the Lord will all your heart and lean not on your own understanding and he shall direct your path” and Another Verse is “Commit to the Lord all and all your plans will succeed”


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