Friday, June 14, 2013

Make your own SAGADA Trip!

People know me as very particular and meticulous in everything, in what I eat and do. So this plan or trip is tested that even a person like me can handle it. So I am sure you can too. :) Just to give you background, I am a typical office employee who does not exercise much besides going to malls. I love to eat and is very particular of mess. So this sagada trip was certainly a first time of many more to come. 

Note: This is a compressed version since we did not want to take time off our work. So we only did the must do's, but we will definitely go back to Sagada and explore more. 

Day 0 - Departure from Quezon City <9 PM>
So to start, get a ride to Sagada. There are many options on how to do this, you can either take a bus from Manila to Baguio then Baguio to Sagada...or do what we did take a bus directly to Bontoc which is just a jeepney ride to Sagada. There is only one bus provider I currently know that provides this, it is Cable Tours. It is located right beside the Shakey's in E Rodriguez, QC <St Luke's side>. You have to get inside a compound and at the very end, you will find 2 run down buses. That is it. For a single fare of PHP 650, you get a straight ride to Bontoc at 8:30 PM. This ride is usually full so do not forget to book your tickets and settle your payments before the date. You can do this either by calling them <09295280936: QC branch; 09185216790: Bontoc branch> or going directly to the "bus terminal". This bus ride takes about 12 hours, ours took 14 hours <9 PM- 11AM> since the bus broke down. This is actually the scary part, the bus was not fully functional yet the bus company still decided to go through with the trip ending up a car breakdown somewhere in the province for almost 1.5 hours. Too much time was wasted and to add to that the worry of not reaching your destination at all. For me, they could have improved their service better in this aspect. This trip had about 5 stop overs in total mostly short stops for bio breaks; since the bus is old, make sure to wear something long and comfy to prevent bugs getting into your clothes, also a pillow is helpful since the chairs are not comfortable.

Bus stop

Day 1 - Arrival <11:00 AM> and Spelunking <2:30 PM> And Yoghurt House <7:00PM>
The Sign I have been waiting for
Upon arriving at Bontoc, we walked through the town to look for a jeep that can take us to Sagada. We paid PHP 500 to rent the whole jeep for 12 people. The jeep ride took one hour before we reached Sagada. On the way there, we saw a lot of great sceneries such a rice terraces, river banks, rock formations, and breath taking mountains. We decided to stay at a local cottage owned by Ms. Ligaya called Ligaya's House and Cottages. She generously gave us our own cottage that houses 10 people and another for the remaining 2 people in our party, but we decided to use just one house since we do not want to be separated. We separated the men from the women since we have 2 rooms with private bathrooms <warm showers + clean beds>; we even had a living room inside and outside the house. All these for just PHP 300 per head/night. Sadly due to all the excitement, I failed to take a photo of her cottage, but I assure you it is clean and I love her hospitality. You can just text her for reservation and pay her upon getting there, you may text her via 09183438415 or 09207849633. To reach her place, just text her and she will give you directions on what to tell the driver, but you cannot miss it since its sign is on the main road. So we cleaned up a bit and changed clothes for the Sumaguing cave. We payed for Ligaya's husband's car service for this cave adventure, PHP 500 for the trip and asked him to buy as a big jug of water for everyone for PHP 40. This is actually very recommended since we ended up leaving our stuff in the van that allowed us to maneuver faster inside the caves. First stop from Ligaya's cottage is the registration counter where we paid PHP 45 for the Environmental Fee and PHP 400 per person for the caving guide (3 guides for 12 pax). Then looked around the nearby stores to grab a quick lunch, average price is about PHP 90 for a rice meal. They also sell water and snacks here, but I bought my own. 

Ligaya's Sign Board

My PHP 90 lunch, they are abundant in red rice

So after we were all stuffed and ready, we took the van to the front of the Sumaguing connecting cave. This was around 2:30 PM and we finished around 6:30 PM. Then all I can say was the 4 hour caving felt like forever but it was certainly very exciting and exhilarating with all the different trials <rappelling, small holes, hanging coffins, human bones, nasty bat stench> you have to face. There are certainly a lot of slippery and sharp rocks that you have to look out for, wearing footwear with lot of traction is very helpful. The guides actually recommend wearing flip-flops but I chose to wore trekking wet shoes instead. It really recommended to have drinking water and some small snacks to munch on before or after the cave <you cannot eat inside the cave>. Also though its a risk, you must have a recording device. The cave is so wonderful and the experience is really great that you have to have a memory of it. The guides will gladly carry your gadget and take photos of the group, but it is not guaranteed that scratches will be left. There are also small bodies of water that you can swim at, but the water is very very cold. Our tour guides were awesome as they were entertaining and helpful, one even carried my water for me. This cave is certainly not for the quitter since there is no quitting once you are in. But it is doable since a friend of mine conquered this cave without any outdoor or sport experience whatsoever. You just need not to quit! The experience is beyond words, once you get past this... its like everything is easy now. It truly felt great finishing that cave.
So once you reach the light of the outside world, you will be wet/sweaty/muddy/smeared with bat poop. It helps to have a towel and wipe all that goodness away. The view outside is also breathtaking that photo-ops are called for. Then we asked the driver to drop us at the famous Yoghurt house for dinner and just pick us up after. The Yogurt house <currently 7:00 PM> is very known for their food, they have sandwiches, pastas, rice meals, chocolate drinks, and dessert. Since they are packed, we managed to get served after 30 minutes of waiting. Our food arrived 30 minutes after that and a lot of the menu items by then were unavailable. It was too famous! Anyway, I ended up ordering their classic strawberry yogurt (PHP 70) and their pork curry rice (PHP 160). It was a stuffing meal, not that yummy but it tasted fairly good.

Yoghurt House!

Strawberry Yogurt - Classic and Yummy. Not too sour though. PHP 70.
Red Rice and Pork Curry - spicy just the way i like it. too much fat though. PHP 160.

Headed over to a nearby souvenir shop to by a friend a "Conquered Sagada" shirt for PHP 160. They also had small knives, bags, honey jars, etc... We waited for our driver and when he got there it was home sweet home in a few minutes. Everyone washed up, played some cards and drank some local wine before we slept the night away. 

Day 2 - <8-10AM> Bomod-Ok Falls Trek, <11- 5PM> Trip to Baguio, <6 PM-12 AM> Trip to Manila
We all woke up at 4:30 AM, not much rest from yesterday and it took us about 6:30 AM for everyone to be fully prepared and eaten. We ate some cup noodles worth PHP 30, warm water was provided by Ligaya. Then off we went walking around the area to reach the Bomod-Ok registration office. The view was spectacular that again Photo-ops were necessary. It greatly reminded me of the scene in Twilight, woods misted with fog. We stopped by a bakery to buy some coffee <PHP 5> and some Cinnamon bread <PHP 20>. It took us about an hour to reach the office. Its now around 8 AM. We paid PHP 10 for the environmental fee and PHP 500 for the guide (2 guides for 12 pax). The hike took about an hour one way so it was 2 hours two way. It was quite difficult given that the rocks are slippery due to rain and moss, plus the heat waves from the sun was not helping. There were a series of scene transition that happened from the steep rocks steps to farm fields to a little town to rocks steps to a massive beautiful area with falls. The falls were extraordinary, people can swim in the cold water or relax by the rocks. We were only allowed to stay for 30 minutes since we had to rush to get to back to reach the 11 AM bus to baguio. 
Me with the Falls
Upon wrapping up the trek, we went back to Ligaya's to get our stuff via a private van rented PHP 500. We were then dropped at a bus terminal with a bus leaving for Baguio. We paid PHP 220 each to get to Baguio. Before leaving, I managed to get a custard cake at local bakery for PHP 35, it was a steal. It was really yummy and fluffy; truly enjoyed it. It was a 6 hours drive with a short stop for lunch. I had a rice meal worth PHP 45 at a local eatery. It was raining and it was cold so we had the chance to experience rain with ice shards. we got to Baguio around 5 PM and took us about 30 minutes to get to the Victory Liner bus terminal via Taxi. From there, we managed to get the latest available trip for PHP 450; this was the regular slow route 6 hour trip. I learned that we can actually book tickets online and the next time around that is what I would do since as I have noticed the nice trips get booked fast. So while waiting for our bus call, we bought some dinner PHP 60 within the food court. After that rode the bus for 6 hours with a few stops to get passengers <annoying>. Then before I knew it, I was at Edsa getting dropped in front of SM North Edsa. Warning: this area have a lot of thieves, being a girl with a lot of baggage...I was bound to get robbed. By God's grace, my ride came at the best time to take me home.

Got home at 1 AM and slept at 1:30 PM. Woke up 5:00 AM and left for work at 6:00 AM. 

Total Individual Expense would be about PHP2900

Expense Item Total Expense Total Individual Expense
Bus: Manila - Bontoc 650 650
Jeep: Bontoc to Sagada 500 41.66667
Inn: Ligaya's 300 300
Lunch: Rice Meal 90 90
Cave: Environmental Fee 45 45
Cave: Guide 400 400
Dinner: Yogurt House 230 230
Misc: Shirt 160 160
Misc: Water 40 40
Misc: Noodles 30 30
Falls: Guide 500 83.33333
Falls: Fee 10 10
Bus: Manila to Baguio 220 220
Jeep: Falls to Ligaya 500 41.66667
Bus: Baguio to Manila 450 450
Lunch: Rice Meal 45 45
Dinner: Rice Meal 60 60
Misc: Custard Cake 35 35

4265 2931.667

There you have it! My awesome fast track sagada trip. Hope you get to experience yours and have as much fun as I have. See you!