#travelcurious adventure food Sagada travel

Scenic Sagada

My 2015 planner has this list called “101 Things to do in 2015.” First thing on the list reads, “Enjoy the view in Sagada alone.” When I read that part after I bought the planner in November last year, I thought to myself that it was perfect, because first, I really needed some time alone and was planning to spend it someplace that offers peace of mind, and second, Sagada was my dream destination in the first quarter of the year.

Going to Sagada and appreciating its picturesque views while reconnecting with myself and pondering on things that really matter was the perfect idea to jumpstart the year. The thing is I accomplished neither within the time frame I set.

The amount I was setting aside for my planned Sagada trip was spent on a much higher priority, which was also related to my life as a traveller. Then this relocation thing got in the way and hindered me as well from pushing for the trip due to the load of tasks at hand.
Good thing, a few days before the second quarter ended, an opportunity to finally visit the place knocked on my door, so I grabbed it even without too much of a preparation. I just packed my bags with the essentials and off I went to Sagada—but not alone. That was when I realized that the idea I had in mind wasn’t the perfect idea after all. Travelling with a group was. Enjoying the views of Sagada without the “That Thing Called Tadhana” feeling in my heart was the best experience.

This is the view on the side of the road with the “Welcome to Mountain Province” arc.

The things that awaited me for quite a while in that small town in Mt. Province were priceless—not literally of course—and they are all embossed in the deepest pits of my memory. To those who have long been dreaming to go to Sagada after reading countless blogs and hearing about numerous stories, here are several reasons why you should also pack your bags now…even without enough preparation.

THE SUNRISE
The famous Kiltepan Sunrise had been on loop play in my mind since last year. I kept on thinking whether what I’d seen in photos was exactly how it looks like, or if it would even appear when I reach the Kiltepan peak.
We got up at 4:30 in the morning and went to the rendezvous where the jeepney that would take us there stood waiting. Normally, travel to the peak would cost P500, so if you’re travelling in pair, or trio, it would be a big slash out of your budget. Luckily, I was informed the night before that a group of travellers from Manila arranged for a trip to the spot and was offered to join them for only P50, ten times less the price.
More or less, there were 200 spectators waiting for the spectacle to unfold. Some arrived earlier while others pitched their tents and camped out.
Moments later, the hue of the sky began to change from pitch black to dark blue, to bluish gold until finally all I could see was bright gold. The scene revealing itself in front of me was simply breathtaking. There weren’t a lot of clouds though which was a bit sad, but it was enough to touch a craving soul.
“There’s never one sunrise the same or one sunset the same.”-Carlos Santana

THE TREK

Sorry, folks, but if you’re not travelling in a private vehicle, you’ll do a lot of walking in Sagada. And you can’t complain because you’re not supposed to. Walking is part of Sagada folks’ everyday life. It’s embedded in the place, in the roads that connect all areas, in the culture that they preserve, in their bloodstream. And you’re not supposed to complain, because the real essence of travelling is not just setting foot on your destination, but immersing in the community to experience their culture and embrace their tradition.

One specific trek I will never forget was the one that led us to Pongas Falls. We walked for 45 minutes (maybe even longer) en route to the spot and another 45 minutes in going back. The way to the falls was a series of climbs, cliffs and pants, but the destination was exactly what we were searching for—paradise. So, even if dipping into the cold water wasn’t part of the plan, I did with my denim jeans on.



THE FOOD

Part of travelling is food tasting. And most travellers wouldn’t mind exceeding their daily budget just to sink their incisors into great tasting food. Sagada’s food choices will never disappoint.
I visited two of the most famous diners in Sagada—the Yoghurt House and the Sagada Lemon Pie House—and devoured delectable treats that made my tummy happy. I will no longer say much about them and will just let the photos do the talking.

THE CULTURE
Things and practices that you find in a place define its culture. I’d seen Sagada’s and truly, it’s amazing, awe inspiring and interesting.
There you’ll find things you don’t get to see and experience on ordinary days like top loading (occupying the jeepney’s roof) and hanging the dead instead of burying them. Witnessing their ritual was another exciting activity (perhaps I would even join them) but too bad, we were late.

I told myself that I wouldn’t leave Sagada without trying this myself.
The trail leading to the Hanging Coffins

All of these things make Sagada a total package. Once you’re there, you can momentarily forget everything you’ve left back home—your job, the load of tasks piling on your desk, the schedule you’ve set with your friends (not that I’m suggesting that you do that). Heck, even the funny feeling of soul searching!

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