A New Year Away from it All

Wish you stayed away from the noise and smoke of Manila during the New Year?  You did?  I did.  The clean, crisp air, cold weather, beautiful pine trees, delicious yoghurt of Sagada was enough to convince my friends to meet me in Baguio after their climb.  Their climb was a 3-day hike up the summit of Mt. Ugo, which I (sadly) couldn’t join because my family has this annual vacation that’s usually planned around the Christmas break.  This year we decided on Ubud in Bali so that’s interesting enough for me not to be too envious, right?  But after seeing their photos, I’m now officially envious.  ANYWAY, when I heard of their plans, I suggested New Years in Sagada.

And so, on the evening of the 30th, straight from the airport, I went home only to change backpacks and off I was to Baguio.  We took the 6 o’clock bus the next morning and arrived in Sagada by noon in time for lunch at my favorite Yoghurt House.  This cozy hole in a wall is one reason why I never tire of Sagada.  This was where I fell in love with anything with yoghurt.  Not always available but if they have it, their Yoghurt with Bananas, Strawberry preserves and Granola is a definite “must try”!  But even without the preserve (which is more often than not), it still comes highly recommended.

yoghurthouse

New Year’s eve dinner may not be as much of a hit as lunch was but the ambience made up for it.  Nothing like having dinner at a cozy log cabin complete with a fireplace, with food all you can eat, and very hospitable hosts and staffs.  It’s like being a part of one, big, happy inner circle.  New Year’s eve buffet dinner at the Log Cabin (always prepared by Chef Philip Aklay – a French guy who had made Sagada his home) had become a tradition to the Sagada regulars.  The food sounded better than it tasted, unfortunately.  Too experimental for me.  The salad and the chicken were hits though.  My friend actually preferred this year’s dinner to last year’s.  So there you go… perhaps it gets better through the years.  Or perhaps I was expecting too much.  I’ve always had great meals at the Log Cabin so this blah experience was a surprise and a bit of a disappointment.

nymenu

nydinner1

Note that the disappointment was from the New Year’s Eve dinner.  We went back for an a la cart dinner prepared by the owner Dave (never got his last name) and everything was superb.  You shouldn’t leave Sagada without having tried their Pork Tenderloin.

logcabin1

With all the walking my friends did at Mt. Ugo (3 DAYS!!!), the last thing they wanted to do was walk.  So I willingly and happily contented myself to stay in town, continue pigging out and finish the book I started (which I actually did).  But whaddyaknow!  We bumped into a friend at Yoghurt House who brought his 4×4.  He invited us to Besao.  Never been there so trying not to sound too eager… I said YES!  And so we went to Besao, originally to find the world-renowned stone calendar but it was still a long way off so we scrapped the idea and just took a look at St. Benedict’s Church.  A charming little church that looks very similar to St. Mary’s of Sagada.  Besao is the darling town after Sagada, which they say has beautiful sunsets.  We couldn’t stay to validate the claim as we had dinner reservations that night (at the Log Cabin).

churches1

besaolandscape1

On our way back we passed by Lake Danum to take photos of the normally calm lake.  When the water is still, the reflection of the sky vividly captured in still water makes a really good photograph.  But it was not so that day.  The water was rippling from very strong winds.

lakedanum1

I swear, those were one of the coldest days I’ve ever experienced in Sagada, aggravated by strong winds.  It was so cold that I had to buy knitted gloves to keep my hands from freezing.  We were walking around in fleece, windbreakers, bonnets and gloves at high noon!  Really!  Between the 4 of us (and a little help from others), we downed 2 bottles of wine and a bottle of Limoncello in 3 days.  Hick!   😉

spirits1

I must say, we started the year well.  Bumped into old friends, made new ones as well.  Revisited old favorites, and discovered new ones.  Hope yours was good too!

Getting there:

To Sagada via Baguio:

At the Dangwa station, take Lizardo Transit Bus.  First trip normally leaves by 6:30am; last trip at 1:00pm

lizarde1

Going back (Sagada – Baguio):

First bus arrives at the bus stop (there’s only one) at 5:30 – 6:00 am and leaves as soon as it is full.  Sits are first come first serve and since this bus originates from Besao, there may not have a lot left.  Bus arrives every hour thereafter, so if you miss this one, you can take the next one.

Travel time: 6-7 hours

Bus Fare:  P 220 (one-way)

To Sagada via Banaue:

  • Auto Bus or Florida Bus Line has daily trips to Banaue, leaves Manila approximately around 10pm.

Travel time:  8-9 hours

Contact Details:

Auto Bus
Espana cornor Catalina,
Sampaloc, Manila
Phone:  735-8096

Bus fare:       P 460

Florida Bus Line

Sampaloc, Manila
Phones:  743-3809 / 731-5358 / 493-3667

Bus fare: P 450

  • In Banaue, take a short tricycle ride from the bus stop to the town proper where you can find (Immanuel Bus Liners) buses to Bontoc.

Travel Time:  1-1/2 hours

Bus fare:  P 100

  • In Bontoc, get on jeepneys to Sagada from the Municipal Hall.  The bus stops very near the Hall so you won’t have to walk far.

Travel time:  45 minutes to 1 hour

Jeepney fare:  P 35

Sagada to Banaue:

  • Do everything in reverse.

Manila – Bontoc – Sagada Route

  • Another option is to take Cable Tours which ends in Bontoc, saves having to transfer buses in Banaue however, their buses are limited (I heard) and you may end up losing a day (if the bus conks out or something).

Travel time:  12 hours

Contact details:

Cable Tours
E Rodriguez QC, near Trinity College
Phone:  074-602-1068
Cell:       0918-521-6790
0921-448-8814

Bus fare:  P 600

Credits:  frames by Joyful Heart Designs, from the Plain Jane Kit

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6 thoughts on “A New Year Away from it All

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