30 Random Things to Do in Sagada

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I love the mountains.  I often find myself craving for the crisp fresh scent of pine air. Although that yearning is not always appeased, I do try to indulge every so often by spending a few days up in the mountains, sometimes Baguio will suffice but many a time it’s Sagada that I yearn for.  Many ask what I do when I’m there.  On many occasions, it’s just spent chilling out but there are so many activities worth exploring and here are some that came to mind (some still unchecked on my bucket list). Inspired by the 25 random things about you that is currently promulgating Facebook, here’s my random list of things to do in Sagada, except that I got carried away and came up with a list of 30.  This list covers an array of activities from chilling to thrilling and all the in betweens.  Do add to the list!   😉

  1. Hangout at the Basketball court near St. Mary’s Episcopal Church and get to know the locals and/or fellow travelers.
  2. Buy the best bread in Sagada at Masferre Inn.
  3. Explore Sumaging Cave or better yet, do the connection and traverse to Lumiang Cave.
  4. Trek to The Big Falls (Bomod-ok) passing through beautiful rice terraces.
  5. Take a dip in the icy-cold water of the Big Falls.
  6. Order the Pork Tenderloin specialty at Log Cabin.  One can’t leave without having tried it.
  7. Take an afternoon merienda of German Chocolate cake (best with coffee) at the Cooperative in front of St. Mary’s.
  8. Pay a visit to the Pottery workshop on your way to Lake Danum.  A bit pricey but the craftsmanship is first class.  Investing in at least a piece or two will not only make a superb souvenir, it fires up the sagada-coffeepotters to forge on as well.
  9. Get lost in Kiltepan and delight in the panoramic view of the terraces at the tower.
  10. Walk around town, visit the market especially on a Saturday, it’s market day.
  11. Ride top load (the roof of) a jeepney (if you’re coming from Bontoc).  It’s fun and less dusty.
  12. Pick up some Sagada coffee at 18 Days Coffee Roasters.
  13. Devour the fantastic yoghurt at Yogurt House.
  14. Climb the walls of Echo Valley.
  15. Or if you can’t climb, how about counting the hanging coffins at Echo Valley instead?
  16. Have the nummy Banana Crepes at Ganduyan Inn.
  17. Stay at Mapia-aw Pensione and enjoy the stunning view from your room or balcony.
  18. Or alternatively, get a cottage at St, Joseph and enjoy the privacy of your own place.
  19. Go orange picking at Rock Inn.
  20. Stop by Masferre Gallery to ogle at the awesome photos of Sagada taken in the 30’s, 40’s and 50’s by the late Eduardo Masferre. sagada-lemonpie
  21. Read a book while enjoying a piece of either the lemon or egg pie at the newest town fancy, Lemon Pie House.
  22. Wake up early and bike to Marlboro Country to try to catch a glimpse of the wild horses.
  23. Try itag, a cured meat similar to a slab of bacon, unsliced.  Best in soup, monggo or pancit.
  24. Conquer Mt. Ampacao and revel in the outstanding view once atop it.
  25. Enjoy a picnic of wine, cheese and some cold cuts while admiring the beauty of Echo Valley.
  26. Bike to Besao and witness the sunset, raved to be the best in that side of the cordillera.
  27. Get a massage at the privacy of your room or cottage.
  28. Play board or card games or simply relax beside the fireplace at either Mapia-Aw Pension or St. Joseph Resthouse.
  29. Go shopping at either Sagada Weaving or Ganduyan Store.  They have lovely locally produced items for keepsakes.
  30. Raft the Chico River from Dantay to Bontoc.  To do so, look for Steve Rogers – he’s not hard to find.

WS# 2: Pine Cones

 

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Never fails to remind me of the mountains that I love so much.  Took this shot at Lemon Pie House in Sagada 2 weeks ago, the pine cones aptly displayed on the window casement.  Simple yet artistic eh?

Credits:  JSprague frame

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.

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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.

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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.

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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).

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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.

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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!   😉

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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

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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

Hello 2009!

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How did you spend the extra-long break?  I spent it up in the mountains… two, in fact.  After Christmas, my family and I flew to Denpasar and spent 5 relaxing days in a wonderful resort in Ubud, Bali.  As soon as I landed in Manila, I was on my way to Baguio to spend a quiet New Year in Sagada with good friends.  Both locations I return again and again for their food, so I indulged in good eating this season (as always).   😉 Overindulgence aside, I also found time to finally make a dent on the pile of books on my shelf, waiting to be read.

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Despite the gloomy forecast, I can’t wait to get started.  I’ve already got a growing list of plans for the year.  Four exciting places I want to explore within the 1st half of the year. Learn one sport (starting this month) and master it (in a year or two, I hope).  Know Photoshop inside out.  Take more photos… and the list goes on.  But before all these, it’s back to the gym tomorrow to shed off those extra pounds!   😛

Seriously though, I am thankful and grateful to the almighty God for a wonderful 2008. Hope the blessing continues with the same grace and faithfulness He has bestowed through the years.

A blessed New Year to all!  More on Bali and Sagada in the next few days.