Monday 1st June:
We have traveled overnight many times on our adventures so knew that sleep would be minimal on a bus (the overnight trains in Vietnam were great). 8 hours later, with a few stops in between and we were in Banuae. This wasn’t our final destination though as we were to head further north to Sagada. We had to wait two hours so enough time to have breakfast before the 3 hour van ride. The views up here are stunning, one of the reasons I did this part of the Philippines again was so that Aida could experience the beauty.
We finally arrived just after 11am and then checked in with the Tourist Information Centre. We met a few other people keen to do the afternoon Eco Tour with us, which knocks the cost down. It is 600 pesos, so rather than 300 each; with the two extra people it became 150 each. We checked into our hotel, The Clairance Hotel. Now all the hotels here are basic, so don’t expect The Hilton, we chose this place as it had a private bathroom, many are shared. As it’s off season, there were plenty of empty rooms so finding something at a fraction of the host of Manila is not difficult.
The trip in the afternoon allowed us to see the Sagada tradition of burying the dead on the sides of the rocks. The Hanging Coffins are a tradition which some still do to this day. It’s certainly a good way to overcome all the stiffness from the sitting incurred recently.
After this we could barely keep our eyes open so a three hour power nap was called for. Sagada itself is very small, and come 9pm everything was shut so we headed out for food and to probably one of the most popular places; The Yogurt House. Despite the three hour nap earlier, the lack of sleep of late caught up to us and we were back in bed and fast asleep by 9pm ready for the next day’s adventures.
Tuesday 2nd June:
We woke up early (5am) to the sound of at least 5 different cockerils competing to see who could make the most noise. Add the sound of dogs barking and pigs oinking and it made a difference than the 5am call for prayer we sometimes hear in KL. We did manage to get a little more sleep before we got up to start an exciting day of caving. We call ourselves Persian Brit Adventures rather than ‘Holidays/Tours/Vacations’ and this day summed it up. I had done this trip before but honestly couldn’t remember half of it. I purposely didn’t tell Aida too much as she would have freaked out and been a little more vary of undertaking the trip. The Cave Connection trip took about 3+ hours, it can take up to 5 hours if there is a bigger group or you are slow at walking. From the centre of town, you walk about 20 minutes to the cave entrance where more coffins meet you; which is another way the dead used to be buried. Then you head down and the first shock to Aida was when the guide showed us the small hole we had to get through. In 2013 somebody actually fell and died in the cave (which we only found out later on) so it is actually quite dangerous, no helmets provided. It is a really good trip and one of the reasons why I was happy to come back as I felt Aida would lobe to do it (as well as see all the rice terraces). Lunch was again at The Yogurt House as everywhere else seemed closed, before the rain came early (it’s rainy season from June) and forced us back to the hotel where we watched a movie and packed ready for moving on to Banuae the next day. On the night we headed to a local restaurant where we were the only customers. We could see the couple cooking the Filipino food for us, which was cool, especially as you know its fresh.
We headed back early to catch up on emails even though the connection was very poor so spent 4x longer than anticipated trying to catch up on what was happening in the world.