Sunday, December 25, 2011

The Road to Sagada

It was 4:29 in the afternoon when I reached the Dau Terminal (Pampanga). After 2 stops, 1 in Siesta terminal in Tarlac and another in Sison, Pangasinan, I reached Baguio City at 10:15pm. My friends, whom I'm meeting for a night in Baguio, had checked in Leisure lodge along Magsaysay rd.

I was supposed to take the 5am bus en route to Sagada, but since I was drinking the whole night, it was already 8am when I woke up.

By 8:40am I was in Dangwa terminal, and the next bus (Sagada Ambasing; Bus no 946 which is the newest and comparably faster than 063 which was what I took on the way back to Baguio) available is leaving at 9:30am. The seats were numbered and the only one available was seat 40 which is elevated at the far end of the right side bus. I thought it was to my advantage to add more thrill to the  cliffs. Had I been early, I would have booked the front center seat.

At 11:30, we were in the 1st bus stop in Sayangan, where passengers can eat at the Morning Star Restaurant. I was hoping to have a taste of their local cuisine but the menu was the more popular national dishes like daing, sinigang, etc. I was quite hungry so even if I was thinking about opening my canned goods instead, I ordered daing and ginisang sitaw plus kalabasa for P80.

Just 5 minutes after the morning star restaurant is the highest point of the national highway at 7,405MASL. Driving tourist has a parkway where they can stop for some pictures.

By 2:01, we were at the second stop in Mabaayi for comfort break. There are pay toilets (P5, P3) and vegetable stalls. Compared to morning star restaurant, we spent only about 10 minutes here.  When I got to my seat, i saw a store selling carrot cupcakes but it was too late for me to get one as the driver is already hitting the accelerator.

The first quarter of the ride, the view is mostly on the left side of the bus. Then, next is on right, and so on. So, eitherway, you get a share of the view. Along Mt Data, where they grow the vegetables they sell at our markets, the view is mostly on the left side. An hour before reaching Sagada, on the rough unpaved road, the thrill is on the right side. Apparently, the farther you get, the more daring the roads are.

From La Trinidad, all the way to Sagada, there will be a lot of Talampunays growing along the highway. According to locals, If you boil 5 of these flowers and drink the tea, you can get hallucination.

As we got close to sagada, especially on the unpaved road, perhaps because of the elevation, the ground was moist, and I just became more wary about the trip. At some point we had to reverse backwards up because there is another vehicle, sometimes a 10 wheeler truck, coming from the other way.

We reached the Sagada boundary at 3:18 pm, and I immediately scouted for an accommodation. There are a number of them including those I saw online, but Sagada guesthouse was the most enticing from the drop off point. I got in and asked for the rate. I was told it’s P250/head/night, and though it wasn’t close to what i read online (P75-P150) I thought it was still affordable anyway.

I unloaded my baggage and immediately went out to start my exploration. I walked towards the Sumaguing cave and met an Israeli along the way. Towards the cave, there will be more of the inns in sagada as well as the restaurants, including Bana’s cafe, Yoghurt hourse, and Lemon Pie house. Coming closer to the cave there is a newly opened cozy Gia cafe where they also sell indigenous books and crafts.

Coming close to the cave we met a group of youngsters waiting for their guide for the cave. I was trying to negotiate to come with them to the caves and share with the fee but the guide won’t give way. I find it quite expensive to get a guide though for myself and since there is nobody else to share with other than the Israeli, I thought about putting the caving off; Besides, I had my electronics with me bare without ziplock and I can’t risk them on the waist deep pool inside; Plus, I wasn’t on my proper gear for the caving; That many reasons (and excuses) to convince myself not to proceed. Most of the people coming out of the caves were literally wounded because it was very slippery inside.

Since there is nothing else from that point, we walked back and though about stopping by Gia Cafe for some drink. They have a Sagada brew for P20 and both I and Adam the Israeli gave it a try. After some cool 30 mins cozy stop in Gia cafe, we walked back further and checked out the menu of the other restaurants. Just like I regularly do, I look for native cuisines (province wise) but most of it is western. Again, my fallback on such trips... canned goods. There was a barbeque vendor near the municipal hall and we each had 3 sticks of pork at P10/stick. After that, we went back to the hotel, meeting 2 more Germans who were looking for the Sagada Guesthouse and just landed from Baguio city. We escorted them to the Hotel, had my canned goods delight in my room, and cleaned up. After that, I bought my red horse from the stores down, and had a little chat with the expats. After we finished each of our beers, the german left to have dinner in masferre, and I invited adam to the Green House for more beer.

The bar shows the craftsmanship, artistry and cultural inclination of the locals. I was surprised that one elderly local walked in and sat with a group of Australians and sang with total familiarity with Bob Marley’s Redemption Song.

After 3 more 500ml red horse beer in that bar, about 11pm, we went back to the hotel as I have to wake up for the rush tour the next day.

The expats and I were arranging for a Big Falls tour with a guide. However, we could not well agree on the time to start the tour. As for me, i have to start it real early because I don’t have all the time (only half day remaining for the next day because the last bus leaves at 1pm); Adam on the other hand is planning to leave for bontoc the next day, so it was a lot of convincing for him to see the big falls. The 2 Germans though wanted to get enough sleep as they have just arrived from a long travel.  In all all, we still agreed to wake up at 6am and knock at whoever isn’t awake by then.

I woke up at the agreed date, but I don’t have enough guts to wake up some sleepy souls. So... I did my thing. Walked walked walked, had coffee near the bus station, had a lemon pie, and had another cup of coffee.. this time, the famous alamid coffee.

I did not really find any difference between that coffee and any other kind, except that there is some roughness in the throat (which I’m not sure if it’s because of the coffee itself or that I’ve been smoking a lot).
Next, I would be heading to Kiltepan peak, and instead of taking the 1 hour walk going there, I took the Bontoc jeep and did the top load. Another German was with me atop, who according to him, will head to Tuguegarao for a night before flying to Manila for his flight back to Germany. After some 20 minute hike from the highway, It was already past 9am when i got there. indeed, it’s best to do the Kiltepan peak on a sunrise for the sea of clouds. The view at that time was only the rice terraces, and there’s not even much of it there (I think there’s even more en route to Sumaguing cave).

I had to walk all the way from the peak to the hotel. It took me about 45 minutes to get back and I took a bath and packed up immediately (check out is actually at 10am and I was afraid they will be charging me another day if I prolong further. Thank God they didn’t). I checked out at 11:30, waited in the lobby while facebooking, and left for the bus at 12:30. There were only a few seats left at that time, and I regret I didn’t come any earlier, so i could have chosen my seat. Bus left exactly 1pm.

It was 0 visibility around Mt Data in that afternoon. If you’d like on the windows of the bus, it seems like it’s a white wall. I intentionally sat on the same side of the bus so I can catch the views that I missed en route to Sagada;

It was 7:10 when I reached Baguio city. Walking around baguio towards the Victory bus terminal, had fishball and siomai along session rod. Then bulalo in the same carinderia I go to everytime I visit Baguio (on the road down SM Baguio); Lemon grass and carrot cake on a cafe near the terminal. When I get to the terminal, there’s an exodus of passengers. The drivers and conductors were asking for booked tickets, and the chance passenger lane is absolutely frustrating. I immediately went to thee second floor to get my ticket. And while I can basically take any bus route since im getting off in dau bus terminal only, tragically, the earliest trip that I can hop on is the 10:50 bus. Since i got 2 more hours to go, I thought about going to the night market in Burnham.

It is not a surprise that mot goods sold are ukay ukay stuff. Though it wasn’t really that cold, most of what’s sold in the UK are jackets and sweaters. There are outdoor brands sold, and running back and forth, I got a nice Columbia jacket for P350.

Overall... the Sagada trip was very refreshing. I may have not gone to the sumaguing cave and the big falls, but the view alone, along the way, the climate in Sagada, the pine trees, and the experience, it’s totally worth it. Absolutely recommended for clearing stressed minds.

*In baguio city, we paid P750 in leisure lodge for a 4person, twin bed sharing.  The vicinity is not really for unfamiliar tourists I guess. Not recommended, though if price is an issue, then you might just behave inside the lodge.
*The fare from Dangwa to Sagada is P220. Lizardo trans may be contacted at 309 2096.
*Sagada Prices: Lemon pie at P35/slice.
*Alamid brew at P200/cup.
*Drinking water refill for 2.5Liters at P20.
*Internet access in the cafe at P20/hour.
*Red horse in the stores is P35 while P50 in the bars.
*Goods in the stores are sold at the same prices as our neighbourhood stores. Shampoo at P6. Century corned tuna (big) at P35. Marlboro lights at P35. Toothpaste P8.
*I visited the bakeshop, and they have a cinnamon bread for P19 (about 10inches diameter).
*Meals around town are P80 up..
*Make sure to have your camera battery fully charged. The view along the way could be very enticing, and if you’re not bringing a charger with you, might as well take 10 shots maximum of the view from the bus. Like me, you might not have enough battery by the time you get there for the actual tour. Besides, it’s elevated and cold, so don’t expect the battery to run the same life.
*If you’ll drive to Sagada, make sure the driver has a reliever. Fuel up in Baguio city as I think the next fuelling station is up in far Bontoc. If you’re commuting, get ready with a puke bag and some snacks.
*Village is deep asleep by 10. Stores close between 8-9pm.
*Traction shoes are better for caving.
*I think It would be best if you’ll take accommodation in the outskirt of the municipal hall. I think the stay is Sagada is best felt quiet. Try Rock Inn or Mapiya-aw.
*Locate the destinations on google maps rather than buying the useless map they sell in the souvenier shops.
*Negotiate for discounts for group accommodation. The P250/head fee may be cut to P200/head for groups of 4 up.
*Baguio-Sagada is 6.5hrs ride. Trip Schedule is 6:15am. 7:30am. 8:30am. 9:30am. 10:30am.11:30am. And last is 1:00pm.
*Banaue to Manila is 8hours. Autobus: 5:30pm. Florida Bus: 6:00pm and 8:00pm
*Bontoc to Banaue is 2 hours. First at 7:00am. 2nd at 7:30am. Last 8:30am.
*Sagada to Bontoc is 50 minutes jeep ride (You can do topload for extremists J. 1st is 6:30 and 30 minutes thereafter til 9. After 9, it’s 10am and an hour thereafter til the last trip at 1pm.
*Contact nos for the accomodation are as follows.
Alapo’s 09213279055
Alfredo’s 09185883535
A7 House 09212876039
Billy’s House 09216032745
Canaway 09107092631
Churya-a 09064300853
Ganduyan 09212738097
Gecko Inn 09202895471
George Guesthouse 09185480406
Igorot Inn 09087578357
Kanip-aw Pines View 09282897507
Mapiya-aw Pension 09052164055
Olahbinan 09284067647
Residential Lodge 09196728744
Rock Inn 09209095899
Rocky Valley 09186432784
Sagada Guesthouse 09219694053
Sagada homestay 09197028380
Saint Joseph 09185595934
Traveller’s Inn 09207992960
Yabami Lodge 09204119976


  1. yes friends punta kayo sa lucky morels inn homey n very quiet place unlike the hotels there sobrang gulo kya we transferred to this place panalo, its a simple hauz but winner ka dito pti foods wow courtesy of lucky's shanghai hauz, one of the famous but for us this is the best place n food wd videoke bar pa! try nyo very affordable d kayo magccc contact 09107078175 for reservation n ask for tita lily super bait pa

    1. is she the owner of the other store that serves lemon pie? bait nga...

    2. no shes the owner of lucky's shanghai hauz ms. LILY BAGTANG, SUPER COOL N NICE XA, very accommodating pa! sulet budget mo dito, friendly guest house, mura wd breakfast n coffee pa!

  2. elow ive read your comments while searching, yes we ate at lucky's super sarap ng specialty nila na lumpiang shanghai even the pinikpikan magtanong ka recommended itong place, lahat ng foods masarap super yummy kasi i understand shes a tagalog married to a sagadan, lutong bahay talaga! better find the place nasa loob na place nya sa lucky morels inn, madali lng hanapin! pls contact 09199310278 n ask for ms. lily

  3. kasama din ako jan so we have to put comments of the place sayang kasi its a nice place talaga for the food n inn simple hauz pero two thumbs up ako jan, we witnessed pagalis guests ni tita lily nilalaban na kagad mga bedsheets pillowcase n pedspread, galing kya yon kaagad napansin namin ang bango amoy downy biro pa namin sa owner ang sipag naman nya, very cheap pa imagine for 350 wd breakfast n coffee na yon, so ano pa hanapin nyo friends, try it!

  4. were group of fourteen who have tried the place lucky's we recommend the place, two thumbs up comment ko, thanks tita lily for the warm hospitality! super nice ka!

  5. WE WERE THERE LAST HOLY WEEK THRU AGENCY, WE RECOMMEND the place lucky morels inn super homey n luckys shanghai hauz for the best food in town, n the owner super cool, thanks tita lily


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