Sunday, 5 February 2012

2002: Bontoc, Sagada, and Banaue

This trip took place when I was just 11 years old and this was the first trip that I was away from our home for a long period of time-- 7 days to be precise while traveling using the backpacker method. So many things happened on this trip! I can still remember the places and people I met, but I can't exactly remember our itinerary and other important things... 

I am not sure if this is accurate, but here is a general idea of our itinerary back then:

1st day: 8- hour bus ride to Banaue then hiked at Malegcong terrraces. Slept at one of the locals' house. I can still vividly remember that they killed their chicken to make Adobo for us. Looking back now, that was a really nice thing that they did for us!

2nd day: Jeepney ride going to Bontoc. Museum hopping.

3rd day: Jeepney ride to Sagada. Went to the cave of the Hanging Coffins and looked around the town.

4th day: Early morning Sagada hike then spelunking at the beautiful Sumaguing Cave. After that, had a photoshoot near the viewpoint of the Sagada hanging coffins.

5th day: Jeepney ride going back to Banaue. Ate Joyce, Aja, Gelo and Jerald went back to Manila. Ate Maricel, Ate Kim, Ate Jeje and I proceeded to Batad by doing a 3+ hours hike.

6th day: Grueling hike to Batad Falls and swimming (though I wasn't really able to swim because of 'that' time of the month).

7th day: Even more grueling hike going back to Banaue. 8- hour bus ride to Manila. 

Below are some pictures of our trip. I feel sad right now because I was not able to recover all of the photos before the computer crashed. =( Also, we had no photos in Batad since Ate Joyce brought the camera back with her when she went back to Manila earlier than us. 

Oh yeah, once again, these photos were taken by my cousin and all of them are unprocessed/ not edited. =D 

Ready for the pictures/ jeprox looks? 

Yep, we commuted around the area. We even rode a bus going there instead of using our own transpo!

Back then, we thought this was a 'cool' outfit. Right now, it looks so 'jeprox.' Haha! 

Together with the natives. Did you know that they are better at speaking English than Tagalog? That's probably because of all the backpacking foreigners they get to meet... Filipinos really must travel in the Philippines more often! 

Yep, our jeepney broke down. And yep, we experienced riding jeeps there using the 'topload' method. That means, we're on top of the jeep!

Even before I knew the concept of what a backpacker is, I already was one without being aware. 

This was taken in the Malegcong rice terraces. I remember that I stopped here at some point (together with Jerald) because I was starting to get dizzy and fearful of the height and the narrow/steep pathways. Well, we were right in being afraid since one of our cousins accidentally slipped in one of the 'pilapils' and lost his shoes. 

It looks like we are having a "Survivor" tribal meeting!

Though this shot is blurred, I like it a lot since we all have this spunky attitude here!

Aja, the youngest member of our group. 

Riding topload is uncomfortable, but really fun!

I remember this grueling hike. We were up by around 5 a.m. in the morning, but ended the hike at around 7 a.m. The way to the mini falls was really rocky and slippery. Just look at the next photos if you don't believe me!~ There was a lot of varying terrains from rocky to grassy then wet. But, it was all worth it because of the wonderful views that we saw! The Philippines is truly a wonder of nature!

My cousin ate Joyce, who shot most of the photos. 

Ate Maricel, Ate Joyce's friend and travel buddy. She was the one who accompanied us to Batad. 

Getting ready for our topload ride.

In the market place at Sagada, looking for our next ride. 

I still remember the guy beside me! He's a British backpacker named David whom we met at Sagada. Out group did some activities with him. Sadly, he was not able to come with us to Batad anymore because his stomach acted up. Apparently, some foreigners do not know that it is not safe to drink tap water here in the Philippines. Some inns/ hotels should probably warn them. 

Our tour guide warned us not to take photos in this place, but obviously we did not listen and these photos are the evidence. Behind us are old, native coffins. If you go near some of the coffins, you'll see the bones inside!

OK, so this is inside the Sumaguing cave. It is so beautiful inside! You'll be needing two tour guides if you go in here. One will be in front and the other one will be at the back holding lamps, which will be the only sources of light. All in all, you'll be staying inside for around 4- 5 hours so if you're claustrophobic or afraid of the dark and dirt (there are bat droppings everywhere), this might not be the ideal place for you. There are times when you have to go up or down by doing some rappelling like what I'm doing in this picture. Sometimes, you have to enter narrow passageways or swim in deep puddles. All's good in the end anyway. I even remember saying, 'this is the happiest day of my life!'   

After the hike, we were so exhausted. We had to walk all the way back from the Sumaguing Cave back to our inn. It's a good thing that a bus driver took pity on us and offered a free ride back home. On the way back to our inn, we chanced upon good people who gave us free water when we knocked on their houses. There are obviously good people out there in Sagada, but we also experienced some bad things especially with the young boys there. They threw rocks on one of our cousins and when we were about to retaliate, one man said, "huwag kayong lumabon, mga dayo lang kayo dito." 

So that's all of the pictures that I was able to recover. I'll try to find a way to get the other ones back; my cousin probably made a copy or something. It's also sad that I don't have pictures of Batad to show since it is one of the highlights of this trip seeing that it was the first time that I encountered snakes (twice) in the wild. It was also the first time that I slept in an 'inn' with no electricity for two nights! I will tell more about that next time. I'll probably edit this post again in the near future. =D 

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