Our trek into Northern Luzon continued on after stopping by Baguio for 1 day and night and Sagada was next on our list. We left Baguio at around 7:45 in the morning on a bus that was nowhere near the luxury status of the Victory Liner we took to Baguio. I had wished the trip was an overnight ride so that we could have sleep most of the way. Instead, we sat awake inside of the crammed vehicle with uncomfortable seats, no leg room, and no Aircon and zipped through the curved roads of the Halsema highway that wrapped its way through the Cordillera mountains and higher elevations. The roads had not yet been completely restored after typhoon Pepeng came through the area one week after typhoon Ondoy and so it made our ride that much more unpleasant. The windy ride made one woman throw up in a bag along the way. We made a total of two stops along the journey, both in remote towns high in the hills. Each town was essentially 10+ buildings that lined up the sides of a rural a narrow road.
After 6 hours of bumps and curves along the road, I was relieved to finally see a sign that said “Welcome to Sagada.” The bus parked at the town’s center next to the city hall. We hopped off, grabbed our belongings, and began our lodging search since we hadn’t reserved anything for our stay. After stopping in a few Inns, we finally settled on one at the top of the hill that overlooked the town. It was P700/night but we had our own room and private bathroom. We also had a beautiful view of the town and a partial view of Sagada’s rice fields in the distance. The Auntie who owns the house is very sweet and hospitable. After dropping off our belongings and getting settled into our room, we set out to explore the small town of Sagada. We walked down towards the tourist information center/city hall and picked up information for activities we had planned to do during our stay – viewing the famous hanging coffins and caving. After setting up an appointment with a tour guide for 8am the next day, we walked further down the main road through town and stopped in for lunch at a restaurant called Masferre. The restaurant was founded by a photographer who’s work focused on the indigenous tribes that once resided in the Cordillera mountains. The restaurant is lined with photos that show those who once inhabited the region along with the mountainous scenery and rice terraces. Lunch there was good but nothing spectacular – Stace had a sandwich and I had a salad.
Following our meal we headed out to walk through other areas of the town, including a stop at the basketball court and the fire station. Eventually we retreated back home to rest up before eating dinner at the Log cabin which was a restaurant conveniently located next to our homestay. Due to the fact that there is no street lighting in Sagada and because there is a 9pm curfew in the town, a rule designated to either keep the town peaceful and quiet or because of the NPA, the restaurant became our staple dinner spot throughout our entire stay. It was always hard to see walking back to our homestay at night and the several dogs barking at you in the street always made you a little nervous. When we got back to our room it was a little hard to fall asleep since it was only 10pm but we felt we needed to rest in preparation for the following day ahead – caving for 3 hours and then a trek to see the famous hanging coffins.