FTF / The far north

12:00:00 AM

Last April, I packed my bags and I went on a great adventure in the far north - I went to Sagada! Almost a year in the making, I went on the trip with my friend Francesco and his buddies Natalia, Tina, Lana, and Alex. It was far from a perfect trip - we had lousy accommodations and even lousier travel arrangements, and there were too many tourists at the time because of the movie "That Thing Called Tadhana." But everything else about the experience was just downright awesome.
First stop
The crew
I grew up in the Philippines but I've only ever really seen the Banaue Rice Terraces in textbooks and postcards. The photos don't do the UNESCO World Heritage Site any justice! I was absolutely blown away when, after 8 hours or so on the road, I woke up to see this marvelous man-made wonder for the first time. Awesome is an understatement.
Awesome coffee!
My friends Jonathan and Miko are Sagada regulars, so I asked them for places to visit and things to try. Jonathan only mentioned two things: Cave Connection and Mt. Kiltepan sunrise, while Miko told me to get some coffee at Bana's. I managed to drag the group with me for the coffee - the freshest I've ever enjoyed! I'm willing to bet that the coffee we got to try was roasted on the same day.

Because I was going to miss BJJ training for the adventure weekend, my body ached for physical activity - which I got, thanks to the trek to Bomod-ok Falls! With over 1,600 steps per way (uphill going back, mind you), I was sweating through my shirt despite the cool weather. We went through a mountain range with more rice terraces, and I swear, I have not breathed fresher air in my life. At the end of the trek is the waterfall; I wanted to swim but I couldn't because I had my period. BOO.

What a trek!
Cave Connection was another physically-demanding part of the adventure, and I have to say that jiu-jitsu had a lot to do with my surviving it. Haha! We started in Lumiang Cave, where there were a few hanging coffins at the entry. For an hour, we went through obstacle after obstacle until we reached Sumaguing Cave. I didn't have a lot of pictures, sadly - since it was my first time there, I didn't want to risk my gadgets getting wet, damaged, or lost, so I left it in the van with the others. Luckily, our tour guide took snaps of our group.
Underground adventure
Our group also visited the site of the hanging coffins. It wasn't as breathtaking as, say, the terraces, but it was culturally significant. The natives do not bury their dead, because they do not want to put the weight of the world on their beloved.
Anthropology Exhibit
Me and Lana at Kiltepan
Kiltepan wasn't particularly awesome because we went on a foggy day - so the supposedly life-changing sunrise was nowhere to be found. But I'm going back to Sagada this November, so I hope to catch it then. I plan to stay longer, and I won't be joining a tour group anymore. I'm used to traveling alone anyway. And maybe, if my funds and my time would permit, I'll go all the way to Batad, then.


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