We woke up early as we were to meet our guides at the Information Center (a few minutes walk from our inn) at 730am. We ate a quick hot breakfast of arroz caldo just along the side streets, its home-cooked goodness quite comforting in that cold December morning. The rate that time for our Cave Connection tour was 800php per head. The weather was great as the caving tours are only done during summer and cold, dry months of December until May.
A jeep took our group to the entrance of Lumiang Caves. It was also one of the burial caves in the area and at the entrance we can see the traditional coffins of the Igorot made of hardwoods and still looking sturdy despite its aged disposition. (read this article http://ph.news.yahoo.com/revisiting-hanging-coffins-sagada-122854627.html about the coffins in Lumiang Caves)
Our guides are Kuya Alfred, Ismael, and Lino.
You can see in our photo us going down… down… like the rabbit going down the hole in Alice in Wonderland. The guides were equipped with the proper gear and lamps. We were fitted as well with helmets and we are attired appropriately, expecting to get wet and our footwear were either Sandugo sandals or other sturdy slipper brands. Aqua shoes are also okay (Jawpaw of Adidas is a good choice but pricey – still it is the only aqua shoes I know that could also be comfortable on the feet for trekking). Walking into the deep dark reminds me of the movie Lord of the Rings where Gandalf led the fellowship of the ring into the mines of Moria…
Not for long, we were looking at the wonder of wonders that seem astounding to find deep in the earth. Beautiful formations of stalactites and stalagmites abound the caverns we passed climbing up and down rocks and crevices, we were first walking upright until we were crawling on all fours. Some areas have flowing water and we even waded into some of them. Here are the wonderful rock formations we came upon…
We also found fossils of seashells deep in the caves. This evidenced that Sagada was once found underwater – a very surprising fact indeed!
We emerged tired but triumphant at the Sumaging Caves entrance. This is the Cave Connection tour where the guides take the guests through the paths going in Lumiang and going out Sumaging. If guests did not like to do Cave Connection, they usually went in the Sumaging as almost all the notable formations were near this entrance. But it was a slippery climb down from the entrance of the cave going down (and going back up to return) — it looked quite treacherous for me as I am always fearful of slipping my feet or spraining my ankle. Since we were only exiting here, the climb up to the entrance seemed less stressful to me. Our caving tour trek took us some 3-4 hours, having finished at around past 11AM.
After lunch, we set for our next destination which was a trek along the Fidelisan Rice Terraces and on to the Bomod-ok Falls. This tour was priced at 600php per head. Another jeep took us to the jump-off point of the trek path a few minutes from the town center going to the Northern part of Sagada. Then we were trekking down villages and rice terraces in the path to the falls.
After 30-40 minutes of walking we can tentatively hear the sound of rushing water until finally we beheld Bomod-ok Falls in its beauty, power and splendor.
I was not able to bring any swim wear so I did not venture a swim that I regretted still. But I think we would be visiting again here sometime soon so by then I’ll make sure to bring one!
The trek back up seemed longer and more tiring than the trek down taking around 50 minutes to an hour’s walk. It was almost sunset when we reached our starting point. We drove back to the city passing by some souvenir shops, ate the longest dinner I waited for in my entire life (haha! They served us after more than an hour of waiting — @ St Joe’s Cafe). We walked again down the street to have coffee and dessert at the Lemon Pie House (more detail on the food on my next blog — para may konting suspense!).
The nights in Sagada were cold and the sky full of stars so bright, twinkling with a clarity not found in our mundane urban dwellings.
Walking the streets of Sagada, cuddled in our cold weather clothes, there was a feeling of serene happiness about me. Though I am about to leave the next day, I felt at peace with myself. I also know in my heart that this was the start of a journey from where I would never go back. I told myself, I will live my life and travel deliberately, to see in my own eyes God’s glory in His creation and the wonderful nature He bestowed on our country. There is this sense of fulfillment in me that finally I know my place and have found a path worth traversing.
And thus, I have been living and travelling this way and that for the past 3 years. My succeeding travels will be featured in this blog as well.
I am happy, content and living my life with no regrets. =)
(Do wait for my next post about Sagada’s food and eats next!)