Sagad Sa Sagada! Part 1 – Getting There

Apologies for the corny name. Am gonna try to write about our trip to Sagada from when we left April 28 to coming back May 3rd, 2012 before I forget. But first, a nice pic to serve as this post’s ‘headline’.

That’s a nice view from the bus going there, approximately 4 hours into the 6 hour trip.

I’ll start by talking about our choice of vehicle, Toyang, our cute (and it turns out) reliable Hyundai Getz.

We had a choice of taking a different vehicle, an Isuzu Alterra, and I was going to opt for that except I started to have misgivings when I would hear a high pitched sound whenever we hit 80, which is probably a left rear bearing. After some thought I realized the safest choice was to bring the car I knew I could trust (because I took care of it myself and therefore knew every inch of it), and so Toyang it was.

I’m happy to report it performed admirably, with no mysterious and / or annoying bangs or squeaks at speed and with its tiny 1100 cc never feeling as weak as you might think. The best thing about it is its amazing 15 km/li (city) and 17 km/li (highway) mileage, which might be even better because we only finished off a quarter of a tank all the way to Baguio. I admit it took me awhile to warm up to it, with its pokey performance and dated looks. But you can’t deny the savings you get driving a gas sipper like that.

We stayed a night at Bloomfield Hotel, which is at the top of Session Road and a stone’s throw from that much hated mall, SM Baguio. It’s the first Baguio hotel I’ve ever stayed in with an aircon, which is unfortunately starting to become a necessity at not – so – cold Baguio. It’s a good B&B, especially if you need to do business within the city, and I’ve nothing negative to note about it. I wouldn’t mind staying there next time we’re there again.

Day 2 saw us at Dangwa Station which is walking distance from the market.

Our bus is exactly like this one, which is something between a full tourist bus and a mini – bus. There’s no a/c and you won’t need one.

I had the best seat in the house depending on what you wanted to do, at the right most rear. If you wanted to take pictures, the window is just to your right elbow and it gives a great view. If you want a relaxing trip for taking naps, its awful as the seat is too crowded and you can’t lean on anything.

The trip started on time, and the first hour you get a lot of Baguio scenery like this.

By the second hour we crossed sections of the road under construction like these, featuring 100 foot drops just a few feet away:

And by the 3rd or 4th hour you get the jaw – dropping, majestic views like these:

The vistas we saw as we sped away were by far the most spectacular I had ever seen. I had a full jacket on as well, with temperatures somewhere in the low 20s. It was truly nature giving us a show, something none of these images or my words can ever hope to even try to describe. It left us both quite stunned to be honest, and to think this isn’t anything special to the people over here.

There were two breaks, one where we stayed on the bus and people sold stuff through the windows.

Despite what it might seem the hawkers were never pushy and quite orderly. The prices were amazing as well, with four pieces good quality kutsinta at only P10.00. In Manila for similar quality that would be P10.00 apiece.

The 2nd stop at ‘Morning Star Restaurant’ somewhere in Benguet, probably the highest canteen in the Philippines, took 20 minutes and featured more complete meals.

I checked out the food on our way back and it was amazing how much variety and quantity they had for a small and remote space. They had a captive market in the bus passengers clearly, and there was a lot of good, fresh food. I had a simple fried bangus, rice and hot nilagang baka soup. To a hungry traveler who’s been sitting in a bus for hours tasted like a grand feast, and for only P60.00.

A few minutes after passing it I saw a sign on the highway the said something like ‘highest point in Philippine roads’, which we just whizzed by so I didn’t have the chance to take pictures. I’m fantasizing we can come back one day via car (or motorcycle) and take a nice souvenir pic.

Anyway after two or more hours of this:

We were finally there!

The first order of the day, sadly, was to get online because I needed to do some work. Which was easy because I quickly found an internet cafe.

It turned out Mapiya-aw Pension House, the place Jill had booked for us was a 30 minute walk away from where we were deposited by the bus. 30 minutes is an easy walk under normal circumstances, but with steep inclines, heavy bags and almost total darkness coming quickly it would’ve been impossible. Thankfully a guy at the place had a motorcycle which picked us up, one by one, and took us to it.

Jill found the place via Trip Advisor where it had a good rating. I agree it deserved it, but possibly not how you might think. It’s a great location, and the accommodations are on the south of adequate. But it’s the people it turns out, which set it apart. More about that later.

The important thing though, was we were finally there. After months of hoping and planning, a day at Baguio and a six and a half hour bus trip, we were finally in Sagada!

More at the next post: Day 2 Sagada! Part II – We’re Here!



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