I actually remember first hearing about Sagada when I was in Laos. A couple of girls from Toronto told me about them. One girl in particular. I remember thinking at the time it was worlds away for me, almost unrealistic. That was at the start of my trip. Well here I was it was 8 months on.
I arrived at Georges Guesthouse at 11.30am. It took me 10 hours from Manila, and 3 hours from Banaue. I showered, ate and instantly went to go find a tour guide to take me caving. I remember paying around 800 peso to the guide. By this time it was the afternoon, and we had a lot to do before getting heading back.
We reached the first cave with some broken coffins. It there were some Americans taking photos also on a tour. I got a couple of snaps and rested from the walk down. The weather then suddenly became horrendous. Literally smashed down with heavy rain the thunder was deafening. It was actually the loudest and scariest I had experienced. I remember trying to remember where is best to hide with the case of lightening and not be struck. I couldn’t remember as I didn’t really listen in Science class. I sat under a thatched stall for a bit, smoked a cigarette until it passed.
The guy who was my guide had been trekking for years. We walked past some rice terraces down to Samaguing Cave. I realized my Van shoes were not going to help me despite the tour guide saying they’d be okay. I went barefoot. We climbed down the caves and I have to say, very carefully for me. He had great flexibility and strength for his physique. We got to the bottom of the caves after my cautious effort and the help of my guides rubber limbs. The final venture was the most challenging part, caving under, into the water and back around to begin our exit. This was NOT for the ones with claustrophobia. I was honestly quite freaked out but something kept me going. I trusted him and just kept moving. It reminded me a bit of the Qui Chi tunnels in Vietnam. Try not to think. Keep moving. We had to climb down with robes, swim through tight cave formations, all with balance and precision. The water was shallow but the rocks were sharp and awkward everywhere. The space was limited. My heart was pumping. It was exciting but I was too worried that an unknown bout of uncontrollable worry might creep in at any second. I was too determined to stop and reflect.
After that cave we trekked to the where the known hanging coffins were. The coffins had a mysterious feeling to them. They almost had a spell on them which made your mind flashback to their history and why they were there. It was very odd but something I definitely was glad about seeing. A unique site. Who’d of thought it. Trek all this week, travel up north to see a few coffins. That in itself was unique. I still get an intriguing feeling now when I think of these coffins. One of my more interesting exploits.
I was exhausted the next day. A combination of lack of sleep, caving, trekking and early morning wake up. I managed to catch the 5.20am jeepney back down to Banaue. It was such a delight to get up that morning. Personally, I’m not a morning guy, but when I do get up and I’m half awake, I love that peace that being up early in the morning brings. The moment where everything is slightly wet due to the morning residue, the birds are not yet fully in full song, the air is cold but refreshing, and the mind is at ease. I rode on top of the Jeepney. We were that high up which I completely forgot about, the clouds were below us. Smothering the land below us, wrapping around the hills and terraces. The sun had come out proud and was shining bright. My whole previous 18 hours had been non stop but now it was finished. The view of the clouds topped it off. I thought to myself, I will never be here again after that. I had came and saw, and didn’t feel the need of anymore. They say things come in three’s, and for Sagada this was it for me.