Sagada & the Banaue Rice Terraces

Hello from the United States of America!!

Kevin and I are finally home-sweet-home after an unforgettable 23 months of traveling, volunteering, working, scuba diving, tutoring, eating, motorbiking, meeting people, and making memories all around Asia! Before I go on, I would just like to say thank you one more time to all the folks who so closely followed our travels, took the time to read my longwinded blogs, and left encouraging and thoughtful comments. It meant more to us than you probably know, and we reallyreallyreallyreally appreciate your support.

I’ve decided that even though I’m now only a phone call or short car ride away from most of my loved ones, I have to finish what I started and blog through the rest of our trip. Especially since we would have otherwise ended on Kevin’s biting review of Manila, which would be a poor representation of our trip, and our feelings about the Philippines as a whole.

Soon after flying from Manila to Osaka, we became completely overwhelmed with trying to savor every last moment abroad while preparing to return to the States, and lost all hope of keeping up with the blog. When we finally arrived back home (after an epic two week cross-continent roadtrip) we struggled with culture shock and other readjustment blues that kept me from jumping back on the wagon. However, almost a month after we took our last flight from Japan back to North America, I finally think I’m ready to work my way through our trip report and share the rest of our pictures.

We left off in Manila, a place we could find few positive things to say about. We had hoped to fly directly to Vigan and work our way back down through the world famous rice terraces of Luzon. We missed that flight, though, and couldn’t afford to buy another. Thus, we ended up having to make do with a night bus-heavy loop to Sagada and back. Our first leg, a Saturday night bus to Banaue (450 pesos/person), was a bit intense with the 9/11 movie blaring from the front of the bus and our butts sliding off the uncomfortable seats. However, there was strong wifi, which was an unexpected surprise.

We arrived groggy and hungry in Banaue around 7 am, where we were immediately swarmed by jeepney drivers wanting to take us to various nearby destinations. This being the end of our trip, our patience for haggling with aggressive touts first thing in the morning had all but evaporated. Luckily, we had joined forces with a sassy Argentinian from our hostel in Manila who negotiated a ride to Sagada for us for 300 pesos/person, leaving at 8:00. We had a quick and extremely underwhelming breakfast at Green View Lodge and Restaurant where we were able to drink in our first views of the breathtaking rice terraces.

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Most drivers making the trip to Sagada will stop frequently so tourists can take photos of the famous scenery, which works out wonderfully because it makes a night in Banaue much less necessary. When we arrived in Sagada, we immediately knew we had picked the right place to base ourselves– Sagada is a quaint town with fresh mountain air and stunning views, where no one bothers you for jeepney rides or overpriced tours. Ahhhh.

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View of the terraces right outside of Banaue

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We stayed at Sagada Homestay (250 pesos/person/night), which was perfectly comfortable with bright sunlit bedrooms and windows looking over the town. The only downsides were that the internet never actually worked for us and the restaurant was pretty forgettable. Overall, though, it was a cozy place to base ourselves for the three days we were in Sagada.DSC_0603 - Version 2

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Over the course of the next few days we enjoyed all the best things about mountain town vacations: hikes through small villages surrounded by terraces, sipping coffee and tea in cozy cafes, and sampling local homemade comfort foods. Most of the trekking in Sagada requires a guide, so we teamed up with our Argentinian friend to split the costs.

Breakfast at Yogurt House

Breakfast at Yogurt House

Mmmmh. Homemade yogurt, preserves, and granola.

Mmmmh. Homemade yogurt, preserves, and granola.

Hiking to Bomod-Ok Falls:

Guide- 500 pesos, Entrance- 20 pesos/person, Return Jeepney- 650 pesos

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Hanging Coffins: One of the few activities that doesn’t require a guide.

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Coffins hung off of the side of the mountain.

We decided to spend all the time we had to travel in Luzon in Sagada, figuring it was as good a base as any to see the sights. Since travel between destinations is time consuming and uncomfortable, we had little motivation to move around and stretch ourselves thin. I can’t say I regret this decision in the least. We had a very peaceful few days!

We headed back to Manila a day before our flight to Japan, not wanting to cut it remotely close considering our past luck with missing transportation. I won’t bother writing about our time back in the capital because we spent most of it hiding in the hostel. Thus, I’m calling Sagada our last destination in the Philippines and wrapping up Southeast Asia on a positive note. Overall, the Philippines was one of Kev’s and my absolute favorite places we visited!

Next, Japan.

Much, much love.

One Comment

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  1. Lee says:

    Why do they hang the coffins like that?

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