After finishing yet another contract as an English teacher in Taiwan, I decided to head to Thailand for some scuba diving and banana shakes… However, seeing that Cebu Pacific Airlines (which offered the cheapest flight) had a stopover in Manila ANYWAYS, it made sense to, well, explore a bit.
Seeing that I was heading to Thailand’s beaches in a few days, I saw no reason to head into the Philippine ones, and instead a decision had been made to pop into the mountain region of Luzon, Philippines’ largest island, an area seldom visited by backpackers. I was joined by Alan and Natalie, longtime friends and former colleagues from the school in Taiwan. Altogether, we were to spend 2 weeks romping about the mountains and the jungle and seeing what off-the-beaten-path was like in this island country.
This bit is the usual arrival, getting our bearings, followed by some adventuring through the Manila Chinese Cemetery, indulging in ‘halo halo’, a Philippine dessert, and then a trip to a seafood market.
In this episode we leave the capital and head north into the mountains. The first day is all about transit, but then we get to a sleepy village of Kabayan which is famous for various burial sites. We immediately check one out, and then, the next day, embark on a 4 hour journey into the hills to see the Ibaloi mummies, tucked away in a cave high up in the cloud-scratching mountains.
After arriving in Sagada, we head to the number one attraction – the cave! Sagada is Karst Country, meaning it is full of caves, sinkholes, underground rivers, and all kinds of other funky stuff. We luck out with a great and very knowledgeable guide who takes us on an awesome caving safari.
After emerging on the other side, we munch on some dinn-dinn, and then retreat to our hotel room due to a goddamn curfew. Next day some more hiking and exploring.
Last part of the short series. We leave Sagada to arrive at the Banaue Rice Terraces, though more correctly the Bontoc Rice Terraces which are more authentic and more scenic. We spend two nights on chilling out and hiking about, and then head out to Manila and fly out. The End.
Here are some neat photos taken by mysef, Alan, and Natalie. You will notice that some of this you have already seen in the videos, while other stuff is random. Enjoy!