“Happiness only real when shared” – Christopher McCandless
Indeed. More so if you’re sharing that happiness with a group of jolliest people in one of the most beautiful places you know. I invite myself into a Cultours.ph package tour (haha) as I really want to visit Sagada. No regrets. Why? Then continue reading this.
1. MARLBORO HILLS
If there’s anything that occupied my mind while walking in Marlboro Hills, that would be this, “I wonder why the hills/town called Marlboro.” “Was it because the color of the soil is red? Marlboro red?” Lol… Well, this is just me being silly because later I found out that some wild horses can spot here, hence the name Marlboro Country.
I really don’t know where are we going at the end of this endless monumental trees, what I do know is that we need to witness the magnificent view of the sunset basking the forest. My eyes had already enjoyed the view then it began raining. So hard that even our umbrellas didn’t save us from getting wet. Then there’s me, enjoying the walk in the forest while getting quite soaked in the rain. Want to know what kind of a morbid thought I entertained in my head that time?
“Newsflash: A travel became a disaster after a girl got struck by lightning while hiking the Marlboro Hills in Sagada.”
Marlboro Hills on a rainy day
Yes, I was thinking what if I got struck by lighting right there and then? What a brilliant way to die, doesn’t it? Haha! Seriously, that came to my mind when the sounds of the thunder are getting louder and louder. It’s like the heaven telling us to get out of the forest or something. It was indeed an extraordinary experience I don’t want to forget unless I got Alzheimer’s. 😉
2. ECHO VALLEY
Years ago, after watching the episode of Brian Cox with the hanging coffins in Sagada, the ever curious Joan of Art promised to be there next year. Since then she was raving about it. In May 2015, she makes it all come true. What now, Brian Cox? This is my very own country, I, too, have the right to explore it. Lol, I’ve been waiting for this. The excitement is written all over her face.
The place was called Echo Valley, which was derived from the echo sounds it can make once you scream around its valley. Just please don’t try to do it nearby the hanging coffins, as a respect for Sagada culture. As usual, people are ubiquitous in almost every tourist spot on Earth. We arrived in the afternoon here, yet it was still crowded.
We were asked if we want to go down to see up-close the coffins hanging on the sides of the mountain and we unanimously answered, “”Of course, we want!”
I guess the guide just don’t want to waste time to go down because of the crowded people, plus he wanted to get another group of people to assist aside from us, you know, to get an extra income, but we insisted that we would like to go down. It will break my heart if we’re not.
So when we arrive at the feet of the hanging coffins, I was like a little girl in a candy shop, a high school girl on a school field trip who has been amazed by everything she sees, and a girl who just opened a precious gift she received.
If we didn’t go down, then a magnificent opportunity to see the hanging coffins where Professor Brian Cox also visited has been wasted.
Kankana-ey Igorots hang their dead in the cliffs of Echo Valley, believing that the souls of the departed are closer to the heavens. To them, the mountains are the stairs between this world and heaven. Those dead were curled in the fetal position. It was short but an informative tour in the valley and mountain cliff.
Photo by Cy Mendoza
3. BOMOD-OK FALLS
Our energy was fully drained but I had to see Bomod-ok Falls, I said to myself. I’m halfway there and there’s no turning back. Even though my feet were sore all over, and if they have their own life they would surely walk away from me and might start to plot a rebellion– I had to endure the pain to reach Bomod-ok Falls.
We enjoyed the beauty of rice terraces along our way. When we finally reached the falls, it was really crowded and the water is cold. We dipped our feet and enjoy the cold water. The hour that we spent in hiking is way longer than the hour that we stayed there. Love to spent half of the day here if only we didn’t have other places scheduled to visit after Bomod-ok. The fall is quite relaxing to look at. I don’t fancy extreme climbing and hiking, so I guess that makes all of my hiking experiences unforgettable 😛
4. MT. KILTEPAN
I don’t know how to describe the feeling I had when I get to see the sun slowly rising above the sea of white clouds. SURREAL! The clemency of the sea of clouds that would take you to the magical world. I wanted to jump right in and fly. A crowd of people won’t stop me from grabbing my camera and taking every shot that I can get. Every corner is a beauty, and for me, this view alone is all worth it. A great example of the futility of my life in the vastness of a place, let alone the vastness of the universe.
The night can get freaking cold until before the sunrise, so sleeping in thick upper-body clothing and pajamas is a must. As always I enjoy the food. Cultours.ph prepared some smores for a cold night while we’re having beers in front of the fireplace to keep us warm. Places, people, experience, THAT I will never ever forget. Cheers.