Hanging coffins? Come to Sagada!

Sagada is the natural next stop from Banaue as it provides a taste of some interesting culture and small town vibes. I mean, surely hearing the phrase ‘Hanging Coffins’ is enough to get you there?

Getting to Sagada is a simple matter of jumping into a minivan that departs from Banaue to Sagada whenever it is full. The ride there is along a road with a thousand hairpin bends but the stomach-lurching journey is made worth while with the incredible scenery en route.

Upon arriving, we made our way to the guesthouse – home to the most overly polished wooden floors known to man. Go for a midnight pee, and you may just slide all the way to Manila without even realising it! Jokes aside, the accommodation was decent. Well, we even had sheets and pillowcases!

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The local government in Sagada takes great pride in regulating all that can be regulated (not necessarily a bad thing). This sign caught my interest… it’s very sad my mates won’t ever be able to come here, although one could argue that if you pee on either side of the sign, you may be ok? The key is in the greyness of law, isn’t it?

We took our first day in the town really easily. There are so many quaint restaurants and bars that one almost feels compelled to try them all, and I think we did in the end. I’ve never seen Bianca so happy – bouncing around every time she saw the word ‘cafe’ or ‘bistro’. I was bouncing around every time I saw the word ‘beer’ 🙂

The following day we signed up for a tour (compulsory – you have to be on one) to explore the Hanging Coffins. It’s a crazy concept but many people, more so in the past than now, wanted to be buried closer to God and out of the cold, damp earth, so as a result, they opted to have their coffins pinned to the side of the cliffs. The tenacity to hang a coffin up there is impressive to say the least. Mom and Dad, I love you, but I ain’t doing this.

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The Hanging Coffins in Sagada.

We also explored some of the caves that day – a cool experience that ended in the opportunity to swim under a waterfall. After having sufficiently restored my body temperature to that which would prevent spontaneous combustion, we located a pub run by a man who was potentially pre-op (I can just hear Bridget and Bianca swearing at me). I’ve never experienced such shit service in a restaurant as I did that day, but to be honest, I’d also be in a foul mood if I’d just been force-fed 100 Oestrogen capsules and had by balls chopped off.

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More rice paddies in Sagada, but they pale in comparison to Batad!

Bianca and Bridget had explored the town a little without me that afternoon in order to do some souvenir shopping. As I would rather sleep with an aggressive porcupine with a mood disorder, I opted out. They informed me that they had discovered the holy grail of lemon pie shops that we would be visiting the following day to celebrate the end of Lent (which Bianca decided to torture herself with). More on this later…

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This photo serves as a lesson. The beer on the left is a delightful Pilsen enjoyed any time of the day. The beer on the right leads to memory loss and poor life decisions. Be warned!

Sunday was Easter Sunday and for a predominantly Catholic country, you will not see an Easter Bunny or chocolate egg anywhere. This is good, as the focus is then firmly on the religious element of Easter, but I wanted a bloody chocolate egg.

My awesome cousin, Bridget, had secretly carted a slab of Lindt from South Africa and hid it on my bed that morning. Needless to say, I shed a tear and then promptly shoved it down my throat. Best chocolate of my life!

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Coffins stashed in a cave. As if you needed to warn me not to open it!

We spent most of Sunday morning climbing down into the bowels of the earth into a massive cave. As one does. Maybe I’ve watched too many horror stories about caves but I tend to treat them with a sense of awe and caution but here we were, climbing into one.

The guides will cheerfully tell you that wearing flip flops is sufficient gear but let me tell you it isn’t. Bring water shoes!! The second thing you need to be aware of is that you’re going to get covered in bat shit. And it stinks to high heaven. They should set Fear Factor here – in a pit in the ground, surrounded by coffins and bats, walking through bat shit.

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This is my ‘take the photo and move on’ face.

All in all, it was a cool experience but be realistic with your expectations and don’t wear flip flops! Thank god I have farm feet or I may still be stuck in the cave. Hell, I could have been the next Bat Man!

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A waterfall we encountered during our hike. It used to flow much more than this but farmers have diverted its water for irrigation purposes. Bianca and Bridget were loving the attention they were getting from the local tourists.

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Take note of my feet, caked in bat faeces. I had to have a bath in Sulphuric Acid to cleanse myself that evening.

After hearing all about the most amazing lemon pie ever baked, we ventured to this cafe that afternoon and I was prepared to get my mind blown! What awaited me, however, was a slab of lemon gelatine that left a lot to be desired. Thanks for building me up and breaking me down, girls! Fortunately we found a French Crepe shop nearby and after smashing a Chocolate Overload into my face, balance was restored!

All in all, Sagada is an incredible town. It’s crammed full of hikes and caves to explore and the town itself in loaded with restaurants and cafes. It’s a great place to spend a few days and take it easy!

From Sagada, we made our way back to Manila to begin our trip down south, but that’s another post!

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I had the overwhelming pleasure of sitting next to the Mummy on our bus back to Manila.

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