Sagada Day 1: Cave Walk ain’t no Cake Walk
We finally got off the van at the Welcome to Banaue sign. The sun may already be out, but you can barely see anything because of the fog covering the views. The driver said that normally there would be lines of people taking pictures with the sign, but that morning we were only about 3 vans.
Banaue Rice Terraces
We were dropped off at the Banaue Rice Terraces Viewpoint for breakfast. I kept seeing quick glimpses of it from the drive there, but never had a chance to take a great shot. After the quick bite, we went down lower and saw a souvenir shop looking out into the Banaue Rice Terraces view.
I was already amazed when I saw them from the car, but the view up close was a whole other experience. It was a lot and very right in your face. It’s like you’re caught in the middle of a bunch of furry green stair cases lined up stretching far out into the open space. It’s really unimaginable how our ancestors were able to form terraces from gigantic mountains, durable enough for us to enjoy it until this day.
You can also go down lower and walk around into the Rice Terraces for a 10 pesos fee, but we decided not to do that and take pictures from where we were.
Home Sweet Home: A-Seven House
A-Seven House was the place that came with our travel package for our entire 3 days in Sagada. It was simple, but had pretty much everything you need for your stay. Our entire travel group of 14 people occupied the 2nd floor of the house where there were 6 separate rooms, 4 bathrooms, a common living area and a balcony outside. There wasn’t any aircon or even electric fans, but it wasn’t really needed since it was super cold in Sagada. Aside from the bed-sheets, blankets and pillows, you had to pretty much bring the other necessities like towels and toiletries.
The design was very quaint and lovely like you’re being welcomed into someone’s home. It has a few very nostalgic touches like family pictures on the shelves and the humble furniture you remember from your grandmother’s house. The first floor of the house is where the owner’s family live and they can assist for any of your needs. You can also request them to cook dinner for your group, rent towels or toiletries for a small fee or buy goods before all of the stores close at 9pm.
The fee we paid our travel agency only covered our transportation and accommodation. Although they are providing local tour guides to accompany you on your travel, the fees are separate depending on the activities you choose. The tour guides recommended us to switch up the activities from our itinerary, so even when we were already dressed cute and polished for what we thought was an easy city-tour picture taking, we were told to change into our sweat shirts and leggings for the Sumaguing Cave.
None of us knew what we were getting into to be honest. We were only going to be doing the Cave for the day because the tour guides said that it required so much physical exertion and when we get out of the cave, we would no longer have any energy to do any other activity.
I personally thought that we would just be walking around in a small cave, taking pictures and then going out. I didn’t realize what a cave actually looked like in real life: how there is no straight path to walk on to get to one point to the other. First the cave was so humongous and dark like you won’t ever find your way back out anymore.
Only one person from the group was allowed to bring a phone and it is given to the tour guide. This is so that everybody will be focused on the steps they make and not get into accidents just to take a video or a quick pic. They are the only ones who dictate when it is safe to take pictures and where are all of the good picture taking places. Don’t worry, they take pretty good shots.
Spelunking VS Caving
What we were about to do was called Spelunking which was just getting a tour around a cave. Caving they said was for experts who are used to extreme exploration. We were so not ready for what they made us do. It was like rock climbing downward, but with your feet because you had to go down deeper and deeper to get closer to the heart of the cave. We were stepping on slippery rocks because they were all covered in bat turd. We were obviously wearing the wrong shoes. I would advise wearing aqua shoes or sandals before you eventually go barefoot. The shoes have to fit you perfectly and the soles to be ridged so that they’ll have a strong hold of the rocks.
They thought us how to “Cave Walk” which was basically walking with your foot first and eyes on the ground to see where you’d be needing to put your foot next. You have to always keep your head back and when the next stone is too far, sit down first and then make your next step. You really don’t have a choice, but to put your hands on the stones covered with poop to support you. Nobody cares about being prim and proper when you can hurt yourself from one wrong move.
I am so amazed by how the tour guides memorized every step they’re making with no signs or signals to lead the way. If you’re slow, you’ve got to stay behind the group and I was part of those because I was panicking with every step I made and I almost lost my balance a bunch of times.
Phases of Sumaguing Cave Spelunking
There were 3 phases of activity in the cave. The first part involved going down those rocks to get deep in the stomach of the cave and see the many rock formations. The tour guides started showing to us different animals that can be traced from the rocks and the stories behind them. The was a queen and a king of the cave and you’ll recognize them from their private parts. We were able to take a bunch of good pictures with the funny rock formations.
Phase 2 was when we were deep enough in the cave for water to flow. We had to leave our shoes together and walk barefoot from that point out. There weren’t any slippery rocks anymore, but it was easier to walk around on because even when the rocks were wet, they were rough and our feet can be placed firmly. The water was still low on the ground, but we were already passing by waterfalls and pools of cold fresh water. We were legit climbing down waterfalls like Spiderman to get lower and lower to the depth of the cave where there were stronger waterfalls.
Just as we were excited to get to phase 3 where we were supposed to enter a tunnel, halfway submerged in water to cross to the other side, we were told to go back. The rain was getting stronger and stronger outside and water was already starting to flow all the way down to the bottom of the cave. If we don’t go out in any minute, the water would rise up too high. It might drown us and we won’t be able to find our way back up.
Once again the typhoon was imposing on our fun, but we had prioritize our safety so we don’t exactly get ourselves in danger, just yet. Stubbornness will only lead to unfortunate accidents. And besides, there’s a few more days-worth adventure left and we have to be alive and well for it.
Going up back to the entrance of the cave was easier. I wasn’t able to see the bats clearly, but they were all way up there clumped together in the ceiling. There were these rope courses to make going up easier like those you would see in adventure camps for team buildings. So when put in this setting, they really served a purpose then, huh?
When we got out of the cave and saw each other in the light, our entire bodies were wet and our hands covered with poo. But at least we survived right? It was no longer raining when we got back up to our van. After putting plastic down our seats, we drove back to our transient and waited frantically to take our baths before being too spent to even go a second before sleeping.
What happened next? We went trekking and finally saw the Sea of Clouds! Read Sagada Travel Stories: Mt. Kiltepan: Sea of Clouds, Pongas Falls and Hanging Coffins
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