Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Up North: Baguio, Sagada and The Farm

Over holy week we decided to head north because it's nice and cool up there, and hotter than hell down here. Also, we hadn't been there yet. The area we went to is usually known as the Cordilleras, which I learned when I was looking for a wikipedia link means "range of mountains" in spanish, which is what they are. How convenient. It's actually a mountainous area in northern Luzon made up of 6 or 7 provinces, and since the whole area is at an altitude of something like 1500+ meters, it's noticeably cooler up there. During the winter it can get as cold as 4C, which is flippin' cold for the Philippines. The area is amazingly beautiful, and part of it (specifically Banaue) is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. We didn't go to that part, but apparently there's great hiking over there, and it also has the dubious distinction of being the place where Julia was killed.

We went to Baguio for a day, just to break up the 16 hour trip up to Sagada from our site, and it was nice, for a big city. Really hilly, with a lot of good restaurants, shopping and jeepney exhaust. After that we headed up to Sagada along a semi-paved road that offered great views down the precipitous cliffs we were teetering along on our little one-lane road. Sagada is a great little town with a decent tourist presence, but not too much. The people there seem to understand that a lot of tourists and/or big tour groups would really destroy the quiet tranquility that's such a huge part of the draw there. There's still work to be done, but hopefully they keep it like that, instead of going over to the dark side and becoming the Boracay of the north. We went caving there, which was pretty amazing, spending 2 hours poking around barefoot in a cold limestone cave. We also went on an incredible hike to a waterfall that led us down into a valley carpeted with rice terraces. Unfortunately we also had to hike back out, which was straight up.

The guesthouse we stayed at in Sagada

The best way to carry a giant bundle of leaves

The trail to the falls

Apparently there are no roads to the villages in the valley so they carry everything in

Unbelievable, and not even the best the Philippines has to offer (apparently)


We had to make it through the terrace maze to get down



Just called "Big Falls" I think... 72 meters tall

Great swimming after a hot hike, ice cold


The next series of pictures is from the farm that's owned by the host family of our friend Sherry. A bunch of us went there for the week to hang out and work (or in our case, just hang out). It's a pretty amazing place, an hour walk from a small town, so it's totally isolated, amazingly quiet and pretty much the perfect place to go to get away from whatever it is you need to get away from (in my case: allergies, tricycles, the heat...). We ate really well, hung out a lot, went hiking and got some amazing produce from the organic garden. It's registered with WWOOF (Willing Workers on Organic Farms) so if you are ever in the Philippines and would like a week or a month of work in exchange for free lodging and awesome scenery, check it out. You can hang out with Adam and Beth.

Hiking through town

Halfway down (or up) the super steep path

The farm. It's hard to tell, but there are different terraces for various kinds of crops

Adam and Beth, weeding the green onion

Weeding for their supper

A hike we didn't go on because we weren't there yet, but still a sweet picture

Sunset from the farm

Don't ask why there's a cat in the picture, it's a long story...

1 comment:

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