Sagada: Echo Valley and Hanging Coffins

FIRST PART
read the second part here:
Sagada: Echo Valley & Hanging Coffins, Second Part

I arrived in Sagada late in the evening on a minivan I hitchhiked on the road from Banawe.. I wasn’t sure if could make it from Banawe to Sagada that day, because I left Banawe around 5 o’clock in the evening, and knowing the conditions of the road in the Philippine Cordilleras, I was expecting an overnight stay somewhere on the road or in the jungles.. But the Fortune’s wheel was on my side that evening.. First, on a motorbike I reached a military base on some mountain top.. That was the best ride on a motorbike I ever experienced: we had to drive through clouds and sometimes even above the clouds; that high we were above the sea level..

Then from the mentioned military base (one of the officers said it’s dangerous for me to stay there, because they might be under attack at any moment; I wondered who’s that insane who wants to attack a military base lost in the mountains; communist guerrillas, NPA, no joke) I got a ride all the way to Sagada, where I walked straight to the local police station and asked them to spend the night there.. Policemen in the Philippines are very hospitable; I got my space on the floor, unpacked my sleeping bag and prepared myself for a good sleep after a long day.. But before had a chat with officers.. They said I will be sharing the room only with one of the officers, because the rest will be patrolling the surroundings..
“Why? Something happened?”
“One of our guys shot a Kalinga (headhunters tribe) and now they want ten heads instead..”
I don’t know if that was true or not, but my sleep wasn’t that peaceful as I was expecting Kalingas to run in at any moment for my head.. What a miserable death; from the hand of a head hunter; and I’m not even a local.. Early in morning when woke up I immediately left the police station and took the path towards the Echo Valley passing by an old Episcopal church..

Echo Valley is a very popular tourist destination in Sagada, small town located in the Mountain province of the Philippines.. And the main reasons are the caves and…… hanging coffins! I usually try to avoid places that attract a lots of tourists, but this one I couldn’t miss as I am very much interested in burial traditions in different cultures.. When I was in Tomsk before leaving for southeast Asia, in one of the local travel magazines I read an article about Philippines and the hanging coffins were mentioned there, too.. And I remember as I told my friend that I will definitely visit the coffins.. And so I did..
Although in tourist information center I was told that I’ll have to take a guide to go to the valley, I decided to go there alone.. First, I had to pass through a cemetery..

Being attracted by the graves I soon lost my path, so I had to ask for directions.. Some local workers explained me how to get to the valley and soon I was there.. The Echo Valley.. magnificent scenery.. Peaceful.. Tranquil.. The best place to be after all the adventures I had getting here..

(to be continued)

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3 thoughts on “Sagada: Echo Valley and Hanging Coffins

  1. Sagada…one of the several places in the Philippines that I regret not being able to visit. So I am glad you are sharing your journey. I can, at least, visit the place virtually.

    Looking forward to the hanging coffins!

  2. Pingback: Sagada: Echo Valley and Hanging Coffins « On The Road

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