Sagada Pre-Trip Planning

(c) rappler.com

Sea of Clouds at Kiltepan, Sagada (c) Rappler 2015

March 15 2017, I was able to score yet again another promo fare from Philippine Airlines. We’re flying from Bacolod to Manila this July bound for a trip to Baguio and Sagada. We had to squeeze into a 4D3N schedule. So I did a little research and had come up with the following estimate of expenses, itinerary, must-sees and must-brings. 
Pre-trip Expenses:

Budget
• Terminal fee – 200
• Grab (200) – 50
• Manila to Baguio (as of June 6) – 455

• Baguio to Manila – 455

• • Grab Victory Liner Bus Station to Baguio Dangwa Terminal (100) – 25
• Baguio to Sagada – 220

• Sagada to Baguio – 220

• Tourism Fee (always bring receipt) – 35
• Van to/from Kiltepan – 500
• Check SAGGAS Office (guides) beside Salt and Pepper Diner – Short course caving (hanging coffins, lumiang burial caves, samaguing burial cave, sagada rice terraces viewpoint), tour guide fee (500 for 4pax) – 125

• Accomodation – 300/pax/night

• Plus food at 100 to 150 per meal = 1,500
Estimated expenses = 2,885+1,500
Total = Php 4,385.00

💲💲💲 Php 5,000 / pax all-in 💲💲💲

Itinerary

July 12, Wed
[ ] 9:20pm 🛫 ETD Bacolod
[ ] 11pm 🛬 ETA NAIA2

July 13, Thurs
[ ] 2am 🚌 Bus to Baguio
[ ] 8:00am 🌬 ETA Baguio
[ ] 🍳🍲 Breakfast, Burnham Park
[ ] 10:00am 🚕 Dangwa Terminal for Sagada; Look for GL Trans Bus Line!!! Book for Sagada to Baguio 7am/8am, July 15!!! Seats are limited!!!
[ ] 10:30am 🚌 ETD Baguio
[ ] 4pm ⛰ ETA Sagada, go to SAGGAS to sched for Spelunking and Kiltepan Tour, Snacks @ Strawberry Cafe
[ ] 5pm ⛺ Check-in Misty Lodge
[ ] 6pm Sagada Weaving (near Misty Lodge)
[ ] 7pm 🍛 Dinner @ Log Cabin

July 14, Fri
[ ] 4am ⏰ Wake-up call
[ ] 4:30am 🏕 ETD Misty Lodge
[ ] 5:00am 🌄 ETA Kiltepan Sunrise
[ ] 7am 🍞🍳☕ breakfast
[ ] 9am ⛰ Spelunking at Samaguing Cave
[ ] 12:00pm 🥘🥗 Lunch, Salt and Pepper Diner
[ ] 2:00 Sagada Day Tour: Hanging coffins of Echo Valley (1hr trek) weaving and pottery making, Lake Danum sunset
[ ] 5:00pm Pasalubong Hunting; Snacks at Lemon Pie House
[ ] 6:00pm Masfere Restaurant

July 15, Sat
[ ] 5:30am ⏰ Wake-up Call
[ ] 7am 🚌 ETD Sagada (GL Trans Bus 7am or 8am only)
[ ] 12nn 🌬 ETA Baguio
[ ] Lunch
[ ] Until 6pm: Free Time at Baguio
[ ] 6:30pm 🚌 ETD Baguio to Pasay

July 16, Sunday
[ ] 12:00am ETA Pasay (via Victory Liner Baguio)
[ ] 12:00nn 🛫 ETD NAIA2
[ ] 3:00pm 🛬 ETA Bacolod

Optional (Sagada to Manila via Banaue)

Must-see Places
[ ] Lake Danum Sunset, 2hrs trek
[ ] Kiltepan Sunrise
[ ] Gaia Café
[ ] Log Cabin, Dinner (reserve!)
[ ] Strawberry Café (yogurt)
[ ] Spelunking, Samaguing Cave
[ ] Hanging coffins of Echo Valley
[ ] Lemon Pie House (mountain tea)
[ ] Sagada weaving
[ ] Salt and Pepper Diner, try “Dinakiw”
[ ] Masferre Country Inn
[ ] Batad Rice Terraces (Sagada to Manila via Banaue)
[ ] Bomod-ok Falls (Optional)

Food:

Reminders:
[ ] Book Bus tickets in advance! 

We booked 7 days in advance. We were able to reserve 4 seats. Our friend, who decided to join the trip 5 days before the schedule, wasn’t able to book herself a ticket via Victory Liner online booking system. The dates available for booking starts a week after the current date. I presume that they only allow online booking a week in advance. Other than that, you would have to call their office.

[ ] Wear non-slip shoes
[ ] Bring CASH; they say there’s only one ATM in Sagada
[ ] Bring towels; cabins may not provide this

[ ] Flashlight (necessary when caving/spelunking)

[ ] Bring Ziploc bag, or a “dry bag”; prepare to get wet at Samaguing Cave; and, “Do not enter unguided!”

[ ] Be back to Hotel before Sunset

Hopefully we can tick off at least 90% of this pre-trip plan! Fingers crossed for a good weather. 🤞

Disclaimer:

Screenshots used as reference were taken from the following blogs:

ThePinaySoloBackpackerThePoorTravelerWillFlyForFood

How-To: Score Legit PisoFare and Cheap Flights

A lot of my friends are asking me how I managed to get a 2-way ticket for 2 from Iloilo to Singapore for only Php5,500. I even have a friend who scored a Manila-South Korea v.v. flight for only 1,750 All-in! How do we do it?

First.

Equip yourself with a VISA/MasterCard Credit Card for fast transactions. ATM/Debit Card will do if they’re VISA certified. I’m using two: UNIONBANK VISA Debit Card and PNB Essentials MasterCard CC. Seat sales run out really fast so you really have to keep these friends handy.

Second.

Download the mobile app. Experience told me I can’t make it through web traffic if I’m using the airline website. Aside that it’s easier and faster to use, only the mobile app got my booking confirmed.

Third.

Know airline anniversaries. Announced or not, big discounts are given away on that day. That’s for sure. As for Cebu Pacific, mark your calendars, that’s March 8. Which means you have to stay up from the night of March 7. You really have to catch the midnight sale because the cheapest literally Piso Base Fares will be gone by morning of March 8.

Regardless, you can still catch cheap fares through out the year only if you manage to wake up at around 2am-4am. I may also be wrong, but usually, Philippine Airline (PAL) flights are cheapest around this time especially on Tuesdays.

Cebu Pacific is the most celebrated budget airline. But I believe that PAL also offers a reasonable alternative. For a slightly higher price, PAL gives you a meal and a 10-kg worth of check-in baggage.

Fourth.

Download International and Domestic flight schedules of your favorite airline. Some flights are not operated on a daily basis.

e.g. Iloilo-Singapore Schedule: M-W-F-Sa versus Singapore-Iloilo Tu-Th-Su

Knowing flight schedules saves you time from booking dates without direct flights. When you have these schedules memorized, it will be easy for you to adjust to the dates with the cheapest airfare. Remember that during this time, you’re competing with every single traveller there is. Time is very crucial.

Struggle of Working Girls Planning for Week Long Vacations

Blogger wise, I’m supposed to declare this post after the trip. But I just personally feel the need to share my struggles for planning my first out of the country vacation to Singapore!

So here’s the catch.  Taking a straight 7-day absence from work isn’t a piece of cake. I had to keep myself from getting sick to avoid scrapping off my leave credits. And I still need to consider my shiftmates because if take my leave, they would have to take over my shift and render over-time duty. Either they agree with me or I wouldn’t be able to go. Here are a few things I feel the need to consider during your planning stage.

  1. Check your leave credits. In the Philippines, we are allowed 15 days of vacation in every year. But of course, there are internal company policies that dictate the allowable number of consecutive days of absence from work. Before even buying that plane ticket, make sure that you won’t go over the maximum allowable leave in your company. You will save your self from rebooking and/or even cancelling the trip due to ignorance of your company policies.
  2. Make the most of weekends. Sandwich weekends in your trip. This will help save your leave credits for later. Plus, most international theme parks open for longer hours on weekends. More rides for you then!
  3. Steer for the perfect timing when having your leave form signed. Inform your HR Department early-on. File that leave form at least a month before your trip. That way, you are able to adjust to the demands of your job. Say, your boss gives you this lengthy to-do list in exchange of your leave approval, which is highly likely to happen. Filing one month ahead or more will give you leeway to have your tasks accomplished on time. Know your boss and be sensitive of his moods, when to and when not to ask permission. Tip: Have them sign when it’s almost the end of his shift. This way, he won’t be able to ask you more questions and will maybe sign that form hastily. *wink*
  4. Compromise. For those of us working on 24-hour establishments, you must consider your relievers in your planning stage. If you’re  eyeing for a week-long vacation, you might as well inform your reliever (in work) way in advance so you guys can settle your schedule ahead of time. You have to remember that your relievers would have to render overtime duty to cover up your absence and your boss definitely wouldn’t approve of your leave if there’s no one to take care of your tasks. OT’s for a week straight would really be tiring for them but you can maybe buy them out by asking and giving them what they want as ‘pasalubong’  (souvenir) that could be your way out. Even if they don’t ask you to, might as well give them something out of your gratefulness for their help in making your vacation possible. Besides, this not the last time you’re going to ask this kind of favor. 
  5. Research. If you can’t ditch day off facebook, might as well open a new tab and search about the places to see on your go-to country. Look for: theme parks, free-entry museums or events, festivals (however, tickets during those seasons tend to more expensive), must-try street foods, cheap stay-in’s. All are easily accessible online. Preferably, look for personal bloggers who share their firsthand experience of the place. Save offline maps. I suggest the Ulmon application. It has separate maps for every country. I have saved two for Malaysia and Singapore. It let’s you tick stars to places you must see which gives you a better overview so you can plan out succession of your itinerary.

1 Day in Kuala Lumpur from Singapore

img_6774Singapore is a gateway to several open countries. But the closest one to venture on (and one of the cheapest) would be Malaysia. We decided to take a side trip to Malaysia just one week before our scheduled  Iloilo to Singapore flight.

Malaysia is known for its Theme Parks like LegoLand and Nickelodeon’s Sunway Lagoon. If you aim to explore those sites, might as well add more days to your Malaysia itinerary. But if like us, you’re one minimalist traveler who wants a taste of the culture, this short day trip in Kuala Lumpur will do.

Basic Itinerary

Wednesday, 11:45 pm: Depart from Golden Miles Complex, Singapore

Thursday

5:00 am: Arrival at Berjaya Times Square

5:30 am: Breakfast at McDonalds, KL Sentral / No other resto was open at this time.

7:00 am: Rest at MyHotel, KL Sentral

9:30 am: KTM Komuter train service from KL Sentral to Batu Caves

10:00 am: Explore Batu Caves

11:00 am: Back to KL Sentral via MRT and transfer to LRT line going to Chinatown

12:00 nn: / We got lost. Went off the wrong Train Station. We mapped and walked our way to Chinatown. /

1:00 pm: Late lunch at Burger King, Chinatown / Too tired to look for alternatives. Lol 😆

2:00 pm: Souvenir hunting and food trippin’ at Chinatown.

6:00 pm: Petronas Twin Tower

8:00 pm: Dinner at Suria KLCC (Mall inside Petronas)

9:00 pm: Lights Show at Suria KLCC Entrance Fountain Area

10:00 pm: Coffee-ing at KL Sentral

Friday

7:00 am: On board AeroBus/SkyBus from KL Sentral to Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA 2) / About 45 mins

8:00 am: Breakfast at Old Town Coffee, KLIA2 / I absolutely love their creamy native coffee. Food for the sleepy soul.

10:45 am: Depart from KLIA2 to Changi Airport / Flight’s very much on-time! Yay!

Kuala Lumpur Transportation

kl-transit-route

Unlike Singapore, you don’t need to buy a Transit Card. So there’s no need for a minimum top-up (10SGD minimum of reload). In Kuala Lumpur, you get to pay the exact amount for every trip you take. Downside though, you would have to fall in line for every single trip.

If you can’t take a good quality of this map online (which is unlikely), you can ask for a hard copy at Train Station booths.

In every station, self-service ticketing machines are readily available. Upon choosing your desired destination, the fare will display accordingly. Their machines also give out change. Instead of a ticket, you will be issued a token which you will tap upon entering your station of origin. Upon reaching your destination, you will drop this token in the coin slot at the gates.

Important! Stay with your token or else you’ll have to pay 30MYR for losing that.

How to get to Malaysia from Singapore

By Bus

    • The bus will get you there for roughly 5-7 hours depending on traffic and your choice of Origin and Destination
    • Singapore to Malaysia is cheaper by Bus
    • Price ranges from 15-30SGD depending on bus amenities
    • At 19SGD/pax, we had a TV upfront and a comfy reclining chair that’s suitable for sleepy heads.
    • We took the midnight trip from Golden Miles Complex, Singapore to Berjaya Times Square, Kuala Lumpur
    • Why midnight trip? We’d like to save a night’s stay at any of the two cities. We also find it convenient because we get to spend a whole day at Kuala Lumpur. Unlike if we travel on the day and arrive there at night.
    • Where to book? Check out EasyBook. They have a wide array of Bus Companies who offer Singapore to Malaysia trips. You get to choose from your desired travel time, hop on and drop off point and even compare their rates. On our case, we booked on the same day of the trip and there were still much vacancies left.
    • Your Booking Confirmation will be sent thru email and will have to look like this:
      img_7996
    • Walk-in Booking may also be accomodated. At Golden Miles Complex, offices of Bus Companies are open until their last bus departs.
    • Why Golden Miles Complex?  A friend of mine actually suggested this route. I also noticed during online booking that GMC had more bus trips to choose from. They have trips as late as 11:45pm which was an advantage for us.

 

  • By Planeimg_7994
    • It takes 30-45mins going to Changi Airport, Singapore from Kuala Lumpur International Airport 2 (KLIA2)
    • I find it more convenient to book a flight going back because we need to buy ourselves more time in SG. Can’t afford another six hours on the road this time.
    • We bought our ticket 1 week before the flight and it cost us: Php 1,526.00

 

Tips:

  1. Don’t choose Berjaya Times Square  as your drop-off point if you’re going on night trip! This drop-off point would be advantageous if the arrival time was 9am and beyond. Since Berjaya Times Square is also a mall, we could’ve had the chance to explore its indoor theme park. Yes, a theme park inside the mall itself. But we arrived 5 in the morning and there was practically nothing to enjoy nearby. We ended up taking a cab going to KL Sentral to have breakfast.
  2. Stay nearest as possible to KL Sentral. KL Sentral Train Station connects MRT going to Batu Caves and an LRT line when you opt to city stroll. It takes you even as far as Nickelodeon Sunway Lagoon.
  3. If you’re using Philippine issued VISA cards, the non-peso rates will automatically be converted to peso upon charging. But be cautious because your banks might have additional charges for this

 

7-Day Singapore-Malaysia Tour: The Highlights

I will put this blogpost into detail in the next few days. But for the meantime let me share to you our #photosoftheday for our week stay in Singapore and Malaysia.

(More photos tonight after I’ve synced my cams)

Day 1: Singapore must-see: The Merlion

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Day 2: Warm wednesday morning at Batu Caves, Malaysia and an obligatory #wheninmalaysia post: “Us with Petronas”

img_7495img_7494

Day 3: Winter wonderland feels at Snow City, Jurong East, Singapore

Processed with VSCO with hb1 preset

Day 4: #wheninsingapore: dig into their staple food – Chilli Crab. Sorry I just couldn’t help myself. It’s gone before we realized we missed to take a photo of it 😂✌🏻️

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Day 5: What’s a visit in Singapore without USS?

DCIM100GOPROGOPR2830.

Day 6: These boys run off Yishun to Orchard. That’s about 18km worth of sweat 💦 while I did my wait at Sentosa.

DCIM101GOPROGOPR3128.DCIM101GOPROGOPR3126.#wheninsingapore: dip in Tanjong White Sand Beach, Sentosa Island for free!

Day 7: While cheap skate buying at Bugis Street, we found a hidden treasure: Dragon’s breath.

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When Looking for GoPro Accessories in Bacolod

One dilemma of GoPro fanatics is the fact that the package don’t include even just the basic travel accessories and mounts e.g. monopod, tripod. Another thing to worry: original GoPro mounts are really pricey.

As much as I would like not to compromise the quality of my GoPro sidekicks, I began the search for the most reasonably priced accessories available.

This part for Bacolod Readers: The only shop I came across selling GoPro mounts and accessories along Downtown Bacolod is ZealText Trading located at Plazamart GF along the side facing The Public Plaza. Digital Village in SM Bacolod sells accessories too, well I’ll you judge the price. Their stocks are from A-Brands, so expect to drain your wallets. Price ranges from 300 above per accessory. As far as my asking skills let me, I found no store selling these goodies at 888 Chinatown Square as well.

To my demise, I got nowhere else to look but online, of course. I have several online shopping apps installed on mobile, but the two I like most gadget-spending-wise are: Lazada and Shopee. 

If you’re out looking for cheap mounts and accessories, I suggest you checkout Lazada.

It’s got you covered from individual accessories to a GoPro travel kits.1
The prices may already look inviting since compared to actual mall prices, they’re already cheaper. But fret not, because there’s a trick to finding the cheapest deal here.

  • When looking for an item e.g. “GoPro Accessories,” make it more specific like “GoPro Basic Travel Accessories Set of” (Note: I added the term “set of” because buying in bulk saves me more than buying each item individually. )
  • Below the item you have chosen, you can see the “People Who Viewed This Item Also Viewed” which are at times cheaper than the one you’ve already picked.
  • Another trick is to remember the cheapest shops you’ve come across so far, mine is…

3And it’s actually kind of surprising to see that Lazada has Sets of up to 40 items in one deal . But I don’t need that much, so I settled for this deal right here.Untitled.jpg

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Talking about great buy!

The item was shipped from abroad and it actually arrived 5 days earlier than the expected date. Down side for international orders, however, is that Cash on Delivery feature is not available.

Now, if your looking extra batteries, I suggest you checkout Shopee. Compared to Lazada it has lesser choices but cheaper price if your lucky. Since as I have said, products are fewer here, it becomes easy for you to compare prices.

4

I got the 3 extra Smatree batteries for my Hero4 Silver with a handy 3-Channel Charger and USB Cord at 3 year warranty. Not bad for the price of Php 1,299, innit? 

Gadget-spending: Cheapest Travel Camera

Now that Ber Month is here, everyone’s busy planning out where to spend that long-awaited Christmas bonus. It may sound too early for some, but Filipinos alike quite know the drill. But before spending that hardly-earned money, I have a few personal points you might also want to consider:

I would like to think that anyone frustrated with photography shares the thought of buying an SLR camera. By the looks of its HD, pre-processed, no-filter shots, SLR’s are sure to be the easy choice. But since I’m not a free-soul budget speaking, I shrugged that thought back. Besides, I don’t want to carry that much of  a load on my neck while hiking or even by plainly city strolling.

Action Cameras these days offer the same HD quality within a reasonable price range. Prior to purchase, I got the chance to try out two brands of action cameras credits to friendships:

  1. SJCAM SJ4000 @ Php  3,800 – 5,000
    • Wide-angle 12MP HD Lens
    • Multiple video recording formats: 1080P 720P WVGA
    • Pros: It’s very cheap and it’s readily available in online shops like Lazada, Shopee, eBay.ph. My friend bought his in a local shop in Bacolod. What’s in the box was way more worth than the Php 5,000 he paid on my opinion. It includes the basic action camera accessories such as car chargers, helmet base, body strap, hand strap, bike clamp, extra adhesive tapes which GoPro offers for a different price. It’s waterproof housing will definitely take you to places. As of writing the cheapest I found at Lazada is at 3,800. And before I forget, it has the ability to act as a webcam when plugged on a computer. Cool, innit?
    • Cons: Noise is a bother on photo, but if you’re good at post-editing, no worries on this one. It’s audio quality is not too reliable especially with the housing on. You have to buy your own memory card too.
  2. GoPro Hero4 Black @ Php  18,000-25,000
    • Ultra wide-angle 12MP HD Lens
    • Supports 4K15, 2.7K50, 1080p60 Video
    • Auto Low Light and Night Mode
    • Wifi + Bluetooth Connectivity
    • Pros: GoPro is the popular choice. Professional photographers benefit from its truly high-quality photos. GoPro sticks with the HD image and video quality it advertises unlike some other brands that justifies the high megapixel tag by merely eating up too much memory whilst giving noisy photos. Remember, higher megapixels mean larger image size not clearer image quality. (Well, I know you know that already.) GoPro users have the advantage of using GoPro Studio, an easy to use video editing and ready for online-sharing application. The brand is also known for use in highly adventurous stunts. It’s highly durable with a speedy processor. No hung-ups on those bold days of yours. So if you’re ready to take it to a professional level, go for black!
    • Cons: It’s on the pricey end, obviously. The box don’t include a memory card, selfie stick or any of the basic outdoor accessories mentioned above. It doesn’t have an LCD background for image previews as well.

When travelling, you’re left with high-hopes of going back to place even before you take off. There’s no reassurance to visit the place again. Especially if, like me, you’re part of the lowly working class on shifting schedule and you find it absolutely difficult to file your leave credits. Although I’m on a tight budget, I decided not to compromise the photos of my upcoming travels. So, I went for the better brand, I suppose.

I preferred, GoPro Hero4 Silver whose list of specs fall a little shorter than the Black Version.

  • Price Range: Php 13,749 – 20,000
  • Maximum Video Reso.: 3840 x 2160
  • HD Video Support: 4k
  • Auto Low Light and Night Mode
  • Wifi + Bluetooth Connectivity
  • Ultra Wide Angle Glass Lens + SuperView
  • Integrated Touch Display

Unlike Black, Silver has a touchscreen back panel for previews and camera settings which I find truly convenient. Its touchscreen backdoor cover is also water-resistant up to 3meters deep. I don’t mind the higher resolution offered by Black Version since I’m not after the large photos. I’m only after getting clear photos/videos of my trips not its large size especially that memory drains faster on Black.

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What’s in the Box: GoPro Hero4 Silver @ Php 13,749

Normally, mall price ranges from 18,000-20,000. I circled Bacolod Downtown area to find the cheapest one there is. As always, ZealText Trading, along PlazaMart GF, has the lowest price to offer which was 16,999. That was still out of my budget. Maximizing my resources, I waited for Lazada Hot Deals. I got the item from Lazada Philippines for only Php 13,999 and since I have the voucher, I got to cut Php 250 off my bill.

Tip: Use the mobile app for more Voucher/Promo Codes.

Here’s to capturing memories of the future! Welcome to my life, Silver!