The rice terraces of Batad
Trip Start Aug 27, 2011
98Trip End Jun 01, 2012
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There is a view point two kilometers from the town but I chose instead to trek to Batad to see the Ifugao rice terraces in all their glory.
The night before, I went to bed in a foul mood! It didn't help having spent 5.5 hours finding an ATM but back at my hostel, about 7 people had laptops on and so my little itouch was unable to pick up any bandwidth. Mumbling and cursing under my breath during dinner (another curry!) I had to pay to check emails then went to bed early to listen to some podcasts!
I had planned a guided trek. Typically, when I asked if anyone else was on the trip, the hostel said no. But, in fact, there were 5 different groups going from the same hostel! Frustrating to say the least!
From Banaue, it's 12km over a rocky road to Batad junction. My guide parked his tricycle here and it was an hour hike up the mountain to a small rest stop from where we descended down to the small village of Batad. Conversation was interesting along the way, we talked about family, Xmas, new year and he mentioned that in the Philippines, there is no such thing as divorce! So he finds it amazing that couples last in Western cultures when divorce is so easy. In the Philippines, once you are married, you are stuck with her/him! It wasn't long before I was talking between deep breaths!
Ironically, this was the first day in a very long time that I applied sun tan lotion! The day was very hot, well into the 30s! Though, 30 minutes into our hike, the heavens opened and the mist hugged the mountains turning visibility from perfect to poor!
We dropped down some steep stairs and he really picked up the pace, at some points I was jogging. After 30 minutes of descending down hill, we were viewing the rice terraces of Batad. Batad sits at the foot of a truly mesmerising amphitheater of rice fields. Most of the inhabitants still practice traditional tribal customs in what must be one of the most serene, picture perfect villages to grace the earth! If only the sun was shining!
The trip stops for lunch, but seeing as it was only 11am, we hiked down to the village. The dropped down steep staircases, walked through properties, balanced on the edge of a terrace or two before I was smack bang in the middle of the terrace. The village looked very wet so I settled for a distant look. A truly amazing sight, somehow the visual impact is increased when trying to swallow down as much oxygen as possible!
The walk back up the mountain to the lunch restaurant was exhausting! I had to stop a few times, panting like a dog! Back at the restaurant, I enjoyed some fried rice and chatted to a German couple.
We hiked back up the mountain to the rest point then hiked back down to the tricycle. There were frequent explosion noises in the distance, as construction workers were updating the road with dynamite! On the ride back to the guesthouse, we had to wait 30 minutes while a JCB moved rubble and boulders from the road, after the explosion I guess!
A great trip but better to have shared the cost with others!
I had spoke to a Dutch guy en route to Batad and he was at my guesthouse while we killed time till the night bus to Manila. I grabbed some fried rice and picked up some snacks for the overnight journey.
The bus left at 7 am and was packed. I got some sleep, but the driver played some pretty loud music driving south to Manila.
Next stop, Manila