Trip Start Nov 10, 2010
30Trip End Mar 22, 2011
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Where I stayed
By Lack Of Hasaam. The scenery is just that friggin awesome. Not sure if
the bandwidth out here will really allow for me to post the photos
tonight, but that'll just build the suspense to an appropriate level I
Start from the start. Got on the bus from Manila, made a
careful effort to get my bag into the bottom of the bus early so I
wouldn't have to worry about anything, and also because I was looking
forward to this famous air-conditioning the overnight buses are
the hostel caught the same bus previously and told me how he shared a
blanket with the cute girl next to him and she got all cuddly and stuff.
So yeah even though I've actually been enjoying the heat this time
after Harbin I was really looking forward to a nice break from all the stickiness.
minutes after sitting down, a fairly cute girl sits next to me and I'm
inevitably recalling Slovenian Mac's story and crossing my fingers JUST A
LITTLE BIT. Tried having a conversation with her but she kept shaking
her head and expressing her apparent distaste for English. She would
even speak to me directly in Tagalog, which was kind of odd for Manila
resident - in this country pretty much everyone understands English, the
only problem I've encountered has been tweaking my accent to suit their
get some sleep. Turns out it really is freaking cold? I was shivering
and stuff, crazy. Of course, being my cocky self I hadn't brought a
blanket. She had though and a few hours in I was even desperate enough
to ask if we could share. Then I went to sleep and within the hour she
had her head on my shoulder? She wound up sort of hugging me like I was
some kind of giant teddy bear. I've sent Mac an email to compare notes
and try to figure out what the deal is. I was wondering if it was going
to turn out the bus offered some sort of bizarre extra service for
foreign men (this would not be the weirdest thing I've encountered in
that respect, seriously ask me about China and Japan especially) but
fortunately no awkward offer came. (According to Mac: same deal.)
Instead I woke up to find the girl gone (she got off a stop earlier),
and her blanket still on me.
Then I get off the bus to get
my bag. (Gotta love the foreshadowing, eh?) But my bag was not there
Or anywhere! It was about 5-6am. It was also very confusing. Don't
confuse me with something this major before my coffee. I was a little
cross. Apparently somebody took my bag out to fit their own stuff in,
and it had been left on the ground, ultimately winding up at the Manila
terminal's lost and found, a mere 10 hours' drive away. The description
of the bag in question didn't thrill me, either. Somebody said it was
brown. Oh dear. I could only hope he was trying too hard to be helpful.
(Cos like, my bag is not brown?)
Not in a good mood at this
point, getting paranoid and running through my options. Sent out a few
SMSes to some new friends, as well as a cool filipina friend I made a
year or so back in Melbourne
condolences and well-wishing. Got all the contact information I could
and went to the hostel. Throughout the day I would badger the manager
with fairly polite SMSes, to give the impression that I was not the type
to just walk away from something like this.
Over breakfast at
the friendly hotel a dude from New York who sounded exactly like Matthew
Broderick invited me to come with him to Batan, since a group can
travel more cheaply than an individual. It was a good day, involving an
AWFUL lot of walking. Apparently my knees are still not back 100%, but
it takes several kilometres of stairs and rocks beneath my feet before I
feel it again. Had jellylegs by the end of the day, but I regret
frigload of rice terraces.
The Rice Terraces are known by some as
"The 8th Wonder of the World", a term which I'm sure gets thrown around
here and there, but I've gotta tell you, I felt guilty taking photos of
these things. I felt like somebody should have been offended that I
would DARE even TRY to capture the beauty of it all with my shitty
little camera. If you are not impressed by these photos, it is the fault
of my photo-taking skills and not of Banaue/Batan. If you are not sent
flying out of your chair and across the room, through the wall and into
your neighbour's backyard, I assume that is because this much Awesome
cannot really be viewed on today's monitors. Furthermore your bandwidth
probably couldn't handle it well either
APPRECIATE IT THROUGH ANYBODY ELSE'S EYES.
ARE WE ALL GETTING THE IMPRESSION THAT MYKAL THOUGHT THE RICE TERRACES WERE OK
idea is, this area is loaded with mountains. It's like some kid's
family knew he liked mountains, so for every birthday they just kept
giving him mountains, and lots of em, and he was too sentimental to
throw them away, so instead he just slapped them all over this chunk of
the Philippines haphazardly. Filipinos are dudes and ladies who are
quite fond of rice, and it is difficult to grow rice on mountains, which
tend not to be flat enough for the job. Rice pretty much needs to be
submerged 24/7, you see. So thousands of years ago, the locals decided
to deal with this problem um, by just carving layers out of the most
some basic tools, as best as modern day scholars can gather. Meanwhile
we're scratching our heads about the pyramids?
is gathered at the top of the mountain. It trickles down the slope, of
course. Near the top there is a flat bit, maybe less than 100m x 40-60m.
The water will collect there until it reaches a certain level and then
go down to the next flat bit. In other words, it is like a giant
staircase of rice fields. It'll make sense when you see it. They didn't
do every mountain, either - they left the best forests for hunting game
untouched, and also forests with useful trees or whatever.
The result is both an incredible use of space, allowing for more rice to
be grown in that amount of space than if there were no mountains in the
first place, and an unbelievable sight
It's a fairly popular tourist spot, and apparently a lot of people of my
generation have turned to the relatively lucrative guide business, but
rice farming is still as big today as it was back then, and so you can
still see people planting, harvesting and so on, depending on the time
of year. This is all done by hand. Every individual seed is planted,
every shoot pulled out and transplanted and finally harvested, by
people, using basic tools.
Today I got all my luggage back, finally. Worrying about that stuff was
distracting, but my dealings with that stuff just isn't really that
interesting when I'm walking along tracks barely as wide as myself, with
nothing to stop me from falling off the cliff edge on my left the whole
time (slipped occasionally when the jelly legs kicked in)
jump over rocks, use logs as bridges, make detours thanks to a recent
landslide (by no means uncommon in this area) ... and went swimming in a
deliciously cool river by a waterfall. I thought I was covered in tiny
leeches when I came out, but no, turns out they were just dragonfly
larvae. Forgot my towel but that didn't matter, it's warm enough here
that I was dry in 5 minutes anyway.
Oh and I saw a chameleon changing colours. That was pretty neat also.