Booze & views in Banaue, + Amazing Batad
Trip Start Aug 09, 2010
124Trip End Feb 01, 2012
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I do hope that we are not sending you crazy with all these blog updates!
We reluctantly left Sagada to head to Banaue. Not that we were not excited about seeing Banaue it was just that Sagada was such a special place and all four of us really connected with it.
It was not all fun and games though. We managed to book our flights to Palawan. We can't wait to hit the famous beaches of the Philippines. As Ashely & Anna are only here for 2 weeks we have crammed it in which has meant that we have hardly stopped moving about. I think we are all longing to be lying on a beach with a book in our hands. To carry on with what Kaz said in our last blog about putting Ashley & Anna in basic accommodation. In this town they had the honour of sharing a room with us too! Oh the joys of budget travel!
Apart from booking our flights we also managed to organize a trek and guide to Batad for the following day which I will let Karen talk about. You see, we did not just get drunk!
The Lonely Planet casually mentions that Batad is 15 kilometres away from Banaue. What it doesn't tell you is that the road leading there is unpaved, full of rocks and of course right on the edge of a cliff. Apparently jeepney drivers have to change their tyres every 3 months because of the state of the road they have to drive on. The trip is true off-roaders' paradise (Joe you would love it!), but an off-roader I ain't and so I sat there and prayed hard to my new found guardian angel for the whole hour of the trip.
As we were about to abort our mission, we bumped into another couple who had just come from the rice terraces - they pointed out the way and we decided to keep going. We came to the edge of the mountain and had to walk along a wall that wasn't more than 40 cm wide. I was slightly worried about my balancing skills, especially since I'd already fallen in one rice terrace, only the drop here was much higher. But as we walked further away from the thick jungle, the most amazing view awaited us. Below us was what looked like an amphitheater made from a patchwork or the most brilliant green you could imagine. The picture here gives an idea of what we saw but nothing can truly capture the beauty of this place. I was so awe struck I could have cried. After taking a million photos Paul and I just sat and looked and marvelled at these incredible surroundings. A perfect example of man and nature working in harmony together. A dam of water at the top and ingenious design meant that water trickled from the highest rice terrace, to the lowest one which was kilometres away. We could understand why these rice terraces were called the stairway to heaven. We had to pull ourselves away to get back to the village and before I left I took a few mental shots to return to whenever I felt like it.
In the distance we saw a very old lady walking towards us. She was bent over, through years of working in the rice fields and her face had a thousand wrinkles. Every step she took was an effort. She came over to us and started chatting in perfect English. It was so surreal. This is one of the great things about the Philippines. Many locals speak english and are incredibly friendly. So there are great opportunities to have proper conversations rather than the 'where you from?' variety.
As the afternoon wore on there was still no sign of Ash and Anna. We were getting slightly worried as we still had a two hour trek back to our jeepney to do. We finally saw them staggering back into the restaurant, out of breath and red in the face. It turned out my suspicions were right - the trek to the waterfall was a killer. Very steep going down, and very steep coming back up. I definitely wouldn't have made it.
We hiked (or in my case crawled) back to our jeepney for our final 2 hour hike. I've done more exercise in these past 2 days than I would have done in a whole year in London. Part of me wanted to die, but another part was enjoying the endorphin rush that came as a very welcome reward at the end of my struggles.
To save time we'd decided to leave Batad that night on an overnight bus. Brave I know! We begged our hotel owner to let us have a shower before we made our way to the bus in these tiny tricycles. This time my travel buddies wanted a share of my happy pills. I was only happy to oblige. Sheer fatigue and our little yellow pills meant we managed to sleep through the whole 10 hour bus journey along the mountains back to Manila! Success!
Our journey didn't stop there however. When we got there we went straight to the airport, flew to Puerto Princesa in Palawan, got onto a 2 hour jeepney ride and FINALLY made it to our destination, Sabang.
More about our misadventures there in our next entry!
Lots of love
Karen & Paul