Booze & views in Banaue, + Amazing Batad

Trip Start Aug 09, 2010
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Trip End Feb 01, 2012


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Flag of Philippines  , Luzon,
Thursday, March 24, 2011

Good morning all!

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. 

We managed to jump on a jeepney ( which is the best form of transport ever! ) to some town in between Sagada & Banaue. Now a jeepney is a mix between a bus / van / tuk tuk / disco! They are exclusive to the Philippines and really show the Filipino character in all it's glory. They will normally have some kind of Christian quote on the window, the sides will be painted in a kaleidescope of psychedelic colours and the music will be blaring out. They pack people in to the rafters too! I am not joking, if it is jammed inside, people will hold on to the back or sit on the roof! It's brilliant! 


 



 
 






 
 
Anyhow that's enough about my love of the jeepney. We manged to get to Banaue by early afternoon. Banaue is a world heritage site and it is easy to see why. The rice terraces here are over 2,000 years old. They may not be as photogenic as some of the rice terraces we have seen ( or are about to see ) but the fact that they are that old makes up for beauty. Unfortunately, on the day we arrived, nature decided to show us what makes the area so green. Rain! and lots of it. After a quick visit  to the market, we decided to get slightly tipsy instead. We sat in our guesthouse restaurant drinking San Miguel beer making friends and looking out at the incredible views in front of us. 

 







 
 

 











 

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. 






 
The village itself is wayyyyy down a mountain so to actually get there we also had to trek for about two hours in the jungle. It was amazing! As we walked and enjoyed the views we'd be overtaken by locals carrying provisions for the village, the weird and wonderful sounds of animals and insects surrounded us and the ginormous trees protected us from the sun. We finally made it to the village tired but happy. Ash and Anna wanted to go see a waterfall that was down in the valley. Divine intervention told me that if I walked down in the valley I WOULD NOT make it back. The trek was very very steep, so Paul and I decided to give it a miss. I pointed to the top of the rice terraces and suggested we walked up there instead. It looked like a 20 minute walk max! 





 
Forty minutes later, with sweat pouring out of us like we'd sprouted hundreds of leaks, deep in the thick jungle that surrounded us we realised that the 20 minute stroll we'd planned wasn't exactly coming to fruition. We'd also come across a wooden fence that stopped our trail short so we didn't know whether to cross it or not. As we stood there weighing up our options we heard a grunting noise below us. Paul decided it was a wild boar and that clearly we were in danger. His voice grew tense, his steps purposeful. He was going to get us out of here ALIVE! At the sound of the next grunt I looked down to where the noise came from and spotted the cutest little piglet ever. Of course when I pointed this out to Paul he refused to believe me. To this day he insists the grunting came from a wild boar out to destroy us. 



 
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.




 


  












   
When we got back to our starting point there were two kids sitting next to us. I took a photo of one of them and showed it to him. He loved it so much he went back to where he was when I took the photo and started to pose. Then he'd run back up to me to check out his pic. His sister wanted to get involved too so the two of them ran up and down posing and checking out their photos. They were very very cute! 













 
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. 

When we finally made it to the top I had the bright idea to walk down part of the way where the road was exceptionally bad. I figured walking downhill would be a piece of cake right. The thought that the more ground we covered by walking, the less time we'd spend jumping about in the jeepney quickened my pace and helped me find new reserves of energy. Mere seconds before the jeepney came down to pick us up I stepped on some water and went flying legs first into the air. Of course what goes up must come down and there I landed, like a sack of potatoes in a puddle of mud. I climbed back onto the jeepney soaking wet and covered in mud. My master plan to avoid danger on the jeepney had misfired. 

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 

xxx


  
 
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Comments

pearl foyle on

Again so nice, I like walking but I think it would have been to much for me. Karen you need two weeks in the sun, u sound very tired. The pic of the kids was so nice. These pictures you send brighten up my day, keep them coming. Take care x

mom on

Paul & Karen amazing pictures and every interesting read xx

auntyp on

Awesome!!!!!! absolutely awesome guys!!!! xxxxxx Take care!!!

MARY TSITEROU on

WELL GUYS FANTASTIC ! ! U ARE REALLY VERY BRAVE THE PICS OF THE CHILDREN ARE SO CUTE ALSO AMAZING SCENERY, THANKS FOR SHARING WITH US YR EXPERIENCE IT IS AS IF WE WERE THERE TOO.

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