Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Viewing the Batad Rice Terraces--Feb. 4, 2015

There were lots of unexpected events in getting to the Batad Rice Terraces because there was a recent landslide just past Kinakin that closed the road. The plan was to get a ride to the landslide, walk through the landslide, and then board any kind of vehicle that would take me to the end of the road or the Batad Saddle. From there I would take a path to Batad and its surrounding Rice Terraces which are a UNESCO World Heritage site.

While I was checking out the jeepney and moto trike area for a ride to the Batad saddle, Australian John and Maylee showed up and introduced me to their favorite moto-trike driver also named John. He agreed to take me right away to where the landslide was some 12 kms distance for 200 pesos.

Halfway to the landslide, John had to stop for gas from this liter coke bottle that are sold at most of the small stores found in every little village.

John is posing at the landslide spot where I would have to walk through the construction site.

I figured it was time for me to try out this moto-trike.


When we arrived at the landslide area there were a number of workers and heavy equipment working to reopen the road. I walked about a half mile through the landslide area and caught another mototaxi to the end of the road. This driver wanted 300 pesos and tried to get me to agree to have him drive me back upon my return. I just told him to pick up other passengers and I would try to get a ride back to the landslide area with what ever transportation I could.

This big back hoe and some dynamite would speed up opening up this road. Right now only motorcycles can make it through and not moto-trikes, jeepneys, cars, or trucks.

They start training heavy equipment operators young here.

It was then a lot of walking down a slowly dropping rocky trail until began to near the village where the trail was either a concrete trail or steps. I finally got to the Hilltop Inn where I stopped for breakfast and saw this amazing view while having coffee, vegetable omlet, and pineapple.


While there I met some Swedish travelers who told me to go toward the red roof building in the distance and to try to stay at elevation rather than dropping down into the Batad village. After paying my 50 peso entrance fee, I went to the left until I came to the elementary school and looked around without success for the higher trail. I was not successful, so I returned to the park office and headed down to the Batad village.

Along the way to and through the village there were a few farmers out planting their seedlings in the watery terraces. The way up to the red roof building was fairly easy to see.

This farmer is carrying rice seedlings to the prepared terraces. They use no machinery nor water buffalos for preparing the rice fields.

Notice the protruding rocks that provide villagers and us a way to move up from terrace to terrace.

Once there I began descending one of the longest staircases I have ever seen. Even climbing Wyan Picchu at Machu Picchu was not as long as these stairs to the waterfall were.

The travel there was worth it to view this beautiful waterfall and its surrounding pond.
After that it was back up. When I got to the red roof building at the top of the never-ending staircase, I bought a San Miguel from the vender. In turn she showed me where I could find the shortcut back the Swedes told me about so I would not have to go back down to the Batad Village. I ended up walking about 11 miles either up or down by the time I got back to where the jeepneys were parked for the return to the landslide area.
View of Batad from the shortcut.
The path through the woods and banana trees.

Children from the elementary school greeted me as I came to the end of the shorcut.

After leaving the Hilltop Guest House and Restaurant with this "guard" dog, it was just a short time before I got to the end of the road they were building to Batad. They had made some progress and had covered over about 200 yards of the trail I had earlier traveled on.


The way back was interesting in trying to figure out how to get back and I luckily found some people who had hired a guide who had rented jeepneys on each side of the landslide area. I jumped aboard and they took me back for just 150 pesos for each ride---about half the price of when I came.

First jeepney ride from the Batad Saddle to the landslide area.

Shortly after dynamiting, the rock wall, this back hoe was busy removing and arranging the rock debris. Not even motorcycles could pass this area when we went through. However, I heard that the road was reopened just a day after I passed by.



Here is the second jeepney that took us into Banaue.

Back in the Banaue Jeepney-Moto-trike area.

After a shower and dinner I attended the nightly Ifugao Cultural Show in the community center.

Monday, February 2, 2015

To Banaue and Its Rice Terraces--Feb. 3, 2015

After watching the Seahawks throw away their SuperBowl win, even this guy says when you are near your goal you should rush your opponent and not pass. What were they thinking???

I left the Angeles City bar filled with 16 large screen TVs, hordes of depressed Seahawks fans wearing their Seahawks jerseys to catch a moto-trike to the Dau Bus Station where I was hoping to catch the next bus to Baguio. As my luck would have it -----and not the Seahawks----I immediately boarded a Victory Liner bus with movies and WiFi to Baguio. Most of the journey was fairly fast and level until we began to climb the Cordillera Mountains.


Once we were in the mountains, the road was very twisty with steep drop offs at each corner. It was amazing how our bus could pass the ever present moto-trikes around these blind corners.




I ended up taking the KMS night bus leaving at 7:30 pm. Since it was only about 4 pm, I had enough time to check out the festival area with all of the food and vendor stalls and the downtown park. After dinner, I went back to the bus station, but they had no waiting area and a sign that said that "No drunks allowed on the buses". I quickly found out because next to the bus station was a country western bar. For two hours, I was entertained while sipping a San Miguel.


The KMS bus was quite a let down after the Victory Liner. Many of the windows were sharded or patched with duct tape. They over sold the trip so a number of passengers had to spend the night sitting on small plastic chairs in the aisle ways.

Again the drive was a twisty one with several stomping of the brakes and honking of the horn on this night ride through mostly wooded areas. I wore my bandana over my head and I think I must have slept a bit and was glad to final arrive at about 5am in Banaue. Fortunately one of the restaurants was open so I had a couple cups of coffee before the Sanafe Hotel opened up. I booked two nights there and had a good breakfast of an omlet and coffee and was able to get in my room right away.

After buying my return ticket on the Ohayami night bus for the 5th of Feb., I continued walking up to the viewpoint where I was planning hike down through the rice terraces to Banaue.


I was almost near the Viewpoint when an Australian fellow invited me into his place overhanging the rice terraces invited me in for coffee. His name was John, from Australia, and his partner was Maylee. They lived in Manila most of the time but got this cabin that they were fixing up as a getaway from the heat of the summers. They also traveled occasionally back to Australia. The view from here was spectacular. They were very gracious hosts and told me about one of the Ifugao natives who posed for pictures at one of the viewpoints had his picture in the Manila newspaper.

I continued up to the Viewpoint where there were a cluster of "my best friends"---Ifugao native women---who would pose for a donation of 20 to 50 pesos. They were a happy lot despite their bent over condition from toiling in the rice fields all their lives and their mouths were a mess from chewing moma--betel leaves--that gave their mouths a reddish appearance and apparently rotted out their teeth. People seem to chew this mild narcotic all over the place. In town they have fines for spitting the reddish juice on the pavement. It is pretty disgusting.

With great confidence I headed down what Lonely Planet showed as a single trail only to end up dead ended several times in peoples home compounds filled with growling dogs, or snorting pigs. It was also very slippery from the recent rains. The final straw was when a little kid started throwing rocks at me. I had to admit that I was truly lost. I backtracked back to the Viewpoint and returned to Banaue.


That night, I went to the Vegas Restaurant where I had something called a hildago--slivers of beef, onions and other vegetables with rice. While eating, the owner sang several Elvis songs and as it turned out he was well known in town as their Elvis impersonator. When I left the restaurant it was raining hard. I just hoped that it would rain during the night and clear for the following day since I was planning to visit the Batad Rice Terraces---a UNESCO World Heritage Site.