08.05.2011 – BANAUE AND SURROUNDINGS

.

WE HAVE ARRIVED TO BANAUE IN THE EARLY HOURS OF THE MORNING AFTER ABOUT 7 HOURS DRIVE (CIRCA 390 km) HAVING NOT QUITE ENOUGH SLEEP BUT READY FOR SIGHTSEEING. IT HAS TURNED OUT THAT OUR DRIVER WAS ALSO A GREAT, INTELLIGENT AND OBSERVANT GUIDE. HE QUICKLY REALISED WHAT OUR NEEDS WERE AND TOOK US TO AN APPROPRIATE HOSTEL-MOTEL – GREEN VIEW LODGE. WITHOUT FLAMBOYANCE HOWEVER DESIRABLY LOCATED, CLEAN AND WITH A HOT RUNNING WATER IN BATHROOMS AVAILABLE AT ALL TIMES FOR 800 P PER ROOM. WE HAVE IMMEDIATELY JUMPED IN SHOWER TO THE WASH OFF FROM OUR BODIES THE 24 HOURS FILM OF THE STALENESS AND THE TIREDNESS AND HAD OUR BREAKFAST. IN THE MEANTIME THE DRIVER ARRANGED ANOTHER CAR FOR US TO TAKE US TO THE  RICE TERRACES AND A BED FOR HIMSELF. NEGOTIATIONS WITH A DRIVER WHO HAD DRIVE US AROUND “A HUB” OF THE RICE TERRACES LED TO A REDUCTION IN THE PRICE FROM 3 300 P TO 2 800 P. MAYBE I COULD HAVE PUSH THE PRICE DOWN A BIT MORE, BUT TAKING INTO ACCOUNT THAT WE LEFT AT AROUND 7:00 AM AND RETURNED AT 6:00 PM I WOULD CONSIDER THE PRICE OK.

OUR NEW DRIVER – A VERY GOOD ONE, AS USUALLY ON PHILIPPINES HAS BEEN COOPERATING WITH US PERFECTLY – HE LET ME SIT ON THE TOP OF OUR BUS UNTIL WE  GET BUMPY GRAVEL ROAD. THIS MADE TAKING PHOTOS SO MUCH EASIER.

WE HAVE SEEN SOME REALLY BEAUTIFUL PANORAMAS, EVEN THOUGH IT WAS NOT THE BEST SEASON TO VISIT THE RICE TERRACES IN THIS REGION. STILL, IT WAS WORTH TO SEE WHAT AND HOW THE RICE IS AND HAS BEEN CULTIVATED FOR OVER 2000 YEARS AT OVER 1500M ABOVE SEA LEVEL …

IT IS NOT A SURPRISE THAT THE TERRACES ARE CALLED THE EIGHT WONDER OF THE WORLD.

AT FIRST WE DROVE TO A LOOKOUT IN BANAUE, THEN WE TURNED BACK AND DROVE TO BATAD (15 km DRIVE PLUS 3 km ON FOOT). IT WAS A CONCRETE ROAD AT FIRST, BUT THEN AT ABOUT HALF WAY THE SURFACE HAD TONNES OF POT HOLES AND DRIVING HAS SLOWED DOWN AS THE DRIVER TRIED TO  NEGOTIATE A BEST POSSIBLE WAY TO AVOID THE BUMPS. AT SOME DISTANCE OFF OUR DESTINATION THE CAR STOPPED BY A GIFT SHOP HANGING PRECARIOUSLY ON THE SIDE OF THE ROAD JUST ABOVE A DEEP CANYON. IT APPEARED ALL THE GIFTS WERE HANDCRAFTED LOCALLY – GREAT, I CAN RECOMMEND THAT PLACE. 

WE LEFT OUR CAR AT THE END OF THE ROAD – THE DRIVER WOULD WAIT FOR OUR RETURN.
BATAD IS A VILLAGE NESTLED AMONG THE RICE TERRACES, FURTHER DOWN THE ROAD IS A WATERFALL CALLED TAPPYACH (TAPPIA). TO GET THERE WE HAD TO WALK AS THE AREA IS NOT ACCESSIBLE BY CAR. IS HUMID AND THE RAIN IS COMING … ONE OF OUR GROUP DECIDED TO STAY BEHIND AS THE WALK WAS LONG AND HARD. WE HAVE HIRED A GUIDE TO TAKE US THERE FOR 800 P (NOTE: IT IS QUITE SAFE TO WALK THERE WITHOUT A GUIDE, THE ONLY PLACE WHERE ONE WOULD NEED HIM WOULD BE BETWEEN THE VILLAGE AND THE WATERFALL. STILL IF YOU SEE LOTS OF PEOPLE GOING DOWN THE PATH – JUST FOLLOW THEM. WHEN YOU REACH THE VILLAGE TURN LEFT TOWARDS A SCHOOL, THEN JUST BEFORE THE SCHOOL TURN RIGHT AND FOLLOW A PATH DOWN THE HILL – BE CAREFUL NOT TO LOOSE IT). ACCORDING TO OUR GUIDE, THE WHOLE WALK WAS TO TAKE ABOUT 2.5 HOURS, BUT IN REALITY IT TOOK US NEARLY 2 HOURS JUST TO GET DOWN. WE HAVE NOT RUSH – WE STOPPED MANY TIMES TO TAKE PHOTOS AND FILMING INTERESTING SPOTS. AND IT WAS DRIZZLING… THE PATH DOWN TO THE VILLAGE

WAS NOT VERY INTERESTING (ABOUT 3 km), BUT THE VIEW FROM THAT PLACE WAS ABSOLUTELY FABULOUS.

THE NEXT SECTION OF THE ROUTE GOES ACROSS THE RICE TERRACES AND IT REALLY IS WORTH SEEING. YOU WOULD BE ABLE TO LEARN ALL ABOUT THE STRUCTURE OF THOSE ANCIENT RICE PADDYS. WE HAVE EXPECTED SOME INCREDIBLE EXPERIENCE AT THE END OF THE PATH ACCORDING TO SOME PASSING TOURISTS … OUR FEELINGS ARE AMBIVALENT. THE WATERFALL IS HIGH, AND IT IS POSSIBLE TO SWIM IN THE LAKE IF YOU LIKE A REALLY COLD WATER. THE POWER OF THE FALLING WATER CREATED A FAIRLY LARGE AND REASONABLY DEEP LAKE. IT LOOKED AS IF MOST OF THE CHILDREN AND YOUTH FROM THE VILLAGE HAS GATHERED IN AND AROUND THE LAKE, THERE WERE A FEW TOURISTS AS WELL. THE WATER EXITS THE LAKE AND FORMS A WIDE STREAM WEAVING DOWN THE HILL BETWEEN SOME BOULDERS AND ROCKY RIVER BED QUITE SIMILAR TO THE POLISH MOUNTAIN STREAMS. I THINK THIS WOULD BE HEAVEN DURING REALLY HOT WEATHER SPELL … IT TOOK US THREE HOURS TO GET BACK. NOT ONLY THE PATH IS LABORIOUS AND STEEP, BUT WE HAVE HAD A FEW DOWNPOURS PREDICTED EARLIER BY OUR GUIDE. A CHILLED BEER AFTER FINALLY ARRIVING AT THE LOOKOUT WAS A GODSEND!

ALL FOUR OF US GOT BACK IN OUR PRIVATE JEEPNEY AND WE WERE ON OUR WAY BACK.

WE HAVE STOPPED BRIEFLY IN A LITTLE TOWN TO HAVE A LOOK AROUND. I ALSO WANTED TO CONNECT TO INTERNET TO UPLOAD SOME OF MY PHOTOS AND GET SOME NEWS FROM AROUND THE WORLD. CONNECTION WAS VERY SLOW. APPARENTLY THE ELECTRICITY WAS CUT OFF FOR ABOUT AN HOUR. A COMPUTER SHOP HAS SHUT THE DOORS AND EVEN THOUGH THE POWER CAME BACK, THE SHOP REMAINED CLOSED …

WE ARE BACK TO OUR HOSTEL FOR DINNER.

(WARNING: THE FOOD IS NOT NICE, I WOULD NOT RECOMMEND IT, ALSO CHECK IF THEY TRY TO MAKE YOU PAY FOR CHARGING YOUR BATTERIES. WE DIDN’T PAY.)

AS IT HAS TURNED OUT THE OWNER OF THE PLACE, WHO IS ALSO ITS MANAGER HAVE NOT MANAGED TO BUY A PROMISED BALUT – THE FAMOUS FILIPINO STREET DELICACY. IT IS A BOILED FERTILIZED DUCK EGG WHICH WAS INCUBATED FOR 18 DAYS, SO INSIDE IS A NEARLY DEVELOPED DUCKLING. APPARENTLY YOU HAVE TO MAKE A HOLE IN THE SHELL, ADD A BIT OF SALT AND VINEGAR AND DRINK THE CONTENTS. IN ORDER TO NOT FRIGHTENED THE CUSTOMERS, IT IS TRADITIONALLY SOLD AFTER DARK. IT WAS A PITY AS I WAS KEEN TO TASTE IT …

AFTER A DISAPPOINTING DINNER, WE WENT DOWN TOWN IN SEARCH FOR SOMETHING BETTER TO EAT …

WE HAVE FOUND ANOTHER HOSTEL – OR WAS IT A HOTEL? – ON THE SAME STREET ON THE OPPOSITE SIDE OF THE TOWN SQUARE. THERE ALSO WAS A COMPUTER STORE CLOSE BY. THE SELECTION OF DISHES HERE WAS MUCH MORE INTERESTING. WE HAVE ORDERED SOME CHICKEN-BIRD DISH AND SALADS – SORRY I DON’T REMEMBER WHAT SORT OF SALAD IT WAS.

WE CAN RECOMMEND FOOD IN THIS PLACE WITHOUT ANY RESERVATIONS. BE WARNED THOUGH – THEY CHARGE AN ARM AND A LEG FOR CHARGING OF BATTERIES.

.

>     SNAPSHOTS     <

.

.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *