Wednesday 4th June:
Another early rise (see Tuesday), which we needed to do anyway to catch the jeepney to Bontoc (45 peso each) and then straight onto another jeepney to Banuae (150 peso). The driver was nice as he stopped at least 4 times on the way so we could take photos of the beautiful scenery. We arrived in Banuae at about 11am and headed straight to the hotels, which are all next to one another. We stayed in the same one I did last time, People’s Lodge. After checking in, I went to buy our return to Manila ticket for the following day (essential to do before it sells out and you are stuck up north) and then ate lunch. As its off season, there are lots of guys looking for extra work and our waiter from lunch also was a guide so he gave us a deal for that afternoon (Banuae Rice Terrace views and a local village), and for Batad the following day.
We could have got cheaper than the 2700 peso (inclusive of everything) but at less than 40 GBP I am not one for haggling if I think it’s a fair deal, and these people need to make a living. Anyway, we headed to the Banuae rice terraces and no sooner had we got to the second view point, the heavens opened again and the rain came down for the next 20 minutes, stopping only as we reached the top of the village. It only took about 90 minutes so we were back in Banuae by 2.30 but the village gave some good viewpoints and nobody else seemed to be there.
There is literally very little to do here other than take a 20 minute stroll around to the bottom bridge past the friendly children at the Primary School before heading back and relaxing as the rain came down again.
The evening was a quiet one in the hotel, very quiet in fact as it seems everyone else had found another place to go??
Thursday 5th June:
There was certainly less farmyard animals to wake us up today, although the few you could hear were certainly loud enough. At 8.15am we headed off to Batad with our guide for the day David. 45 minutes along the bumpy roads in a tricycle is an experience in itself, dodging dogs, chickens and fallen rocks. We got as far as the tricycle could go (the roads where too steep with over 220kg on board) and then walked down to the start of the trek. Batad looks like an amphitheatre and is certainly the highlight of any trip to this area. Walking down through the villages situated in the middle of the huge terraces gives you a feeling of walking through a postcard. We also went to the waterfall but it was only when we started the walk that I remembered how much a pain the walk is. The older I get, the less I like these treks, getting there is all downhill so not too bad, but getting back is hard on my legs which don’t seem to have recovered from recent Rugby knocks.
The waterfall itself is good, but the water is cold so swimming is at your peril. The currents are quite strong so you do need to be careful.
We bumped into a few people on the way, as usual the locals where all friendly, but there is one group of people (I won’t say the Nationality but those who have been to Banuae will know who I mean) who are now officially the rudest people I have met travelling. Within their little cliques they are very loud but they will not even say hello, even when you say hi to them. Rudeness is my biggest gripe, no need for it. To make things worse, our hotel had at least 20 of them staying there and not even one spoke to anyone other than their cliques, being young is no excuse in my book (maybe they saw Aida’s Iranian flag on her bag hint hint) Anyway rant over, back to Batad. You will need at least 1.5 / 2 litres of water per person as it is hot and the trek certainly isn’t easy.
On the night we were able to shower at the hotel (50 pesos each) then headed to 7th Heaven Restaurant where we chatted to a Norwegian and Swedish couple before we got the 7am overnight bus. Low and behold, all my favourite people from the hotel where also on this bus. We seemed to get the smallest seats on the bus, my knees where touching the seat in front and he hadn’t even attempted to put his seat back yet. This was Ohayami but a different bus to the one we travelled up on. The girl in front attempted to lie on Aida as she put her seat back far more than it should go, after politely asking her to move it (yes she was one of them) she did, but 10 minutes later did the same maneuver to which a little heated ‘discussion’ took place. Eventually she went to sleep and the rest of the journey was as usual, 10 minutes snooze here and there before arriving in Manila at 4am.