Published: July 3rd 2006May 5th 2006
First things first:
Okay, for everyone that is about to read this, and can't figure out why I am only now posting my second blog of the Philippines, my apologies... but it took longer than thought to get the pictures from the second half of our trip. But, better late than never!
So... with that being said, let me tell you about my adventures in the northern half of the Philippines!
DAY 7: (This is where I left off in my previous blog entitled "Philippines: PART 1.)
Wanting to make the most of our extra day in Manila, Casey and I woke up rather early and decided to check ourselves into a fabulous spa where we then treated ourselves to pedicures and facials, before spending a leisurely afternoon shopping. That night we treated ourselves yet again and had a yummy Western dinner at the Hard Rock Cafe. Although we did not necessarily feel like we were in the Philippines all day, we certainly did feel like we were on vacation!
After dinner we made our way to the bus center where we caught the overnight bus to Banaue.
Our bus arrived in Banaue a little
The view looking directly down, out of the window from where we had our banana pancake breakfast.
before 6 am and we were immediately rushed by hoards of men who wanted to be our tour guides for the day. There was one man in particular who was very 'in our face' and would not shut up until we literally asked him to stop speaking.. for atleast 5 minutes. Obediently, he did stop speaking, but insisted on standing right infront of us in order to block the possibility of anyone else having a chance at us for the day. Although we were exhusted and kind of wanted to harm him within the first few minutes, after making a bit of a game plan we did decide to hire him and his driver as our guides for the day. (So I guess they know that persistance pays off!)
The first place Christopher (our guide) brought us to was a little hotel/restaurant where we could get something to eat, and cleaned up, before beginning our adventurous day. It was here that we had our first glimpse of the famous rice terraces. They were absolutely amazing!
After breakfast we all climbed into the back of our jeepney and were driven up the side of a mountain to where the
locals have claimed is the best lookout over the terraces. We spent about 30 min here taking pictures and doing a little souvenir shopping before continuing on our way to Batad, where we would begin our hike through the rice terraces.
The way I would describe the 5+ hour hike through the terraces to Tappiyah Falls would be: beautiful scenery, hot, long, tiring, but most of all... completely worth it! There were times when we compared the hike back up the mountain through the terraces as being a kind of "mini tropical Mt. Fuji," it was hard, and it was tiring, but am I ever glad that took advantage of the opportunity and did it! It was a great experience!
Unfortunately due to time constraints we only had the one day in Banaue, so at 5pm we were back at the bus station and ready for our overnight bus back into Manila.
Contrary to what I was hoping for, I was unable to sleep the whole night back to Manila and so when the bus pulled into the station at 2am, I was exhusted! (I was anything but happy with our crazy bus driver.. how
My first photo of the breathtaking terraces
This was my view from our breakfast table... as you can see, I had nothing to complain about!
am I supposed to sleep when I am fearing for my life everytime we round a corner!) Anyways, Casey and I had already decided that no matter how tired we were, we wanted to make the most of our last few hours in the Philippines before having to go to the airport at 9am, so instead of gettting a hotel we made our way to the closest Burger King to rest until sunrise. At the first hint of sunrise we lifted our sleepy heads from the table and headed out to catch a jeepney to Quiapo Church and market area.
Our jeepney ride turned out to be an experience I will probably never forget as I got to ride up front with the 23-year-old driver who drove in a manner which made everyone hang on for dear life... literally! After the first 60 seconds in this jeepney I actually turned to the driver and asked him whether or not we were going to die... he was crazy! However, 5 minutes later we somehow arrived alive outside of Quiapo Church.
We spent the next hour or so checking out the church and the surrounding market before heading to our
final touristy destination, the Chinese Cemetery. If I was asked to describe this cemetery in one word, I think "atonishing" would sum it up. The things our guide told us were actually hard for us to comprehend. This cemetery is for the Chinese inhabitants of the Philippines, but unless you have ridiculous amounts of money, you will not be able to rest peacefully here! They literally had houses for the dead... some of which were two or three stories high, and many with air conditioning, kitchens, washrooms, and running water. There was one street which they called "Little Hollywood" and it housed many of the exceptionally wealthy. Walking through this cemetery of mausoleums absolutely fascinated us!
Anyways, by about 8:30am Casey and I were dead tired and looking forward to catching a few hours of much needed sleep on the plane ride back to Japan!
My trip to the Philippines was absolutely everything I could have asked for: the scenery was breathtaking, the people were friendly and welcoming, and I had GREAT travelling companions! All in all, a perfect trip!
There are more photos below