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Published: December 10th 2012
Banaue Rice TerracesAll of 12 hours on the road? I had 2 issues here. Reason enough why a local like moí never made the trip till now. The long drive is half a day. Bad for my back. And butt. No flights. No trains. There's the bus. We chose to go on a hired private van, so we can stop to stretch whenever the bad back becomes a problem. The intended, well-intentioned rest and stretch stops..... That's a big joke. Having gone on a long weekend, we felt like half the city people had the same idea as our group of 7 pax. Traffic was B.A.D. And so, there were literally more stops than intended. You bet it proved to be longer than 12 hours! And obviously no rest and stretch stops for the last 3-4 hour zig zag drive from Banaue Rice Terraces to the remote mountain village of Sagada.
Terraced rice paddies just off the road welcome you in Banaue, Ifugao (not Mountain) Province. From here, it's another 3-4 hours along zigzag roads to Sagada.
Banaue Rice Terraces We were awake after a breakfast stop at Jollibee, a local fastfood chain. Feeling slightly grumpy early in the morning, missing my favorite brew, with my back and butt numb from the long overnight ride, I was not in my best
Terraced Rice Paddies
Can you imagine planting and harvesting rice from these fields? Hard work.
disposition to know we are nowhere near Sagada yet. Until we stopped at Banaue Rice Terraces. What a breathtaking view! I've seen some terraced rice paddies in other parts of the world even before I viewed our very own. Shame on me! I would have taken a lot of shots here but the long drive got me tinkering with my cam and messing up its settings. Thank God I was with my niece Sarah, Jen and Peter -- all photography nuts. By the time I was done posing here and there, or asking these young ones to snap a photo of this and that, I knew what I'd do when I turn billionaire. Told my niece I would likely have a staff of private assistant, a massage therapist and a photographer whenever I travel. 😊. Dream on, indeed. Long road trips can do this to you! The vista dispels all bad moods and not so cheerful dispositions. A National Cultural Treasure, but NOT a UNESCO World Heritage Site contrary to popular belief. Why? Because one finds modern structures alongside traditional Ifugao structures within this 4,000 square mile mountainside area. A
I felt like half of Manila was here!
pity. And all because the local authorities failed to preserve the "integrity" of the 2,000 year-old rice terraces carved out by the ancestors of the indigenous mountain people of Ifugao. Seeing it and knowing how old these rice terraces are elicit some respect for these tribes' ancient knowledge of traditional farming and natural irrigation techniques. It also draws attention to ancient stonework and earthwork technologies. I'm told there are other clusters of rice terraces like in Batad, where the terraced rice paddies resemble an amphitheater. Not on this trip, though. Maybe next time.
Spelunking? Soon After Arrival? The "problem" traveling with a young group is that they want to hit the ground running soon after arrival. We only had time for lunch and an hour or so checking in and resting at Sagada Homestay Inn before our first adventure in SUMAGUING Cave. Did anyone tell these young 'uns I'm turning 60 next year? Did anyone remind them I've never done this before? My niece Sarah was here only last year. She made sure my head's adorned with a headlamp (what a BRILLIANT idea), that I'm wearing gloves to firmly grasp those cave rocks climbing up
Hard work. Very hard work.
and down, that the camera is neatly tucked inside a small plastic bag strung around my neck. As she spewed out "instructions" and "warnings", I confess I hardly paid attention. I can do this! And sure I did 😊 Went in past 4pm, out by nearly 7pm. Traffic inside the cave! Had to wait on our descent as a long line of spelunkers were climbing up and out of the cave. As each passed me on their way up, a thought crossed my mind. Am I the oldest among this crowd of curious tourists? Yay. The good thing is there's always a hand stretched out to help and guide me as I put up a brave front. Now I understand why my older sister cried while caving here with her sons many years back. 😊 (Her sons claim she was bawling!) Sure enough, this was the highlight of my trip. I rocked. And I rolled! As I came out of the cave, I found my niece waiting -- asking most everyone if they've seen my guide James. Was she worried I'd never come out of the cave? I will not
Made My Guide Smile
Yeah, see how my guide James looked mighty proud of me! Lol.
trivialize the peril, the risks, and the hard work. But these local guides are truly very very competent. For the life of me, I can't figure out how James can balance a lamp with one hand, feet firmly on slippery rocks, while pulling me up! I looked around and found many guides just as competent. There's even one who clearly reminded me of Jackie Chan as he quickly negotiated a climb ahead of his group to make sure their path is lighted! My niece was very proud of me after this adventure. But she has one regret. She said she wished she caught on video my first few lines coming off the cave. 😊
Glad To Be Alive To See This Dinner that night was in this tiny joint called Kimchi Cafe and Bar. Good old adobo (national dish of the Philippines) and organic mountain rice. Nothing fancy. That can wait till Saturday night when we dine at Log Cabin run by this French Chef who is now an adopted son of Sagada and goes by the local name Chef Aklay. (Quite frankly, the Saturday buffet was a disappointment. I
Kimchi Cafe Bar
Cool place to chillax (Chill and Relax) ..... A favorite hangout among young 'uns. Well, at least I can relate to Bob Marley.
wasn't impressed with the buffet spread plus the service can do with lotsa improvement. The Log Cabin can do without the Caucasian lady waiting on tables and the faggot behind the bar. These 2 characters even had a screaming altercation in front of the dining guests!) By the time we were back in Sagada Homestay, I was nearly wasted. From my room, I could hear the conversation, the banter, the coquettish and drunken exchange among guests around the bonfire. It would have been fun to eavesdrop to see who ended up with whom, but I must have dozed off soon after my back touched the mattress. That can wait another night. And the blog on the Kiltepan Sunrise, Hanging Coffins and Echo Valley can wait too. Watch this page! 😊
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Ingenuity With Bottle Caps
Here, used bottle caps make for nice "curtain beads" and wall decor. Such ingenuity!
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