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Published: June 21st 2006
Banaue Rice Terraces
The 8th Wonder of the World
The Philippines is such an amazing country because it has so much to
offer. We went from lounging on incredible beaches to hiking among lush
green mountains. Next stops on our trip: Cebu, Manila, Banaue, and
then out of Manila. Like the first half of our trip, the adventure never
We left Bohol early to get into Cebu at a decent hour so we could
sightsee around town. We found Magellan's cross. On Magellan's trek
around the world he was stopped dead in his tracks (literally) in the
Philippines so he himself did not make it all the way around the world
(let's hope that Ryan and Misha's world adventure doesn't end the same way).
He got in a brawl with some of the locals. Magellan thought he was all
high and mighty coming from civilized Europe, only to be ousted by the
'uncivilized' indigenous people on Cebu. Wasn't too much that we desperately
needed to see, so after that we had a quick lunch, hopped in a taxi, and
told the driver to take us to a cock fight.
When I was in Spain I opted out of seeing a bull fight
didn't think I could stomach seeing a bull getting killed. I kinda felt
the same way about cock fights. Lisa, being a vegetarian, definitely
would have been fine without seeing a cock fight. BUT, we had two boys,
and we said what the hell...we will try it out. When we entered the
cock fight arena in a town outside of Cebu, we were immediately stared
at. We were guided to a specific area to sit in, only finding out later
that we were put in the VIP section. We were later joined by the
infamous Dr. Love, a national radio star who entertained us singing "Rolling
on a River" prior to the matches. Misha and I went to check out the
roosters before their death matches. The Filippinos were more than
willing to let us hold them. As Misha held one all I could think about was
contracting bird flu. As we sat in our VIP seats we realized that
EVERYONE was looking at us. I don't think they get many foreigners there!
The matches started and they actually were not as gruesome as I
thought they were going to be. Each rooster is brought to the
Terraces Up Close
Notice all the waterfalls for irrigation.
ring and shown off. The men
watching decide which one they want to bet on and yell across the arena
looking for someone to go against. After a minute of chaos in the crowd, the
roosters are set loose to fight. Each rooster is equipped with a huge
knife attached to its foot. The roosters flap at each other and jump at
each other, then one gets a lucky strike and the other falls dead. The
dead carcass is not wasted, but saved for dinner that night. I decided
to test my luck twice and bet a whopping 100 pesos (equivalent to 2
dollars) on two roosters. I won both times! Take me to vegas! With my
earnings I bought beers for my opponent and our new Filippino friends.
When Lisa and I went to get beers, we found ourselves surrounded by a
circle of people, 4 people deep. They were just looking at us, and that
was all they wanted to do. I will never forget that experience as long
as I live. After one last cock fight we realized it was time to go,
went to the airport, and hopped on our plane back to Manila.
These cute kids were eager to talk to us as we approached the Banaue look-out point
Originally we were going to take the night bus to Banaue tonight, but
the bus was full! Gotta love traveling and the constant change of
plans. We indulged in a feast of pizza and bottomless sodas (very hard to
find everywhere but America!). After a few drinks and taking in the energy of
Malate, we called it a night.
Early Thursday morning Misha and Ryan headed for the airport. This indeed concludes my Southeast Asian Romantic Adventure. 3 different countries in 3 months- not bad at all. As I said, who even needs the Western Hemisphere! A sad good-bye later and the boys were headed on their long day ahead of them. Their final stop of the day was Kolkata India. Ganbatte boys!
It was a beautiful morning. There were a few more things that we could go sightsee that day. Being the hardcore travelers we were, you would have thought we booked tickets to Lake Tal or hired our own driver to take us to the rice terraces. Instead, Lisa and I took a (gasp!) vacation day. We went to the Makati District and pampered ourselves at a beauty salon and indulged in the imported
Hard Core Travelers
Lisa and I at the Rice Terraces in Batad
western culture. We each got oxygen facials for a mere 25 bucks, and pedicures for 5. We splurged on 2 dollar dvds, english books, and a fastfood taco stand. Going to Makati was like entering a new world in comparison to the Malate Distric. People here had money. Malate was beyond poor with people and even whole families sleeping on cardboard in the streets. In Makati every store had a security guard- even Starbucks and McDonalds. We ended the night with one of Lisa's traditions: going to the Hard Rock Cafe. I know that if Lisa worked at one her pin collection would surpass any other employee. Later that night we caught the cold, long bus ride to Banaue. Banaue
Coming up here was definitely a trek but well well worth it. We arrived and immediately found a guide and driver in our own personal jeepney for the day. He took us first to a cute little hotel for breakfast. After that we headed up to the main lookout point where we could see all the rice terraces of Banaue. We actually timed our trip to the Philippines perfectly because it was the best time to
Rice up close
see the rice terraces. Every terrace was full of long green rice. These terraces are dubbed the "8th Wonder of the World" because of the way they were made on the side of hills and the amount of them. Most of them are practically horizontal along the top. From the photos you can see they are quite impressive. There are soooo many terraces you would think there would be enough rice for the entire country. Oh Contrare! The rice terraces are slowly deteriorating. Instead of growing rice on them they are being perserved for tourist/heritage reasons. The output of rice from the terraces is minimal and a lot of rice is imported to the country, hence the title of my blog.
The latter part of our day was up in Batad. We took a bumpy ride up to another mountain village, Batad. It was spectacular. Our guide Chris took us down into the heart of the city. There was a small town surrounded my massive terraces. Absolutely amazing! It was everything and more that I wanted it to be. My dream was to be hiking in the center of the terraces, and my dream came true. Just past the
Me, Karen, Lisa, and Marc, hiking through the center of it all...absolutely amazing!
village was a HUGE waterfall. We got to cool off by swimming in the pool just under the falls. Soon enough we were on our way back to Banaue, and before we knew it we were on our way back to Manila. Would have been nice to have one more day up there, but there was a plane we had to catch in less than 24 hours. Manila
Our last stop on the trip. The bus got in at an absurd hour- 3 am. Who does that!? The original plan was to head straight to the airport and sleep until our plane took off. But as I said earlier Lisa and I hate to miss things and there were still some things we wanted to see in Manila. We camped out at Hotel Burger King for 3 hours. Only cost us some hashbrowns and a coke! Around 6 we went outside to catch a taxi. A Jeepney driver pulled over and took an immediate liking to Lisa. He would not take no for an answer, we were going to have to ride in his Jeepney. He gave Lisa special privileges and she got to ride in the front seat.
I jumped in the back with the other locals. The moment it took off I thought I was going to fly out the back of the jeepney. Thank God Lisa was riding shot gun telling him to slow down and that speeding in a jeepney WAS not going to impress her. It felt like I was on the magic bus that Harry Potter rides around London! We arrived safely at Quiapo, paid our 8 peso fare and got out. We saw the Quiapo church and wandered around the early morning markets. Manila was neat because it had so many different parts of the city. Makati, Malate, and Quiapo were all so different.
Our FINAL stop was the Chinese Cemeteries. This has to be on some tv show or website entitled "World's Most Bizarre Sights." By far and away is one of the weirdest things I have ever seen. Many rich Chinese people live in Manila. No normal burial would be okay. Instead they have made this cemetery aka village of graves. Each grave is a house. The Chinese have made these houses for the coffins to go in and for their family and friends to visit, or even live
Cool water never looked soooo good after a hot and humid hike.
in. So say you were drunk in the middle of the night in Manila and your house was an hour outside the city. You also had a dead uncle in the Chinese cemetery in the center of the city. It would be perfectly fine for you to crash at your uncle's place. They were elaborate with food offerings, a dog in one of them, working facilities, two stories, tvs....everything that a normal house would have. You could even send them mail! These things cost thousands of dollars to build, and thousands of dollars to have in the cemetery. We saw a family living at one of the houses....so weird. Every once in a while you would come across a house that was vacated- apparently they ran out of money! Seriously....so biazarre I can't even tell you. Even more bizarre- you could use disposable cameras but not digital cameras. The Chinese in the Philippines- weird bunch I tell you!
This concludes my incredible trip to the Philippines. Not a moment was wasted or regretted. We saw a hell of a lot of the country in 9 days. Yet we left only wanting to come back again. So wonderful, so
We came across this little boy on the trail. EVERYTHING must be hiked into Batad since there are no roadways...EVERYTHING. Talk about being in great shape. This boy was lucky to have such a light load.
fun, great company, and great memories.
So to recap on the best parts of our trip: our movie-perfect Fukuoka experience, cheap beer, Manila male nursing students, Filippino kids and babies, Filippino hospitality, Misha, the Cebu Port "pool hall," singing with the kids, eating mangos, drinking shakes, Pancha, climbing a chocolate hill, climbing a rice terrace, Lisa's Cankles, Tarsiers, lady boys, big snakes, shithead, GLORIA, facials, bottomless drinks, sketchy german man named wully, waterfalls, crystal clear water, beautiful beaches, beautiful jewelry, hotel burger king, jeepney rides, "that's baby making..." or any other quote from Anchorman, and of course my dear travel buddy risa ban muyen. What we didn't like- dried jack fruit and scorpion wine from Vietnam.
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