So here we go, after reading about some bit and pieces on our destination we are finally went to Asia. We all live in weird times, don’t you think? We see photos and videos of destinations on the internet, or in the tv, often we even know people who went there, even if that’s on the other end of the world. But somehow it still doesn’t matter as you need to go everywhere on your own to know if you like it.
So here it is, Philippines in my own words. I will start with my favourite part – rice terraces. As I didn’t pick the destination (it was Tomek’s turn), when I was doing a research, I was really trying to find things that I would like and when I found the rice terraces and fall in love. Maybe because they reminded me Machu Picchu and I used to had a thing for everything about Inks and Aztecs. I was a little bit disappointed to learn they won’t be in their full bloom when we get there, but at least I knew what to expect.
The only problem with them is that to get there you need to take an overnight bus, a short 9-hour trip to a town called Banaue. There is no other option. When we were going to our bus terminal a taxi driver informed us the other bus going in similar direction had an accident just a night before. It’s a perfect piece of information to bring before somebody’s trip, isn’t it? Luckily for us, it wasn’t the same company, but the ride was tough anyway. The traffic is crazy in Philippines. They drive so fast, use a horn and overtake all the time. As we were going into mountains the road was winding, that didn’t help. I’ve barely slept. But I could look through the window and see that life never stops in Philippines. All the way through the night I could see opened, little shops and bars, people eating and talking.
Finally we got to Banaue (yes, we survived!). Banaue is a small and noisy town. There are a several restaurants and accommodations, a lot of small groceries and souvenir shops. It’s not really pretty, but we spent some time just walking around it. At some point I felt rushed and guilty. All people we’ve met they had tighter scheduled and it felt that we could squeeze in a trip to Sagada, that supposed to be an interesting place (there are always so many interesting places to see, aren’t they?), but instead we just sat on the balcony, read books, walked around the village, visit a small museum, saw a puppy, sat in restaurant and cafes looking at people and I stopped feeling guilty, because this is what I enjoy about holidays most, I like living somewhere for a moment, not just visit in a hurry. Finding my tiny bit of routine and looking at the same places more than once.
We got to our guesthouse Sanafe Lodge. It is really pleasant place to stay and based on the chats with other travelers, it’s probably one of the best ones. It has a brilliant restaurant balcony overlooking at the rice terraces. It was brilliant place to read a book, or just admire the view.
We didn’t have too much time for this on our first day, as we were quickly taken under the influence of a guide and before we knew it we booked a trip to Hapao terraces. I was kind of hoping we spend the first day relaxing, but the hike wasn’t too difficult. We spend a bit of time in the jeepney, as it was a private tour we shared with only other couple, it stopped in all nice viewpoints so we could take photos. As I mentioned, the hike was quite easy as you mostly walk along the rice terraces. At the end of the hike there are hot springs, that would have been really nice if not the fact it was already too hot. You can see, that the terraces are only filled with water, and those green patches are the seedlings. I must say that when we got back, took shower ate something and we were sleeping like a baby.
On the second day we took part in a group tour organized by the tourist information, the price was much cheaper than for a private guide, especially when you are alone, or just one couple. It also give you a chance to meet people, we met a Spanish girl that lived in Krakow for a year, apparently she was crying when she was going back home.
This time we went to the terraces in Batad, these are probably the second most popular ones after Banaue rice terraces. Again you need to take a jeepney or tricycle to the Batad Saddle. Then you walk down to the village, walking down it’s not a problem, especially that most of the road is in a shade. Batad is a small village build on the slope of a mountain. The hike to Batad usually include a trip to the waterfall. As the day before we walked along the rice terraces. The views are amazing, the terraces look like a huge amphitheatre, but the hike, well it’s not the easiest one, especially in the sun. On the good side, every time you feel like stopping there is a place for it and there is somebody who will sell you water. Walking down as you can figure out is much easier, walking up, not so much ;), but I was surprised that it was doable, although I was pretty happy that we’ve decided to stay in Batad overnight, it’s always nice to know you can avoid walking up over 400 steps after an exhausting hike. Batad is much nicer than Banaue if you enjoy quiet. There are no tricycles, jeepney or other street noises, only roosters.
Hiking back in the morning is also much nicer as well, as it is cooler in the morning.
- TripAdvisor – as always a good resource
- Lakas ng Trip – brilliant blog about Philippines, you will find all information you need.
Places, we’ve liked:
- Sanafe Lodge, Banaue – nice, clean rooms, beautiful view and nice restaurant.
- Las Vegas Restaurant, Banaue – less expensive food than Sanafe, but still delicious, they also have a bigger menu.
- Simon’s Viewpoint Inn, Batad – really nice and really cheap food. I don’t recommend pancit, but rice and everything else was really delicious
PS. There will be separate post on Filipino food.