After leaving Sagada I get of in Bontoc and have to wait a while for the jeepney going up to Malingcong. Hence I got plenty of time to go at have a bit of a look around - and a bit to eat. You know with rice and so. Finally it is time for the jeepney to depart to Malingcong. It is only a 7 kilometres drive but it takes no less than 45 minutes to get there. Because it is on a steep uphill road with lots and lots of potholes all the way.
The jeepney makes it up the road and I get of at the end of the road. Which was a bit stupid because the hotel in town is no where in sight.
Rice getting yellow just before the harvest
Hence I have to ask someone where it is and I am told it is right next to the house with the red roof. So I make it back a bit up the road to the house with the red roof - and there I look for a big sign telling me here is the guest house of the city. There is no big sign. There is no small sign either. I got no clue where the guesthouse is but luckily there are some people around and I ask where the guesthouse is and they tell me it is right next door.
I get in there and get a room. It turns out I am the forth guest they got this year. There had been a German, and a French US couple. Finally success I found a place where I am actually the only tourist in town - I get my room which they have to clean up a bit before I can get it and then I head out to see the rice terraces. The only reason I went up here.
I walk out to the rice terraces. And they are really impressive and no other tourist around. I got it all to myself and a few locals.
This is what is all about - the rice plants
I walk out the rice fields along the edge of the fields on a nice surfaced road looking at the way they designed the watering system and how they have put up some noisemaking things to keep away the birds from eating the rice which is almost ripe.
As I walk along I stop to count the number of rice corns on one single rice plant. I am astonished by the number. About 200 small rice corns on one plant. This is a lot more than you will see on a single wheat or barley plant in Europe. I start to understand why parts of Asia is so densely populated it is obvious when you got so fertile a crop to harvest - and some places you get 2 or 3 harvest a year. Just not in this region because it is a bit too cold and the growth season is longer than it would be in the lowlands.
As I walk through the area I meet a couple of kids.
The stone wall at Malingcong
They look at me not understanding what this strange big European is doing in their rice fields. He sure don’t look someone who is gonna give a hand with the up coming harvest. I say hallo and pass them. The boy keeps staring and then just as I past him he ask what I am doing here. He really doesn’t get the concept of tourist being interested in something as ordinary as a rice terrace. Well I tell him I am just walking to see the rice fields and he tells me he is going to see some friends with his little sister.
I continue walking and walk up a hill at the top there is a big school in the middle of the hill and from there you can see out over the rice terraces. It turns out there is actually a lot more terraces on the other side of the hill as well and not just the ones I have just walked through. Well I thing they look more or less the same and it looks like it may rain hence I just start walking back towards the hotel I am staying at.
I got a bit of a problem with the dinner.
For the first time I got myself it such a remote place that there is actually not any place to eat around. And walking down the hill 7 kilometres to Bontoc is not a very appealing option - not to mention the 7 kilometres back up again. But fortunately the women where I stay tell me she can cook for me by whatever she got in the house. I say I can eat anything - I don’t really have a choice. Well she cooks and it is actually a great meal. Some rice (of course) and some fried sliced potatoes plus some vegetables. One more or less tasteless watery thing and some sort of weed she has picked along a stream I thing it is called pako and it actually taste really good. She can basically charge whatever she likes for the meal - but she does not exploit the situation and it is actually the cheapest meal I got in the Philippines. Way cheaper than what I could even cook for at home - I guess having all the stuff you are using growing out in your own fields really cut down the cost of a meal.
During the evening I talk to the family at the place. And once again I am surprised of the educational background of so many Philipinos.
The path along the rice
The woman running the household actually got a college degree in commerce - 4 years of college. But unfortunately she had been unable to get a decent job in the cities hence she is working in the rice fields and running the house. She is very nice but I can’t help thinking she should not be here but be working in Baguio or Manila or somewhere else.
I am also told that this is actually harvest season and all the rice fields will be closed tomorrow because there is the need to do some sort of ritual before the harvest beginning. Sure people here may be Christian - but the old tradition is still running strong and maybe there is a God in heaven and Jesus as well. But you should still hedge your bets just in case the old gods are stronger than the new one.
Whow.... this is amazing, how nature looks like outside the city,here all I can see is buildings that surrounds me.Im astonish with all this photos.Like to see this place, but theres a big problem about food...rice :-)D I can deal maybe once a day but not 3x/day ha,ha,ha!
Posted on: Sep 08, 2008
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