Day 4, Sagada to Banaue to Batad

Banaue Travel Blog

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umm..yes, it's a pig

6:00 a.m.  Woke up to use the common bathroom and met one of the Brit guys from the end of the hall.  Disconcerting that I felt that I’d already met him before, but just couldn’t remember where. 

6:30 a.m.  We went down from St. Joseph’s to discover that it was market day (every Saturday) in Sagada when people from the outlying villages go to town and sell their wares on the streets. However, we had little time.  And before Peds could even get us sandwiches, the jeep to Bontoc was ready to leave.  Ann herself was on her way back to Baguio, and we hardly had time to say our goodbyes.

house terraces

7:00 a.m.  On the road, I saw a quintessential sight �" a woman walking down the road in early morning light, carrying a basket on top of her head, and wearing a traditional red-patterned Ifugao tapis (skirt).  Wanted to snap a photo, but was too late.   

8:00 a.m.  We finally reached Bontoc.  On the road we saw a pig being butchered right on the street and its blood had spilled everywhere.  On the jeepney with us were Suzie, Douglas and Patrick from the U.K. the trio we’d seen the night before at Log Cabin.  Turns out they were also on their way to Batad.  In Bontoc, we all rushed out to Von Von Bus, our ride to Banaue, which had begun to pull away.
that's the path we'd just taken
  On the bus we chatted casually with each other.  Peds and I had a nice view from our window of the small villages tucked away between hills and next to streams. Told Douglas that their side of the bus had a view of the rice terraces as we approach Banaue.

9:00 a.m.  Another landslide, another roadblock! Peds had stepped out the bus with the Brits to survey the scene.  

10:00 a.m.  Arrived at Banaue.  It looked worse than it did 5 years ago. We separated from the Brits who were looking for a place to leave their bags, while Peds and I went looking for a place to eat lunch.  We ate at Halfway Lodge (Ann’s recommendation).  Our meal was a late breakfast of eggs, ham, rice and tea (because the actual cook had gone to visit his village).  We had a view of some rice terraces that should be dubbed “house terraces”.
at the pitstop...see the path we'll be taking next?!
  I felt bad for the sorry state of the terraces in Banaue.

12:00 p.m.  The Brits had convinced us not to get a guide for Batad, as the path was pretty clear.  We were about to board a jeep, but a mix-up occurred.  A Swede and his Filipina partner won’t get into the jeep, because they felt they were being asked too much, so we had to watch the jeep go.  Peds and I decided to take a special trip instead by trike, which we bargained down to PhP 130 from PhP 150.

1:00 p.m.  On our way through a long, winding mostly dirt road.  I wondered at how some people would actually think of walking back to town on this route.  At Batad Junction, we were welcomed by istambays (loitering men), who were likely on the lookout for a guide-fee.
i'm so glad it's over

1:15 p.m.  Peds had started a system of taking a 10-min. walk and 1-min pit stop (since we knew the trek would take an hour and 30 mins.).  We kept meeting people on the way: a couple of girls with their guide who warned us that we were only 1/4th into our journey, and the Koreans we’d seen in Sagada.  It was mind-boggling that they had been able to go before us and were now on their way back.  The first Korean we saw was the cool guy, who recognized us immediately.  He was way ahead of his pals, and he mentioned that one of them had gotten sick. No wonder.  Peds saw that the Brits were already on the trail, and he shouted down to Patrick in greeting.  We got to the top of the trail where there was a kiosk that sold softdrinks, and we met some nurses who’d stayed in Batad for vacation.
dusk...something's burning in the distance
  By then the trio of Brits had caught up with us. After short introductions were made, they went on ahead, since Peds and I knew that I was too tired to keep pace with them.  Boy, were they FAST.  It took them 25 mins. just to get to the halfway point, where we were.  We still had the downhill trek to do and my legs were already screaming.  Peds had taken my backpack because it had become too heavy.  I took his, since it only had a few shirts in it. Typical.
5:00 p.m.  It seemed like an ordeal to get there, but the view was worth it in the end.  Even Peds who was grumbling why we had to go through with it, stopped to admire the view of rice terraces that sloped down all the way to the village of Batad.  At the registration area, we saw that dusk had settled into the valley.
Peds with Douglas, Suzie and Patrick
  A Japanese guy was sitting on a bench with his journal, and admiring the view.  We asked him to take our picture.  I decided we stay at Rita’s which was perched on the cliffside, a short walk away, which had the best bathroom, and where the Brits already were, having softdrinks.  Rita’s only charged us PhP 50/night per person!

6:00 p.m.  After a refreshing shower, I sat down with Peds and the Brit trio at the lounge area/porch.  We saw a fire had started on the other side of the valley, and we were told it was made by a child playing with matches.  It had never happened before, so it was a unique sight.  We watched it burning in the dreamlike dusk, while we chatted.  The Brits were very easy to talk to.   I found out that Douglas and Suzie were newly-weds.
Suzie looks on as Douglas shows some skill
  They had met Patrick while volunteer diving in Bohol for a research group. They decided to go trekking in the Benguet and Ifugao provinces for the remainder of their vacation.

7:00 p.m.  Dinner at Rita’s consisted of corned beef and eggs mixed in with a mound of rice �" the biggest mound of food I had ever seen!  I couldn’t finish it and gave it way to Peds who eats like a construction worker.  We discussed how it is that women in the Philippines seemed much emancipated (I guess they noticed I was making most of the decisions).  Suzie even experienced being asked for the bill first, even before the men!  I said I happened to be the eldest, and traditionally the younger siblings would follow my lead.
  And that most Filipinas had never been made to feel inferior to men. 

8:00 p.m.  Marlon (a guide) came in and began playing a country song on his guitar.  I knew that country music was big in these parts, but I never knew how big when I asked for a Beatles song and he didn’t know who they were!

9:00 p.m. Decided to turn in, leaving the Brits chatting with other Filipino tourists that came to eat at Rita’s.  Rita’s that night was the only one with electricity, because it had the most guests.  The electricity came from solar power.  I discovered that our room didn’t have a light, but the bed felt very comfortable. 

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umm..yes, its a pig
umm..yes, it's a pig
house terraces
house terraces
thats the path wed just taken
that's the path we'd just taken
at the pitstop...see the path wel…
at the pitstop...see the path we'…
im so glad its over
i'm so glad it's over
dusk...somethings burning in the …
dusk...something's burning in the…
Peds with Douglas, Suzie and Patri…
Peds with Douglas, Suzie and Patr…
Suzie looks on as Douglas shows so…
Suzie looks on as Douglas shows s…
photo by: Jeroenadmiraal