Don't Leave the Beaten Path!

Banaue Travel Blog

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Another largely unfinished road made me wish for a cushion to sit on, but the compensatory scenery more than made up for the journey. I was very, very pleased with the route I had chosen.  I’m glad I didn’t miss out on all the rugged landscape and open valley views of the Cordillera.


Banaue seemed to be a lot more popular with travellers, so avoiding the tourists was a more difficult task (I was enjoying all the trekking by myself and didn’t particularly want company).  I set off to find the viewpoints of the rice terraces and soon managed to get lost again.  My sense of direction was clearly none existent, but desire to see something new was overpowering.  The paths can sometimes get towards impossible to follow as the path becomes a sliver and are often over-grown, but I bumped into a farmer again who was kind enough, not just to show me the way, but actually take me to the path.  He laughed a little as I lost my balance and fell into the soggy wet plantation.  Obviously his balance, with the years of experience, cause him no such troubles. 


Once back on the path, I tried my best not to deviate at all, despite it becoming extremely discrete in places.  It did work out for me and I got some incredible views and photos for fond memories.  I actually carried on with my walk along the path towards the far ends of the terraces to get some more photos.  Here the path changes from discrete to non-existent.  All of a sudden, I absolutely froze not daring to move.  There was a huge snake slithering across my route.  I couldn’t see its head or tail, but saw well over a metre of the body and that was more than enough to know it was a big mamma.  I didn’t even go for the camera out of fear.  It was jet black in colour and when I finally acknowledged what was going on, I slowly tip-toed backwards hoping mamma didn’t have children too close by.  Thankfully it completely ignored me (probably though I was an insignificant threat), but I was a fair few miles out from the nearest residence and any form of help, and so quickly decided I’d walked far enough for now and I really should go back and maybe try a different trek along the river.  I shyly strolled back towards the villages, eyes looking downwards at every slow step, and it wasn’t too long before I was back in the open.


I did manage to lose the path again, but nothing a few interesting climbs up the terraces couldn’t correct, and I made my way back towards Banaue.  I seemed to have got stopped a lot on my journey back.  Lots and lots of local people took an interest in me.  I was pleased to have a reciprocal conversation allowing them to learn a little about UK life, and myself to learn about life in the hills, quite refreshing for some people to actually take an interest in me and not my money. 


Back in Banaue, refreshed and fed, I went for a walk along the river.  Again I found the pathway very tough to follow, but I did see a more distinct path on the opposite side of the river.  I played a stepping stones game and got across and carried on taking in the views once again from the other side of the river. 


After a long day of trekking, and a scare or two on the way, I was ready to get some sleep.  I did one last stop at the tourist office to get some information on getting back to Manila and onto Batad.  It turns out you have two options: you can either hire a tricycle to Batad and the driver will wait for you and bring you back, but that is a bit expensive if you are on your own; or get a jeepney.  It turned out the only jeepney of the day leaves at 3pm in the afternoon, and so that would mean staying overnight in Batad.  With the bus to Manila departing at 5:30pm, I had to have a think about what to do.




I decided I really wanted to go to Batad and see the famous amphitheatre of rice terraces and the Tappiya waterfall as everyone recommended it.

  Josh and Jen were staying just next door, so I met back up with those guys to see if they fancied going to Batad as well. 


I had to change some American dollars I was keeping in reserve, but my money had finally run out.  I was so pleased to have got this far on it though – the Cordillera is such a cheap place to visit, yet it is just magnificent!  I recommend it to anyone and everyone.


I changed my mind about getting the 3pm jeepney to Batad, which would have meant stopping over for the night, and instead went out to chat to tricycle drivers.  I arranged for one to pick us up first thing in the morning (myself, Josh and Jen), and we’d all split the fare.  That way we could go for the day in Batad and still catch the night bus to Manila.  It was perfect.


I chose to take a lazy day off instead of more trekking around and getting lost.

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photo by: Jeroenadmiraal