My First Trek!

Batad Travel Blog

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Map of Banaue hangs at the Stairway Lodge wall
The drive up to Banaue went smoothly through the night and it was already morning when we awoke. We arrived at the bus depot in a few minutes' time and were greeted by a horde of locals, offering their services to guide us visitors around the place. C thought it was a good idea to hire one. It's always handy to have a local with you -  they help prevent you form getting lost, make the proper recommendations and give you first hand and in-depth information about the place. Of course, there will always be scammers just looking for a quick buck, and will tell you anything you want to hear, so be wary and remember to trust your instincts. In our case, however, we were quite lucky. Our guide, Eddie, proved to be genuinely honest and attended to our evey need.
Eddie & friend at the start of the trek
He even carried our bags all the way! 

We stopped at the Stairway to Heaven inn for breakfast and took a jeepney to the junction to Batad. There were two routes down and he suggested to take the trail on the right which is a slightly longer but easier trek, knowing that I was a first-timer. And right he was, as I didn't have as hard a time as I thought I would. Of course, under the heat of the sun, you end up a sweating mess, but with such a breathtaking view of the mountains - green, virgin and lush, it temporarily erases your fear of heights and the trembling sensation in your knees.

The trek only took about an hour and a half but I found myself panting like a chipmunk in heat. I really should quit smoking.
Batad
It seemed like an endless trail with nothing but mountains and ravines on either side. The walking stick which C got me on the way did help a great deal, but I just wanted to get there - wherever there was supposed to be - and quick. 

We had made no reservations in Batad as there is none to be made. Batad is a really remote village with limited power suppply, so forget any ideas of booking in advance as you won't find any of the hostels on the net. Forget finding any accommodations with airconditioning as well. We finally arrived at the village on the mountain where we had a choice of staying at either Rose Inn or at Simon's (?). We opted to stay at Rose's for two reasons - one being that it was already right in front of us (though Simon's was just a short walk down, I didn't have any energy left), and two, because Simon's was partly underconstruction (they were adding another wing).
Village


Rose's offers the bare essentials - bed, lights until 10pm, food (all canned, and the pizzas they boast about), clean bathroom for all to share (no shower and no hot water - you'd have to have a pot of water heated for that). There's no AC and no fan either though I highly doubt anyone will really need it. Spartan as it maybe, Rose's offers the kind of view of the terraces one could wake up to every morning. It's simply breathtaking!

We probably spent the next hour or so just lazing around the veranda hydrating outselves with cokes. Eddie had arranged a sort of private tour our for us at his grandmother's house in the village below but that wasn't until early in the evening. Since it was too late to start trekking to anywhere now, we took things easy until Eddie came back for us.

It wasn't long before he came a hollering, beckoning for us to come follow him down to his village.
View from Rose's
He wanted to give us a tour! It wasn't a difficult trek going down, and in about 30-45 minutes, we reached the place where he lived - a decent sized cemented house on stilts. He lived here with his parents, sibs and grandmother. This wasn't the attraction though. What he wanted to show us was the house next to this - a cogon hut typical in the Ifugao region.

Belonging to his grandparents, the hut has been restored to its original form and is adorned with decor that reflects the culture and lifestyle of their people. Made from cogon grass for the roofs, bamboo reeds for the ceilings and narra (or pine) wood for walls, these simple-looking dwellings are actually three-story affairs. The under part of the hut is considered to be the first story. This serves as the dining and living area of the house. It's also where the animals' sleep at night and hang out during the day.
Cogon Hut
Downstairs, Eddie's family's house displays the remains of some of the game his grandfather and father had hunted in the past.

Up the wooden ladder and inside the hut is the second story. In here is a little native fireplace, and is used as the kitchen. On display are a number of native pieces - bululs (rice deities), ulbongs (woven rattan basket rice container), pamahans (rice wine bowl made of narra), ungot (coconut shells made for drinking rice wine), etc. This kitchen doubles up as the bedroom at night. The third floor would be the attic where all the wares and other stuff are stored.
Eddie
There are no stairs, just a little opening in the ceiling to give access to the storage area/ Quite ingenious, I must say, how so much can be done with so little space. The only thing lacking here is a bathroom, and those are usually situated off site near the hut, which other villagers share.

While the hut is still in use today, they've protected family heirlooms (the bululs on display in the kitchen are mere replicas - the original ones from way back are kept away from the public) as the hut is showcased to interested travelers like us. Most of the cogon huts in the area have been destroyed or deteriorated, and Eddie's family was smart enough to realize the value and significance of their culture by preserving their heritage - not just for their line, but for all outsiders as well. How wonderful it would be if others had a similar long term vision and possessed the same knowledge as well.

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Map of Banaue hangs at the Stairwa…
Map of Banaue hangs at the Stairw…
Eddie & friend at the start of the…
Eddie & friend at the start of th…
Batad
Batad
Village
Village
View from Roses
View from Rose's
Cogon Hut
Cogon Hut
Eddie
Eddie
Lodge entrance
Lodge entrance
Map
Map
And the trek begins
And the trek begins
Batad
Batad
Batad
Batad
Dig the hook
Dig the hook
And here we are
And here we are
Roses Mount View Inn & Restaurant
Rose's Mount View Inn & Restaurant
Betlog in the background
Betlog in the background
Sleeping quarters
Sleeping quarters
Down to the cogon village
Down to the cogon village
Cogon hut
Cogon hut
Hello!
Hello!
Horse? Carabao?
Horse? Carabao?
More on the ceiling
More on the ceiling
Look at all that!
Look at all that!
But wait, theres more!
But wait, there's more!
They were hung all around the hut
They were hung all around the hut
Second floor entrance
Second floor entrance
Building a fire
Building a fire
Our man, Eddie
Our man, Eddie
Ulbongs
Ulbongs
Basket
Basket
Pamahan
Pamahan
Ulbongs, etc.
Ulbongs, etc.
Bulul x3
Bulul x3
Wall display
Wall display
Wall display
Wall display
Hello, little girl
Hello, little girl
248 km (154 miles) traveled
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photo by: planisphere