Banaue Rice Terraces, finally!

Finally! Yes, finally!

 

As I mentioned before, there are so many people doubting whether it is possible for me to visit Banaue from Manila only for 2 nights, 1 day trip. I also already tried to google but seem everyone or every information said the same thing. It’s impossible and too rushing. I agree it was too rushing, but not impossible. At least, that’s from my experience after went to Banaue.

 

When we arrived in MLN Boutique Hostel in Manila, I saw there is a note stick in the board about how to go to Banaue. I felt so thankful for the information but also a bit worried when I see from that information, the Jeepney from Banaue to Batad only available at 3 pm.

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The info I saw on the noteboard.

 

Oh NO. My flight will be on 4 pm the next day from Manila to Kuala Lumpur. If the only way to reach Batad at 3 pm, so I need to stay over in Batad for 1 night then do the trekking next morning, then back to Manila (10 hours drive) that’s IMPOSSIBLE! I felt sad but I really want to see the rice terraces by myself. Plus this is an UNESCO Heritage Listed. It should be special place. And honestly, I would love to be in the nature than in the city, no matter how far I need to go to see the green scenery, rather than to see boring skyscrapper in Manila.

 

So I decided to go, after the rickshaw driver dropped us in the street.

It was a dark night already when we finished walk around Intramuros. Valentina asked me whether I am really sure that I wanna go to Banaue, since she knew I have no idea where to find the bus station. I said, yes. I will go to Banaue. Then we separated, Valentina take the Jeepney to bring her to Makati, while for me, I was so confused which Jeepney I should take to Sampaloc, the bus station.

 

Later on the rickshaw driver told me to take one Jeepney and change it – I’m sorry I forget the destination name where he asked me to go. But later on, when I stopped in that place and ask people how to go to Sampaloc and find Ohayami bus station, no one knew it and the guy who drives the Jeepney just told me to go inside the car. Once I am inside, I tried to ask to people around again. One lady told me that I took wrong Jeepney, but that’s after they debated quite long and leave me alone in confusion because they speak with tagalog. Later when the lady told me that I need to stop and change to another Jeepney, I just followed her and go out  when the Jeepney stop too. And ended up in another terminal (or place seem looked like terminal because many people and Jeepney at that time).

 

I confused and also panic because I heard it’s not safe to go around Manila in the evening. Especially my appearance was really look like a stranger for them. Ok, my face looks like Filipino, but the heavy backpack and my nervous face can not hide it, that I am a tourist and first time being in that place. Later on, because of my uncomfortable feeling, I tended to be more careful with all my belongings etc. Thanks God finally I met a Jeepney (with old man as the driver) and said he will go to Sampaloc. I tried to tell him that I wanna go to Banaue and want to go to Ohayami bus station. But his English a bit limited, so I spoke to a young guy (probably a student) who sit next to him. He asked me whether I am alone? I said, yes, I am alone. He was so surprised and asked me again, “So are you want to go to Banaue alone?! Hahh, good luck.” Eh, why he said “good luck?” His reaction made me feel more suspicious and worry.

 

But do you know what happened next?

After telling me where to take another Jeepney, they dropped me in a place which I really have no idea where. It was a main street but he said I need to go straight and follow the way to find the right Jeepney to UST. I saw the way, and it was a night market, full with people. OMG, where am I? What should I do again now? My body feel so tired because lack of proper sleep and all that confusion and lost and changing the Jeepney made me feel so exhausted.

 

When I was alone in that street, thinking what I should do next, suddenly a girl approach me and ask, “Sister, where do you want to go actually?” I looked to her with a hope. Any kindness at that time really such a huge matter for me. “I wanna go to Banaue, so I need to find the bus station. He told me I need to go to UST,” I tried to explain to her in hope she will help me to find the Jeepney. The night market and lots of people seemed so hopeless for me. She said, “Follow me, I will show you the way to go to Jeepney, and I will tell the driver to bring you stop to Florida bus station. It’s better for you to take that bus.” Whooo, such an angel! Yes I googled about Ohayami and Florida. Florida seems more expensive, but I just don’t care again at that moment. For me, to find the bus station is a must, because I don’t think going back to Makati by Jeepney or Taxi will be such a good idea at that hour.

 

What a kind-hearted woman. Her name is Cincin. She even asked me to save her number, because she said maybe I will need her help more later. Just like her promise, she told the driver (in tagalog of course) to drop me in UST and show me where to take the Florida bus. After I told many thanks to her, we separated and I’m so thankful to God to make me meet her. Inside of the Jeepney, I feel a bit relieved because now I am sure I will arrive soon. While trying to look the whole street during the ride, I saw the Ohayami bus station but the driver didn’t slow the car, instead he just drive it faster. Later on, in the next traffic light, he said I need to stop there. People inside the Jeepney pointed a way to me, and I say many thanks and leaving the car. I stood up in the quiet and dark road.

 

Ok good, now where am I again?

 

Ah, the bus station probably already left behind, I think. So I need to walk back for few hundred meters. There is no bus station name plang at all in that places but I saw two bus station facing to each other. I went to the clean one, later on, the woman in ticket counter told me I need to go to the other station.

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Finally I can able to rest here while waiting for the bus and enjoying this delicious coffee.

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But why in everywhere I need to see security to guard the stores (?)…

 

Now I can breathe so freely after I make sure to the lady, it is a Florida bus which will go to Banaue at 9 pm. She said, yes and you just pay the ticket inside of the bus. She only gave me a seat number. Once I came inside the bus, I pay 530 peso to the bus crew, which gave me a free entertainment how he ticked the ticket, it was so funny and take times! But he was really so great doing it.

 

Have you ever got your period while you are in a trip? Or when you want to go to trekking?

It was just like a never ending challenge for me to go to Banaue, because just when I wait for the bus to go, I realize this “guest” every month come to me in the wrong time. Huhuhu. Now I need to find the napkin (I don’t use tampon). But, where? It was raining so hard that evening (yeah, another challenge). I have no idea where to find the store whose sell the woman’s napkin 😦  I came back to the lady in the ticket counter, a bit shy, I asked her whether she knows where to buy the napkin? With a small laughing, she said, “Oh, I have one. You can take it.” Whooa, so nice! I took it and immediately go to the toilet, but then I need another ones for preparation (yeah, it’s hard to be a woman), so I need to find the store. After tried to ask to people around the bus station, one lady pointed me a way to find the napkin. I went back to the bus crew for borrowing their umbrella. Inside my heart I am almost screaming, “Oh God, why?! Why is it so difficult to go to Banaue….?!!!”

To shorten the story, I finally got the napkin. Yayyy!

 

I came back to the bus and just sit nicely and curious about what happened next.

My idea of the trip just simple ; If the Jeepney from Banaue to Batad only available at 3 pm everyday, then I will just walking around Banaue, it’s ok if I can’t see the famous rice terraces hills, but at least I made it to Banaue. I only expected I will see more of the town. When I was trying to relax and sleep, a guy come and sit next to me. Later on, we have a conversation – which turned into such a deep thing for him, because he told me some of his sad story life – when I am so so so sleepy and want to close my eyes. I like to talk with people but sometimes when I am so tired I prefer to just sleep. Finally he also sleepy and we both fall asleep. He stopped earlier than my destination, so we didn’t see to each other again.

 

Only few people left in the bus when we almost arrived in Banaue. I really think myself such a crazy person, what if.. what if? All the question just came into my mind, but it’s already happened, in another few minutes, we all arrived in Banaue. Suddenly I braved myself to talk to 2 Filipino girls and ended up we are become trekking buddies to Batad. Hurraayy!! Not only that, they even allowed me to have a shower first and take a rest, before taking another journey to Manila that night. How so kind they are! May God blesses them abundantly *happy*

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Celes and Grace, two kind women I met in Banaue.

 

We took an official tour from tourism office in Banaue. It cost us around 600 peso, expensive around 50 peso more than the unofficial, but it’s better for your own safety. The tour started around 9 am and minimum person to go is 10 person/group. You can shared the tour with someone else. In our group, there was another traveler from France and Belgium. So we kind a bunch of mixed people.

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Map of Banaue. We took the shortest trekking.

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That’s the office of Banaue Tourist Information Center.

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The city of Banaue.

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Haha, what a fun ride!

 

The trekking took around 7 hours in total included 30 minutes for a lunch break and 2 hours of Jeepney riding. The Jeepney riding was so cool. I chose a place on the rooftop together with a couple from French. It was my first time sitting on the top of the Jeepney. The road was so bumping so I need to hold the iron so tight and keep my bag for not fall out of the car. Once we arrived in Batad shelter, the trekking begun.

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Me with the French couple on the rooftop 🙂

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The bumpy roads. Prepared for some shaking and movements 😛

 

Our beginning walk started by going down the 412 stairs. Yeah, imagine you need to take it again when you are going back. Hehe. Then we need to walk for around 3 hours before finally we arrive in Batad view point. The walk was so worth! Since we have such a breathtaking view ever, the Ifugao rice terraces! Ohh, it’s definitely looks the same like the postcard I ever seen.

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Jerick, our guide tried to explain to us the meaning of that grass tie style for Ifugao people, it is using as a sign of boundary or alert for a cliff ahead.

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Arrived in Batad. I can’t believe it. Finally!

 

From Batad we walked again around 1 hour to arrive to Tappiya water falls. A really nice water fall but with such difficult trek since we need to going extremely down and up again. I felt so tired my whole body – especially I need to go back again to Manila at 8 pm 😦 Our way back to Banaue was so difficult since we need to walk under the rain and fight the coldness. Everytime I walked, I can feel my wet clothes and the water flowing down and the cold which make my skin so wrinkle.

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Way down to the water fall.

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Tappiya waterfall. Beautiful.

 

But it was truly worth it.

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I did it!!!

 

More of Batad information you can find here http://wikitravel.org/en/Batad

 

Cheers,
Dea

Tips :

  • For female traveler, don’t forget to bring your napkin, you never know when they will come to you!
  • Don’t always trust google while traveling, I mean, do your best to find out whether it’s possible or not. Usually the local knows better.
  • If you wan to sit on the rooftop of the Jeepney as well, don’t forget to take the sun block to avoid your skin becomes burn.
  • Banaue Tourism Center is easily to find once you stop from the bus. It’s suggested to use their services since it’s included insurance.
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