Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Bontoc, Banaue, and Batad

Mountain Province

1. Moma is a substance that reminds me of chewing tobacco except it is all natural plants and it makes your mouth red and people spit it everywhere
2. The ride from Bontoc to Banaue
3. I think this pump still works!
4. Its kinda hard to see but these fields with plants have designs. Magnificent!
5. Our jeepney after we arrived, it was a rough trip especialy with minimal view and the cold rain
6. Looking into Banaue
7. Incredible 3000 year old rice terraces
8. We have to hike into this valley and it is already 5pm and it is already dark at 6pm. Our hike is still 1.5 hours
9. Down there is Batad proper
10. A woman maintaining the rice terraces. Basically the women do most of the work for the terraces
11. View just before going over the ridge back at Batad
12. Dave and I taking pics of each other on the way up the valley to get over the ridge towards the waterfall
13. The waterfall
14. Crazy Dave and Katie swimming. Katie swam to the other side of the pool
15. Us with a local in the local clothing
16. Our hut
17. A view on our 12km trek – rice terraces everywhere!
18. The jeepney that took us back after our 12km trek
19. The swinging bridge on our way to Sam’s waterfall in the Ligawe area
20. Sam’s waterfall

I had the pleasure after another crazy Thanksgiving in Segada to head to the famous Banaue. We left Segada and caught a jeepney from Bontoc to Banaue. Us PCV’s decided to ride on top to have a view however 2/3’s of the trip it rained, covered with clouds and it was really cold. We grinned and bore it as we are tough PCV’s enjoying another part of our adventure.

Banaue is famous for its couple thousand year old rice terraces in the mountains. They are truly remarkable! Upon arriving we (Dave, me and Katie) decided to head to Batad with the help of a local guide. Batad is a 1½ jeep ride from Banaue usually. You get to the turn off and go up to the saddle of the mountain and hike into Batad. We left a little late, 3:30pm. Also there was a mudslide 1/3 way up the mountain to Batad so we had to hike up the saddle too. We did not realize the intensity of where we were going and with our 10kg bags headed up to the saddle. Upon arriving we viewed the incredible valley of Batad. Then a look at what we had to walk down. It was pretty much huge steps down followed by walking down into the valley. Don’t get me wrong I’m glad the uphill was out of the way all I did do was pray my knees didn’t give out. We managed to get to our homestay in one piece however there were many close calls when we were walking on very uneven tarriane without a light. Yes, we were in the natural darkness and all I said to myself was it is too cool for a snake to come out and bite my ankle.

Our home stay was a native Ifago hut. It was beautiful however we were bushed and just wanted a bath and our bed. The next morning we were able to look at our dwelling and recognize how ingenious it was. We used a ladder to get into the hut and many of the huts usually had a attic where they would store goods. In the main room were the beds and hearth. The hut is made of wood and the roof of local leaf materials. Under and around the base would hang the baskets, skulls of animals and various other tools. I know the area gets extensive rainfall and it helps to keep above it.

We headed out after breakfast downhill to the bottom of the valley to the town center. We then hiked all up the side through the rice terraces to the other side of the valley were we went straight down again to the waterfall. At the waterfall Katie and Dave were brave enough to take a dip but I’m a wimp and don’t like to be cold. Also give me a break but I was in jeans and a sweat shirt (okay Katie was too but as I said before she is tougher or crazier than I). We hiked back up to the top of the valley and took a different route around the rice terraces back to our home stay. Gosh we worked hard already.

Our plan was to make the most of this trip and that we did. After lunch we did the 12km trek through the mountain seeing more communities and rice terraces till we caught up with our jeep. Katie made a cute comment wondering who would be the first to take a tumble and yes it was me. I slipped and fell in some tree roots which made a nasty bruise on the side of my left arm. I was a trooper and did not complain.

On the way back the jeep ahead got a flat tire. This must be a regular thing as every jeep driver and guide from the 8 vehicles behind us got out to have a look, watch and smoke. The French visitors from this vehicle took the opportunity to walk ahead while the tire change took place. The Koreans also decided to watch and make comments in Korean. Us, three PCV’s popped a squat next to the locals and watched. It was complete and everyone was back on the road in 25 minutes. We got ripped off on the jeepney ride to Sam’s place in Ligawe but by then we were exhausted again and didn’t care. It never helps that your guide gives you one price upon departure and the driver gives another when you arrive. This is normal and honestly it was such a good trip I didn’t care to put up a fight.

Sam took us to another beautiful waterfall the following day in a neighboring community. The mountain province is magnificent. It is just as beautiful as some of the sites in a coastal community. We did about 25km in 36 hours and it was fabulous to stretch my legs. Doing all this hard walking increased my dedication to returning to my running schedule. The Philippines has superb costal experiences and contrasting high elevation excursions. Please visit and take advantage of so much fun!!

1 comment:

Tara Lynn Smith said...

Hi Kate!!

Your blog is amazing. Its great to see you are having fun and enjoying your adventure there.I am currently in Cameroon, about to end my adventure in June! :-( I plan on going to the Philippines in July this year, and although I have friends in manila, I want to experience the PC live too! Could I visit you? Could you put me in touch with other PCVs that wolud be willing to show me around a bit?
Please stay in touch with me.

Tara Smith