Rice Terraces and a terrifying ride

So after the excitement of Sagada we headed to Banaue and Batad to check out the famous rice terraces and finish off our North Luzon adventure.

The road from Sagada to Banaue was mostly paved (a lovely change from the last few days) but it was still a hellish ride. The highway is BARELY two way and is carved into the side of the mountains, so one side drops perilously into a 100 metre sheer cliff face. Added to this are long sections where the road has fallen away due to landslides and is being rebuilt. I swear, there was more than one occassion where I saw the state of the road up ahead and shut my eyes hoping and praying that we would make it across the section in one piece.

Just a small snapshot of the highway...

You couldn’t pay me to take a bus ride on that road. Not even a million dollars.

Especially when I found out that the week before we travelled a bulldozer was parked on the cliff side of the road (on a concreted section) and suddenly the road gave way and he plunged to his death.

WTF? He wasn’t even driving or swerving to avoid oncoming buses and trucks like we were.

I’m surprised my nerves made it in tact to Banaue at all.

After the prettiness of Sagada I was really disappointed with Banaue. It is a dirty, bustling rural town and I’ve seen enough of those. The rice terraces surrounding the town were fine, but after the clean lines of the terraces in Sagada (which are stone walled vs. mud walled in Banaue) I was underwhelmed.

Of course, its possible that I’m just sounding like a massive pretensious tosser banging on about the difference between terraced farming materials.

Everyone we spoke to was raving about the terraces in Batad (stone walled of course) and I was excited to see them. This excitement was of course tempered by the fact that we had to hike there. But then someone told me it was only a 45 minute hike in…win! It was only later while pondering the principles of what goes up must come down that I realised that this is also true in reverse, and that those who hike down for 45 minutes will inevitably have to hike up for at least the same amount of time…fail!

Luckily it was worth it. The view was absolutely breathtaking.

The Batad Rice Terraces, also known as "The Amphitheatre"

Cleverly, I decided to stop at the view point and spent a relaxing two hours reading and just watching life go by. My crazy Dad decided to walk to a waterfall. I weighed up the pros (a waterfall) and the cons (walking for 2 hours)…and perhaps unsurprisingly decided to park my arse at the top of the hill.

After a long day of hiking, it’s nice to know that you can come home to a little luxury, so we splurged on rooms with hot water and private bathrooms. I can report that the water was hot (if you left it at just a trickle) and the absolute convenience of having your showerhead directly over the toilet will probably never be matched.

Filipino ingenuity at its best

You can check out more photos from Banaue and Batad in my Faceook album http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=189747&id=565144918&l=9b02f12a86

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