Today I got a workout. A big workout!
After getting a couple hours of sleep on the bus (miraculous for me as I just can’t sleep on transport) , the bus stopped around 3am for about 20 minutes for people to get off and use the CR (comfort room or as we know it – bathroom) and to buy some snacks.
When we got back on board I just simply wasn’t able to fall back asleep. Of course it didn’t help that the driver had the country station on the radio playing over the bus speakers.
Yes, here in the Philippines all the buses have a tv screen at the front and are either playing a show with the volume on or playing music.
I was stunned that the overnight bus was playing music though as it would seem most people just wanted to sleep.
At 6:30am we arrived in Banaue. As this is the only bus into the city, they were ready to receive us as we unloaded and walked a few steps to the tourist information office.
After paying a 50 peso tourist / environmental / money grab fee, the man talked about the day tour to Batad that would be leaving at 8:30.
The tour goes about an hour west to Batad where you trek for a few hours down to the village and its’ rice terraces and also to their waterfall.
The tour only costs 600 pesos ($15) and pretty much everyone was doing it. I signed up for the tour and then headed down the hill to checkin to the pension house (a low rent hotel) I would be staying at later that evening.
I had over an hour before the jeepneys taking us to Batad were leaving so I settled into my room, washed up and changed to shorts. I went downstairs and asked about breakfast. Turns out the lady running the place also cooks up food for you.
I took a look at the breakfast menu and like most menus here, they had both western food and Filipino food. She was actually pointing out the american breakfast but I told her I wanted something Filipino.
And then I was introduced to tocino…
Oh. My. God!
Tocino is a sweet, sugary pork and it tastes like heaven. I could seriously eat this every day for the rest of my life!
At 8:30 I gathered around with the others (about 30 of us) and we each loaded up into our assigned jeepneys. There were 3 jeepneys and because they each left 10 minutes apart we actually never saw any of the other people from the other 2 groups.
So it was just the 11 of us: myself, Luke and Sarah from Melbourne, Alexandra and Paul from France, Stina and Kaysa from Sweden and Raphaela, Laura, Carolyn and Gerlinde from Austria.
Well, Carolyn was just posing as an Austrian as she’s actually Canadian but was travelling with them as they all studied together in Taiwan.
And, yes, I did have to write it all down cause there’s no way I can remember all that!
Anyway, luckily I was placed with some really cool people so it made the adventure so much better. I spent time getting to know each person, what they did, where they were travelling – that kind of thing.
Now, the hike itself was brutal! Not cause it sucked but because it wrecked me. I mean wrecked me! I’ll be the first to admit I’m not in the best of shape but, damn, that hike was hard!
I had read somewhere that the hike is 9km but add on the fact that it was all either going up or down raggedy style steps and let’s just say it was the best workout I’ve had in a long time!
Carolyn actually counted the steps and it worked out to over 2000!
We started our trip out to Batad at 8:30 and arrived an hour later to Saddle Point – a place where the jeepneys stop and we start our hike into the village. After just over an hour of walked we reached the rice terraces.
We were at the top where a couple of stores were including a restaurant we would have lunch at later. Down below were the rice terraces and a small village and there’s also a waterfall on the other side of the village.
It was 11am when we started the next part of our hike. This part would lead us down to the village, through the village and then up the other side of the hill to where it leads to the waterfall.
We walked down the steps and actually on the ledges of the rice terraces down to the village.
This part took us half an hour.
The next part our guides told us was the hardest part. This is not exactly what you want to hear after already hiking for an hour and a half.
The hike to the waterfall took about 40 minutes and had some very steep parts to it. By now my legs were burning. We had hiked for more than 2 hours and we still had to go back!
The waterfall was beautiful. Was it worth it to hike an hour to?
Then again, I saw a ton of waterfalls last month in Iceland so I might be suffering from waterfall overload…
We hung out at the waterfall for a bit and then hiked back, past the village again and to the restaurant. I had chicken with stirfried rice and egg.
It was so good and a much needed energy boost to get me through the upcoming hour hike back to Saddle Point.
When I got up from the table I instantly knew this next hour would be a long one. My upper thigh muscles were so tight and I was literally walking like a little old man up and down the steps.
We made it!!!
So, in total, we hiked from 9:30-4:00 with maybe an hour where we hung out at the restaurant and the waterfall. So, we basically hiked up and down steps for over 5 hours!
At 5:00 we had made it back to Banaue. Everyone else in our group was actually heading right back to Manila on the 7pm bus so I said my goodbyes and went back to my lodging.
I freshened up a little and hobbled over next door to Las Vegas restaurant where I had a cucumber and tomato salad with pork and rice.
At 7:30 every night the city puts on a cultural show for all us tourists so I went up to their show space and I, along with about 10 others, took in a show.
It was about a dozen of the locals dressed in native garb acting and singing different rituals. One of the group would explain what each ritual and song meant and it was actually quite informative.
We also got a chance to dance with the tribe which, I’m sorry to say, I have no video of.
Sorry – you’re just gonna have imagine me dancing awkwardly.
Probably not that hard to imagine…
And that, my friends, was day 7.
It was a very long one but definitely worth it. I met some great people and saw some amazing sights.