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Banaue, Ifugao Mountain Province – April 24, 2010

Probably one of the most iconic symbols of the Philippines, the famous Banaue Rice Terraces, is one place I had longed to see and go to since I was a kid.

On this particular trip with me are RJ Bumanglag and Chris Aquino. We left Friday evening (technically early Saturday morning). We were on our way at around 1:30am of Saturday. The trip would take approximately 8 hours with a few stops along the way.

We proceeded north via the NLEX where we stopped for a snack at a Tropical Hut, then proceeded onward via the SCTEX through till the Tarlac exit, we turned right toward Cabanatuan City, then turned left where we headed northward toward Banaue. The trip was quite uneventful. The great things about these National Roads is that they just go straight and you can’t get lost.


View Banaue, Ifugao Mountain Province in a larger map

Proceeded northward through Nueva Ecija through to Nueva Vizcaya.

Nueva Vizcaya

Every now and then we would stop and admire the scenery…

Along the way to Banaue, we started to encounter a few rice terraces…

Banaue, Ifugao

Banaue, Ifugao

Shortly thereafter, we reach Banaue!

Banaue 7

When we get to the town of Banaue, the first thing that strikes us is that it appears to like a lesser developed Baguio CIty… something perhaps reminiscent of Baguio in the 1960s.

The town of Banaue

We proceeded to our lodging. I booked a room at the Banaue View Inn in Barangay Poblacion, Bontoc Road (Tel: (074) 386-4078). I learned about the place from going through online blogs and chanced upon a blog post where a lady stated “we should have stayed here instead.” So I assumed that it would be a nice enough place to stay.

Banaue View Inn Banaue View Inn

The Banaue View Inn is clean and offers no frills. Our room for 3 which included a double bed and a single bed would cost us just P1000 for the night. It had its own bath with running cold/hot water. They don’t offer any meals except for breakfast which is available at additional cost. The room opened out to a balcony, offering a view of the Banaue Rice Terraces right from our room. The room (as expected from the misc. blog posts) had no air conditioning or even an electric fan. It was quite cool, but due to the lack of wind, it became a little uncomfortable. Our stay here was quite pleasant, but it could have been better. It’s a family-owned operation and the “manager on duty / manager” daughter wasn’t very accommodating or helpful with information and information she gave was either incorrect or not helpful at all.

What I could say though was that the place offered spectacular view of the Banaue Rice Terraces right from the many balconies around the buildings.

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Town of Banaue

Banaue, Ifugao

Batad Rice Terraces

We rested for a couple of hours and decided not to waste time to make our way to the Batad Rice Terraces. What is so special about Batad? Apparently it is the side of a massive wall of terraces.

Apparently there were a number of options to get Batad. We could rent a jeep for around P2,500. Take a tricycle for around P400. There is a third option we only realized layer on…. we could have taken the 4×4.

We had flagged down a tricycle and met Mang Tony who brought us to our trek to Batad. It was Mang Tony who told us that we could have taken The Lakwatsero Mobile up to “the saddle” and would have saved us a one hour trek up the mountain.

If by tricycle, we were taken all the way to the base of the mountain where we would start our trek. The Tricycle would not be able to bring us any further. We would trek up around 1 hour to the top. This is a rest stop called “The Saddle” which is the half way mark.

Below, from the center right, at the bottom of the V, is The Saddle. It is from here which would would mean another 45min – 1 hour before we get to the Batad View Deck.Batad

Needless to say, I was not amused. I had just made the 8 hour trek to Mt. Pico de Loro the previous week. In short, I was quite irritated that I had to make another trek after a week.

Anyway so after an hour of trekking up the mountain to the Saddle did we see a number of jeeps and 4x4s that had made it up and parked here. Had we known… this would have saved us the 1 hour trek.

From the top we then rested a bit then proceeded downward to the Batad View Deck. Walking down through a narrow foot path to the Batad View Deck.

(Photos of me taken at this time are not for publishing)

The photo below is taken just before we get to the Batad View Deck. It’s a nice tailored set of Rice Terraces with no houses in the immediate vicinity.

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After artound another 10 min… a breathtaking site which is the Batad Rice Terraces. My first reaction…. WHOOA. At that moment, whatever pain my legs were feeling momentarily went away as I took out mu camera and started shooting away.

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Banaue 6

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The view deck offered all the trekkers a number of places to sit and order a wide array of food. It was already 3pm and we needed to start getting on our way back soon or else we would run out of sun on the way back. We had time to order up some halo halo (just P20 each) before making the trek back.

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Needless to say… the trek back was agonizing for me.

What was interesting was that a majority of other tourists along the way up and down the mountain were all foreigners. Aside from us (and what appeared to be a Filipino family) we encountered a few groups of foreigners from Israel, the US, and Europe.

Banaue Hotel

After getting back, we rested a bit and took a bath, we then had our dinner at the Banaue Hotel.

From all appearances, the Banaue Hotel is very reminiscent of an early Baguio-style hotel of the mid 70s. It’s a government run hotel with around 82 rooms.

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Below is a photo of the view of rice terraces from the roof deck of the Banaue Hotel.

Banaue Rice Terraces

After dinner, we made it back to the inn. Due to the lack of anything else to do, we went to sleep by around 10pm and slept through till Sunday morning.

Early morning, we would have breakfast then proceed back to Manila by around 9:00am. With stopping along the way to pee and lunch… we got back to Manila 8 hours later.

Conclusion

All in all it was a fulfilling trip. And despite my complaints over the 4 hour up and down trek, it was well worth it.

Strike off another item from my bucket list. It is definitely an adventure I would recommend to anyone. The roads to Banaue from Manila are nicely paved making it a simple and easy trip.

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