Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Banaue and Batad

From Sagada I caught a bus to Bontoc and then a Jeepney to Banaue. I find it really interesting that each country in Southeast Asia seems to have its own unique type of transport. Thailand has the tuk tuks and Cambodia had a thing they called a tuk tuk but was a motorcycle with a trailer behind it. Vietnam had the cylcos which was a bike with 3 wheels. 2 wheels where up front with a seat in-between them for the passenger and the rider behind it on a bike. This was different from the rickshaw of China where the passenger was behind the driver. Well the Philippines unique transports methods are Jeepneys and Tricycles. The jeepneys are about what they sound like but are used everywhere I went as a sort of local bus. Here is a picture of one I took later in the trip.

They are not the easiest thing to get in and out of especially when I had my backpack on and the local really jam people into them. I saw a number of them full with 5 or 6 people riding on the top. I was lucky enough to never have to ride on the top of one.

The other unique form is the tricycles. Here is one I took along with the driver. They are just a motorcycle with a sidecar. They are also not built for people my size. None of them had enough headroom for me and my head was always hitting the roof even with me sitting in my sort of bent over squating position. I liked the soft top ones because they didn’t hurt my head. The position that I found best for riding in these reminded me of the position used in the squat toilets which is another thing that I don’t like using that much.

Once in Banaue I got a tricycle to take me to viewpoints looking out across the rice terraces that are called by some to be “The eighth wonder of the world”. Since I had been to Ping’an in China and the rice terraces there it is really hard not to compare the 2 places. I had read another travel blog where the person had been to both places and he had said the terrace here were not as impressive as the ones in China. I don’t think I agree I find them both impress and since there were still fields being harvest in Banaue it had a lot different look to the terraces in China. I really enjoyed seeing the colors of the fields that I had not got to see in China. I didn’t expect to see rice plants still in the field but the tricycle drive told me they had planted late this year due to bad weather. Here is a picture of the fields.

The back of the 1000 pesos bill has a picture of the rice terraces at Banaue. I did not understand my tricycle drive when he was trying to tell me this and at first thought he wanted a 1000 pesos for bringing me to this viewpoint.

This is a picture of the view I had from my hotel in Banaue.

The rice terraces at Banaue are of clay and all the terraces in this area are believed to be 2000 years old. The rice terraces in Batad are stonewall terraces and the guidebook said they are considered to be the worlds most striking. With something like the worlds most striking being said I was expecting something really wonderful but I was a little bit disappointed.

The Batad terraces are not as east to reach as the Banaue ones. I hired a tricycle and driver for the day and it was one of the few times I paid less than what was in the guidebook for something. Usually I pay a lot more than the guidebook quotes but I paid 500 pesos for the tricycle and driver for the day. I find it is amazing that I could hire transport and a person to wait the whole the day for about 8 euros. The driver took me the 13 kilometers to the Batad junction and then waited there until I returned. The 13 K in the tricycles was not really pleasant. It is a really rocky road and the motorcycles kept dying and I was not sure it was going to make the 13K. I also had to get out once and walk so it could make it up a hill.

From the Batad junction it is a 3 Kilometer hike up another road that is even in worse shape and the tricycles can not go up. If you want to go to the end of the road at the top of the 3K you have to hire a Jeepney and a couple of them passed me on my walk up. From the top of the hill, which is known as the saddle, it is another walk down to the village of Batad. The 12K walk up and down to get into and out of Batad may have something to do with me not finding the terrace as impressive as I had hoped.

I ate lunch in Batad and spent some time walking on the terraces and then headed back up the hill. From the saddle the only way to the village is by walking or on horseback. On my way up I passed a number of villagers carrying stuff to the village. I found it a bit of a hike and I was not carrying 30 to 40 litters of bottled water like one guy walking down to the village. This boy was only carry one box full of bottled water. He said he makes the trip up to the saddle and back with stuff 3 times a day. I understand why bottled water was about 3 times the prices in Batad as in Banaue.

It took me a while but I finally made it back to the junction and my tricycle driver. The driver appeared to have used the time waiting for me working on the motorcycle because it ran much better on the way back. I still had to get out and walk up some of the steeper section on the road but I prefer this to the times he tried to make it up with me in the sidecar. At one steep section he got the bike sideways and almost ran off the side of the road. We made it back safe to the town and I feel he really earned his 8 euros.

1 comment:

  1. Like the view from your hotel in Banaue. Would say you got your excerise this day. Didn't realize you could walk around on the rice terraces.