Monday, March 24, 2014

Monday, March 24, 2014
Batad Rice Terraces

Recap from Hike to Batad [Part 1]:  The jeepney that we’ve hitched - after our van got stuck in boulders on the way to Batad – arrived in Saddle Point  and after  hiking for almost an hour, we’ve reached the breath-taking view of Batad Rice Terraces.

I terminated my hike in Batad Village, I chose to stay for some time here, while the group opted to go all the way down to Tappiyah waterfalls.  I walked down to Rita’s Inn and have a very pleasing conversation with - I presume - to be the eldest resident of the town.  Rita is so animated, she speaks eloquently – in English – she has a lot of stories, about her town, information about the place and the rice terraces. 

Rita’s Inn is probably the cheapest place to stay in town, with a full, clear, cool view of the grand terraces on its balcony.  I enjoyed having a chat with Rita that I forgot the passing time.  I bade goodbye to her, I thought it would be a wise decision to start walking back up to the saddle point, if the 5 fellows come back to Batad and I’m still here, I know they have stronger knees than I am, then I would be in trouble, I might have to keep up hiking back with them.  So I started navigating my walk back.  The hardest thing I’ve done for maybe the past one year and few months.  My last real hike was in Cappadocia, it’s almost 10 kilometers from Goreme to Cavusin but looking back, it may have been easier then.
View from the balcony of Rita's Inn
The affable Rita.

Walking alone has its advantages and disadvantages, for one, nobody will see you desperately gasping for air while pretending to take it easy.  I was sweating like a pig, at one point I almost took my fully soaked shirt off and wring it while my knees are starting to shake.  I was hoping no one will come soon, and half of my consciousness was wishing otherwise.  It’s not a good thing walking there, although the pathway is clear, but both sides full of tall grasses, wild bushes, trees, and the left side of the path is a ravine.  If I fall unconscious somewhere near the edge, I’ll roll down and no one will know.  So goodbye to me.
I was constantly looking at my cellphone - which has no reception by the way - for the time, estimating if I’m near the long steep 412 stairs.  So many twist and turns I’ve already passed, trying to recall from memories (while coming down) if I’m in the middle of the trek or still far or maybe near, or maybe the place’s spirits are playing with me (like in movies) and that I’m actually going round and round the same paths.
Until I saw the thatch-roofed mini store that looks like it just appeared there from nowhere, and gasping for those precious cool air I asked the guy sitting inside the store how many kilometers left before the saddle point, he said less than 1km., more like 800m!  That was a relief, at least I can really slow down, like really really slow, more like walking in the park, until finally I saw the beginning of the stairs going up, 412 knee-shaking steps or 500 meters long distance walk?  Took the former and I reached the top, panting.
Shortcut = 412 steps going up or Longcut = 500 meters distance walk?

A Note on expensive food & drinks in Batad:
For those who find the costs of food and drinks in Batad to be expensive, imagine from the 412 steps to probably less than an hour mountain hike to the village with all those supplies – bottled and canned sodas, beers, and other heavy stocks on your back, in bulk, just to be able to provide cold drinks and snacks or perhaps feed the hungry tourists?  With the amount of exhaustion carrying those stuff for an hour on a rugged terrain going down the mountains, a hundred percent top-up on the cost is logically reasonable.  It’s not expensive at all.
Whenever you buy a bottle of soda or bottled water, while you’re drinking and enjoying the coolness of the drink whilst at the back of your mind you’re complaining of the high cost - in every drop that comes out of the drink onto your dry mouth, think of the amount of sweat, energy, exhaustion the people in Batad exerted to bring those stuff into their ministores to give you relief and ease your hunger. 
Don’t bring food and drinks, they’re additional burden anyways, give back, buy them from Batad, give them revenues, it’s only a small income but goes a long way.

A note on DIY Batad:
The truth is, DIY is very much possible.  You can definitely do the Batad hike on your own even without a guide, even on public transport.  There are jeepneys going to Junction and from there take a hike  to Saddle Point (30-minute) or take the afternoon jeepneys that goes to Saddle Point and spend a night in Batad.  Or hire a tricycle to take you to Saddle, haggle for the cost.  Then hike from the saddle to Batad.  
The path is clear, you won’t get lost as there’s only one way and it stops in Batad.  The other way is – the wide off-road way - falling off the ravine, you won’t go there, will you?

Brief Info:

The Rice Terraces of the Philippine Cordilleras were inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1995, the first-ever property to be included in the cultural landscape category of the World Heritage List. This inscription has five sites: the Batad Rice Terraces, Bangaan Rice Terraces (both in Banaue), Mayoyao Rice Terraces (in Mayoyao), Hungduan Rice Terraces (in Hungduan) and Nagacadan Rice Terraces (in Kiangan), all in the Ifugao Province, the Philippines. Built 2000 years ago and passed on from generation to generation. [Wikipedia]
Private group van (Banaue – Saddle Point - Banaue)
Wonder Lodge
How to get there:
Ohayami Trans have one direct trip from their terminal at Cor. J. Fajardo St., Lacson Ave, Sampaloc, Manila.  To reserve in advance, call or send a text message to  09276493055 and  02-5160501.
From Baguio, KMS bus (P400) has  8:00am van and 9:30pm bus from their bus terminal beside Rizal Park.  For reservations, send a text message to 09175089988 or 09159471440.
Ohayami (P400) runs at 8:00pm at their terminal at Otek  St., Burnham Park beside Chowking.  Send a text message to reserve to 09166009333, from Banaue 09058814361.
Although I prefer KMS as they run faster reaching Banaue in 8 hours, whereas, the Ohayami I took from Banaue back to Baguio took almost 12 hours.

To reach Batad Village from Banaue (Poblacion), you may either book a seat/join a group in renting a private van.  In the morning, when there are a lot of tourists or if it's peak season, there are vans parked at the public market or in front of Wonder Lodge / People's Lodge taking tourists to Batad.  Jeepneys are also available at the public market at lesser cost but only available once a day in late afternoon prompting you to stay a night in Batad.
Up next - hike to Tam-an Village   

Coming soon - - -  S A G A D A.


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