Monday, March 17, 2014

Monday, March 17, 2014

On my second day in Banaue, I took a tricycle ride to the town below.  Las Vegas Lodge, where I was staying is less than 2 kilometers up from the Poblacion (main town center).  
I was wandering around town center (Poblacion) when a cheerful young tricycle boy (said he’s 16) stopped on my side of the road and asked if I wanted to see the viewpoints for 150 pesos, hah! That was 50 pesos less than the on-going rate (they normally charge 200 pesos), that was an easy yes. 
We went up to 2 view points plus couple of stops along the main highway (they have a total of 5, I found out later) to view different angles of the spectacular rice terraces.  He took me directly to NF Aguian View Point, maybe because it has a nice observation deck patio with steel umbrella canopy.

Views of the rice terraces taken from NF Aguian Viewpoint, my favorite.

Then we proceeded to the Main view point as clearly written on a sign board.  I bought some bread and water before we left the town center and we sat at one of the bench and had our mini picnic under a thatched roof open hut, steps below the panorama deck.  Nice to have some chat with a local, not a professional guide but someone who knows his place, who will give info minus the usual automatic mechanically repetitive speech delivered by paid guides.  I ended up giving him 170 pesos and he was so grateful for that.

The "Main Viewpoint".

The rice terrace is truly stunning.  I remember when I was in grade school, we always have a framed picture of the terraces (and Mayon Volcano – purportedly having the most perfect cone-shaped volcano in the world) inside our classrooms and it’s one of the many places that we as Filipinos are proud of.  We even dubbed it as the 8th wonder of the world, though of course the title never exist officially.  I really wanted to see it and it took more than 3 decades before I finally experienced the place.  Never too late, right?
Another place ticked on the list of my 1000 places I want to see before I die.
There lots of trekking that can be done in Cordillera, like the Batad terraces which I’m contemplating on doing, the rice terraces of Bangaan and Hapao, etc.  And then, my uric acid shoots up and I’m having gout on my right foot, so noooo to trekking. 
Before heading to Banaue, I was really hesitant that I might not be able to enjoy the place as I’m not inclined doing long hikes or treks, nonetheless I went ahead and glad I did.
So for people who think that Banaue is only for super physically fit, good news for the couch potatoes, the ones blessed with more meat, and those with slight physical handicaps -  Banaue is also for you (or us?).  You can always take a tricycle or a van or any vehicle going up the various viewpoints.

Along the highway going back to the town (Poblacion).

Things you may want to know: 
(1)  If the English language is your native tongue or you can only communicate in English, well, you’re in luck as the people in Banaue, even children and the native Igorots (indigenous people) speak the English language fluently like it’s their official vernacular, I was indeed fascinated. 
(2)  If you want to hire a tricycle to see the rice terraces viewpoints, you might be lucky to get it at less than 200 pesos if you hail someone running along the road rather than getting those at their parking premise.  Haggle, especially if you’re alone and find it expensive, you might just be lucky to chance upon the tricycle I hired.
(3)  It’s possible to walk from town center to some nearer rice terraces viewpoints if you can’t make it up to the main (last), the way is along the main highway, so it’s an easy stroll on a well-paved surface, though the road is sloping of course, but not that steep at all. 
(4)  Internet service are very weak Banaue (my Smart Bro network is so slow that it makes my pulse beat faster), can’t surf the web, even the several internet caf├ęs in town are swarmed with local kids playing games on the machines there.  Probably because the place is surrounded by huge mountains, sorry for internet addicts. 
(5) Anywhere you’re coming from, charge your electronic gadgets (cameras, cellphones, tabs, etc) before coming to Banaue, msome accommodations charge a fee of 10 to 20 pesos for charging your gadgets, many don’t have electrical sockets inside the room.  So ask your hotel before making reservations if they have electrical socket inside their rooms, that is, if you can’t live without it.
(6)  If you intend to stay longer, bring your medications with you, pharmacies in town only stock meds for common illnesses.
(7)   The only laundry shop in town, down the elementary school, accepts a minimum of 3 kilos at 200 pesos!  Anything lesser than 3kg would be the same, perhaps you could bargain upto 150 pesos for a kilo.  I paid that amount for 7 pieces of light shirts and a pair of socks.  So be sure that you’ve accumulated 3 kilos of laundry before heading there.
Tricycle tour to see the rice terraces
Tricycle fare from Las Vegas Lodge
Las Vegas Lodge


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