Thursday, March 27, 2014

Thursday, March 27, 2014
After staying 4 full nights at Las Vegas Lodge, some 1.5kms up from the center of Banaue town (Poblacion), I transferred (more like, I was taken by the owner of Las Vegas Lodge) to Wonder Lodge to have a taste of the town center itself.  I was supposed to stay only for 2 days but ended up staying 6 nights, from March 12 – 17, 2014, went to Baguio, came back to Banaue and  stayed for another week here.
Location – right at the center of the town, it is the very first accommodation on your left side.  I was told, it's one of the first accommodation built in Banaue town.  Stone-throw away from the main market building where you can find all sorts of shops from mini stores to restaurants, internet cafes, souvenir shops, a massage parlour and where they hold the nightly Ifugao cultural show on the top floor.  The lodge is surrounded by several mini stores and bakeshops for your daily needs, few steps to all transport options – tricycles, jeepneys, vans, bus terminal is up the hill.  It’s right in the center, literally.
The Building – it’s a 3-storey wide building with some shops on the ground level.  The first floor, that can be accessed from the ground level through few steps is under renovation (at the time of writing), repainting going on in preparation for a nice restaurant where the scattered pieces of nicely carved wooden native furnitures and ornaments will be displayed.  The 2nd and 3rd floor where the actual rooms are located, most facing the main street of the town center below, some at the backside.  So every day I get to watch all the business, tourists, locals going about their daily routine.  Bring ear plug if you're a light sleeper, otherwise, get a room at the back side.
The Rooms – like most (may be all) accommodations around Banaue are basic and simple (except maybe for the biggest place – Banaue Hotel), tourists don’t spend lots of days in Banaue – it’s a jump off point.  My room at the lodge is simple, two single beds, draped with white bed sheet and blankets. Good-sized room, probably 18sqm, and then there’s the balcony overlooking the main street below and where you can smoke.  The plus is – there’s an in-room toilet/shower unlike some accommodations in Banaue with shared bath/toilet.

The lodge's lobby area.

Twin Room.

The Staff -  the owner (Mildred) welcomed me with a wide genuine friendly smile.  She was so accommodating and lots of funny stories to share.  She made me feel so comfortable and “at home”.
They serve delicious home-cooked very affordable breakfast, lunch and dinner.  Chat with the owner who also manages the place, and you’ll get a lot of information for things to see and do around the area.  She helped me with saving cost for my Batad tour as well as ways to see other sights which can be visited on foot for which some tourists have opted to rent tricycles.
From the lodge, you can possibly (even for the moderately fit) hike up along the well-paved road (highway) getting to the several viewpoints (about 6 of them) of the Banaue Rice Terraces, about 45 minutes if you want to reach the last viewpoint (Main) which provides the most stunning views.  If you’re lazy or just want to take it easy, you can rent a tricycle for 200 pesos to go up to all the viewpoints, you can ask the owner to hook you up with a friendly and efficient driver.

The owner, Manang Mildred, posing with guests.

For the amount I paid, with ensuite toilet/shower (bring your own towels and toilet paper though, and cold shower), a balcony, good-sized room, nice food, fun stories from the friendly owner and kind staff - Wonder Lodge is worth more than what I’ve doled out of my pocket which by the way has the lowest room rate in town, so way more.
The drawbacks – cold shower only and no electrical socket inside the room.  What’s with Banaue and electrical sockets?
Don't expect too much though, this isn't some star-rated hotel, most hotels in Banaue are more like Inns and guesthouses, it befitting a small town.
Wonder Lodge = highly recommended.
Price: P300/night, no breakfast.
Poblacion Banaue, Ifugao 3601, Philippines
Mob.: +63 0920 849 8849


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