Monday, March 15, 2010

Unforgettable Trip to Batad

My extraordinary kind of excitement finally came to reality with a painful twist. I feel excruciating pain all over my legs, starting from my lower hips, thighs and calves, due to several hours of ambulatory exercises over the weekend - all for the love of Maya and to see the Eighth Wonder of the World! Now, I can proudly  say I survived Batad!

View of the Banaue rice terraces from Uyami's Greenview Lodge window

According to Wikipedia, aside from the Banaue Rice terraces there are 4 other similar terraces, the Batad rice terraces, Mayoyao rice terraces, Hapao rice terraces and Kiangan rice terraces.  Also, the friendly owners of Greenview Lodge told us that the amphitheater-shaped rice terraces of Batad is a must-see in Banaue, owing to the fact that it has been featured in post cards and travelogues. Hence, foreign tourists and professional hikers opted to go there despite the remoteness of the village and the long, challenging hike that goes with it. 

Our friend Maya Addug* who tied the knot with her longtime BF hails from Batad, a remote village in Banaue. We were instructed that, after the Roman Catholic wedding rites in Banaue, we are all invited to an Ifugao traditional wedding celebration to be held in their remote barangay called Batad Village.

An hour and a half jeepney ride ensued from Banaue to Batad saddle, the drop-off point before trekking down to Batad Village. The ride was mostly rough; we even called it the "abortion road". Then the start of Survivor: Batad edition begun.

We trekked for almost two hours down to the Batad Village. It was quite a steep climb as there are parts which are not cemented. For tourists, it is often suggested to hire a trek guide and bring a walking stick.

The green mountains of Ifugao and giant ferns are amazing - nature at its best - and some little previews of rice terraces. Very remote; no traces of civilization either. Then we saw the breathtaking Batad rice terraces!

We stayed at Hillside Inn** which offers a spectacular view of the amphitheater rice terraces of Batad Village. We learned that having electricity in the house is NOT the general rule in Batad. A gathering of village residents slash dinner on banana stalk plates was something new to us.

Then, all the visitors were made to dance the Ifugao native dance, and yes, we were not exempted. LOL! Despite the gong/traditional instruments and the never ending dance, we managed to catch forty winks for the night. Tiredness crept in for the neophyte hikers.

Morning came and the rice terraces were enough to perk us up wonderfully!

Amphitheater rice terraces of Batad

After breakfast, Robert (or Jobert in some blooper moments), our trusty trek guide, suggested to us that we'd go to Tappiya Falls, which calls for a conservative estimate of a 45-minute hike. We hiked along muddy trails, narrow pathways of rice terraces (amazing but I would not recommend this to acrophobes), and down the tricky mountain steps to the river. One wrong move will mean an instant downfall, no joke! This is where your walking sticks come into play.

Finally, the Tappiya Falls! Strong current, amazing cold and healing waters for our aching legs.

Then the most crucial part followed - hiking back to the Batad Village and Hillside Inn. This is where I made a silent prayer for safety. 1 p.m. UV rays, muddy and tricky steps uphill, tired and aching legs - all these contributed to the challenging hike. I vowed to all the nature elementals I'd never touch or harm anything nature as long as we'll make it safe and sound to the village. Overall, it took us 2 hours going back compared to the one-and-a-half-hour hike to the falls.

Finally, we arrived at the Hillside Inn where the traditional wedding lunch just started. I think the whole village got this unwritten memo which states: attendance is a must. The number of well-wishers is comparable to the excited spectators of the much-awaited Pacquiao-Clottey fight, which took place on the same day.

Due to recurring leg cramps, we had mini-breaks going back to Batad saddle. It took us one and a half hours to finally get to the drop-off point ("saddle"), where hired jeepneys to Banaue town proper are waiting.

Allow me to holler once more... we survived Batad!!!

*Pink's her favorite color and is also her wedding motif.
**Maya's family biz, so we stayed here for free.

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