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Banaue and Batad

Northern Luzon

sunny 25 °C

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After a pretty sloathful period of beaches and diving, I was keen to get back into some real backpacking. We headed north of Manila on an overnight bus. Not a sleeper, but pretty comfortable nonetheless, we arrived at the same time as the bus that left an hour later than us - no wonder our journey was a lot more sedate than theirs...

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Our guesthouse collected us from the bus - Randy was an absolute star! He has his operation, which he runs pretty much single handedly, running with super efficiency. The place was simple, but spotless and with a shared hot shower. We got talking to 2 other couples and Randy thought we'd get into less trouble if we stuck together... He was also very insistent in giving us instructions piece by piece- "for now you take a walk here, I'll tell you about tomorrow when you get back"... Not sure he trusted us!

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Mai and James were a nice couple from England (well Mai is Chinese-cambodian, lived in Vietnam and now Oxford) and Joel and Amy; a couple of New Yorkers, who would be fixtures for the next few days. Despite being relatively fresh from the bus journey, we'd still only managed a few hours sleep (Soph always says she doesn't sleep, but she drools with her eyes shut for significant periods of time...). We decided on an easy day. Randy made us a breakfast and we sat around for a bit before going for a short walk to view the terraces. Short but steep and hot in the sun! We got back into town by mid-afternoon and contemplated a light lunch so that we'd be able to eat again later. in the end we realised that we wouldn't last much longer before needing sleep, so we had our fill and retired by 5:30 for a mamouth sleep.

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The next day was 7am breakfast before jumping into a tricycle (a dodgy sidecar on the side of a motorbike). It's good for waking you up! By 8:30 we had arrived at the Saddle; the point at the top of a mountain ridge where the road became impassable. The road was under construction from the saddle down to the village of Batad and so the first half of the walk was along semi laid road, dodging diggers and drainage ditches. At the point where the road gave way to a narrow trail, we encountered a pile of dynamite! Dogs running around and walkers literally stepping over a pile in the road while the worker packed it into the mountainside to make way for the road... This was a slight worry, particularly wondering whether we'd get back once they'd detonated!

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The village of Batad consisted of a few guesthouses and cafes. Most of the locals lived in small hamlets dotted amongst the rice terraces. Randy told us to have second breakfast at a little cafe overlooking the amphitheatre of rice terraces. It was pretty pleasant and despite planning to eat a couple of slices of my breakfast pizza and save the rest, I'd demolished it before realising. As we sat there, we heard explosions from where we'd come from. We couldn't go back now!

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From Batad there is a waterfall that requires a walk across the terraces and down into a valley. The views back towards the village and down through the valley are stunning!

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The walk from the saddle down to the waterfall could probably be done in 2hrs but it is a long way downhill and not so easy on the thighs! It doesn't help knowing you have it all to do on the way back up.

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The waterfall is impressive, the water icy cold and the rocks to be negotiated on the way into the water make a dignified entrance impossible: incredibly slippy. I attempted to swim to the falls but couldn't get within 5m - I even persuaded Soph to come in...

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By the time i got out of the water, I was shivering cold, which lasted about 5mins into the climb back before I was sweating again. Back in the village, we stopped at the school to get laughed at by the kids. The tough kid of the group had climbed on top of the basketball net and then plonked himself down next to Soph. She tried to make him smile, even gave him some biscuits, but he stared us out.

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We finished our walk back to our waiting tricycle feeling satisfied, but pretty tired from the day's exertions. The journey back was pretty hairy, with long waits on the edge of a precipice while construction trucks passed by. We all went out for a meal, but a couple of beers and some food and we were done. Another early night...

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Posted by bloorsontour 18:08 Archived in Philippines Tagged rice terraces northern luzon Comments (1)

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