Visiting the 8th (to 21st) Wonder of the world

So as I said earlier I’m not one to take too many risks when I travel. I like to have things organised for me in bite-sized chunks. I find this to be particularly important in the Philippines because I’m still finding my feet and if I bugger it up I’ll have to charter my own tour (see my trip to Palawan). The problem was that all the travel agents were either jerks or too expensive (some were expensive jerks too), so I decided to go about organising my own tour which was all going smoothly.

The bus tickets I would either have to pick up in the middle of the day during rush hour traffic (probably taking an hour up or back) or take my chances on the night.

Unless, I thought to myself, I can pay someone to do it for me. You see I’m lazy, but Filipinos are entrepreneurial, so it seemed likely that this coincidence could only end in a mutually beneficial trade.

So after some furious googling I found this. Having previously vowed to never give my credit card details to a site with more than two pieces of clip-art, my hands were tied. I called the expensive jerks.

I know what you generation Ys are like, so here are some pictures of the town break up the text.

Now getting to Banaue in itself is a bit of an odyssey, except unlike the Iliad it ends with pie.

once upon a time (11pm) they slap a ‘deluxe’ sign on the bus, turn on the air-conditioners as high as they go and put ‘total eclipse of the heart’ on repeat. For the passenger’s safety the driver then consumes vast amounts of what I can only assume are coffee beans given this blog’s PG rating.

Sleep deprived and full of buko pie (the local delicacy) I waddled off the bus into the town of Banaue.

Now I have to say I liked Banaue right off the bat and I think the reason was the market. Now I’ve never been sure why I like markets so much, but I do and Banaue had a cool one, with a good mix of items I had never seen before. The town being a long way out from the industrialisation of Manila also has an ample supply of fresh air.

Anyway, this part of the blog is boring me so let me up the proportion of photos.

It’s a dog, dawg!

Yeah, that worked.

So we were there for a reason, to tourist the hell out of the place, which is a challenging task for the best out there. Fortunately we had the assistance of one of these bad boys:

Well not quite, but ours was still pretty cool.

So the first stop after some fancy ‘A-team-esque’ driving were the Clay-walled rice terraces. So as a bit of an introduction a rice terrace is kind of like a series of step like structures for growing rice. See figure 1 for an artist’s impression.

As the diagram clearly illustrates rice is grown in the basins of the steps which are sequentially irrigated. Although I’m not sure the reliability of this, it is believed that they were constructed bottom up. Builders would locate suitable valleys with sufficient water supply and build up, step by step.

Not an artist’s impression.

The zoom on my Olympus.

So once the Jeepney arrived at an appropriate point he dropped us off and let us walk amongst the terraces.

As you can see my illustration was dead-on.

Now besides from making arrogant self-references to your own blog or relevant material another thing which makes a good blog are facts. So here’s one, these terraces (or at least a lot of them) are over 2000 years old. To make that tangible if the average unicorn lives 43 years there would be over 45 generations of unicorns, probably a couple of unicorn civil wars and definitely one unicorn messiah.

One hell of an obnoxious flower, get out of my shot jerk!

So fortunately that was day one, fortunately because if it was day 0 and I had another night of pop music I’d have to kill myself.

Ifugao huts.

Day two also involved more walking, and more pictures. Probably less text too, yeah that’ll do.

Batad rice terraces.

So these are the Batad rice terraces, and as it turns out a hell of a good reason to come to Banaue. But for the record they’d also better be a good reason to do 4 hours of pretty hard-core trecking. Think stairmaster but you don’t have today tonight playing on the TV to sustain your anger.

Stairways to heaven or 7/11?

There was, however, a light of sorts at the end of the ordeal. Tappiyah Falls. I actually have to level with you at this point and tell you I had no idea where we were going and was surprised when our guide told us we were going to a waterfall. Like I said, I just want to be able to tell a story at parties unfortunately this one probably isn’t entertaining unless I embellish it, so I met Tom Hanks on the way.

My only shot of the falls without Tom.

One of the numurous subscribers to my blog, he was thrilled to meet me.

So for the final injection of rice terraces we visited Hapao, which is from memory on the back of the 1000 peso note. (I don’t have any of that denomination, but that fascinating story will come another time).

So that was my trip to the rice terraces. What’s that, you want to go but can’t because of the kids? Well firstly who are you? Because I can’t imagine anybody with kids reading my blog, seriously send me an email and justify yourself.

Thirdly, as with everybody else, they’re way ahead of you:

So that’s it. You have no excuses whatsover, get your arse there. It’ll be awesome.