Philippines Travel

Surviving Batad on a rainy day

Batad, Philippines – And when the fog finally lifted, even for just a few minutes, I can’t help but stare in awe at the 2,000-year-old beauty before me. A combination of nature and man’s handiwork sloping along the mountainside, forming an amphitheatre-like landscape that dwindles down to a small town down at the center

Jelly legs and near misses notwithstanding, I can truly say it was all worth it.

The long and winding road to Banaue

The paved road gave way to twists and turns of the mountainside, leaving the bigger cities behind. It was already foggy and drizzling. What I was already dreading when I checked Accuweather earlier. I’m betting it would even get colder.

The journey started off at Ohayami bus terminal in Manila with the conductor telling us that it would be a cold bus ride. Halfway down the road, we realized he wasn’t kidding. It was arctic. My feet and legs were numb due to the unexpected cold and cramped leg space. I was tossing and turning in the little space that I had just to get some sleep. I barely remembered the two stopovers, I was that tired from work. This trip was another of my attempt to be a weekend warrior. It was also a long overdue trip ever since Sagada a year ago.

First stop was this unknown rice terraces, the name of which we forgot to ask our guide since it suddenly rained hard after taking a few shots. Soon enough the jeep stopped and the walking finally started. Imagine my surprise when the guide said we were supposed to trudge up the mountain to get to the other side. In my horror of going up the muddy path, I forgot to take pictures. I was more concerned with securing my camera and my sandals possibly not making it all the way to Batad.

There was no clear trail, the path was muddy and slippery as hell,  and there was little to hold on to. One wrong step and you’ll be careening down the mountainside from where we began. Upon reaching the top and taking a few long breaths in, we transferred to another jeep that took us to Junction.

Soon the trees dwindled and we get our first view of Ifugao’s inhabitants. Seated on their porch, drinking coffee, and feeding their chickens out by the roadside.

It turned out to be a 9 to 10-hour bus ride that ended on a cold and wet Saturday morning at the Ifugao Province. With the bus stopping in front of Banaue Tourism Center, we found a group of men awaiting our arrival. I immediately saw my name in one of the placards and approached the guy sent by Kuya Randy of Randy’s Brookside Inn.

After getting the fees sorted in the tourism office and booking our bus tickets bound for Manila the next day, we finally went off our merry way to the inn, eager to start the day’s adventure. We soon found out that we were the only locals at the inn for the weekend. No wonder since Randy’s Brookside Inn was #1 at TripAdvisor for its category. After a breakfast of native eggs, toast and tea, Randy laid out the bad news.

There was road construction halfway along the road going to Batad. We will have to cut the jeepney ride before that area and trek a bit around the mountainside to transfer to the next jeepney. It’s definitely turning out to be more adventurous than we thought it would be.

Undeterred, we agreed to share the jeep with another group of locals and a group of foreigners. The excitement was palpable, undiminished even by the cold, wet, and sleepy weather.

Road closures and detour

terraces on the way to batad

road to batad

this is how bad the conditions were

Off we go for more walking and trekking along the being constructed road until we finally reached Saddle Point. Soon enough, the descent down the sloping trail started. It was easier now even if gravity was pulling us down. Along the way, there was a fork in the road, the other we learned was a shortcut, but both leading to the same road to Batad.

dada batad

striking a pose at the marker

Breathtaking Batad

welcome to batad

Welcome to Batad

 

Short of breath and my jelly legs near giving up, we finally reached civilization. And after paying for the environmental fee, we turned left to head down to Rita’s to rest and take our lunch along with the foreigners who got there way before us, thanks to their long legs. Haha!

And when the fog finally lifted, even for just a few minutes, I can’t help but stare in awe at the 2,000-year-old beauty before me. A combination of nature and man’s handiwork sloping along the mountainside, forming an amphitheatre-like landscape that dwindles down to a small town down at the center.

Jelly legs and near misses notwithstanding, I can truly say it was all worth it.

Picture

Unfortunately, the rain didn’t look like stopping soon. So any plans we had of going down the terraces to the famous Tappiyah waterfalls was scrapped. We didn’t want to risk it with our quivering legs and meet the same fate with one of the foreigner girls, who took a fall down the terraces earlier. Thankfully all she suffered was a bad case of muddy clothes.

We started our ascend a few hours after, and made it back to Banaue just as the sun was setting in for the night. While it is true that I would love to come back here when the roads are finished, the sun ablaze, and the fields glittering green ready for the harvest, I would also not trade this experience for another.

Batad may be the lesser-known cousin to the Banaue Rice Terraces, but few people are only ever aware of the fact that the latter is not a UNESCO World Heritage Site. I sincerely hope that Batad, in the coming years, will retain its quaint and small town feel,  as well as its natural and cultural heritage.

Picture


DIY GUIDE TO BATAD

How to get there: 

MANILA to BANAUE: OHAYAMI TRANS has 2 daily schedules for Manila to Banaue that leaves at 9 PM and 10 PM. The fare is Php 470 one way (as of April 2015).  The terminal is located at Lacson Ave., corner Fajardo street, Sampaloc. Reservation details can be found on their website.You can also travel to Banaue via Baguio and Sagada.

BANAUE to BATAD: You can arrange for a private vehicle to take you to Batad Junction or Saddle Point from Banaue or you can take the public jeepneys bound for Saddle Point. Just ask at the Tourism office where the terminal can be found.All transportation can only reach up to the Saddle Point. Everyone must trek down to reach the village, around 3 kilometers.

Accommodation:
There are a few lodges and inns in the village to choose from. For a better view, choose among the ones overlooking the rice terraces.

See and Do:
trek along Batad Rice terraces
trek and swim to Tappiyah Waterfalls
trek to Awa Viewpoint
buy local products and souvenir

Food:
Remember that Batad is only a small village. Do not expect much on the food and service. Do order in advance especially when traveling in big groups or if you have a tight schedule. Do try the local rice and native rice wine.

Other tips:
Mobile signal: very limited to non-existent
Banks and ATM: there are no ATMs so do bring extra cash


Have you been to Batad yet?

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