Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Day 1: Road to Batad

This year, I turn 33.  I've had my share of epic birthday parties when I was in my late 20s but for the past couple of years, I have been celebrating by being a couch potato.

This year, I went on this bucket-list trip I have been wanting to take for so long.  To go see the Banaue Rice Terraces!  Since I was already in the North, I decided to go check out Sagada and visit Whang Od, the oldest mambabatok (tattooer) in Kalinga.

I was lucky that my good friend Zara agreed to travel with me and celebrate my birthday journey with me!

Pakshet & Pakshet
So we started our trip by booking our bus tickets online!  I was pleasantly surprised that it was quite easy to book tickets online both for GV Florida Transport (to go to Banaue) and Coda Lines to come back to Manila (from Sagada); with that ready, I booked a hotel in Banaue for a night, which was the only night we were sure where we were going to be.

Our Day 0 started traveling from Manila to Banaue, the bus takes about 10 hours including stops.  The bus left Dangwa Terminal at 11:15PM (departure was supposed to be 10:45PM).  Luckily, the bus was not full so we were both able to stretch our legs and sit a bit more comfortably for the 9 hour bus ride.

I have already arranged a tour guide to come pick us up from the station who was going to bring us to see the Rice Terraces and go to the falls.  I had no idea where the falls was or what it looked like.  I just read that there was a certain fall that can be visited when you go to Batad.  I was like "ok!"

We arrived Banaue 7:30AM, checked in the hotel, took a shower, changed to fresh clothes and left at 9:00AM for Batad.  I found our tour guide Raffy on Facebook; he has 5 stars on his Facebook page and clients seem to rave about his services.  He was indeed friendly and a but was a bit of a crazy driver.

We followed him through the Batad Rice Terraces, which was of course, impressive!  I've always wanted to go see and
step on the rice terraces.  We were mindlessly following him towards to falls, not knowing that the trail was 2-hour long and we were already half way there!!!

If you know me, you know how lazy I am.  I don't exercise.  The only walking I do on a regular day is from my table to the toilet. We were an hour in towards the falls and the steep roads are starting to emerge and I realized it's too late to turn back.  It was so hot, I was out of breath, exhausted, in pain and thirsty.  The road was so steep, we needed walking stick to navigate the mountain.  After 2 and a half hours, with about 10 stops, we arrived to the majestic and grand Tappiya Waterfalls!

Tappiya Falls
me dying
Being there by the falls, I thought, oh the trek was worth it.  After an hour of chillin' and swimming in the refreshing cold water, it was time to go back.  It is already the rainy season so we had to make sure to be back before 4PM.  30 minutes into the trek back, I say, is this really worth it?! hahaha I was dying.

The walk back to our tricycle (at the top of the mountain) was less hard (read: NOT easier).  It always seems shorter on the way back, but still first day was a real struggle.  Pakshet (Zara) had an easier time since she's sort of a gym rat, she even managed to try out some "barbels" along the way.  The locals were surprised how strong she was, I boasted that she just won a competition lifting weights a few days ago! haha

Pakshet Palay Lifting!
The night ended early, we were both exhausted (me more than her), we had another early day tomorrow to go see Whang Od!

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