Destination: Banaue Rice Terraces (Philippines)
The Banaue Rice Terraces. The so-called "Eighth Wonder of the World." Massive rice terraces constructed by hand over thousands of kilometers of steep elevation. These were the number one destination that our group wanted to see in the Philippines, and they did not disappoint.
We were discussing our travel options over breakfast at a local establishment entitled "Las Vegas," replete with Elvis posters and American flags. Alena, who is from the Czech Republic, suddenly wanders over to the other occupied table in the restaurant, where two girls were chatting in some language. Remarkably, these two were also Czech, and they decided to join our motley crew for the next two days. With our 6 person team complete, we hired a driver and guide and hit the mountains.
The rice paddies were better than advertised. Postcard-worthy views appeared at every turk. Everything was green, with pearly gray clouds brooding over the peaks of the mountains.
Constructed more than 2000 years ago, the terraces serve as a testament to the hard work of many people, both in the design and later in the planting of the paddies. Families continue to make their livings off of the rice paddy production, planting and collecting the rice every year. The Ifugao region had not been replanted yet, so many of the paddies were filled with water, as can be seen above.
|Hapao Hot Springs|
Upon returning to the road, the rain had evolved into a deluge that made driving along the mountain rather treacherous. Remember how part of the area was blocked off because of a mudslide? We were pretty lucky that we didn't get trapped in a similar fashion. About 75% of the roads were unpaved, and thus giant slosh pits after any rainfall. Our fearless driver powered through with his Jeepney, which made use of its massive metal exterior to wade through any obstacles. We arrived in Bontoc for the night, and aimed at catching an early morning Jeepney ride to our final destination.
Pictures pictures pictures:
|Awkward family photo. From the left - Alena, Tom, Jitka, Sam, me, and Eva|
The natural beauty of the region is hard to fully comprehend. Clouds wandering among the mountaintops, mists rolling in over the forests, it was a magical experience to experience nature here.
But the journey didn't end here! Last stop - Sagada. Tune in next time.