Patrick Takes on the Philippines: A Preview

Having just returned from the Philippines, and wow, what a journey. I was completely blown away by the sheer beauty of the country, from the rolling mountains to the peaceful waters. The hospitality of the people lived up to their stellar reputation as well. Here's a quick look at how the trip unfolded:

Day 1: Rode a horse up a volcano
Day 2: Hit by a typhoon
Day 3: Explored the Ifugao Rice Terraces, the "8th Wonder of the World" *
Day 4: Went speluenking, later saw hanging coffins
Day 5: 14 hours of bus travel, 5AM return flight

Let me reflect for a bit on day 2. Typhoon Nari absolutely hammered the region, leaving 13 people dead and millions without electricity.  The New York Times and CNN provided quality coverage of the disaster if you are interested in further reading.

It was the type of storm that, had it hit the US, would have been front-page news for days. 

We boarded an overnight bus in Manila around 8PM on Friday, which was scheduled to arrive in Banaue around 7 or 8AM the next day. However, around midnight the bus simply stopped on the street, where we would be parked for quite a while. Rocking and shaking in the wind, the bus was very exposed to the elements. 

The "highway" that we were supposed to be taking was actually a two lane road that happened to be blocked by fallen trees. It took the workers, equipped with handheld chainsaws, all day to clear this mess.

I can't imagine having to rebuild a home every year (or even multiple times a year). The few brushes with hurricanes that I experienced when living in Florida were scary enough, and we were never directly hit.

Nevertheless, the show went on, and we reached a small lodge outside of Banaue around midnight, a 30 hour journey from the time we first boarded the bus in Manila.

I should have 3 posts about the places we visited up in the next few days.

* Many Filipinos informed me about the rice terraces' standing as the Eighth Wonder of the World. However, Wikipedia informs me that there are many other sites competing for this designation. Of these, Angkor Wat is at the top of my list of places to see, with Machu Picchu a close second