we know, we know, we've been talking about this road trip for the past five days na. what can we do, we missed the hermès opening!! promise, last na. before this road trip through the cordilleras, we did a lot of online research and there were a lot of blogs that we found really helpful. people who went before we did gave a lot of tips, so we had some idea what to expect. but there were still some things that we had to find out on our own. you really learn best from experience, what can we say??
1. if you just want to see the rice terraces, get accommodations in banaue town proper. from there, you can walk the streets or take your car or a jeepney to several viewpoints, where you can see hundreds of "steps" that wrap around the mountainside. the best one we passed was on the highway going towards sagada. there are several stalls that sell souvenirs and a group of lolos and lolas dressed in native ifugao costume. we had our picture taken with them and all they ask for is a little "donation." (we felt bad, we only had 30 pesos in coins in our pocket! but they happily accepted it :-)
2. but if you REALLY want to get away from city life, then go to batad village. but there is some SERIOUS hiking to get there. if you have a car, you can park it at the saddle point (it's the dead-end road) and hire someone to watch it for you. or you rent a jeepney from banaue town proper to take you there (not cheap, so better to be in a group. if you're solo, ask to join a group). and you have to hire a "porter" to carry your bags down for you. trust us on this. (100 bucks a bag.)
3. batad is great for hiking because everything is up and down, and down and up. we didn't think we had it in us, but if we can do it, so can you!! can you imagine hiking 400 meters down to your accommodations?? (and 400 back up. tip: that walking stick is a BIG help. you will not survive without it! but of course that's just physically-unfit us.) which is really bare bones, plus the bathrooms and toilets are communal (i.e., you share with other guests). plus there's no hot water (but you can pay 30 bucks for a bucket of hot water for your balde). plus there's no cell signal! so say goodbye to your friends and family and tell them not to worry, you haven't disappeared from the face of the earth.
4. we originally made reservations at hillside inn, which looked pretty full when we got there. so full, in fact, that the previous guests had not yet checked out. so we ate lunch. and waited. and used the bathroom. and waited. and we were sooo tired, we just wanted to lie down and make siesta! but we couldn't. so we went further down to check out simon's inn. and there was plenty of room at the inn ;-) so we moved. best decision we made because there was only one other guest (a french couple), so it was quiet and not magulo and the staff were not taranta.
the sunrise view:
the breakfast view:
5. finally, the most important lesson of all: what to wear! since there was hiking involved, but we had no hiking shoes, we thought trainers would be the best shoes to wear. not for us they weren't. our mizuno running shoes were not quite ideal because they have a wedge-like sole, which is not good for uneven terrain. also since the shoe is bulky with room to move inside, the foot's tendency is to slide within. flat flip-flops wouldn't do for us either because it doesn't hug the foot and the foot can slip, therefore YOU might slip. luckily, we brought our crocs celeste—ok, ok, say what you will, but yes, we own and wear crocs. but this shoe was perfect because it hugs the foot, has criss-cross straps which keep the shoe in place, and the sole has traction to prevent slipping. plus they're super comfortable! of course now they're really dirty and we don't know how to clean them. aside from that, wear a cotton sleeveless top (or those nike dri-fit or adidas clima-cool tops) because you'll be under the sun and you don't want a tan line on your upper arms. above-the-knee shorts (any longer and they can be a bit cumbersome) with a little stretch because there's climbing involved (you don't want to suddenly hear a rrriiippp when you try to go up a steep step!). cycling shorts might be ok too. and a hat or cap. and don't forget the SPF!