The atmosphere of the place and people we met in Santa Juliana made us not want to leave. So far the only bad thing in the Philippines is food. Same as Indonesia – chicken, rice, chicken, rice. For breakfast traditionally pork. Or chicken. With rice. Or noodles. And so many fastfoods. Local incarnation of McDonalds called JollyBee on every corner. It is not easy to be a vegetarian here at least not when you travel on budget. But still I did not want to leave.
Our time was running out and we still wanted to see rice terraces in the northern part of Luzon. 2 thousand years of history, Unesco World Heritage you know… In the meantime we discovered it is only 400 kilometers but no chance to make it in one day by bus. After a quick look into our budget we decided – rent a car with a driver and off we went.
We booked a place to stay in Batad, few kilometers further than the popular Banaue. Again not reading the details on booking.com resulted in unforgettable experiences 🙂 First of all, there is no road to Batad. It simply ends at some point and then mountains, woods and a narrow path. So you have to take all your stuff on your back and hike. 20 minutes as per the instructions. Then cell coverage disappears and with it all further instructions. We ended up walking over 1 hour. Batad is in the heart of legendary rice terraces and to access our place, we have to descend hundreds of steps down these legendary stone terraces.
Christina’s Village Inn & Restaurant” turned out to be a little, cosy homestay. Nothing special but clean, tasty food and hot shower for a small extra fee. But the best part was to walk out of the house (not far though because the terrace ends in half a meter) and see this:
There are around 1500 people living in Batad. There is no transport (although I am sure Indonesians would make it on their scooters) and no telephones. But there are views you will remember till the end of your days. And a free gym of climbing endless stairs for hours and hours only to close the day with a hike all the way up to the top with our backpacks on. Our hips, backs and knees will remember.
It was amazing.