Wednesday, February 29, 2012

The 8th Wonder of the World! Banaue!

The main reason for me coming back to the Philippines was to see the rice terraces in Banaue. Last time it wasn't in our itinerary, but I had seen pictures and heard stories about it so I knew I had to go. The main problem is getting there: even though it isn't that far, the bus ride takes some eight hours from Manila and all the buses are at night. These are not big, comfortable nicely air-conditioned buses. No, they are cramped and dusty and almost impossible to sleep in. I got a couple of hours of sleep, but when we finally arrived in Banaue, Catie and I were exhausted.
Upon leaving the awful buses, we were greeted by a handsome and friendly tour guide. For quite a cheap price he led us on an amazing tour through the rice terraces. He brought us up to the terraces and, on the way, we met some of the locals who you can see on the left. I don't really like taking pictures of people I don't know, especially when they are older and obviously from a very different culture, as I feel like a voyeur. They however prodded us to taking a picture and then asked for money. Fun. After snapping a picture we continued to the main attraction. As old as Christ, the terraces cover some 4000 square feet. I wish my step-dad, a hydrologist, could have been with us because the irrigation system was amazing. The one problem was the weather. Since we only had a day, we had to make do with a lot of fog, some light rain, and really muddy terraces. I wouldn't have been surprised if someone had ever been seriously injured on these treks since we were walking along these narrow stone and/or mud walls with a rice paddy on one side and a steep incline on the other. Catie did actually fall in at one point, but luckily we both came out of our three-hour trek alive (though muddy and exhausted).

Can you imagine walking on this for three hours? In the rain?


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