Since the roads leading to Banaue/Sagada have been dubbed dangerous and rough, we decided to take the night schedule via Autobus in Sampaloc. Had a bit of difficulty finding exactly where the Autobus station was since it has relocated three times. We got several different contact numbers from the internet but they were all out of service. Finally, we decided to ask a messenger to personally find the new location of Autobus and to purchase our tickets. A week before our trip, we found that the 10pm schedule was full. It was a good thing they opened a second trip at 1045 pm.
Autobus Transport Systems, Inc.
1455 SH Loyola St. corner F. Cayco Sampaloc, Manila
Telefax: 4934111 7407959
mobile no: 09212685526
We arrived at the station around 1015 pm. We wanted to be early since it was our first time to take the bus and we didn't know what to expect. It was not a very good experience as we had to wait for the 'mekaniko' to change the bus's alternator. It was around midnight when we left for Banaue.
I wasn't able to get any sleep during our 8 hour bus ride to Banaue. The aircon was too cold and I was expecting the seats to be more comfortable. The zigzag roads made us sway from one direction to another. Upon arrival at Banaue, I immediately reserved our seats back to Manila.
We hired a jeep to take us from Banaue to Batad - a small Ifugao village which has the amphitheater type rice terraces that we often see in post cards. The jeep brought us to 'Saddle Point' where we started our hike to get to the Hillside Inn - the place where we'll stay for the night. The hike was suppose to be around 45 minutes but because of the rain and our pace, we arrived after an hour and a half. It was a good thing they had porters to carry our bags for us. Each bag was charged P150 oneway, meaning another P150 going back. But it was well worth it. I don't know how I would have managed if I had to carry them all the way up. The walking stick we rented at P10 each was also a big help. It gave us support and balance along the hike.
After a short rest and lunch, we headed for the Batad Rice Terraces. It was not practical to use the umbrella while trying to balance on the terraces, and we didn't bring any rain coats so we had to make use of garbage bags to protect us from the rain. Thanks to Maleen who's thought of everything we needed for the trip. :-) As we made our way on the terraces, the paths became narrower and steeper. It was an effort to concentrate on the path as a single wrong step could be fatal. Once in a while, I would pause to just enjoy the wonderful scenery. At one point, it just took my breath away. I couldn't help but be enthralled by its beauty and wonder.
While we were trekking back to the Hillside, one of us mentioned that better roads and facilities should be made so more people can see the terraces. I disagree. This place has maintained its beauty because no roads were built to disturb its existence. The accommodations and facilites that we had were the very basic. If 5 star hotels and buildings were built here, then there would soon be no terraces to see in Batad. I will never forget this experience. It is defintely different from the travels I have made in the past. My only regret is that we were not able to see Tapia Falls...
If there was one thing I learned from this experience, it is that beauty has its price. Going through the hiking and climbing was just a minimal price to pay for the beauty that we all experienced. Those who appreciate such beauty will not haggle over a few discomfort in exchange for this.
I'll soon write about our other adventures in Sagada. Stay tuned!