Once everyone was settled in the jeepney, most of us engaged in the favorite jeepney past time of dozing off during very long drives. Some would occasionally take out their cameras to shoot particularly nice scenery through the jeepney’s windows. As my camera’s autofocus is busted, trying to take pictures in a moving jeepney in bumpy and winding roads is an exercise in futility. I contented myself with just resting until the stopover.
The only stopover is a small mountainside town that’s a bit more progressive than the surrounding area filled with smaller villages and wide expanses of rice terraces. Unfortunately, I’ve forgotten to take note of the name of this town. We passed by this village on the way to Sagada when we were just arriving. It was quite sunny then. But for the trip back, it’s as if the jeepney drove right into a cloud which blanketed the entire area. (Incidentally, I think that’s what in fact happened.)
I didn’t feel like I needed to buy food, drinks nor go to the restroom, so I simply asked Gracey to snap a picture of me in the fog. Unfortunately, her point & shoot camera chose that exact moment to conk out, and so she had to take out her DSLR and fix the settings before finally being able to snap a shot. The fog already significantly lessened by the time the picture above was taken.
Eventually, we did reach Banaue by mid-afternoon. And similar to when we arrived a couple of days before, we used Hidden Valley Restaurant as a waiting station before boarding the bus back to Manila by late afternoon. Incidentally, the Batad group of Travel Factor was also already there and we got to briefly update ourselves with what happened to each other’s trips. I was eager to find out how the Batad trip went because I was initially considering joining it prior to finally deciding on Sagada.
No doubt, Hidden Valley Restaurant provides good enough service and the multitasking proprietress has an air of positive familiarity which gives the restaurant an added homely feel to it. However, I found the food rather lacking in taste. I initially thought it was just the longganisa breakfast that I ordered the previous time we were there. However, for this day, I ordered another dish and soup, and it was still bland. I’m quite sure eatring bland food is not an Ifugao cultural trait, so it must be just the cooking.
While exploring the town, I came upon some steep mountain-side steps leading downwards. Gracey and I got curious enough to descend the steps to see if it leads to better views of the rice terraces. To make a long story short: Not really. See the first picture in this blog? That’s basically it. To make it worse, the steps were so slippery and muddy that I actually slipped and got bruised. I was initially in disbelief that this sort of thing happened when we were about to leave.
What particularly got me frustrated was the fact that up to that point, I still felt clean as if I just stepped off the shower. But in a metter of seconds I was sweating and had mud marks on my clothes. I had to change my t-shirt when we got back up. Good thing we had companions who had a first aid-kit so we got to clean my bruises and scratches and place antibacterial ointment on them.
Anyway, because that little accident got us preoccupied for a while, by the time we got back to the restaurant, it was already time to board the bus. So with one final trip to the restroom, we got our bags and were off to the bus station, which was just a walking distance away.
The fog came in just when the bus was leaving, and so our final view of Banaue was haunting images of trees blanketed by heavy fog, while silhouetted against the rapidly fading daylight.
If Banaue were a living person, I’m not sure how he/she would feel about how his/her treatment from tourists. On one hand, the name “Banaue” is famous worldwide and its rice terraces is the undisputed face of the Cordilleras. On the other hand, more often than not, it’s merely used as a jump-off point to other more pristine tourist spots in the region. While being a jump-off point bodes well for the local economy, it nevertheless rears its ugly head in terms of unchecked and indiscriminate development – a factor that made its rice terraces unqualified for receiving monetary assistance as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Anyway, as for Sagada, I’m definitely going back because I wasn’t able to visit the Bomod-ok Falls, which is a major destination there. Maybe I’ll go solo, or at the very least DIY. probably next year.
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This entry is part of the Sagada series dated June 18-20, 2011:
1. Sagada Adventure (Prologue)
2. Sagada Adventure, Day 1 (Arrival)
3. Sagada Adventure, Day 1 (Marlboro Country)
4. Sagada Adventure, Day 2 (Marlboro Country)
5. Sagada Adventure, Day 2 (Cave Connection)
6. Sagada Adventure, Day 3 (Walking Tour)
7. Sagada Adventure, Epilogue (Banaue Exit)