Saturday, March 29, 2014

The Eighth wonder of the world, Banaue Rice Terraces

After spending the night in Baguio we would be ready to head off in the morning.

But hold on, I am an American after all and a breakfast buffet was offered so I had to check it out.

Not quit what I was looking for, dried fish, fish heads and something that looked like like Grits. I am not a fan of Grits but dried Fish is not something my Pallet preferes and fish heads are one of those things I just cannot get myself to choke down.
SO I scooped up a healthy bowl of Grits. They were yummy, and I was savoring the dish with the usual outstanding Philippines Pastries which honestly I consider the best I have to date had. My girl is staring at me so I know something is up.

"Do you know what you are eating?" she asks

"Well I assumed they are grits, but they taste different" I replied. She would go on to explain I was eating entrails and rice. Yea well damn good entrails and ironically I happen to love the insides of an animal so I helped myself to seconds.

We would get catch a Bus to Sagada to see the Hanging coffins and their Rice Terraces which were impressive, but not as apparently. However upon sitting on the bus we found we were mislead, and indeed Sagada was on the way to Banaue but we would not as told, be able to make it there by evening.
After playing hide and seek with a couple girls We decided we wanted to see the famous terraces, and while the Hanging coffins would be cool, they are not something I have dreamed of seeing. We departed the Bus and unfortuantely my girl would badly sprain her ankle on a curb. There I would be, my backpack, carrying her with hers and stepping out in the street to make sure a cab would stop.
We told him where were looking for a private cab to go to Banaue and this being the Philippines a deal was quickly made, he assured me he could get us there before sunset and we could see the Terraces, it was 10 am, an hour later after securing the documents he needed from the city to operate out of town we departed.
He started out driving like a sane man, but that quickly ended as we left the city and it would be pedal to the medal from then on.
And we would speed thru some of the most amazing countryside I had ever seen. The pine trees mixed with palm trees would give way to only pine, and I would feel at home. All the sights and smells were complete, tall pine trees which resembled evergreens they were called Benguet Pine. The Bamboo and Thatch Huts slowly transformed to pine slab homes, and it honestly reminded me of a living ghost town in Montana.

Our driver was screaming though, there was no slowing down for a picture, and I assumed the bus would come back thru here, so I could grab some pictures then, I would be wrong.
The pine would slowly give way to the normal jungle one would expect in the tropics.

We would slide around miles upon miles of corners and leave tire tracks on the pavement, he would rally style dive straight off the assphault to scream down dirt roads blistering past the huts and workers. THe strangest part is there would be signs up at each village to slow down, even with some baracades yo uwould have to maneuver thru, it mattered not he barely blinked.

Some of thee baracades would even have Law Enforcement and they would do nothing, I wondered what could they do as there was as shortage of patrol cars. Soon I would find out as he flew past one of these check points and then suddenly came screeching to a hault. "what are you doing?" I asked.

"They pulled me over" he said

So there I am looking behind us for some cherries and there is only a couple cops walking to the cab.
"Hide do not let them see you are American" he would say.
Out of the Cab he jumped and I slouched down, only looking thru the car mirror to see the frantic hand signals and pointing at us. Soon he would pay the Bribe I mean fine and off we would go, slowed down not at all.

We would climb into the clouds but there would be no pines, It was rainy as we continued to get closer to Bageuo, the Myst danced between buildings adding to the spiritual value of our journey.
My heart pounded with excitement, in between the trees over the buildings I could see glimpses of the terraces themselves.

We were told we would not be able to see the terraces themselves do to the cloud cover, but I argued I again wanted to see the spiritual aspect and I would be rewarded.

The villagers were concerened seeing me carry my girl, and not having any doctors they quickly sent for a Shaman to heal her.
He would confirm it was not broken. Laugh if you will her foot felt better.

It was also here that I would find the famed wooden bicycle I had seen pictures of and always dreamed of seeing. Every spring they would have a race down the hill. god no way in hell would I try that.

The man on the bike is one of the Original crew first photographed to encourage tourism. Nice gentleman who had suffered a stroke, he asked what was good for one and I would give him baby aspirin and instructed to take one every day.
Though without modern medicine they certainly realized they could benefit as well.

After taking in the breathtaking terraces our Cab Driver was a bit concerned with going back, but wanted dinner of course. Since he got hosed on the fine I treated him.

Now eating a developing country can be interesting and one has to watch where you eat. My rule is to always eat foods which are not touched after they are cooked, and fortunately for me one of my favorite meals in the Philippines is called Pancit Canton. A thin noodle mix with vegetables and shrimp.

Banaue was a very small developing city which was like being stuck in time, the resturant we were told was the best in town for a westerner. It had no windows and the Customers were wearing jackets, my girl was frozen.
Normally Meals in the Philippines run close to American prices however here I bought a nice meal for all three of us, with beer for me and the cabby for under five dollars.

Our cabby would ask before he left if I wanted a ride back to Bagiou, I said no, we would get the bus directly to Manila, he would bid us well with a scared eye of nervousness and leave. It occured to me after he left that he was probably scared to drive back in the dark with huge drop offs and bandits on the road. Truly I regretted sending him off so late but I simply had not thought it thru.

We would catch a First class bus back to Manila, there were no more seats and I would ride the full eight hours with only a piece of cardboard between me and the floor. I am to old for that shit.

IT was worth it though, another Amazing adventure brought forth in the country of Dreams.

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