We’ve seen a fair few rice terraces on our travels but the UNESCO Batad terraces truly blew us away.
We went against the advice of the tourist office to only go with them for transport, and found our own private tricycle for much cheaper. Our driver was a young chap named Jan who constantly had his mouth full of Betal nut, as most of the locals do here too. In fact there are signs everywhere saying ‘No spitting of Moma’ and its says there’s a fine of £1.25, big deal. So obviously everyone chews it here, the floors are covered in red puddles and the men all look like their wearing lipstick.
So anyway, for £10 Jan took us up one hell of a hill to Batad Saddle where we had views of jaggered green mountains. The road was so steep that he had to move Craig onto the back of the motorbike and leave the fatty, me, in the side car as he zig-zagged his way up the hill. From the top we had to walk down an equally steep road back down to Batad village. On the way a motorbike slowed down beside us and as he passed he wiggled really quickly and fell sideways with his bike on top of him! What the heck! We rushed over and helped him up and he stank of booze and was wearing the lipstick evidence that he was also high as a kite on Betal nut at the same time. How could he possibly think he could drive down one of the steepest, windiest roads we’ve ever seen? We told him to sit on the side while we really struggled to lift up his heavy bike, and quickly ran round the bend in the road to slow down any traffic coming by. What a bloody fool.
When we got to Batad we were greeted with a phenomenal view; stretching below us in the valley were the neatest green terraces and a tiny village with colourful corrugated iron roofs nestled in a cluster at the bottom. We began our walk through the village and along the terraces towards Tappia waterfall. We opted to go without a guide unlike everyone else we passed. Like in Banaue we were walking along the narrow irrigation path. As we curved around the terraces we had a full view of the valley, it was just stunning! Rice terraces everywhere! It really was quite hard to imagine how they created such a beautiful piece of artwork which was also providing the life line of the Philippines, rice.
An extremely hot and sweaty walk led us out the terraces and to the 30m high Tappia waterfall. The large pool beneath was choppy from the power of the waterfall and looked more like the ocean, but very appealing nonetheless. We went straight in with our undies and had a well earned cool off and picnic of bananas on the rocks nearby.
The next day we decided to use Jan’s trusty services to take us one way to the natural pools. We were the first people there and the sun just hit the water as we arrived showing how clear it was. It was bloody cold though but once we’d dunked and squealed like pigs it became more bearable and we had lots of fun hanging out in our tubes and sliding down the minuscule rapid of the river.
On the walk back we saw a huge pig positioned in a side-car of a tricycle. We spent the rest of the afternoon chilling on our balcony eating fresh banana bread from the local bakery and watching the world go by. We had a birds eye view of the full jeepneys driving past and two of which had pigs tied up on the roof, Sundays sure seems to be the day for spit-roasting.