Banaue: Hillside Inn Batad

Choosing our accomodation for the overnight stay in Batad Village was really not that hard, my internet research showed one place where they had an unobstructed view of the rice terraces and that was Hillside Inn.  And i'm telling you, the view was PRICELESS.Once we decided with Hillside Inn, next thing we did was contact Ms. Maya Addug through her cellphone +63917-7574411 and +63908-6012888.  Ms. Maya actually is based here in Manila, but all reservations are coursed through her.  They require our room charge to be deposited to their account, which in this amounted to Php400.I kid you not, it was just Php400 for an overnight stay.  But before i placed my deposit to their account, i had to ask Ms. Maya if it was possible to give me the room with the best view, which i believe should be the one with a corner location, and she readily agreed. Hillside Inn is probably the cheapest accomodation i have encountered in all my travels and yet it gave the best view among them all.Here are the photos of Hillside Inn of Batad.

Hillside Inn is just a few steps away from the Batad Tourist Information Center.
A humble structure with a magnificient view.
Hillside Inn is a 4-storey structure where the 3rd level is the dining area, while the rest are for accomodations. Our room was located in the 4th floor and nearest to the terraces.
A closer view of the entire structure.
This was the inner dining hall in the 3rd level.
Imagine eating here.
The hallway going to our room.
Finally, our room. Not much but we didn't pay much too. =)
Upon arriving, we had lunch and tried their vegetables which i know they grow abundantly here. The view just really added to the flavor.
As wifey was busy ordering lunch, just saw this scene as i was passing by and couldn't resist to take the shot.
This was lunch, veggies with rice and corned beef with rice and omellete.
The trek really took its toll on wifey. Slept like a baby.
View from inside our room.
Took this shot as we were about to go the following day. Just couldn't get enough of it.

The Path To Batad

Here are some scenes along the path going to Batad Village.  30 minutes would be a doable time to reach the village if you were to go at it without stopovers, 45 minutes would be the normal time on average speed. We made it exactly one hour after we left the Saddle but these were due to numerous stops for wifey's rests and the photo opportunities.But check out what you might miss along the way if you didn't make those stopovers.

Just a short distance after the stairs, we were already headed for our first stopover.  No wonder it took us an hour to reach Batad Village.

We were wondering why half of a plastic bottle was protruding out of the moist rock formation along the path, it turns out you can drink from this bottle.  Try clicking on the photo for a larger view and you'll see that there's actually water passing through the bottle, which we drank from by the way without any effect on our stomachs so it must be safe.

As long as there was a semblance of a wooden structure with roof, wifey found the reason to take a rest.  Wasn't that bad resting here since we got to see the art souvenirs the locals were offering.

Stopping to smell the flowers.  Wouldn't get tired of such images.

If you think, we didn't rest here, well you thought wrong.  Now even without a roof, it was enough reason to well ... rest yet again.

Halfway there.

Other trekkers just kept passing us by.  Wifey reasoned that it's because they were much younger than we are.

Just wondering what's keeping them from making the whole area a terraced rice field? Wouldn't it be more spectacular if they did?

Spotted this woman checking out the rice fields.

Banaue: The Saddle

Finally, we reach the Saddle, the jump-off point for the trek down to Batad Village.  It is the spot where you try to catch your breath from that brain-shaking bumpy ride. 
Here you get to enjoy some refreshments, souvenirs, rent walking sticks and get some rest before starting the one-hour trek to the village. 
Some jeepneys are waiting to be filled up by locals and tourists alike before heading to Banaue town.  The jeepney drivers charge tourists 5 times higher than the locals, so don't be surprised if you encounter it, that's just the way it is. 
Let these photos describe what The Saddle looks like.
First look at The Saddle.
Our "we've been here" shot.
We didn't realize that one mistake here would have meant bye bye to this world.
The walking sticks on the right are being rented out at Php10 until you come back up from your stay in Batad Village.  These walking sticks are a necessity for the torturous trek down to the village and up the saddle.
The white specs in the lower middle part of this photo is the start of Batad Village.  The trek downhill going there  took us exactly one hour but with several stopovers along the way.  That's why make sure you're a little fit for the trek if you're planning to go to Batad.
This guy turns out to be looking for passengers along the trail from Batad Village.  If they see some potential passengers, especially tourists, then they'll wait for them even if they need to wait for an hour.
Some rice terraces can already be viewed from the Saddle.
There are two routes to take from the Saddle, we took the stairs going down and took the trail going up.  There's really not much difference as to the length of time if you were to take one direction over the other, but if you're not fit enough, it is best to skip the stairs going up since it's really a steep climb.

Batad: To The Saddle (It's The Journey, Not The Destination)

“Focus on the journey, not the destination. Joy is found not in finishing an activity but in doing it.”  - Greg Anderson

Of the whole trip to Banaue and Batad, this I consider the most challenging part.
You see, i thought that we were going to reach Banaue town by 7am, which all my research pointed to as really the Estimated Time of Arrival. Now that we were late by an hour, thanks to that unannounced detour to Kiangan town, the consequences of being late begins.

Most tourists coming from Manila arrive 7am. And the first thing they do, if they're going to Batad, is to hire the transportation going there.

People's Lodge and Greenview Lodge are just beside each other.
By the time we arrived, these tourists (from other bus lines who arrived on time) already left for Batad.  The locals confirmed this and said a couple of groups just left, barely missing them by a few minutes.

Now this means we won't have the luxury splitting with other tourists the transportation bill , which if you ask the Banuae Tourist Information would easily cost to a couple of thousands depending on how touristy and gullible you look.

This then translates to us hiring a private vehicle and splitting the bill by ourselves, all two of us. Chalk one up for the expenses.
Now, instead of enjoying my breakfast (previous post might have seemed to imply that i enjoyed it, right? well i didn't because of our transportation dilemma), majority of the time i went out of People's Lodge and Greenview Lodge scouring for fellow tourists who i can split the transportation expense with.

Approached two groups, one group was scheduled for the next morning while the other already came from Batad. So i head back to the restaurant to take some more bites.

View from the other end of the road, Greenview Lodge on foreground.
While dining at Greenview Lodge, i chanced upon two foreign tourists, who based on their accents i thought were a British couple. We were on the same bus coming to Banaue and so i approached them and learned that they were in a similar transportation to Batad situation.

They said that they were approached by some locals for them to be transported via tricycle up to the Junction for Php350.00 for the two of them, they seemed happy with the agreed rate since they said their Lonely Planet: Philippines book indicated such rate.

Well just a short one on this Lonely Planet book. 

This book seems to be quite popular with the foreign tourists, especially the Europeans.  I checked one out at National Bookstore and its tag was a few pesos over Php1,000.

Philippines Travel Guide 10th Edition
I'm quite taken aback with how these foreigners throw this book around at locals like it is some kind of a travel bible wherein the locals should adhere to the rates indicated in the book.  And if the locals don't agree then they will think they're just conning them, and if they do agree with the rate in the book, they'd still think they tried to con them. So to them we are con artists either way, which i think is a bit unfair.

But i guess it's all part of travel, on one side is someone trying to make a quick buck over the other while on the other side is someone trying to save on his travel expenses. I guess we shouldn't hate the players, but only hate the game so to speak.

More on the book, the pricetag seems to be quite expensive on the surface.  But the book gives you an almost 500 pages of a glimpse into our country so the tag i think is fairly-priced. 

And if this book can introduce you to places like Lake Mapanuepe, Kabayan, Babuyan Island, Pacijan Island, Icadambanuan Island to name a few, then at least you will learn some new places that you never knew existed before here in the Philippines.

Going back to the British couple, I approached and asked them what if i can get a jeepney for Php1,000 (the driver who fetched us from the bus terminal suggested this price) and split it to the four of us, which then will only cost Php500 per couple, would they agree.

They said: "Yeah, that would be great!"

Now i have some other couple to share the bill with. But can i really get a jeepney at that price, i asked myself.

So i said: "i'll come back in a few and hopefully with a jeep in tow." Took a bite of pancake, and scoured the road for that jeep.

While outside, a Japanese guy approached. "Hey, we were on the same bus." he claimed.
To cut it short, we were on the same bus and in a similar situation.

So i told him about the plan and he accompanied me to look for that jeepney.

This is Munetaka, our new Japanese friend.
He intimated he's here on a five-day stay and visited only Manila and Banaue. I thought it was not a good idea to be coming all the way from Japan and stay for 5 days and head to Banaue which can shorten your stay even more because of the length of travel getting there, much more Batad.

Eventually, we found Blair, a local, he said he's fetching somebody from Batad so he agreed to our price but just waiting for the jeep to arrive from the lowerland.

I went back to Greenview Lodge to inform the British couple the good news that the bill will be split in 5 now and a jeep is on its way. So now the fare will only be Php400 per couple and Php200 for Munetaka (the Japanese guy).

But the British guy said they already agreed and decided to take the tricycle instead to the Junction for Php350.

Wifey, here giving me that "What now, wiseguy?"-look.
I pleaded my case and presented him that the jeep was a much better idea. He didn't buy it. Now i know why i'm not into marketing, can't seem to convince people into my ideas.

So i didn't give it another shot, and just smiled and said it was okay. Though inside i was fuming.  All that trouble for this.

It would have been Php50 costlier to them i know, but the comfort that they would be getting for that Php50 (less than US$1) difference would have been all worth it.

For those who haven't been there, let me clarify Junction and Saddle.

After a 30-minute drive of mostly bumpy road will lead to a Y-road, this is what they call "The Junction".

If you take the right-side of the Y-road, it will lead you to the other towns like Mayoyao.

If you take the left-side of the Y-road, it will take you to the "Batad Saddle".

Now, going back to the Brits. When i first approached them with the idea of spending P500/couple going to the Saddle. They agreed but were a little hesitant since it will be a Php150 costlier to them. I would have understood it. But when i came up with the 2nd deal, it should have been a no-brainer.

Some backyard rice terrace along the bumpy road to The Saddle.
From the Junction, they will still have to trek uphill for another hour on foot. For Php50 more, they wouldn't have to experience this uphill trek. Not to mention, the weather then was not cool at all. The sun was scorching. And the road was not paved all throughout.

So they went their way and we and the Japanese guy Munetaka, waited for our rented jeepney which will be coming anytime soon as one of the guys who assisted us assured.

And the jeepney came. An impressive jeepney i must say, well-decorated with music a-blasting.

Blair (cellphone 09261901235), the driver, asked if we're ready. Little did we know what that question was for.

The first few kilometers were a smooth drive, then came the bumpy part. i am used to bumpy roads, but more because of uneven soil which makes it bumpy but still smooth to the bump.

But this Banaue road's bumpiness is of a different kind, it's the kind where you will hear a loud THUD caused by big boulders of rock that protrudes out on the road.

This was what Blair was asking if we were ready for.

The famous hanging house which is also a souvenir shop.
We reached the Junction after 30 minutes and i was actually expecting to pass by the Brits before reaching the Junction. But the Junction came and no sight of them.

So we took the road going to Batad and mid-way through the Saddle, we saw them and i asked the driver to stop and we offered them to ride with us.  Surprisingly the declined.

I felt bad actually for them coz not only were they not practical about the whole thing, they were also bad receivers of a good deed for turning our offer down.  No good giver if there's no good receiver.

We asked a second time if they were sure, and they said they were.  I told the driver to proceed and so we went, with the last image of them sweating, huffing and puffing and eyes squirming due to the sun's scorching heat.

We finally reach the Saddle but has another 30 minute trek ahead.
So we reach the Saddle and rested some 30 minutes for some picture-taking and for some refreshments.

After awhile, the Brits arrived. Gathered themselves. And i noticed the guy down some 3 bottles of refreshment and energy drink, which at this remote place cost way higher than they normally would cost.

I really thought it was funny because he did save Php50 on the trip, but what he saved was also used to buy for 2 additional drinks and the uphill trek hassle too, and don't forget the bumps and bruises inside the cramped tricycle.

But then i realized maybe it's really not the comfort nor the destination that they're achieving for.  Maybe when they get back to their homelands and share their travel stories, the more they saved on their travel expenses and the more physically punishing the travel was the better the story.

Dalican Viewpoint
Driver looking for upcoming passengers
Japanese, British, Pinay

Banaue: Greenview Lodge

We had another breakfast, pancakes and coffee, this time at Greenview Lodge.

It is right beside People's Lodge. I believe these two lodges and Sanafe Lodge are the 3 of the more famous lodges in Banaue due to its proximity to the transportation terminal located near them.

What i like about all three lodges are that their restaurants are relatively clean. they really make it a point that their interiors and surroundings are clean which is the way it should be for all involved in this type of industry.