After touching down in Manila we gave ourselves one night to recover from jet-lag, before taking a 10hour overnight bus ride (for our sins) that took us to Banaue. We arrived at 7am the next morning tired and freezing cold - bumpy bus rides are no more conducive to sleeping than trying to fall asleep standing up, and the air con on buses in the Philippines is so strong that no amount of layers keeps the cold air from creeping in. Luckily our driver was there on arrival to greet us and take us in a
, where we slept for a few hours before setting out to explore the rice terraces in Banaue. After a ride on the roof of a jeepney (by far one of the best ways to travel in my opinion), racing around the tiny mountain roads, hanging on for dear life, we reached the rice terraces of Hungduan, which provide a lovely afternoon trekking around the terraces with a break to bathe in a hot spring, followed by a refreshing
(read freezing) river in between.
Batad was another experience altogether. After the 45minute trek down to the Hillside Inn, where we stopped to refuel with a tea, we then began the walk to Tappiya falls, which involved a steep climb down, a walk along the rice terraces walls, another steep climb, followed by a tough downhill trek that played havoc on my knees. Finally we were rewarded with the waterfall - a 70m drop that thundered into a large pool below. The water was ice cold, so all I could do was dip my toes in while the others jumped right in. But it was a good break before hiking the steep steps back up the terraces and down again. This is not a trek for the faint hearted, we finished sweating and panting, but happy to have fulfilled the exercise quota for the week!