This day had it all really, it started off with a bit of a commotion and confrontation over who we were to go with to Batad – the real place to see rice being grown. We had left it with our hotel’s tour organiser (Justin) to contact our van driver from yesterday and let him know we were now going on a two day tour with him instead. Justin had told us he knew the van driver and would speak to him last night or very first thing this morning. Whilst having breakfast though who should turn up – the van driver from yesterday and he was not at all happy. I think Liz was a bit worried but I was more of the mind that it was up to Justin to sort it all out and told the driver so and that were going with Justin because he could give us a two day tour – he did not take the hint though and waited until Justin turned up. There was a lot of grumbling Philippine chatter which ended in the van driver still getting a cut by being able to do the transport and ourselves still having the two day tour we wanted – Justin, a young lad, looked somewhat sheepish about the entire thing though.
We finally set off with our small backpack of essentials and were collected by tricycle and our guide – a young lad who chewed his own brand of chewing gum – the betel nut kind, more later on that one. We then proceeded to take the long, mostly uphill journey to ‘the Saddle’ stopping for the odd picture postcard photo opportunity. The Saddle reached, we then started hiking this time downhill to the few huts that make up Batad. This was quite a well covered trail so the beating Sun did not impede our progress too much. The first part of this was on a new ‘road’ that is being built from the Saddle we soon hit the rustic trail though after passing the construction workers. The new road being constructed to enable the villagers to reach civilisation and tourists to come down to Batad.
We booked in to our guesthouse – Lhorens Inn and Restaurant – and the lady there gave our guide some food that was to be our dinner later on. Our walk thus far had only taken us part way next was the trip to see the waterfall through the rice terraces proper and for this we would need walking sticks. Now I am not the greatest fan of walking sticks, they remind me of people of a certain age or those who have two look even worse in that they look like downhill skiers who have lost their skis. I was to find out on this walk though that the could often be the difference between walking comfortably on a thin wall or falling off which was a considerable drop at times.
The walk tested us both as it was steep both up and downwards and sometimes it was just the scenery and the breaks we took to take photos of said scenery that kept us from dissolving into dishevelled wrecks. The photos do not really do justice to the engineering feat that is the rice terraces as they do not really show the depth of the walls or height of the terraces. Also the way the water is diverted to where it is needed is another amazing piece of engineering too, there are main waterways and then smaller drains which move the water to the terraces and then even smaller runways which divert it right to the field it is needed. All the while the hills upon which the terraces stand are of a real steepness which give the impression that the terraces are more like small steps but this does not give away the true scale of the thing.
We approached a large hill which seemed to have suffered a recent landslide and then ‘just round the corner’ form this was the waterfall – Tappiyah falls. Getting to this involved the steepest ascents and descents of the entire trip but it was finally worth it as we ate our lunch within spitting distance before going to the falls themselves. We had a bit of a swim, well I had a bit of a swim and then we both had a bit of a sleep, well I had a bit of a sleep! Liz was still patched up after her operation a couple of days ago so had to keep it clean and dry so going for a swim was definitely out of the question.
After our stop at the falls it was time to head back and although we thought we had been refreshed the journey soon proved otherwise and we soon returned to the quivering wrecks we had been prior to sighting the falls. The way kept us going though with scenery that would inspire the dimmest poetical minds. We had a stop along the way at a small stall where we got speaking to the lady who worked there, she made all the sale items herself and the stuff was good. She was another person who had red teeth not unlike our guide – the betel nut invasion.
We reached the guesthouse just about on our knees and you could not prise the walking sticks from our hands even with a crowbar. There was a bit of a commotion going on back at the guesthouse as one of the fields had actually been harvested. This commotion involved the ladies who had done all of the work, having wee nip of the local brew, whilst the men who had done nothing were now busy with the important work of getting themselves blind drunk. The lady of the guesthouse served us some food which was very nice and Liz and I had a real laugh with the lady’s baby who was a right little giggler and her little girl (Cindy) who played an excellent game of hide and seek, especially when I introduced my silly sounds.
Later we got chatting to both the owner and his wife, both of whom spoke very good English, and they were both concerned about what the future would hold for the terraces as there were no younger people who worked on the terraces. As we had looked around on our tramp through the terraces we had seen no young people or indeed any men at all! The very fame that brought tourists to the area also showed the younger people of the area what they were missing so they would then take off and leave.
The day had been a most full one and as we drifted off to sleep, we listened to a single drunk who appeared to be arguing with himself, as we listened to this wondrous intercourse the conversation between the drunk and himself appeared to get a bit heavier and he moved from arguing with himself to appearing to have a full on fight with himself either that or he had fallen down the terraces.