Batad is never far from my mind. Though I think it’s impossible to do it as a side trip just to gaze in wonder at its famous amphitheater-like terraces, I survived the trek. I’m far behind my gym sesh, so it is not surprising I’ve been catching my breath in between treks and sweating like crazy. On top of that, I was wearing my casual sneakers, not my trainers because I thought visiting Batad’s viewpoints did not involve trekking.
I know. Stupid, right?
I felt that this is a post-Lenten penance on my part. I may be shaking my fist at the weather and frowning at the dangerous pathways for punishing me for all my sins but in the end, it was all worth it.
Because my camera phone is kinda dodgy, I kept taking photos on all angles twice for safety shots. Anywhere you look is breathtaking. You know the cliche about the grass is much greener on the other side? It literally applies to Batad rice terraces.
Here’s a clip of Kareen as we walked across the Batad terraces:
Before going there, we evaluated our financial capacity, time management and the manong driver to take us there. We didn’t go with Kuya Benson (the tricycle driver guide we contacted on our first Banaue trip) because his Batad fee is way too expensive for a day trip. We settled with our new driver guide, Kuya Gino, who is equally as accommodating as Kuya Benson; and is charging us almost half of Kuya Benson’s fee.
A day trip to Batad is possible. Our original plan is to stay overnight but due to time constraints, we opted for a day tour. We ditched the waterfalls trek and only did the 2 Batad viewpoints and walk halfway of the terraces to get awesome photos then head back to our lodge. All the while begging the trek to end and making promises to be a good person by the time we get back.
In the bag
Kareen and I have one mission: Instagram-worthy photos. So we packed only the essentials: camera, extra clothes, money, and mobile phones. I wish I knew what I got myself into because I (A) wore my casual sneakers and not my trainers (though it looked good on photos); (B) forgot to bring my sunblock. Because I (stupidly) associate sunblock to the beach. At the end of the day, I looked like I went to the beach instead of trekking the terraces; (C) I ignored that tiny voice inside my head to bring my 1000 ml bottle of water and opted to buy one in Batad which costs me an hour of parched throat and PhP 50 for a 500 ml iced (literally ICE instead of water!) bottled water. I have to wait for it to thaw.
So if you’re planning to visit Batad, take note of sunblock, water, and proper footwear
Kuya Gino picked us up at 9 am. It took an hour to reach Batad Saddle Point by tricycle. En route, Kuya Gino pointed out their house and their own rice paddy. He was also kind enough to stop at some points where we took super nice photos of the terraces.
By the time we arrived at the Saddle, we rented walking sticks. Mine is named Kokey, whom I developed a one-way supportive relationship as we crossed rough paths and has been my all-time leaning stick while I blame myself for not wearing proper footwear and sunblock. There’s also a comfort room (for a fee) where we rented the sticks, in case you’re wondering.
Though there are available tour guides if you prefer to go with one, we met some experienced trekkers who preferred to do the trek on their own. We opted to have one and made arrangements with Kuya Gino to be our guide instead of hiring another person to guide us. Haggle management is applied here, obviously.
First stop: first view point
I think it took us an hour or two (with rest stops to catch our breaths) to reach the main viewpoint to view the most-photographed terraces we usually see in postcards and ref magnets. We’re too busy panting to check the time.
And here’s the world-famous view we bothered to trek for 2 hours:
I wanna get back but Kareen insisted we trek the terraces for a bit. The “bit” part lasted for about 30-45 minutes. Inclusive of rest stops in between.
Now I understand why a lot of people love the Batad Rice Terraces.
The Batad tour happened in the morning. Because we made a promise to a friend, we booked another trekking spree to see the Hungduan terraces in the afternoon. We’re a bunch of crazy terraces freaks but we seem to get boundless energy just looking at them terraces. We rested for an hour, had lunch, backed up all our photos, charged our gadgets and we’re all set.
BONUS: Hungduan side trip
When our friend, Rowena Sicat, Hungduan tourism officer, PM’ed me the view of their green terraces and showed it to Kareen. We were like “we just can’t ignore Hungduan!” So we decided to pay her a visit to say hi.
We passed that long winding road below on our way to the top.
Hungduan has a very special place in our hearts. It is where we got lost and got humbled by the experience. You know, a life-awakening experience and in return, we now have a different life perspective.
Kuya Gino showed us the different terraces and offered to stop to take a photo, which made us get all terraces-drunk. The funny thing is that we passed terraces that we never saw the last time we visited Hungduan. Rowena laughed when I asked if the terraces moved. Haha! Stupid joke. We just didn’t realize the beauty we passed last year because (A) we were so intent on reaching our destination; (B) I was so busy praying and concentrating on not puking on my fellow passengers.
It’s like a different world out there.
And this is the view we came for. The beautiful cascading paddies like a stack of dominoes.
The journey reminds me of Paulo Coelho’s The Alchemist story about the oil on the spoon. “The secret of happiness is to see all the marvels of the world, and never to forget the drops of oil on the spoon”. And that famous quote about the journey and not the destination.
Yes, Banaue and its terraces will always have a special space in my heart because it is the place where I got lost and found myself again. Literally and figuratively.
Some of the awesome photos above were taken by Kareen Satorre.