I came to the Philippines to enjoy the islands, the beaches, and the pristine ocean waters I’d heard so much about. Hiking through northern Luzon was my idea of earning all of this. I knew I would enjoy it regardless, but it was far more of a treat than I’d expected beforehand.
This initial leg of Teresa and I’s journey through the Philippines was coming to an end, though. We had one last night left in Batad, followed by a day of mostly waiting around in Banaue before we’d be able to board a bus back to Manila where we’d be flying out the following day on an Air Asia flight down to the Central Visayas.
We’d had a long, sweaty day of hiking through the Ifugao Rice Terraces in a futile search for the village of Cambulo. After returning to the Auditorium, we took an alternate route which led us down into a wide, cylindrical crevasse in the mountain. The trail is a constant, steep descent that we knew would be difficult to hike back up. Apparently, there is a danger of rocks and boulders falling from the cliffs above. I’ve read accounts online of guides warning travellers to avoid stopping at all costs to help avert any danger. When I was there, the weather was cooperative and there we no issues.
When we reached the bottom, we were surrounded by the mountains which were covered with a variety of lush greenery. The waterfall was much more powerful than I’d imagined when I first envisioned it. I pictured a serene, quiet area. In fact, it was difficult to hear anything with the crashing sound of the falls surrounding us. The river, whose name I can’t figure out despite trying to look it up and zooming in as close as possible on Google Maps, spills over the side of a cliff in the mountains from more than thirty metres above. The pool of water at the bottom is ice cold, but when the sun is out, it’s more than refreshing to take a dip. No one swims near the falls; that, I imagine, would be a fatal mistake given the raw power of Tappiyah.
It was very enjoyable and relaxing to jump into that pool of water after sweating it out on our hike earlier in the day. Gazing at our green surroundings, we really appreciated the paradisiacal nature and the exoticism of where we were.
The hike back to our home stay was difficult but exhilarating nonetheless. Stairs, stairs, and more stairs. Reaching the top of the Auditorium felt great and we spent the rest of the day just chilling out, taking in the scenery.
That evening Romeo provided us with a unique method of ridding the air of mosquitos.
Unfortunately, Teresa and I still succumbed to numerous bites; my lady definitely got the worst of it. The sea water would eventually help renew our skin.
The next morning, we took a jeepney back up to the Saddle and down to Banaue where we spent the afternoon. It was Saturday and a fairly large market had opened up that we browsed through. I bought a journal for the equivalent of 20 cents. We also found this really interesting fruit with a shape similar to a lychee or longan, but with a scaly design and a very sour taste. We were told the name, but it was nearly unpronounceable on my tongue.
We enjoyed a couple of good meals at a hotel/restaurant with an incredible view of the mountains with their golden, terraced crops lined along the edges. Eventually, we walked to a jeepney stop with a young Spanish couple that we had become acquainted with. For the first time, Teresa and I rode atop the jeepney. The sun had already set and lightning was cracking in the sky, although we didn’t hear the thunder and there was no rain. The ride on top was absolutely incredible with the wind blowing through our hair and the sky lighting up every few seconds.
The bus ride back to Manila was unsurprisingly uncomfortable. The A/C above, which is normally a slatted hole where you can adjust the stream of air, was broken and completely open so that frigid air was gushing on our heads from above. We stuffed it with whatever we could find, but it made no difference. Once the bus departed, we moved seats where there was space available (it was much less crammed than on the way up).
We overestimated how long it would take to get back to Manila. We booked our flight to Cebu for 3 PM and ended up arriving back in the capital at 4 AM. We had a lot of time to kill at the airport and our flight wound up being delayed by about an hour. It could’ve been worse, though; a Cebu Pacific flight that was set to leave around the same time as our Air Asia flight was outright cancelled due to weather, despite plans to go to the exact same location as us. In fact, the weather seemed mostly fine and we could see the sun setting towards the end of our short journey to Cebu City.
We’d finally landed in the islands we’d been craving this entire time. The mood and the atmosphere was a lot different here compared to Luzon. The “chill” we were in search of was truly reflected in the culture down in the Visayas and we couldn’t wait to begin absorbing it.