AnneMarie and Andrew

Annemarie and Andrew – Trekking Asia

Two Day Trek via Pula

Two Day Trek via Pula


Posted on Feb 23, 2014

Despite a bad night’s sleep we were up at 6:45am the next morning ready for an early breakfast and departure. By 7:30am we were packed and ready to go. Our ‘guide’ turned up on time and was waiting for us. We had a 3L of water each in our hydration sacks and I was carrying 2x1L bottles of water as well. We set off across the top of the rice terraces looking down the hillside at the water covered hill as if it was a perfectly natural thing. An amazing sight. The walk to Campulo was quite nice. Plenty of rice terraces to walk through and good scenery. Only the heat was making this walk difficult. It only took 1hr 45minutes to reach Campulo, we were there for 9:30am, but we had already drunk both of the water bottles due to the heat. We were told that we would probably reach Pula around 2pm but everyone would be out in the fields working until at least 4pm, so we should eat plenty before setting off. We sat down to eat our second meal of the day; a huge pancake each and jam that was more like treacle, washed down with a can of Coke. It wasn’t even 10am! After our second breakfast we stocked up with another 2x1L bottles of water and headed out of the village and into the heat. After Campulo there was a short amount of flat ground over the rice terraces surrounding the village, then we started climbing. We spent the next two hours heading in an uphill direction. Some sections had a short number of steps, other sections involved what felt like never ending steps. The most surprising thing about this section of the walk was that although we felt like we were in the middle of nowhere and totally isolated it was the exact opposite. There were people everywhere, working in the fields, walking between villages, some were just sitting around by the path and others looked like they might be going hunting. After an extremely long set of steps our guide announced that from here on it would be flat. We were very relieved to hear that. On the flat the walking was pretty easy going. The heat made it very sweaty work but the views were rewarding. Also, been almost a mile above sea level reduced the air temperature by something like 5-8’c, making it bearable. At a lower altitude this would have been horrible. Our guide was in front leading the way, with Annemarie close behind. He spent large lengths of time complaining that other guides made more money than...

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The Rice Terraces


Posted on Feb 22, 2014

We travelled in a clockwise direction around northern Luzon, from Manila to Baguio, to Sagada, to Banaue. Our recommendation after doing this is to do it the other way. Banaue is a dive compared to Sagada with low quality food, nasty looking buildings and the weather is not usually as pleasant. Banaue and the surrounding area is good for hiking whereas Sagada only has a few strenuous activities and is better for relaxing. Hence our suggestion of going this way round: Book the night bus to Banaue before you arrive in Manila. The only company running that route at the moment is Ohayami. They have online booking. Once you arrive in Manila you can head up the same day, flight dependent. Alternatively, stay one night in Manila. We and everyone we’ve spoken to has hated Manila. Plan a rest day after the overnight bus. We didn’t sleep on the bus (too many corners) and felt awful the next day, others we met went to bed on arrival in Banaue. Walk to the view point and then take a guide through Banaue rice terraces. You see them from above and then see them up close. If you go to Batad don’t bother with a guide unless you want to talk a bit about the rice terraces or want someone to steady you on a narrow section of wall. The waterfall is on a single path with no junctions and the rice terraces are like a giant amphitheatre and you can’t get lost. If you like trekking then I suggest a multi-day trek. A good trek is Batad-Cambulo-Pula-Banaue, two days with a one night stopover. This walk takes you through rice terraces and a forest. Leave your main bag in Banaue and take a tricycle to Batad (in the morning) and explore Batad that day. Then the next day walk through the rice terraces via Cambulo to Pula. The route is reasonably straight-forward. If you are not sure then get a guide. If you get a guide in Batad try to negotiate the price to around P600-800. Stay over in Pula; The guesthouse is the blue house you see upon arrival (located at the top of the village). It’s basic with no hot water, no shower, no meat to eat. The next day you trek through forest and reach the main road about 4km up from the top viewpoint. You can then walk or get a tricycle back to Banaue. The trek is mainly uphill and over two days you will climb 3000ft (1000m). If you don’t feel so fit or energetic you can do this trek in reverse. The start...

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Banaue

Banaue


Posted on Feb 19, 2014

We woke early to pack the bags and by 8am we were at The Yogurt House and ordering our favourite breakfast. You may think that been up and eating breakfast at 8am isn’t early and it probably isn’t when you think of a normal work day, but we don’t work (this is my 4th month of not working, Annemarie hasn’t worked in 7 months) and on this trip we don’t usually get up this early. After breakfast it was a 5 minute walk uphill through Sagada, then a killer set of steps up to the guesthouse where we were meeting the others for the minivan. We arrived out of breath and sweating from this short walk. The others had got our note and were expecting us. The drive to Banaue (pronounced Ba Na Way) was a quiet and comfortable ride. The driver (Lawrence) drove slowly, stayed on the correct side of the road most of the time and used the gears to come down the hill (almost the exact opposite of our bus driver on the way to Sagada). We chatted with the Swiss couple most of the way about what they were doing, what we were doing, difficulties of getting information about the Philippines, what we thought of the country and about back home. On the way Lawrence slowed down for us to see the bus which had crashed. After 9 days the bus was still at the bottom of the valley, its roof ripped off and looking very battered. A gouge in the hillside showed where it had fallen. The brakes had failed and 15 people were dead as a result.  A very sobering sight. It made me angry about the driver of the bus we’d taken to Sagada, he drove on the brakes, hitting them hard into most corners. After one long hill the brakes were producing a burning smell. He sped past the signs warning drivers to test their brakes. The Philippine attitude to safety seems to be that they have always driven like this and they are still alive so it must be OK. Many drivers cut blind corners with no thought about anything coming towards them, the Jeepney we were in drove like that and had to stop very suddenly a few times. We arrived in Banaue in just under 2 hours, safe and comfortable. I had found a looked up accommodation a few days before and found a B&B on Trip Advisor which came with amazing reviews. The place was called Randy’s Brookside Inn and every review was full of praise for Randy, saying how helpful he was and how nice he...

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