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mistybleu Banaue - A travel report by Amanda
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Banaue,  Philippines - flag Philippines -  Ifugao
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mistybleu's travel reports

The Rice Terraces of the Philippines

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Manila, located on the island of Luzon, is the capital of the Philippines, and is hot and crowded. It is home to some 12 million people within the metro area and when everyone is trying to move around, the traffic is horrendous.

Rice Worker
Rice Worker
Manila is hot and crowded. The average annual temperature is probably around 28 degrees with the coolest month being January. I found the days incredibly hot and it reached on average 35 degrees while I was there, especially in the capital.

The city is large and getting around cheaply can be done by using the Jeepney. The jeepneys were originally made from U.S. military jeeps left over from World War II; they are very much a part of the Filipino culture now and other parts of the Philippines now use other vehicles to create them. It was a unique experience traveling in them, as often they are crowded with little room to sit comfortably. Taxis are also fairly cheap, but you have to ensure they put on the meter when you get in. Some driver would prefer to negotiate a price to take you somewhere so they can earn extra cash.

Things to do in the city:

Do a walking tour or take a horse-drawn carriage ride of Intramuros the historic walled city. There are some great buildings to see, my favorites were San Agustin Church, Manila Cathedral and Fort Santiago.

In addition the Philippines has the 5th largest Catholic community in the world and there are many great churches to explore.

Haggle your way through a street market. At first it is a little daunting, as it is overcrowded and humid, but there are good bargains to be had.

Visit Rizal Park, named after Jose Rizal a national hero. It's like a little oasis in the center of Manila.

Cruise Manila Bay in an evening dinner cruise. One jetty is located behind the Mall of Asia (MOA).

Also located behind the MOA is the esplanade, where they have a small fun fair and family entertainment in the evenings when it is cooler. There are many different street food to try here. I wasn't too brave when encouraged to try balut. Balut is a developing embryo boiled egg, or deep fried one-day old chicken - sorry not yet.

On my next visit to the Philippines I would like to Cebu and enjoy

Favourite spots:
Banaue Rice Terraces
Banaue Rice Terraces
The Banaue rice terraces dates back 2,000 years and was made a world heritage site in 1995.

From Manila it is around a 10 hour journey by bus using the Ohayami Trans ( The buses usually leaves around 10pm arriving in between 6am-7am. During the peak season they put on additional services that departs at 9pm.

The trip costs 900 peso return and I found that they kept the air-con quite cold so I had to get my fleece. The good thing about the bus, although it doesn't have any toilets on board, it does have wifi which is cool. But they do make two comfort breaks along the way.
I would suggest booking early, as they added additional seats in the walkway which didn't seem quite safe and they are really uncomfortable. You get up-close and personal to your fellow travelers.

The bit of the actual journey that was nice, was arriving in early morning and seeing the sunrise over the rice fields and waterways. But it really is a difficult nigh

What's really great:
Planning the tour
Planning the tour
The area is thriving with tourists coming to visit the rice terraces every day. Whilst it is possible doing this as a daytrip, it would actually be better to stay overnight as this will allows you to go trekking and really enjoy the essence of the area.

From the town I walked to the many viewing points and found the views get better and better. The flooded terraces were truly picturesque and I was able to walk on them and really see how it was done.

The neighboring village of Batad only has 1500 inhabitants and is considered the best place to view the World Heritage sites. Depending when you go, the rice terraces could be green and lush; there is also a waterfall (Tappiyah) nearby great for swimming and relaxing.

When organizing tours, you really are a captive audience, and it feels a little out of your control. But it is possible to go in with other travelers and make the price more affordable.

Dancing traffic warden
Dancing traffic warden
This picture isn't much, but when I was doing my research on things what to do while in Manila. I came across a YouTube video of a dancing traffic warden (Ramiro Hinojas). The clip was quite entertaining and brought a smile to my face.

Sometimes it is funny how things conspire; but I was running late and so missed the shuttle from the hotel to the Mall of Asia. It was only a 10 minute walk, but in the midday sun I wasn't looking forward to it.

I approached the intersection and my friend said 'isn't that the guy from the video'. I'm like 'you do know that there are at least 1.2 million Filipino's in Pasay alone'. But to my surprise he walked to the middle of the road and started directing traffic with his unique style of dance moves. It was my best minute in the Philippines. Of all the cities, of all the roads, he had to cross my road.

That's luck.

Other recommendations:
Marina Bay in 2010, and present day
Marina Bay in 2010, and present day
There are many flights from London to Manila, the local carrier - Philippines Airlines goes directly taking 15hrs. However the indirect flights going via routes like Kuala Lumpur, Singapore, Hong Kong and Kuwait for example are great. I felt KL needed more time to explore then a layover; Hong Kong and Singapore could be done in a couple of days, especially as I had been there before, so Kuwait should have been the natural choice.

After being in Doha last year and the relative similarity between Middle Eastern countries, I opted to catch Kuwait City on another journey and head back to Singapore as it hadn't been there in 5 years. I had a date with a crab, a Singapore crab...

I stayed in Marina Bay, which is an amazing area to visit as there is so much to do. The hotel (MBS) has a great rooftop infinity pool, but behind is the Gardens by the Bay, with its great canopy walkway and incredibly plants and flowers - it makes a good afternoon treat away from the maddening crowd.

Published on Sunday May 3th, 2015

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Sun, May 10 2015 - 09:41 AM rating by krisek

Very interesting read, Amanda. Thank you for sharing. The Philippines are still on my list...

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