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Thursday, March 8, 2012

Batad Terraces

3/4/12

After good nights rest, decided to go to Batad and visit what are supposedly the most spectacular amphitheatre terraces in the world. I met another backpacker and we went up to the Batad saddle by jeepney and then walked the additional 40 minutes to Batad. Truly is beautiful but little disappointed because the rice has not matured a lot yet so not real green at this point. I have seen the pictures though and its setup is spectacular. Hiked to the waterfall and the hike up was vicious. Straight up , probably 2000 ft. Also had to walk through the rice terraces to get there on the retaining stone walls which keep the water in. Everyone tried to be your guide and would give little info on exactly how to get there but I made it.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Hike Batad to Bataan and bus ride to Banaue























3/5/12

One of best hikes ever. Took Lonely Planets advice and did the hike from Batad to Bataan to catch the bus back to Banaue. Got lost in the beginning because the paths follow the retaining wall stones and it is hard to tell which is the path. After getting lost a few times and stepping INTO a rice paddy and getting one shoe muddy, I found the path. From there it was just 2.5 hrs of spectacular rice paddies and terraces. When I made it to the road I saw a local bus coming and stopped it. I climbed inside and it was full so I had to stand. The bus takes about 1.5 hours to get to Banaue. After the first stop, I asked if I could climb on top with 5 other locals who were already up there. He said yes reluctantly. With my backpack on top and my feet hanging off the side off we went. I know this road can not be near as dangerous as the "Death Road" but many places we went it seemed almost exactly like it. At some spot there was just only an extra 6-12 inches of road for the wheels to make it and the dropoff was at least 1500 ft. down. I was a bit terrified the first few times I looked between my feet and there was no road but a sheer drop off.
Then it became amusing and exciting and I had the best time. My back was turned from the front of the truck most of the time until the first limb almost knocked me off. Good thing I started paying attention because as we got to civilization, we had to duck over 50 electrical lines. Seriously, we had to lay down completely on a few occasions and twice the cable still touched my back. One of my best trips ever. Got back and cleaned up, bought bus ticket to Manila and leave at 7 pm for the 9 hr. ride.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Manila to Legaspi

3/6/12

Arrived from Banaue at 2:30 am and caught taxi to Arenata Bus terminal to catch the 5:30 "ordinary" bus, no air con", to Legaspi. Cheap room at $5 a night for fan and tv (hbo) but really hot. Leave in the morning for Donsol for beach time and to swim with Whale Sharks.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Manta Ray Bowl





3/8/12

Went diving for the 1st time in 2 years to try and see the Manta Rays at the cleansing station in the Manta Bowl. This is a location where the current allows them to remove the parasites. (something like that) Unfortunately we had no luck seeing any Mantas but did get 3 more dives under my belt. May try again or wait for the ship wrecks on Caron.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Swimming with Whale Sharks





3/9/12

Hopeful that today's whale shark adventure is more successful than yesterday's manta ray bowl dives. Luckily we did see and swim with 2 enormous whale sharks which are in actuality fish.

We sat on the edge of the boat until the skipper and leader of our group said to jump in. They have a spotter on a flagstaff looking for large shadows in the water. It was a great experience but after second time I had enough. While the regulations say only 6 people per whale shark, when one is spotted EVERYONE goes in the water towards the shark. Sometimes 20-30 swimmers.