Philippines never fail to disappoint in terms of the variety of destinations it offers. From beaches, to cultural/historical sites and mountainous regions I enjoyed them all. While I was never the one for beaches, mountains and high altitudes, I like.
From Manila, I took the night bus (this is a different kind of experience).
You have to book your tickets earlier, way earlier, because the tickets finish up very quickly. I went to the Ohayami Trans bus station one hour before departure ( the bus leaves at 9pm) completely drenched in the rain. The bus station itself was hell to find. When I went to the counter they told me the tickets were finished.
Now, there is no way I went through all that to stay in Manila, no? So I kept telling him to get me any seats, ANY seats will do, cause I just wanted to get to Banaue. And for some unknown reason, I don’t know what he saw in me but he gave me the ‘handicapped’ seat. Bigger, in the front row and at the same price. Goodness I was lucky!
The thing about the Ohayami bus is, once they’ve sold out the normal seats for 450 pesos, they’ll have this seat which can be folded over and THAT miserable seat without a head rest will be sold for 450 pesos also. If you’re late, you know what you’re getting. It looked horrible.
Just go and beg for the front seats/handicapped seats.
Once you’ve gotten on the bus, it’ll be freezing cold. I’m not sure why but air conditioning in the bus is notoriously freezing. I wore a jacket and jeans but did not get any sleep because it was just way too cold. So bring something thick and comfy, and don’t plan on getting too much sleep.
I reached Banaue quite early in the morning, at about 7.30am. Right after you get down the bus, there’ll be tons of touts recommending the best hotels in Banaue. I followed the advise of a friend I met on the bus, and stayed at Randy’s. At 200 pesos a night, the hospitality, comfort and information he gave was amazing.
I lost my jacket on one of the view points and Randy made sure a through search and rescue was done for it. The amount of people he called! It was never found, but the effort was heart warming.
Never the one to have breaks while backpacking, I settled in and headed straight for the trail to the view points. Don’t take any tricycles, it’s a nice breezy hike and it didn’t take me much effort at all. After the 3rd view point though, I got tired of views. After the 5th, I was positively sure I was going to cut Banaue short and head further north to Sagada the next day.
While Banaue itself isn’t a UNESCO world heritage site ( the neighbouring rice terrace, Batad, is. There’s a bus that runs between these 2 places for 80pesos. if I had the time for it, I would’ve had made a quick visit. But with time running, I followed my gut to Sagada. And it didn’t disappoint.