Philippines days 7–8: Banaue, Cambulo and Batad

Timothy Teoh
9 min readFeb 27, 2018


Part 2:

I so far the trip had been quite relaxing with lots of downtime. I’d actually made my way through four books, lots of podcasts, and two iPhone games wtf.

I didn’t think there would be much else to do in Sagada — they had caving and more waterfalls which I didn’t feel like doing. So I decided to go to the nearby town of Banaue to check it out.

I was feeling like a pro now in getting around. Hailed a jeepnay to Bontoc at 7am.

It was still quite cloudy and the mountains looked like they were topped with cotton.

I arrived in Bontoc and headed to the “terminal” to take the “bus” to Banaue.

“Terminal” meaning a run down garage and “bus” meaning a rickety van wtf. But it did the job. We paid a bit extra on time as there were not enough passengers to meet the driver’s “quota”.

When we reached Banaue and registered at the tourism center, one of the other bus passengers enquired about any multiday hikes they had.

I found out his name was Johann, a 50 year old from Luxembourg, and he had been travelling quite a bit around the Philippines by bus and van. He wanted more “action”.

The tourism center lady described a two-day tour they had that would take him into a small village in the middle of the rice terraces, and the next morning hike to nearby Batad which has the most famous rice terraces of all.

He asked me if I wanted to join (it would cost us considerably less).

Oh, but are my shoes suitable for the hike?

I pointed to my Converse sneakers doubtfully.

Eh no problem sir!

Said the tour guide and cheery tourism center lady.

My thought process here was

✅There didnt seem to be much to do in Banaue and the rice terraces there werent very spectacular.

✅Whole day activities plus accommodation would be PHP2000, which would be close to the cost of a night’s stay anyway #cheapskate

✅It had been a relaxing time so far, how hard could this be anyway?

✅We would arrive back just in time for the bus out of Banaue back to Manila. Super productive!


Let’s do it!

We packed what we needed for a night in a separate backpack and left the rest of our luggage at the tourism center. Then we bought some snacks and left via “tricycle” (motorized trishaw) to the start of the hiking trail.

We had started at about 1145 which was a lot later than the normal 930am start time, so we were hiking along at a good clip. We took very short breaks, mainly for pictures.

The views got better and better as we headed closer to the rice terraces.

One thing that became quickly clear though was that the tour guide and tourism center lady had been freaking LYING THROUGH THEIR teeth when they said my footwear was fine.

It had been unexpectedly damp lately (this was supposed to be dry season) and the most of the trail was very slippery. It took a lot of effort to keep steady — good thing they provided us with sturdy walking sticks. It also started drizzling after hour three.

In many parts the trail was only about one foot wide and a wrong step would have meant falling into the ravine wtf.

In the terraces the pathways up and down were sometimes literally one shoe width wtf.

There were a lot of nice views but I’m still not sure if it was worth the stress if I had known about the trail conditions beforehand wtf. All I know is you better like this post!!

Standing on a rice terrace. As up close as it gets!

I think Im going to submit this to AirAsia magazine wtf

We passed through Pula. This village works the rice terraces I posted earlier. Population: about 25 wtf. No surprise that rice terrace farming is dying out. Would a youth rather try their fortune in Manila or carry 30kg on the rice terrace trails every day wtf. They might be gone in about a decade.

Bumped into village kids on the way home from school. Of course they were wearing freaking flip flops, had no walking sticks, and were *skipping* around. Just to make me feel bad. Btw Im not a noob ok! I’ve done plenty of hikes! With proper gear!

After about five and a half hours we arrived at our destination: the village of Cambulo where we would stay the night.

The village is only accessible by foot, which means…

Crossing out traveller’s hierarchy of needs here:

❌Wifi? Haha nope. Sorry mom hope you’re not too worried wtf

❌Heated water? Toilet paper? Hahahhaah

❌Power sockets? Nope.

We sat at a common table for dinner. There were two other groups: one from Israel and one from Europe. The Europeans very uppity talking about their leave days (5–7weeks), work hours (officially 35 a week, but horror of horrors their employers make it closer to 39, such slavery!).

Ok la Im just bitter and exhausted. They were nice chatty people haha.

And of course Johann snores wtf. Come to think of it whenever I bunk with someone else that person is ALWAYS a snorer why I so suay wtfff

Rise and shine the next day! The sun was up which made my mood much better. We had ordered breakfast the day before and so it was ready quickly. We headed out early at 7am so as to get a head start on the others who were leaving at 9am — which would mean a less slippery trail and less chance of rain.

Parts of the hike were still tough but it was a much shorter hike today.

Looking back at Cambulo.

The trail was still tough but it was only two hours this time till we reached our destination and the highlight of the trip…

The rice terraces of Batad!!

A victory shot with Johan and our guide Romeo. Did I mention that Johan is 50 and Romeo is 60? Romeo has been working as a guide for 10 years. Most of his eight children are working in Manila in factories, but tourism can actually bring in better (but more unpredictable) income.

Tried to get Johan to take a pano of me and came out like this. 😂

Johan wanted to also see the Tappiya Falls so we hiked alll the way down. Then allll the way back up before finally arriving at the hillside inn in Batad for lunch.

Was really tired at this point but good news was that… No more hiking!

I had to ditch my sneakers for sandals as they were just about done. Served me well though. Good job Converse All-stars.

We ate our lunch overlooking the terraces and took a break.

We then walked to the mountain road where Romeo had arranged for the tricycle to meet us at 1pm. We were to head back to Banaue while stopping at some viewpoints.

The road out from Batad was very steep though — at some of the steepest points we actually had to get out of the tricycle and walk.

The town and terraces of Bangaan on the way back.

Was relieved to finally get back to Batad at about 3pm. Civilization = having phone signal!

Noticed that they cast cockfights live on their sports channel wtf.

I went to a nearby hotel and paid PHP100 to use the shower and washroom. So good to have heated water and toilet paper haha.

I then caught up on emails and internet stuff while waiting for the bus back to Manila.

Was a nine hour bus ride but I was tired so it seemed to pass by quickly.

It was four a.m but there was still quite a bit of traffic in Manila! Used Grab to call a cab to the airport. The license plate didn’t match though (though driver ID looked the same) and the driver was super passed for some reason when he discovered it was charged to my credit card. Filed a report with Grab.

I had read that there was a new capsule hotel called Wings in NAIA airport, and didn’t fancy a night in gloomy Manila, so I decided to spend the night(morning? It was nearly 6am then) there.

I was pleasantly surprised. PHP1000 (about rm90) got me seven hours there. Free access to unlimited snacks and the best shower+washroom of the trip.

Capsule there was pretty comfy too. This was a good choice and left me fresh for my flight back.

Some reading in the morning. Durerte has 84% appeoval rating for his anti crime policies.

Also found out that 84% of Pinoys don’t use a bank wah.



Timothy Teoh

Full-stack software architect and technology leader from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia