The whole way to Banaue I was practically bouncing up and down. The rice terraces of Sagada had been pretty cool but I’d heard Banaue was something else.
Yes, it was just rice but oh my it was spectacular!
The terraces were built over 2000 years ago by the Ifugao people and are still functional today, providing a major food source and industry for this small village in the Cordillera mountains. Their image is on the filipino peso and I was dying to see them in real life.
On arrival in the town we find a place to stay (it’s rare to book ahead), dumped our bags and went exploring. Banaue town is at the bottom of a hill with the buildings built into the mountainside. It was hard to get a photo but you can see the gist of it here.
It’s a fair hike to the top of the terraces but so worth it, check this out!
There are a number of ‘viewpoints’ along the way, each more impressive than the last, which help break the hike up into manageable chunks. As does meeting wonderful barefoot Ifugao ladies sat in the sun chewing momma with red-stained teeth. (Momma is a combination of betel leaves, areca nut, lime and tobacco).
The walk seemed magical as the road steamed around us (having visited in rainy season there had just been a downpour – the concrete was so warm that the rain turned to steam), children raced by chasing wheels and a family of chickens accompanied us for a while.
Reaching the top, the view was surreal. There we found an Ifugao tribal hut decorated with animal skulls and another beautiful old lady who told me “walk on wall, go! Touch rice!”.
She’d told me to walk on the edge of the rice terrace and run my hands through the shoots. What do you do when a wise old lady tells you to do something?
You do it and it completes the adventure.