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People from Luzon’s northern mountain province seem to have this love affair with American country music and lifestyle. You can hear old country songs blaring from public jeepneys and videokes, echoes of it are ringing from a local tour guides cellphone as he march through rice fields and and trek through mountains. I even had the pleasure to meet a local guy from Sagada who sings and dresses like real deal (twang, cowboy hats, leather jacket and all). It makes me wonder how in such a remote place, so secluded there’s no internet and cellphone signal have access to these hard to find western songs. It’s just one of the quirky things I’ve learned through this travel.

Patrick and Miquel, new travel mates!

Patrick and Miquel, new travel mates!

 It started in Banaue where I met Patrick and Miquel who eventually became my travel mates. Banaue to Batad proper is a 45 minute jeepney ride. I highly recommend to topload on the jeepney because there is no other more fun (read:risky) way than this. The road to Batad can be narrow and winding but it offers such a lovely view of lush green mountains and some small rice terraces along the way.

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The way to Batad from Banaue offers great views, this one was taken during one of our detours.

During this ride, we have to stop a couple of times due to some road repairs where the workers wear nothing more than shirts, pants and rubber slippers. Did I mention that they break rocks and operate heavy machineries? Yet I haven’t seen, not one hard hat or any form protective gear (more fun in the Philippines eh?)

Left: Locals working on the road with no protective gears! Right: Shade and lunch for the day.

Left: Locals working on the road with no protective gears!
Right: Shade and lunch for the day.

Taken from Batad Saddle point.

Taken from Batad Saddle point.

After that is another 45 min mountain trek to Batad town proper. Now, this would’ve been fun and all if I haven’t been lugging around 20kilo backpack all the way (what was I thinking when I bought all those jackets and pants I DID NOT wear).

Country Roads

After the jeepney, another 45 minute hike to Batad.

Photo op time! After one tiring hike, we are finally here.

Photo op time! After one tiring hike, we are finally here. (and look at that kid in the corner!)

By the time we arrived at Ramon’s Lodge, I was thoroughly exhausted. I thought, of all the places to go.. I could’ve just chosen to dive in Cebu or surf in Baler, what the heck am I doing in the mountains??

The view!

The view!

 I took a seat, rested my body and gazed out into the view of the Batad Rice Terraces. Looking at it was quite enchanting. There are levels after levels of rice paddies from the peak to bottom. Each paddy getting wider as they approach the ground. They were also of different colors, from pale yellows (ready for harvest), rich green (not quite), to the harvested gray or brown. Alongside it is a beautifully shaped mountain and rows of mountain peaks on its back. That’s when I realized the splendor of its presence. It’s been here for hundreds of years – back when our ancestors still hunt for food and worship the sun as god. I have a front row seat to one of the best man made wonders of the world, why am I complaining?

Left: Mang Ramon pouring us some home grown Arabica coffee. Right: Just your friendly local tourists administrator.

Left: Mang Ramon pouring us some home grown Arabica coffee.
Right: Just your friendly local tourists administrator.

I took few deep breaths, the weather was cool, the sun was bright and then the aroma of freshly brewed coffee wafted through the air and there I knew, I made the right choice.

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