Saturday, April 12, 2014

Hitchhiking to Hapao, Hungduan, Ifugao

Hapao Rice Terraces in Hungduan, Ifugao

I did not want to see Baguio, and there's nothing to do in Bontoc. Then again, in Banawe, we can get a direct bus to Manila. And, i recalled that I haven't been anywhere in Ifugao.. just the perfect time to visit the rice terraces.

I am feeling the pain on my spine. First time to have a tattoo, and it must have not been a good idea to do it in the spine. I'm feeling cold, and Minie confirms I got fever. I bought my medicines and drank it rightaway.

The first trip from Bontoc to Banawe is said to be at 8, and luckily, I came across a passenger van that will have to pick up passengers in Banawe at 6. He'll have to leave by 4am.. PERFECT!

My phone rang the alarm at 4, and just got a message from the driver.. he's in front of the lodge. I continued with my sleep, and was awoken already in Banawe.

Breakfast, and then another set of local brewed coffee from a nearby guesthouse while figuring out what to do in Banawe. The time of the day don't seem to make enough room for deep decisions for now, so we decided to check out the Banawe Terraces viewpoint first to clear up some space.

A car stopped and mistook us for a local. They were asking how far the viewpoint is further; I said we're travellers, and asked him anyway if we can hitch to the viewpoint, since he's headed there anyway.. well, he agreed.

There was not much to do in the viewpoint other than to VIEW.  Our hitch host was asking us where our next destination is and we told him it's HAPAO... he did not say anything. We waited for him to actually tell us he's going to head there, but it seems he wasn't interested. They left, and we did too.

Banawe (Banaue) Rice Terraces in Banawe, Ifugao

We were seeing some shortcut to the highway to Hapao and took it. The houses become less frequent as we move further, and so does the road become rougher and muddy.

Next came the hitching; Our first attempt was a failure. The tricycle was willing to bring us to about a kilometer descent, but added that he'll get another tricycle for us to bring us to Hapao. We did not want to spend for the transpo (also because we don't have much funds left), so we said it's ok, and we'd walk.

Then came a teenager on his bike. He took us for a few more kilometers of rough road.

We then stopped by a store for a softdrink; A van was approaching, and we asked the owner of the store if this van is probably heading to Apao; she said it might;

We fllagged it, and she talk to the driver for us. From their conversation, they told us that we'll be dropped in brgy Uwa, and from there, walk for another kilometer, where there will be a shortcut to Hapao.

From where we were dropped, there was this who was preparing to dry his rice harvest. We lend some help.. though not purely to help, but to have fun and pictures really. Besides, we were not really intending to head all the way to Hapao. We were just seeingg if we'll be able to make it to Hapao without spending so much; Else, we can just have fun with whatever we come accross with.

A little while later, another van was passing. They took us to the remaining kilometer for the shortcut. From the drop off, it was a short 10 minute steep descend to the highway (But that saved us about 500 off the curve).

There was another shortcut from there, to save us another 2-3 more kilometers, but it was too steep and forested. Besides, asking a favor from the passing vehicles was much more easy actually.

We walked further and spotted 3 ladies planting rice in the terraces... just what we wanted. The first thing we intended to do in Ifugao was actually join troops in planting rice. In Banawe though, the planting season is done, so there was really no chance. We dropped our bags and stepped into the mud.

helping out in planting rice in the terraces in Ifugao

helping out in planting rice in the terraces in Ifugao

After about half an hour of planting and chat with the 3 ladies, we thought about moving forward to our attempt to visit Hapao. We walked back towards the road, and just about 20 mins later, a bus with the sign Hungduan is approaching. Again, we flagged it. I asked if it will head to Hapao, and the conductor confirmed it will. In just half an hour later, we were already in Hapao.

the road to Hapao, Hungduan Rice Terraces in Ifugao

some rice terraces along the way to Hapao, Hungduan, Ifugao

the bus that goes to Hungduan/Hapao

We have not had lunch so our first stop was the eateries. There were 3 of them in the drop off point, but we chose that where dining was with a view of the rice terraces.

eateries in Hapao RiceTerraces

eateries in Hapao RiceTerraces

After our meal, we asked that we leave our baggage so we coould trekk quickly. It's quarter to 2, and we're supposed to leave by 3pm (to be safe).

Hapao RiceTerraces in Hungduan, Ifugao en route to Hot Spring

en route to the Hot Spring in Hapao

It took us some 45minutes to get to the spring. We just followed the footpath on the terraces, plus there were households and locals once in a while. 

When we got to the the spring, I saw a logbook. I was telling myself, ooopss.. fee time. The lady who seemed to be the in charge wasn't approaching us so we went into the water. 

Hapao Hot Spring in Ifugao

The water is mixed with some cold water from the river. There were bubbles coming out from the hot pool floor. After some 15minutes in the pool, we decided to leave as we're really running out of time. 

When the caretaker noticed we were preparing to leave (changing clothes) he asked us to log, and we did. Nevertheless, she did not ask us for any fee (Thank god).

on the way back to Banawe, once construction truck hitched us from Hapao onto about 6kilometers. From there, we walked all the way to Hungduan boundary. All vehicles passing were all bound to Hapao (none or rarely from Hapao to Banawe).

Hitchhiking with a construction truck on the way back to Banawe

From the Hungduan Boundary, there was a tricycle that hitched us to another 2 kilometers. Then, from there, we took the same shortcuts (bypassing the turns). Then, it began to rain. We were fearing that we'll get caught up by some hard rain, and the road will turn quite muddy and difficult, so we decided to spend for tricycle from there. We asked the locals how much it would cost to be dropped in the town center, and we were told it's 100.

Yet, when we arrived in Banawe, the tricycle driver asked for 200. I thought 100 is kinda less from what we travelled, but 200 was too much. Then again, we did not want to argue, so we just gave it away.

Hapao for Tourists (not hitchhikers :-0)

Jeepneys to Hapao leave Banawe in the afternoon and leave Hapao in the Morning (just not sure of the fare though). For tricycle though, it's far more expensive. From town, they'd ask from 500 up to 700. 

There are 2 lodging houses in Hapao. Rate is 350 per person per night. As for eateries, it is very hard to find vegetables. As per owners, most of their customers are actually locals who have vegetables on their backyards; Thus, when they eat elsewhere other than home, they seek meat. Average meal is P70 with rice.

At the moment, only Ohayami is plying Manila-Ifugao. Cable Tours are still suspended after the Florida bus incident. Fare from Manila (Sampaloc Terminal) is P450 (P360 for students and seniors). Travel time is 8-9hours.

Travelling Philippines? Follow @CheapBedsPH on Instagram for geotagged backpacker accomodation below PHP400 (US$9) for easier searches.

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