SUNDAY IN PHILIPPINES
Sunday September 5, 2004 11:28 AM
Went to the internet café, but it was closed in this small city of Banaue on a Sunday morning. Probably makes sense as most of the Philippines is catholic or some form of Christian religions and it is like any country the there is a heavy overlay on everything of the local religion. I suppose the Christian idea of not working on Sunday one of the strongest, and strangely in most countries they if they take a day off from work it is normally Sunday whatever the local religions is.
I am hoping the internet café will open up in the afternoon, as I need to write some emails, take my photos off my 3.5 disk, and put photos onto my computer. The new computer I have does not have a 3.5 floppy drive. I think this is silly, but that is the way they are making them. The internet cafes do NOT have CD Rom players enough for me to say they are normal. What is normal or becoming most common is a USB port, but that does not mean they will let you use it, so in the end it luck and the right combination that wins. The USB is becoming common because all the travelers have digital cameras; the internet cafes also have card readers.
I would say the thumb drive now is better to carry than 3.5 floppies, but you NEED to know how do download the drivers from the internet.
Map of the Philippines
I am presently in the middle upper north of the main Island. Below Agarri and to the right and above Bagui.
BANAUE OR BATAD FILIPINES
Sunday, September 5, 2004 7:00 AM
I am in Banawe or Banaue, Philippines according to how you describe the place. It is about 10 hour by bus straight north of Manila, and I believe the normal buses are night buses that leave at 10 PM and arrive at sunrise. I did not check the times, but more or less you see nothing between Manila and Banaue but the inside a FROZEN bus and arrive from the huge city of Manila to a small mountain city. A great change of channel.
FIRST IMPRESSIONS ABOUT PHILIPPINES
I am confused because there is no backpacker framework in the country so far, or at least I have not found it. No groups of people from which to learn the gossip quick and fast on where and what to do is available. However, this is September and not the high season so there are very few tourists. I would guess after sleeping four nights in the Philippines I have met or seen walking around 20 tourists. This is an astounding low number of tourists for any country especially since I flew into Manila and stay in the Maleta area for the day. The Maleta area is maybe the center of the backpacker universe for Manila, but is probably shared with the expats, but really, I have no clear assessment because there are so few foreigners.
I have not been to this place and may or may not go, but I would guess by reading the Lonely Planet that it will have the most travelers of anywhere because the Lonely Planet has a section on how to buy Hash or Marijuana in the area, so the Lonely Planet is giving the travelers the hint that if you want to sit around and get high or get drugs to go to this area. This usually makes an area high on the list of travelers. Pai in Thailand in the north is a sit around get stoned city, that does not mean it is not beautiful also, but there could be debates as to the reasons the traveler end up in the areas. It is not ever only the tourist attractions; it is a combination of party, women, drugs, weirdness, cost and what there is to do when you are not looking at the tourist attractions.
WHAT PEOPLE DO IN THE PHILIPPINES?
1. Girls or buy girls.
3. Scuba dive.
5. Beach Resorts
Those would be my five first impressions as to why people come to the Philippines. I am sure that many Americans come here if they, as I am not sure, because I have not seen any other Americans, but if they do, it is because the people of Philippines speak English half the time and the language is no problem here for us English-speaking people.
MY IMPRESSION VERSUS TRAVELERS OR GUIDEBOOKS
I pay attention to danger or ask myself,
“Will I get robbed or cheated?”
The guidebook seems to have an undercurrent that the Philippine is dangerous or full of petty crime. I have not felt or seen any, I would say it is a lot safer than Costa Rica and for sure, the people tell you the truth ten times more than Thailand. The taxi drivers are gougers here in Philippines but if you are going to judge, a country on taxi drivers then that is silly as Taxi drivers are third on my list of trustworthy people on the planet.
Worst to better.
1. Car Salesman
3. Taxi Drivers
So never trust a taxi driver, but the solution is easy in most countries. Do not use the meter. Go to the reception desk or a couple of people and ask how much a taxi should cost? For sure the reception desk will lie and tell you double the cost, but you know that the price is about half of what the reception desk says, go find a taxi and OFFER do not ask and you go taxi. So say I will pay X amount to go here. Find one of them clusters of taxi grouped around as taxi drivers do and say your price you will pay. If you decide on a number you will have a for sure price that is acceptable in your budget, while a meter can cost 10 times what you should pay and no way to control. Better to pay a little more and know the total cost in advance. Meters can be crooked or honest, but no way to know for sure, plus they can go around in circles and run up the cost.
Philippines people speak English, are very honest and helpful. This is going to be an easy country to walk around in and enjoy. It is complicated though to make a decision as to what to do?
Do I go to surf beach, go to Baracay, which is the number one, recommended and I think probably a waste of energy, except for people on the 100-200 dollars a day budget and do not want to talk to Philippines or anyone…. There is probably a sex thing going on there though, but the only word I ever here about Baracay is
I hate when I hear that word. It means to me the worst possible place in the world to go… UNLESS I have a date, and lots of money, then I can go to the resort and study my date, mostly a resort is about going to a country and saying you was there, but never meeting or seeing the country.
I just came off the mountain of Batad or the Rice fields of Banaue and have said goodbye to Christine and the two French people that have been my companions for the last couple of days. Christine was fun but has a large agenda that is different than mine so was time to move with my own agenda. But mostly I want to slow down and meet the Philippines people that so far are wonderful. I have only met the ones that I needed to meet so far like the Hotel owners and the bus or taxi people and not anyone that does not want to talk with me.
Cost of rooms in Manila went from 5 dollars up to here in Banaue I am paying 3 dollars and in Batat I paid 1 dollar, but there is way too much opportunity to pay a lot and I am sure too many people think or accept they need to pay 400 Pesos or 8 dollars and up for a room, but I think I am targeting 4 dollars or 200 Peso as my number to pay per night for a good room.
RICE TERRACES OF BATAD
This is an area that has been designated by UNESCO to be preserved or saved. The bad part is that designation is for sure going to kill this area.
There is a wonder and they like to call it the eighth wonder of the world here in Banaue or who knows where the epicenter of this wonder is, but I would say the area is the center as Banawe has the same rice terraces, but Batad is for sure worth the time or the walk to the place if you are in very good shape or younger than 30, after thirty you be ready for work as the walk is like walking up and down in the steps of a skyscrapers. If you have no problem, walking up a 100-story skyscraper than Batad is great and the water falls of Tappia is special. But you should spend 3 days in Batad and not the 1 night as I stupidly did.
UNESCO means United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization and is part or is the United Nations way of trying to preserve what they call significant places in the world. It is an excellent way of choosing a destination and I am using their choices more and more. I came here because the place had this designation; I am not sure why Christine wanted to come. I think she wanted to Trek, but really, she wants to go to a resort and scuba dive, so this was her effort to say you went to solitude, but for me I do not want or care about solitude, I wanted to see what UNESCO thought was important. I do like quiet and this has quiet, and this is great after Manila a city of between 8 million and 20 million. I do not have a clear answer yet. Banaue is a Village and small, but rambles along the river so is bigger than it looks. Batad is empty or has about 20 houses or huts, and half are Hotels.
So I will stay here for a couple of more nights, use the internet, catch up on my nothings, (Doing nothing.) and regroup from walking up and down a few 100 story skyscrapers. Great exercise but we have been moving around at an obnoxious speed and kept busy the whole time with not a moment where I would have had time to read my books. I feel rushed when do not have time to read my books, and I do not call a guidebook reading.
The rice terraces are an engineering feat of wonder. They are maybe between 50-150 terraces from bottom to top according to the locations of the terraces and how you count them. But this means you can look at terraces where there are 100 steps or levels of rice.
The water comes off the mountain and flows down from one terrace to the next lower terrace by an extremely complex series of drops, tubes, or now steel tubes, but probably was bamboo before they had metals. I have taken a lot of photos of this so you can see lots of them soon. I am not in the best country for Internet, and is probably one of the worst I have encountered.
I just realized if there are not internet cafes there are not travelers, there is a direct correlation between the number of internet cafes and the numbers of travelers. I only saw three places in Manila to use the Internet and there seems to be one place here in Banaue, so there are not a lot of travelers here in the Philippines or there would be more.
Sex tourist and normal tourist do not use the internet much, but they are beginning to use it more, for a traveler it is considered a necessity.
I will write or try to explain the rice terraces more with pictures.
If you are interested in UNESCO sites, go to my destinations page and I think the links are there. IF anyone gets energetic, submit some links to information on the page to the wonders of the world. Ancient, natural, manmade etc, so the readers can find this information.
I will not go to the internet and hope that I can use my thumb drive in the computer there.