The next part is about me becoming sick, scroll down if you want to the pictures from the rice terraces.
The day out with the kayaks ended with me becoming more and more sick. I had to leave my awesome hostel for the last night as it was fully booked. Then I checked into a fine hostel outside of town but the contrast with the last one was too big. I tried to find some food but ended up buying water and a roll of toilet paper haha. Back at the hostel people started noticing I looked really pale. And it’s not so clever when you just find out then and there that your medicine stock is low/empty. I had to take a tricycle back to town to go to a pharmacy and refill. At this point I still expected that it was just something that would pass overnight and I would take the 7 am bus back to Puerto Princesa (the 6 hour ride). I went to bed at 8 in the evening and slept for 10 hours to wake up and still not feeling great but the fever was a bit better. I had a flight that afternoon so I had to go anyways. I ate some plain rice and actually felt a bit more okay. The beginning of the bus ride was fine I had a chat with the girl sitting next to me but the second part less and less. My fever was back and the trip seemed to last forever. Finally arriving at the airport I really didn’t know what to do, I couldn’t stand anymore and didn’t look forward to sit there for three hours. Mel, the girl from the bus, helped me finding a nurse station at the airport and that being there was super convenient. There was a bed where I could rest and I told the nurse I would want to fly to Manila and look for a doctor there. But she measured my fever which had reached 39,3 degrees Celsius and now I needed clearing from Air Asia to be allowed to fly. I slept for two hours and then the nurse cooled me down with a wet cloth to lower my temperature and someone checked me in and brought away my luggage. My temperature was 38 when they started boarding. I went into the airplane, usually I’m a bit nervous but now I was just staring and half sleeping. After an hour We landed in Manila, I took a 45 min cab ride during which I slept again, reached the hotel, got to the room and lied down on the bed. I didn’t take my clothes off, the lights were still on, the air condition as well and I did not text Siebren to let him know all was good. I slept for 11 hours, went under the blanket and continued for another 4 hours.
I don’t like to, but at this point I had to admit I was actually sick. The fever lowered during the day so I didn’t see a doctor eventually but I was in the hotel room for the next two days to recover. I had to cancel my trip to the volcano mount Pinatubo (I hated this, had been looking forward to it) and was just about to reach the point where I had to cancel my trip to the mountains up north as well. But then my arrogance took over again, enough with being sick and time to get back on my feet! I really wanted to get out of the confinement of those four windowless walls. I checked with the tour guide if we could alter the program a little bit to not have a 7 hour hike on the day of arrival and when he came with supportive words and a new plan I wanted to go for it. Call it passion or call it crazy :).
There was only one hurdle to take. The end-boss of night busses. From Manila to Banaue. 345 kilometers, 9 hours and sadly enough chairs that only incline 30 degrees. I had an aisle seat. And now I was so used to the luxury of almost flat chairs in Vietnam that I hadn’t even given it a thought. They played music all night long, of course we had the disco party bus lighting and you kind of have to deal with the situation your in. I had practically no sleep and really wondered why I had to be so stubborn to leave a hotel room I already paid for. But daylight came and so the views, mountains, green everywhere, simple houses. I was seeing a whole different part of the Philippines.
And when I got of the bus my guide, John, was standing there with my name on a carton. I did good!
The bus had brought me to Banaue but the first day we would go to Batad. We went there by tricycle first and another 30 minute on foot. In the guesthouse I could drop my bag and rest for a little bit to catch up on sleep. The guesthouse already gave an amazing view over the rice terraces (UNESCO world heritage).
Then we (in Asia I sometimes have a private guide, so luxurious) went for a hike up and over and the rice field walls. These rice fields are carved out of the hills in terraces. They are over 2000 years old. The hills are very high and this gives amazing views. Walking over the walls can be a bit scary as the next terrace can be 2-3 meters below you. There are hidden stairs in the walls (bricks sticking out) to take you up or down. The walls can be wide and narrow. I’m not afraid of heights but sometimes I was happy that John would support my hand when it was really steep. We walked to the Tappyia waterfall, I skipped the swim as the current was strong and the water cold. And back to the guesthouse. Still managed to walk 8 kilometers this day. When I came back I had a warm shower, I ordered dinner and while I was waiting I had a massage from a lady of the village.
The next two days consisted of more hiking and more different rice fields areas. The rice had been planted somewhere in the last two months and would already be colored green. We also went to a hot spring (sulfur smells but oh so warm) next to a river where I bathed in both.
My guide really was more than just a guide, he had this music box with the best mix of music playing all the time when hiking, he took pictures of me with both my camera and iPhone without me asking and would even stand on his tricycle if that would give a better shot. He really looked after me three days from the pick up until the drop off at the same bus. And that was just what I needed after the three days off being sick.
The bus ride back was slightly better because I had a window seat. The guy next to me was just leaning on me the entire night and with his posture it was very uncomfortable. And we arrived 04:30 AM, since it didn’t seem smart to go walking around Manila that early I decided to take a hotel. A tuk tuk driver brought me to one where you can pay per hour, starting with three. I stayed for six hours and had some sleep but left the place as soon as I could. With being sick I skipped seeing any highlights in Manila but that’s alright.
Here’s some of my experiences in the Philippines. People I’ve met are kind and interested in the Netherlands.
The current president is appreciated a lot by the people because he is really changing some things. The drugs and crimes situation being portrait by foreign news outlets doesn’t always have the story straight and of course there is some nuancing to the whole situation.
Of all countries I have travelled this is the county where almost everyone speaks perfectly fine English. It has to do with the American colonization, following the 300 year Spanish colonization.
The local mass transport is a jeepney. A long stretched jeep with seating in the back. Every single jeepney has a different design.
More private is to take a ‘grab’ same concept as Uber, different name. For a 45 minute ride you pay maybe 4 or 5 euros. And the drivers are mostly in for a chat. The last taxi driver I had was happy to drive me because now he had had a ‘barbie’ in his car. When he was younger he wanted to travel to Europe to see the real ‘barbies’, people like me with white skin and blonde hair.
There are chickens everywhere, and at such random places sometimes. Like when I went to the waterfall at the ricefields there was a chicken there. I wouldn’t have been surprised to see one at the Vulcano if I would have been able to go.
Dogs as well, but not different than other countries. Skinny and looking for food. At an abandoned island eating even the remains of a coconut cut in half. Broke my heart multiple times.
Guys with big guns guarding all kinds of places. I think I can never get used to this and it always gives me the chills.
In the north there were big rocks on the roads that had obviously fallen from above. There was always a way around it but didn’t make me feel very safe. It happened mostly in the rainy season.
Local people are addicted to nga-nga (beatle but), a red fruit found in trees that you can chew. It is as addictive as cigarettes and not healthy. It makes the mouth, lips and teeth go red and the first time I saw it I thought someone was bleeding. A bit like a vampire who just had a drink. Strange habits..
I’ve seen skinny people searching the trash on the side of the road in the streets of Manila. Kids collecting empty bottles.
And you pay extra fees everywhere. When you think you have paid the full price on your ticket you’ll get some environmental fee, airport fee or tourist fee.
The nature was really beautiful and I didn’t get to visit some of the other islands. Maybe I’ll come back some day, we need a reunion anyways with the group in some 10 year time I guess ;).
If anyone is interested in taking the same tour in Banaue (I would strongly recommend to do so), please look on facebook for John Bodah/Banaue Riceterraces/Transport/Tour/Guide: https://www.facebook.com/john.bodah/.