Starring a drunk construction worker called Lloyd
As it turned out Uyami’s Greenview Guesthouse was very nice – perched on the hillside in town overlooking rice terraces and swathed, like the rest of the valley, in mist. While we were all sat down to breakfast a tour guide came over and sorted out our plans for the day. We started out with a jaunt around the rice terrace views near the village, gradually climbing up into the hills for ever more dramatic vistas. The terraces are over 2000 years old and are on the UNESCO World Heritage list as an achievement in engineering that ranks alongside the construction of the pyramids.
The third stop was at the main Banaue view point from which the picture that is used on the one thousand peso note was taken. Unfortunately by this point the clouds were starting to close in and so I’m not sure which picture is better:
At the final stop it started to really rain, but thankfully there was a curio shop and two little old ladies in full traditional wear, chomping betel nut to distract us. From there it was a rough hour and a half drive to Hapou. The roads are rather entertaining – there have clearly been a lot of landslides and so in most places it is down to one lane with cars, buses and jeepneys taking turns to wind past the heaps of sand and rocks. Mostly there doesn’t seem to be much of an effort to clean it up but at one point we gained an extra passenger – a construction worker who hung on the ladder outside for a bit before opening the door and inviting himself in. His name was Lloyd and he was extremely drunk. He appeared to have been sent home from work and explained that his muddied appearance was due to his recent nap beside the cement mixer. He was on his way to his aunt’s funeral where his assistance was required in the matter of firewood collection. We deposited him at his comparatively fancy house and continued on.
At Hapou we clamboured out again into the now sunshine and spent the rest of the day wandering through the rice terraces. They are mainly in the ‘rest’ period now between growing seasons so were flooded with water and had small patches of luminous green seed rice growing that will later be spread out over each field. You walk along the walls some of which have clearly been reinforced to take the tourist numbers – though we didn’t see anyone else other than the odd worker poking around beneath their brightly colour umbrella hats (literally, umbrellas worn as hats).
The final stop was a small hot spring which has water from the river piped into it to turn it sufficiently tepid for bathing. There were a group of young boys making the most of it and enough discarded shampoos sachets to hint at its true value.
On the way back into town, every time we slowed down to pass some obstacle in the road, several kids would jump onto the back of the jeep and cling on as long as they could laughing hysterically.
Utterly exhausted after little sleep the night before and no sleep on the bus, it was an early night with dinner in the guesthouse. While we were having dinner an elderly man staggered in and collapsed on the floor. We were rather alarmed, assuming a heart attack or some such awfulness but the staff reacted with quiet disdained and simply dragged, what turned out to be the very drunk grandfather of one of the waiters, into a cupboard, closing the door behind him.