So after a full day of birthday shenanigans we grabbed our stuff and headed to Lyn’s eldest brothers (Igno) house. This was about a 20 minute trike ride out-of-town. It was beautiful the entire way. We arrived and saw their new house that they had just built about two years ago. The driver that drove us was a friend of theirs and came in and had dinner and a beer with us. For dinner we had some really tasty fish made with coconut milk, and rice. Super yummy. We all sat around just enjoying each others company. Hermelyn Lyn’s niece was also going to spend the night so it would be like a mini party and great way for Lyn and Hermelyn to catch up. They spent a lot of years working in Singapore and even though she is Lyn’s niece most people think that Lyn and her are twins because they favor each other so much. Around 10 PM we went to bed excited to see what the next two days would bring.
The next morning we got up around 6 and around 7 Hermelyn asked us if we wanted to walk down to the bridge that was about a mile away. Of course we said yes and we all headed out together. We were out in the country now so while the landscape was similar it was much more open with fields of crops in all directions. After we walked over half way to the bridge we saw one of Lyn’s relatives with his trike just hanging out with a few other people. He waved and then drove up and offered to take us the rest of the way. This was one of the guys that I had been drinking Red Horse with just two nights before. Small world ha ha! We all jumped on the trike and we were off. He went to the bridge but then kept going a little further and finally took off up a hill to Lyn’s Aunt’s (Auring)house. Lyn’s aunt who happened to be on her front porch shelling corn for next years planting. She is over 80 by the way and had a big barrel of corn kernels that she had already shelled. She did this by taking the dried corn and forcefully rubbing it across a board across a few nails that were bent on top of the board. I asked her if I could give it a try. I pushed the corn across the board and not a single kernels came off so I did it again and pushed harder….again niothing. Finally I tried for a third time and with a lot of force and still came up empty. What the heck. Ok so I must have a defective cob of corn. I handed it back to Lyn’s aunt and on her first try kernels popped off everywhere! I was really in disbelief. Anyway everyone got a good laugh at my expense and I bowed to her mad skills. You can see me in action here if you are interested. After we talked a bit we headed out and walked back to Lyn’s brothers house stopping to take pictures along the way. Here is a short video from the bridge you can see by clicking here!
When we got back everyone was there and the smell of breakfast was everywhere! Lyn asked if we could do this meal boodle fight style. Which involves laying the food out on the table on banana leaves. To get the banana leaves all they had to do was walk out their back door and take them off the tree. Pretty cool if you ask me! The next thing I knew all the food was being laid out and just about covered the entire table. It was beautiful! Once it was all laid out it was time to eat and after a prayer that is exactly what we did. There was rice of course as well as fish, eggs, vegetables, fruit and pandesal. All of this while drinking the sweet goodness of 3 and 1 coffee! Yummy! After a leisurely breakfast and a nice shower we headed back to the Liban house to figure out what we would do with our day! About that time Lyn got a call from her niece Carol who invited us to dinner to meet her boyfriend John John. Well as you can probably guess you only have to ask me once to dinner and the answer will always be yes! We met them about 7 and they had already ordered a great spread of food. We learned that John John was an elementary school teacher and that Carol was getting very close to becoming a teacher as well. We had a great time catching up and enjoying all of the food. I really believe this couple is going to do great things! Remember you heard it here first! We spent the next day just enjoying everyone’s company and making a few trips into town just to look around! The next day we just took it easy enjoyed being in Lyn’s hometown.One thing I really love here is how everything comes to your front door. We were thinking about going to get ice-cream and right about the time we were going to head out….here comes the ice cream man right to our front door. You can get it on a cone but you can also get your ice-cream on just plain bread. It’s actually really good that way and that is what I got. The cost was 10 pesos about 18 cents! It was delicious! The next morning I was sitting having my 3 and 1 coffee and up pulls a motorcycle with a big container filled with puto and kutsinta. Love love love this place!
After spending two days just enjoying being around family and friends it was time to leave for Banuaue Rice Terraces. Banuaue is about three hours by Jeepney north of Solano. The plan was to take two of Lyn’s sisters with us and do a tour of part of the Northern Luzon and then have all three of us fly back to Manila together. Once our trip was over they would ride the bus from Manila and we would start the long trek back to Greensboro. I had never been on a Jeepney and I was really looking forward to it. Jeepneys are a big transporter of people in the Philippines. The first Jeepneys started their lives as US jeeps left over from WWII. They were cut in half and extended so they could carry more people. You can read more about their history here. Unlike tricycles they usually have a route and can make stops along the way. They are usually used to go further distances but maybe not as long as a bus would travel. Luckily these Jeepneys were only a block from our house and left every 20 minutes through out the day. Our plan was to catch one around 8:30 and be in Banuaue between 11:30 and 12.
We went to the Jeepney stop about 8:30 and caught one straight away. You cannot really stand up in the back of a Jeepney but once seated even I had enough headroom to be comfortable. In the back there are just two benches that face each other. You just get in and move to the front then along the way people either get on or get off. To get off you just yell “Para” to the driver to let him know that you want him to stop. Then you pass the driver your fare that is based on where you got on and off. Some people paid when they got on but most people just passed their money up at the end of their ride. Then if there is change the driver would just pass it back. Our trip would take two Jeepneys and we would ride the first one all the way to its final stop. As we went along people kept getting on and off and it was really fun just seeing how it all worked. Here is a short video you can watch by clicking here. After we got to our 1st stop we switched over to a smaller Jeepney for our final 40 minute ride. This one was packed in from the beginning but that did not stop us from adding more people along the way. Finally we were full or so I thought when we pulled over to pick up a mother and her two kids. Every time we picked someone up we would all slide in further to make room. This time we all scooted but there was no room so the next thing I knew a grandfatherly old man motioned to the two kids to come to him and they climbed over the people and the stuff we were carrying and then sat on his lap. How wonderful. The kindness of strangers is everywhere but you see it over and over again in the Philippines! Still we needed room for the Mom. I counted the people on the side facing us and noticed they had one more person than our side but both side were full. Obviously I was taking up more than my share of the bench. I even commented that maybe I should pay a double fare ha ha! Anyway as soon as I said that someone on the bus said that God made us all who we are and that I am still one person and should only pay once! Thank you kind Jeepney lady!! 🙂 Anyway they put a board across the exit and now the mother had a seat. Problem solved!
Finally we arrived in Banuaue about 11:15 AM. As luck would have it our hotel was along the route and we were dropped off right at the hotel front door. The cost of this three-hour journey was about $2 a piece! We all got out and went in to the hotel. The one thing that I had already noticed is that it was much cooler here and no humidity. Wow it felt great! We checked into our family room which included two beds and a bathroom. Living the fancy life ha ha! Some of the rooms did not have bathrooms but they had shared bathroom showers on every floor. After we checked in the hotel clerk asked what we wanted to do. We actually had just one day here and did not have time to hike to some of the remote rice terraces so we told her that we just needed a trike to take us to the overlook’s of the Banuaue rice terraces. and then to a lunch place. The next thing we knew we were piled into a tricycle and headed to the overlooks. We arrived about 15 minutes later and were blown away by the views. Our driver was really nice and actually took group photos which sometimes involved him standing on top of his trike to get the best shot. We stopped at several overlooks to take pictures and even dressed in the local tribal attire. After that we headed to 7th Heaven Cafe which was known for having good views of the terraces and also good food. We ate on their balcony while taking in the views and just enjoying each others company. Finally we went back to the hotel and took a short nap and then had dinner at the hotel. Tomorrow our next stop will be Vigan which is on the west coast.
The traditional way to get there is to take a bus southwest to Baguio and the head north to Vigan. Depending on the bus schedules this could take around 12 hours. We had all been to Baguio before so I wanted to do something different. I had read a blog that said you could take a more direct route to Vigan through the Bessang Pass Natural Park. Every time I mentioned that I wanted to do this everyone was not familiar with it. The reason for this is this road was known for mud slides that sometimes blocked the road and up until about 7 years ago there was no bridge across the river. So it involved literally walking across a swinging bridge and getting on different transportation. Anyway the more I read and about the Bessang Pass Natural Park the more I wanted to do it and if all went well it would only take about 8 or 9 hours. Tomorrow should be exciting for sure! Thanks for reading!