Time to turn off that mobile phone. There are still some places where your mobile phone becomes a rather expensive pestle you can use when a hammer is not available and Batad is one of them. Surrounded by mountains from all sides, it seems you're transported to another world belying the fact that you're just 16 kilometers away from Banaue town proper. Sure, we heard from some locals that there is some semblance of a mobile network signal in some places but we've checked and checked and all our cellphones were useless. However, considering the inexpensive accommodations and affordable transportation cost, it seems like getting cheap tickets to a ringside view of awe-inspiring landscape.
From Banaue proper to Batad. The road from Banaue town proper to Batad snakes through the mountains, over rough (and rougher) road that made our van's suspension system groan though we worried more about the cute French girls who perilously toploaded (local term for riding on the roof) on the jeepney ahead of us. After several stopovers for souvenir pictures (mostly by our Korean companions), we arrived at the saddle of Batad in like an hour and a half. Though it was overcast, the beauty of the distant mountains was mesmerizing. The hike to Batad took an hour, taking us through a forest trail. My lack of hiking the past two years quickly manifested itself; my feverish state and colds didn't help either. But there's something about the scenery that revitalizes you. There are several stops along the way and with the distance covered and rise in elevation, the costs of refreshments rise accordingly (to wit, P40 for a small bottle of Coke).
Moonlight sonata. Due to fatigue and lack of sleep, we chose the first inn that appealed to us, in this case, Simon's. The view from the unfinished veranda gives one a nice vista of the famous Batad ampitheater. It was tempting to slack off for the whole afternoon but there's still a hike through the rice paddies and the falls that await after our belated lunch (more on that in my next post). I also had another thing in mind: seeing the ampitheater bathed by the moonlight. Believe me, night shooting on a brrr, very cold night, was the last thing on my mind but I guess the pull of the scene was too much to pass up. So while all the guests of Simon's (and most of the town) went to sleep, we waited for the clouds to roll by and let the moon do its bidding.
Tips: Charging:Batteries drain faster in the cold climate of Batad. Same as in Banaue town proper, charging your gadgets entail extra costs (P20-40 depending on the device) prompting me to think electricity costs are high in these parts. Bring extra batteries. • Supplies: Bring important supplies like medicines as it's a long way to Banaue proper • Info: Visitors register at the outpost and donations are encouraged to help the villagers in the upkeep of the terraces. • Food and drinks are expensive in these parts as these are sourced from Banaue town proper and brought over by foot from the saddle. Food offerings in particular, are on the expensive side and nothing to shout about (unlike in Sagada) though remember that you came here for the view and the experience.