Sunday, March 21, 2010

Banaue: Hapao and Hungduan under the rain and in the mist

The rains persisted the following day as if some heavenly faucet was left running overnight.  Another lovely day to stay indoors with cup after cup of java but not ideal weather to take some snaps and attend to some business deals that needs to be arranged.  The viewpoints closer to Banaue town proper with their elevation above a thousand meters would likely be shrouded in fog again. We decided to venture farther out and lower -- 15 kilometers north to the Hapao rice terraces in the municipality of Hungduan.

HANGING AROUND HUNGDUAN.  The rains have rendered the dirt roads muddy, wayward rocks made navigating tricky.  We bounced and jiggled in the tricycle we rented, often wondering if the tricycle will make it through in one piece (the same goes for us, with not a few bumps in the head to show for it).  With the inclement weather, I thought we had the road and views to ourselves.  Apparently, a French couple, a Japanese guy and a group of Cebuanos thought the same thing.  And why not?  The Hapao terraces are breathtakingly beautiful.  Instead of appearing like stacks of terraces, these look like overlapping palettes of greens.

BEYOND HAPAO TO HUNGDUAN. Since we were already in the Hungduan municipality, we thought of escaping the crowds and going all the way to the Hungduan terraces just five kilometers away.  As it turned out, those were the bumpiest five kilometers in our whole trip.  And since the Hungduan terraces viewpoint rises to over a thousand meters, the lower-lying terraces were shrouded by heavy fog.  We pass by the 2,642 meter Mount Napulawan where General Yamashita of the Japanese Imperial Army sought his final refuge in WWII.
 
The viewpoint was nearly desolate save for a boy peeking through a window (probably wondering who's intruding in the quiet of midday) plus a handful of chickens and a lonely dog.  We found a sari-sari store peddling instant noodles and promptly decided that lunch would be a steaming bowl of noodles plumped up with whole eggs.  Funny how ordinary fare becomes a special treat given the place, weather and circumstance.
 
SOMETHING TO LIFT THE SPIRIT.  Alas, the fog didn't lift after an hour but we found something to uplift our spirits.  

Walking further down the road, I found kids playing under the shade, with dogs and chickens as company.  Outside hung freshly-laundered disposable baby diapers -- either a testament to the remoteness of the place or the resourcefulness of the locals.  We went to the poblacion where cracked fields now lie over several inches of rainfall.  The seedlings will survive, said our guide cum tricycle driver, Reynald.  Cold comfort to know that.
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