This was the vista two years ago this weekend. Batad village and rice terraces on Luzon in the Philippines. I had arrived in Banaue around six in the morning, having taken the overnight bus from Manila, and almost immediately found myself, along with a few other tourists who happened to be standing nearby, in the back of a Jeepney bouncing along a road towards the ridge above with a guide and her family in tow. The shot was taken from the ridge overlooking the village right before the climb down. And so without sleep, or coffee, or breakfast, the climb down to Batad was underway, during which I made several unsuccessful attempts at falling to my death. The adventure did not stop upon reaching the village. The guide spoke of a great waterfall at the bottom of the valley just beyond the village. Seeing this as yet another great opportunity to fall to my death, I immediately set off across the rice terraces, up the corresponding ridge, and then descended into the valley along a narrow and winding path comprised in part of dirt track, steps, and a good measure of faith, as one can see below.
The guide had called the way down to the waterfall somewhat "difficult" which, in retrospect, rivals "it's just a scratch, a flesh wound!" in terms of the greatest understatements in history. I recall that day being terribly hot and humid, which made the rough and treacherous trail even more rough and treacherous and the goal of the fall's cool waters even cooler and more inviting.
After several delightful hours resting in the spray of the falls, the trek up was underway. If gravity was a foe on the way down, it was even more of a nemesis on the climb up, reaching out with its invisible hand to tug at you whenever your sandaled foot lighted upon unsteady terrain, which was often. During a break upon reaching the ridge of the valley from which one could again see Batad, I took a few moments to scribble in the journal these words: "...most gruelling hike ever. Great!.." (though not in italics as featured here) along with other similar nonsense that suggested heat and fatigue induced madness, or simply just the thrill of adventure and successful conquest, though I subsequently did try to fall to my death a few more times while crossing the rice terraces themselves. Otherwise, the trek back up to the ridge where the adventure began was uneventful.
So as the day drew to a close, the Jeepney navigated the road back to Banaue where accomodations were found and after the most refreshing shower in history, I immediately fell off to the equally most refreshing sleep in history. More adventures were in store for the next day, with the trip to Sagada and its intriguing hanging coffins.