A Philippine Comedy of Errors: Part Ten

san-pedro-nueva-vizcaya-philippines

The city of San Pedro, capital of the Nueva Vizcaya province in northern Luzon

Continued from
A Philippine Comedy of Errors: Part Nine

The story is almost over. I swear.

But I really don’t want to leave you hanging. I mean, we’ve come this far, right?

This is the tale of the daylight drive back from Banaue to Manila, my last night and day in the capital

…and what happened after I got home.

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A Philippine Comedy of Errors: Part Nine

Hanging in the Bontoc Museum, a map of the Ifugao and Mountain provinces of northern Luzon, Philippines

Hanging in the Bontoc Museum, a map of the Ifugao and Mountain provinces of northern Luzon, Philippines

Continued from
A Philippine Comedy of Errors: Part Eight

It’s safe to say that the-cave-and-coffins mountain town of Sagada (“sah-gah-dah”) wasn’t my favorite part of this epic sojourn, but the drive from Banaue to Sagada was pretty darn fascinating.

Along the way, I learned very little about what I saw (and am in fact still researching now) but as a person practiced in the art of observation, I can attest to the fact that the mountainous regions of northern Luzon can be a drop-dead gorgeous trip through time.

The only drawback? The sorry shape of the one major road to, in and around these parts, and the fact that it probably won’t be finished before 2018.

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A Philippine Comedy of Errors: Part Six

The Tam-An rice terraces below the Bananue Hotel

The Tam-An rice terraces below the Banaue Hotel

Continued from
A Philippine Comedy of Errors: Part Five

 

Thanks for hanging in with me this far, folks. For your trouble, you’ll get to see some cool photos of rice terraces and a tribal village.

That is, the reasons anyone might actually travel all the way to the Cordillera Mountains of the Philippines.

Also ahead? A summary of my correspondence with the travel agencies (because it turns out there were two) that planned this trip. 

That is, before they disappeared mid-trip, never to be heard from again. 

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A Philippine Comedy of Errors: Part Five

The Banaue Hotel and Youth Hostel

Continued from
A Philippine Comedy of Errors: Part Four

It’s not as though a 10-hour nighttime drive ever sounds like a good idea. I mean, maybe if the route is so hideous it could turn Lot’s wife to salt — but that’s not really an issue in the mountains of the Philippines.

The Cordilleras are gorgeous. Full of gorges, even.

What I’ve come to understand about not really sleeping for many hours in a van ill-suited to the task under dark of night is that while this was designed to be a money-saving option, it served more as a test of character.

My award? Getting to stay at a government-owned hotel/hostel hybrid that hadn’t been remodeled since its initial creation…in the 1970s. 

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A Philippine Comedy of Errors: Part One

The bridge over the (former) waters of the Guihod Natural Pool in Hapao, Philippines

Pausing before a not-yet-completed bridge spanning a rocky little stream bed, I watched a weary construction team haul steel bars from one side to the other. Kelly, a 25 year-old guide from a tribe native to this mountainous region of the Philippines, sat up straight in the front seat of the jeepney and pointed off to the left.

“This used to be the Guihod Natural Pool. It was very good for swimming.”

I furrowed my brow, recalling having seen “Guihod Natural Pool” listed on that day’s travel itinerary.

“So…no one can swim here anymore?”

Kelly turned around to face me. “Oh, no — it was filled in two years ago to make way for this bridge.”

And that’s the moment when I knew for sure:

The travel agents who planned this trip had never actually been here.

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