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...two travellers in search of the world's wildlife

5 November 2018

Day on the road

Typical small town traffic

Typical small town traffic

31 October 2018

We met our guide, Carlos, outside the airport at 8am. Just worth noting: Wings transit lounge aside, Manila T3 is a really cool airport terminal, with loads of good stuff to eat and some great shopping besides.

We loaded our stuff into his sturdy white 4WD and then we set off on the epic 9 hour drive up to Banaue. This was nothing: Carlos had spent yesterday driving back to Manila from Cauayan, where he had been meant to collect us, so this was his second 9 hour drive in a row! He’s already earned his tip.

Ubiquitous trikes, they're everywhere

Ubiquitous trikes, they’re everywhere

Manila is vast, it seemed to take us an hour just to escape the city and all its horrible traffic. Nothing I’ve read about the city has inspired me to want to spend a day or two here, but we are destined to see a lot of the airport – no less than four visits as we hop around different Philippine islands.

The lowland countryside seems to be about as basic as Bohol, though with more land dedicated to rice cultivation; they can get three crops per year here, which is just astonishing. The towns also have more facilities (and more traffic!) than Bohol.

One thing that’s really noticeable is what a ribbon of development the roads are. Whether here or on Bohol, or in the mountains as we saw later, you could be forgiven for thinking you’re driving through an endless suburb as there are houses scattered almost without pause along the whole length of the road. Of course, there’s absolutely nothing beyond the houses but a bit of farmland and then the forest. It’s just a continuous narrow strip of habitation, right along the road, punctuated by the occasional “proper” town. It gives you the weird misconception that England has a lot more countryside than the Philippines, but in reality of course there are vast tracts of forest and farmland just a stone’s throw beyond the ribbon of road.

Typical roadside eatery

Typical roadside eatery

Eventually we left the flat lands and began to wind our way into the mountains. It’s here we started to see some signs that a storm had been through. Lots of vegetation on the road. And then the odd landslide, already bulldozed to one side so traffic could continue single file. Then it thundered down with rain for an hour or so. And then we drove up into low cloud, like pea soup fog, making the sudden landslides even more alarming to discover. Finally we reached Banaue and our lodging: Sanafe Lodge.

The typhoon had knocked the electricity out, so there was to be no hot shower for either of us. Our room is chilly too, made worse by the humidity which must be at 100% as I can see condensation on the walls in places. Everything is damp and clammy, including the sheets. Everything smells damp too, and there’s a pervading mildew odour in the corridor. Anything that is wet has zero chance of drying. A cold shower isn’t even for contemplating. Outside the rain can be heard pouring down in buckets. It’s not a great night.

I feel like I need to add: I’m not a completely picky ol’ grump where accommodation is concerned! Just wander through the archives of the blog. But our first four Philippine stays have been pretty uninspiring.

The jeepney - a very local bus

The jeepney – a very local bus


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