It was cold even with the windows closed. I woke up with the cool morning air at one of the three bedroom lodge at Stairway Lodge. It was a spartan room with en suite bathroom. Much of the accommodations here in Banaue Town proper are like this – basic, functional and homey. I have never tried staying in town before as I have always used Banaue Town as a gateway to either Sagada or Batad. But my last visit gave me a chance to get to know this little town more.
Electricity doesn’t come cheap here. I’m not sure about the source of their electricity but we didn’t easily find outlets in rooms here and both in Batad. I also observed most restaurants charge a minimum of PHP 20 per full charge on a cellphone. Camera Batteries can go as high as Php 30-40. We forgot to ask where the source of their electricity is coming from but it certainly isn’t cheap on this parts for establishments to charge on electricity use.
I made my way back to the veranda of the lodging to get some fresh morning air. A few mists were still hanging up in the air above the mountains. I could hear the river rushing below. Just on my right is a wall of windows all coming the nearby lodging. It was an interesting sight with a hanging bridge there, wooden houses with tattered roofs and the winding roads continuing just behind the mountains.
Much of the road and terrain here in Banaue is winding and in slopes. Coming from the Bus Station from Manila, I always prefer to just walk down to the town centre and breathe in the air and the sights as i go along. Coming up to the Cordillera region always has that interesting character in the atmosphere. It’s like our very own cowboy country feel. Even the music playing on the radios stream from country genre stations in the US.
There is a main road in Banaue where most of the lodgings and restaurants could be found. The road winding down leads to Batad and Bangaan area. We ventured opposite that road passing by numerous souvenir shops selling native handicrafts and items. There are also good restaurants and sari-sari stores we get supplies. Don’t also be surprised with a number of internet cafe stations as well.
That morning we were looking for something cheap to chew on and found ourselves on a burger stop near the city hall. Who can a buy-one-take-one burger for about PHP 30? It was a great breakfast. But aside from that we were able to try other eateries in the place. Check out Las Vegas Restaurant’s PHP 100 combo meal special cause it sure is worth it. Halfway Lodge also has a good restaurant. We found good value on their tasty meals.
We dropped by the Banaue Tourism Information Center at the poblacion (town centre) and were able to talk to Juliet who’s in charge at that time. The office is accredited by DOT and if people need help in booking vehicles on standard rates, this is the place to go to avoid getting duped. It’s just across the Police Station not the fake Tourism Office near the bus stations.
Other walking attraction we found is the Banaue Museum just beside Banaue View Inn. It’s a moderate climb up the road but the height offers a nice view of the town. Of course I get to see a lot more of the tattered roofs but its part of the town’s character which may look like a ramshackle but the place is a glimpse of what to expect in cordilleras being the gateway. It is rustic yes but it has that bucolic charm that an urbanite like me may be looking for.
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Last Few Slots for Backpack Photography Banaue on March 19-21 with registration deadline on Feb 19, 2010. Last Call for Batanes Outdoor Workshop for April 9-12, 2010 with deadline of registration on Feb 15, 2010. Backpack Photography Palawan Wildlife April 23-26, 2010 still open.
Ferdz Decena is an award-winning travel photographer, writer and blogger. His works has found print in publications such as Singapore Airlines’s Silver Kris, Philippine Airlines’ Mabuhay, Cebu Pacific’s Smile and Seair InFlight. He has also lent his expertise to various organizations like the Oceana Philippines, Lopez Group Foundation, Save the Children and World Vision, contributing quality images for their marketing materials.