My weeks have been getting fuller with some work and my weekends are filled with travel. This week at work I started working on creating content for MAD Travel’s new podcast “In Good Company.” I listened to an interview with Reese Fernandez, a co-founder of Rags to Riches. This company creates handbags that are handmade by women in different GK communities. Listening to the interview really inspired me. I liked how she didn’t originally know anything about fashion and now she is one of the leading people in the sustainable fashion industry. It demonstrates how you really can do anything if you are motivated enough. I’ve also looked up the Rags to Riches website to look at their products, and the bags are gorgeous. I might need to buy one before I leave. Also at work I have been putting the finishing touches on my climate change demo for the kids camp. I have created this demo all on my own. I’m very proud of it and I will feel very accomplished once it is actually done and ready to present, which will actually be next week!
That’s what my week has been like, so now for the fun weekend part. I was in Banaue and Sagada this past weekend. It was an interesting weekend to say the least. It started with leaving at 9pm in a van that has 12 seats. There were 16 of us on the trip. We were literally smashed together in the car. The drive to Banaue was about 8 hours. We stopped once on the way. Luckily I kind of slept for most of the ride, so it wasn’t too awful. The purpose of this long 8 hour ride was to see the rice terraces in Banaue. The terraces are around 2,000 years old and are carved all along the mountainsides. It was interesting to find out that there is only one harvest for all the rice and that rice sustains the people around it. They do not sell it outside of the area. Anyway, we arrived early in the morning around 5am, just in time to see the sunrise over the mountains and terraces. It was beautiful. There was a sort of orange glow as we ate breakfast and drank our coffee. The big event of the day would be hiking through the terraces in the mountains. We walked through the terraces and up higher on the mountain. We were up about 1100 meters at our highest point, or about 3,608 feet. I loved looking out into the valley below and seeing the descending rice terraces that were different shades of green and yellow.
We continued walking and eventually ended at a waterfall. This was the biggest waterfall I had ever seen. It was about 47 meters (154 feet) high and about 8 meters (26 feet) deep. We were pretty close to the waterfall and were getting sprayed with mist. It actually felt pretty good because I was hot and tired. The downside to this part of the hike was that we walked down about a hundred stairs to get to the bottom of the waterfall, so that means we had to walk all the way back up. I consider myself in some sort of shape. I’m no athlete, but I’m not a couch potato either. Walking back up those stairs was one of the hardest things I’ve done on this trip. The combination of the heat, uphill, and my tiredness did not help, but I made it. I felt pretty accomplished making it back this part. There was still more to walk before we arrived back at the starting point, but it was not as bad as those stairs.
After we all got back to the van it was time for a much deserved lunch. I ate a whole plate of pancit, a ham and egg omelet, and some French fries. I figured I worked so hard during the hike I could eat as much as I wanted at lunch and be okay. Once we finished lunch we drove to Sagada which was about an hour away. It was raining when we got there and we were all so tired we didn’t adventure around the town, and instead went to bed soon after dinner.
The next day we woke up super earlier to see the sunrise at the sea of clouds. This was one of the most gorgeous views I have ever seen. There was a glow all across the clouds and the valley below. You could literally see the clouds rolling in as we sat there. My description and pictures can’t do the view justice. It was so beautiful. We soaked in the view for a while before going back to the hostel to eat. We ate quickly so we could move onto our next sight which was the hanging coffins in Sagada. The coffins have been there for about 300-400 years. There are 21 coffins in total. The newest addition in 2010, so some people still prefer to be buried here. They were interesting to see.
Phote: Left-sea of clouds Right-hanging coffins
We left Sagada and headed to Buscalan to see the famous Whang du. She is 100 years old and does traditional tattoos. This method of tattooing involves using a thorn that is attached to a stick and then hammering the stick with the thorn that has charcoal on it into the skin. All the while I was debating on getting a tattoo. It would have been really cool to get one. I even knew what I was going to get, but ultimately I decided not to do it. I didn’t want to sit in a crowded van for 8 hours with a throbbing tattoo, plus I think I psyched myself out a little bit. Anyway a couple of other people got tattoos and they turned out really good. They didn’t get them from Whang Du, but they were still well done. After all the tattooing was done we left to go back to the farm. It was another long crowded ride home. I had never been so happy to see the farm again.
Overall this was another successful weekend of travel. I enjoyed seeing another area of the Philippines and meeting some new people in Buscalan. Now it’s down to my last two weeks here. My final weekend will be spent in Baler again. This time the other GK interns will be with, so it’s going to be a good time!