Sunday, October 10, 2010

Manila to Banaue (then off to Batad on a shoestring)

Thick clothing. Bring whatever you can to keep yourself warm. 

These and more are the travel essentials if you planned to take the Banaue-bound Florida bus which has gained notoriety for its awfully arctic, seemingly below zero airconditioning!  During peak months (from October until the summer months of May),  I'd recommend getting the ticket at least a night before (at the very least, the morning before you set off to Banaue) since the two trips can only accomodate 45 passengers per bus.

Florida (810 Lacson Avenue, Metro Manila; telephone: +63(2)731447; email: bus terminal is located along Lacson Street, off-Espana in Sampaloc, Manila. Your landmark is the University of Santo Tomas (UST) campus.

Coming straight from the airport, I arrived rather early. I got the 10:40PM bus and paid Php450.00 for the ticket. I had so much time to burn and recalled there was a local fastfood joint in front of UST. I crossed two blocks and had my early dinner (Php150.00) there.

The toilet. But sorry folks, NOT inside the bus for Banaue! 

Three hours later, I was already in the terminal waiting for the bus to arrive so I can settle and dooze off early. By 10:00pm, I was already in my seat, stashed my bag and reclined my chair.

You wish the bus seats are like these! But NO.
Somewhere in Nueva Ecija, the bus had to pull over to change driver. It was past midnight already. With a couple of minutes to burn, some passengers got off and stretched their legs. And off we hit the road again. This time, it's a snaking road.

By three in the morning, the bus had to pull over for 20 minutes in the pit stop in Nueva Vizcaya. I got off, stretched and since this will be the last stop before reaching Banaue at 8:00AM, relieved myself in the loo.There was actually a comfort room in the bus. But it was more of a discomfort inside. Besides, I just couldn't concentrate doing my thing when the bus went zigzagging its way!

By 8AM, the bus finally arrived in Banaue. Barkers went in and offered free rides to wherever one is billeted (makes me wonder if the offer holds true if i told them I will be staying in Batad! LOL). Since I prearranged my stay in Batad already, I politely declined and told them someone would pick me up.

Since the person who would pick me up wasn't around yet, I walked the length of the downhill road until I reached the public market.I found Halfway Cafe and had breakfast (Php100.00) there. The cafe offers a nice view of the rice terraces.

By ten, when all the supplies have been secured and with the jeepney (Php1,500/way) ready, off we set-off the bumpy but nevertheless scenic ride to Saddle Point in Batad! (Alternative transport is the tricycle (Php500.00/way; you can also hire a guide (Php1,200.00/day) and hike your way to Batad!)

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