Traipsing the Hapao Rice Terraces

April 2009. 

Banaue is worth the second trip, but it gets too familiar once you get there. Seeing the Banaue Rice terraces from different points of view was a marvelous experience, especially for the first-timers. I am glad I had the chance to see Banaue Rice Terraces from the commercial and touristy Viewpoint. Too commercial as it may seem, it was just great seeing it the second time around. While it has become too touristy, one needs to step back and see it from another and better vantage point--that is Hiwang.

Hankering for an unfamiliar destination on a connecting trip from Bontoc to Manila was a must so we decided to go to Hapao Terraces.

Hapao Rice Terraces

Hapao Rice Terraces
The web-like terraces sprawling in the valley of Hapao.

Hapao Terraces, a part of the in Hungduan Terraces Cluster, and is listed in UNESCO World Heritage Site has not been quite popular with tourists. It was less picturesque and incomparable with the famous Battad terraces. Battad was the first item on my list. Had it not been for the limited time because we were bound for Manila at 5PM, the day jaunt in Banaue needs to be maximized instead of just loafing around and be contented with the Banaue Viewpoint--thus Hapao was the best alternative.

Hapao Rice Terraces
More terraces here, there, and everywhere!

Seeing the terraces is an awesome experience as you get to appreciate this engineering feat and indigenous knowledge and heritage of Ifugaos. However, this experience can never be complete without the real and heavenly experience of traipsing on them. My ultimate goal to tread on its paddies and narrow trails becomes a wish fulfilled in Hapao.

Hapao Rice Terraces
The trails can be a little daunting for someone who is afraid of heights. They look flat from afar.

Hapao Rice Terraces
The river at the middle of the trail, where I took a dip. Yes, I had a photo courtesy of my visually-challenged guide--that explains the photo here.

Visiting Hapao makes you feel that child-like fascination of the things you have encountered only in textbooks. It is truly a place of rest and retreat and only allows you to listen to the whispers of the wind and savor that rustic comfort away from the humdrum of urban living.

Hapao Rice Terraces
The looming rain on our way back.

Hapao Rice Terraces
Picturesque view on the side of the hill.

Some notes: 
Reading from other blog entries of fellow travelers, I have noticed some major changes in Hapao and going there.

First, the roads to Hungduan is already concreted. Back in 2009, it was still under construction and most of the roads were still unpaved. I am glad that I still had the chance to see Hungduan in its rustic ambiance. Let's say, I liked what I saw back then. I will have to see if it looks better with concrete roads.

Hapao Rice Terraces

Hapao Rice Terraces

Second, there is that tramline that carries agricultural produce from the road to the lower portions of Hapao Terraces. There was still that view deck but no tramline was obstructing the view for photography. Lucky me!

Be that as it may, Hapao terraces, based on their accounts, is still worth a visit.

See more of Hapao by taking the JUMP!

Blogger's Note: This is one of the series of Back-track--stories from the past that were not written and when travel blogging was still not taken seriously. Hope you come back for more back-tracks!

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Aside from my day job, I love photography and storytelling. Going places--be it a cliche destination or the far side of the road--stoke and free my soul. I dig deeper into the people’s psyche, culture and ethnicity, and heritage. I love to observe how they thrive and build social institutions, preserve their culture and traditions.

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