Road trips generally provide a great opportunity to see what a country is really like. This was certainly true on my recent trip to the Philippines, where I conducted a workshop at TBEX (Travel Bloggers Exchange).
Usually, road trips are planned. Mine wasn’t — rather, our guide into Banaue, Ifugao, conferred with our hosts at Philippines Tourism, and gave us two choices: stay and wait out the arrival of Super Typhoon Haima or head back to Manila a day early. Since airports were already cancelling flights, that meant a 12-hour drive through the country (see the Google map at the bottom of this page).
Here’s a photo journal of my road Trip from Banaue, Ifugao, Philippines, to Manila, Philippines.
Village near Banaue, Ifugao, in the remote mountains of the Philippines. The roads cling to the mountainside with the front doors of homes nearly touching the cement.
High up in the mountains there are some guardrails beside the roads — the people all seem comfortable walking on them, no matter their age. This is a jeepney, the local form of transportation. Every jeepney is unique, from the hundreds I saw.
This jeepney is parked on the highway — there are few turnouts, so if you have to stop, you just stop. The rocks under the front tires keep it from rolling away down the hill! Click here for the history of the jeepneys.
People are very poor in the rural parts of the Philippines, especially the more mountainous areas. Homes are made with wood or cement, along with tin and here, some tarps.
There are many small farms set right beside the road. Most have a water buffalo or two tethered near the house, up to their knees in the lush green grass. Water buffalo milk is an important food and product to sell.
The highway from Banaue, Ifugao, winds through a number of small towns, all looking very similar. Some of the stores are the same as North America — I saw a lot of Yamaha motorcyles and various repair shops, just like home.
Advertisement signs, just like home, are everywhere. Often though, the content is surprising. One of these announces that the Senior High School is ready and they’re accepting applications. Only primary school is compulsory.
Here, there’s a small cement truck (smaller than the average size in Saskatchewan) pouring the cement for a road. High in the mountains, we saw a small crew mixing cement in a hand mixer and pouring it.
The Philippine villages were full of activity with lots of motorcycles and sidecars providing the bulk of local transportation, along with motorcycles. Service vehicles were smaller, more on a European scale than North American one.
This restaurant and roadside stop is in a larger town about halfway to Manila. Travelers can get a meal or a snack or a bathroom break. Be prepared to pay for the bathroom though (always carry your own package of tissue or wet ones too).
These beautiful wood carvings were for sale next to the roadside stop and restaurant.
Here’s a view of a sidestreet with a jeepney and motorcycle. Why the man on top has his face covered with a red sheer cloth though, is a mystery!
As we neared Manila, the land changed to lowlands with lots of marshy areas. Here, the farmers are planting rice. Interested in comparing rice farming to grain in North America? Here’s a report on rice farming in the Philippines.
Rice farming is generally done by hand — in the hills the harvest is mostly still done by beating the sheaves of grain. Here, not far from Manila, a farmer is using a large rototiller to cultivate his land.
I made it back to Manila before the typhoon hit — and it was only a Class 2 there. Seeing the devastation where I had been, though, it was hard to believe we were safe just so few miles away.
Check out the Google map to follow my journey!
I was a guest of Philippine Tourism while I had this adventure following the TBEX Conference in Manila.