The solo adventure begins! After a cry-fest goodbye with Fred at the airport in Bali, I headed off to Manila on my own. After checking in at the hostel, I discovered that the hostel offered free walking tours of the city, and that it happened to be Independence Day, so there would be a lot happening around the city. We did the Intramuros tour (San Agustín Church, Casa Manila and Fort Santiago) and walked through Rizal Park. We ended the day with some beers by the harbour at sunset, where I discovered Red Horse Extra Strong beer, a welcomed change after a month of Bintang Pilsner beer. At night we did a sort of pubcrawl where we ended the night at a bar 71 storeys high, and here I discovered that Manila is the most densely populated city in the world.
After a short stint in Manila it was time to move on elsewhere. As keen as I was to return to the beach, I decided to take an overnight bus up to the north, to a town called Banaue. I heard about the lush 2,000 year old rice terraces that were carved into the mountains of Ifugao by ancestors of the indigenous people. I figured I could spend a couple days there, trekking and exploring the north before eventually heading to the beaches in the south. Once arrived in Banaue, I found a group of three people inquiring about guides for a 3 day hike, and so I tagged along. We wanted to take it easy that day since we were embarking on a 3 day trek the next day, so we went to the nearby hot and cold springs.
Our next stop was in Sagada (north of Banaue) where we did a 3 hour hike through the Sumaguing Cave and then walked through Echo Valley to see the hanging coffins. We were explained that the hanging coffins were used in order to avoid occupying land that could be used for farming and because the people “believe in the light”, or to bring them closer to heaven.
Next stop: El Nido, Palawan!
MellowYellow rating: 💛💛💛💛💛
Travelers tips: I stayed at OMP (Our Melting Pot) in Manila, really enjoyed my stay and the staff are super helpful (free walking tours, pub crawls, helped me reserve my bus to Banaue). We stayed at Banaue Homestay and booked the guide with them, highly recommended. In Sagada we stayed at Sagada Homestay, nice place as well.