Before I discovered the wheel I was an avid hiker, and when I first travelled to Asia I brought along my hiking boots and Gore-tex and got into the mountains every chance I could. This little trek was the first one I did.
Batad is an ancient village high in the Cordillera mountains in the northern part of the Philippines. In 1995 you had to walk there from a road about an hour or so from Banaue by jeepney – today I think you can get a ride the whole way up. If Malana is the most bizarre village I have ever visited (see Flashback #9), Batad has to be the most idyllic. When I went there was no electricity, no Bob Marley Greatest Hits playing on anything, and still a few old guys walking around in g-strings (the village practiced cannibalism up until the 20th century…unrelated to g-strings I realize, but I had to add it…). I stayed in a guest house at the top of the valley and the view was pretty close to the first photo below. Every inch of this steep valley had been turned over to cultivation, probably of everything from rice to carrots (an assumption on my part, but the difference in altitude might allow for it), and walking along the terraces was a joy.
Another thing that made this spot special was the fact it was all still used. Near Banaue, more famous for its terraced rice paddies, many of the farmers had left the land, and what remained was a patchwork of green and brown. The postcard picture couldn’t be found there anymore. Batad, at least 15 years ago, was still intact.