Friday, January 16, 2009

Philippines: Bontoc

Bontoc was another one of my favorite places to visit in the Philippines. The size of the town is small, so it's easy to get around. It's in the mountains, so there are a lot of hiking opportunities nearby. And the people we met were all very nice.

The main stretch running through town has a number of hotels, making it easy to find a reasonable room and negotiate a good price. We ended up paying 400 Pesos for a decent room, which is less than $10. On the other hand, it is pretty easy to pay just as much for a meal at one of the hotel restaurants. There are also quite a few small bars with karaoke machines were you can belt out a tune for 5 Pesos.

Nearby is the even smaller town of Malicong, which has rice terraces. While the rice terraces there are not as famous as the ones at Banaue, they are quite stunning. And there are virtually no other tourists there to crowd you. You can pretty much just walk all around them and just see the local farmers doing their work. The road ends in Malicong, but if you do some exploring you'll find another town on the other side of one of the mountains. Somehow, they bring everything they need in on foot from Malicong. One group of men was hauling a pig down through the rice terraces, and then back up the mountain, and on to their village. Jeepneys go to Malicong from near the central market. From Malicong back to Bontoc, I recommend hiking back. It is an easy 5 or so kilometers downhill.

And note that Bontoc is in the Mountain Province, so there is a curfew. Around 10 pm the bars will stop serving and within 30 minutes or so everybody is sent back home.

Motorized tricycles in Bontoc

The jeepney to Malicong

Rice terraces in Malicong

More rice terraces

Locals taking a pig to their village

The path through the rice terraces

A banana plant with flower

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