Rice Rice Baby

Work was relatively unexciting this week and I went on an incredible excursion this weekend so I am going to focus on that.  On Friday for work we had a new employee immersion for Human Nature up at the GK enchanted farm.  GK and Human Nature work very closely together with their message of bettering the Philippines through business.  The GK farm supplies many of the raw materials for HN products as well as producing on their own many items sold in our stores.  The immersion gave us a tour of the farm and all the ways in which they are able to employ roughly 1000 Filipinos and international interns in total.  The farm was about a 4 hour drive north from Santa Rosa.  After the immersion wrapped up (which I found comical that I just got immersed and I will leave in 10 days) I met up with the 6 other interns from IWU who are stationed at the GK farm and enjoyed for the first time in a while a conversation with familiar individuals in perfect English.

At roughly 8:30pm the group I was with as well as about 8 other farm interns from all over Asia piled into an over-cramped van and got ready to drive through the night north to the Banaue Rice Terraces.  Despite being packed like sardines I didn’t find the 9 hour drive as bad as the rest, it reminded me a lot of my flight to Japan being wedged in the middle seat between two other large football players for 14 hours.  We started our first day with breakfast at 430 a.m. overlooking some of the famous rice terraces before heading over to the famed Banaue Rice Terraces (which the pictures are of).  The views and the hike were incredible and I have come to the conclusion that how sweaty and tired I got just hiking around the treacherous paths that navigate the terraces that there is only one possibility of how these things were made: Aliens.  The trek continued down to the source of the water for the massive rice terraces which is the Tappiya falls at the lowest point of our hike.  We then spent the next two hours fighting an uphill battle back to our shuttle, I can’t lie there were many times along that trail back up I considered just staying and becoming a rice farmer instead of climbing the rest of the mountain, I definitely made the wrong choice as I’m sitting here at my desk 5 days later.  We spent the rest of the day driving to our hostel in Sagada as everyone was wiped out.

The next leg of our journey started bright and early again at 4:30a.m. on Sunday morning.  The road we were planning to take had been closed by a mudslide so after a slight detour we made our way to the the Kiltepan Peak viewpoint in Sagada where we watched the sunrise over the mountains while we were above the clouds.  The combination of the mountains and clouds made for an awesome view.  After enjoying our time there we hopped back in the van and headed over to the hanging coffins of Sagada.  After a short hike we got to see where the natives had been burying their dead as a part of nature as the deceased had wanted, the oldest coffins dated back 500 years while the most recent had been hung in 2010.

The last stop on our whirlwind journey was the mountain village of Buscalan.  After about a 4 hour drive on winding mountain roads we reached the bottom of a trail that led up to the village where the last lady in the world who gives tattoos by using the old hammer and needle technique runs her business.  The lady has become an internet sensation in recent times and has seen her business skyrocket so now she has her tattoo apprentices working too.  My friend Katie was much braver than I and can be seen getting a tattoo on her wrist in the pictures, I was more than satisfied with the spectator role.  With the fresh tats and very tired legs we made our journey back down the mountain to where the van was waiting for us and we head out on the 6 hour drive to Baguio City where we ate a late dinner before making the last 4 hour leg of the journey back to the GK farm arriving around 1 a.m. Monday morning.  I spent the night on the farm before catching a ride back to Santa Rosa later that Monday morning.  All in all the weekend had about 30 total hours of driving but it was more than worth it for the hiking and those views.

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