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Full Circle

Day 89: Manila to Banaue

Michael Palin - Full CircleThis morning we can see them clearly from the helicopter which is taking us far into the mountainous north to see the fifteen-hundred-year-old rice terraces at Banaue, which have been called nothing less than the Eighth Wonder of the World.

We bank out over the bay and inland to where the city suddenly ends and the wide green fields and golden-brown agricultural plains of central Luzon begin. Smoke drifts from burning rice stalks and rivers meander lazily through villages squeezed around with thick green trees. Our progress is reflected in the mirror-like surface of flooded paddy-fields. The pilot, Luis, an archetypally dapper, moustachioed Spanish-American, follows the broad course of the Magat River for an hour or more. The mountains begin to close in around us. The weather deteriorates and Luis wheels and turns and banks and tries to find a break in the cloud base. I begin to suspect that he's not absolutely sure where the Eighth Wonder of the World is. After some consultation Luis explains the situation. We are at 2700 feet. The cloud base is a further 500 feet above us. The Eighth Wonder of the World is a thousand feet above that. He cannot fly into the cloud, but will fly us down the valley to a town called Lagawe where we might find alternative transport. Luis now becomes Action Man. Briskly he lands the helicopter in the only place where he has room. This happens to be the school playing field where a game is in progress. Oblivious to the scattering footballers, Luis sets us down, hailing a passing jeepney as he does so.
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  • Series: Full Circle
  • Day: 89
  • Country/sea: Philippines
  • Place: Banaue
  • Book page no: 131

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