Two years ago I was in Egypt marveling at the Pyramids of Giza. Each one is a masterpiece that took numerous laborers years to build, but the final product has endured for thousands of years through wars, famines, and droughts. While I was standing inside the Pyramid of Khafre, I remember thinking how surreal it seemed to be encompassed by an object that I had studied about for so long.
These structures were meticulously designed for the sole purpose of being the final resting places for their respective Pharaohs. Each one required many people to work together to create a lasting monument that would endure long beyond their lifetime.
On the other side of the world in the small mountain village of Banaue, Philippines, farmers as far back as 4,000 years ago began creating a series of rice terraces that would over time become the largest of its kind in the world. Even though it is not as well recognized across the globe, the feat they were able to carry out is still noteworthy. If you put the steps of the terraces end to end, it would encircle half of the globe.
This is the biggest and most well-known of all the tourist destinations in Philippines so obviously I wanted to see it for myself. It took a lot of work to try to figure out how to get to Banaue since it is very secluded, but eventually we got all of it worked out.
When I woke up from the van that I had slept in the night before, I got to witness the sun coming up over the terraces and reflecting off the water that filled the river down below. This would be the start to an exhausting yet rewarding day as we trekked through narrow paths and up steep embankments to get a better look at the man-made wonders.
After hiking for hours to reach the mountain village of Batad, I spoke with some of the local people and hosted an impromptu basketball camp for some of the children at the school. I feel like I was able to get a good slice of the local flavor and tourist side all in one. If you are going to Southeast Asia, you must make a stop by the rice terraces to witness the massive amount of handmade work that has been done over the course of thousands of years.