travel factor: batanes – day 3 and departure

Day 1 | Day 2

Our Day 3 in Batanes was on a Saturday. The weekend! (When we arrived on Thursday I thought it was already Saturday; I got disoriented when I saw schoolchildren on the street.)

This was a continuation of our Batan tour. Look at this view.

Batanes 2014

Batanes 2014

Batanes 2014

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Dumayo pa ng Batanes para mag-taho!

Batanes 2014

This is a boat shelter port. It’s gorgeous.

Batanes 2014

This is the view near the Church of Mahatao.

Batanes 2014

The Spanish influence is clear here.

Batanes 2014

Batanes 2014

Batanes 2014

Batanes 2014

Beauty everywhere you turn. It’s amazing.

Batanes 2014

Batanes 2014

Batanes 2014

Batanes 2014

Batanes 2014

Looks like New Zealand, no?

Batanes 2014

Batanes 2014

For once, I was able to take a picture of the food! We had white snapper, lapu-lapu, sweet camote, chicken, vegetables.

Batanes 2014

White Beach.

Batanes 2014

Batanes 2014

We saw some men with their catch of the day.

Batanes 2014

I bought some cookies at the Honesty Coffee Shop. This is a store owned by two schoolteachers. No one mans the store. The goods on sale have prices, and you can just leave your payment in a tin after writing down your purchases in a logbook.

Batanes 2014

Batanes 2014

Batanes 2014

Batanes 2014

Batanes 2014

Batanes 2014

Batanes 2014

This used to be a military base that they’re turning into a museum.

Batanes 2014

Batanes 2014

Batanes 2014

Just enjoying the view.

Batanes 2014

Dinner set-up.

Batanes 2014

Batanes 2014

Some shells I picked up at White Beach. Before dinner we dropped by a souvenir store, and I bought bukayo and garlic chips to add to the cookie pasalubong stash from the Honesty Coffee Shop.

Batanes 2014

Heading home now. Our flight the next day, Sunday, left at 8AM. (Let’s give credit where credit is due: PAL’s flights on this trip left on time. I was pleased. And surprised.)

Basco’s airport looks like a house. It’s tiny and cute.

Batanes 2014

Ba-bye Batanes. Stay pretty.

Batanes 2014

wheee

Thank you once again to Travel Factor for the hassle-free trip. If you’re interested in signing up for a group tour, you can check out their website. (Just a quick note to say this is not a sponsored post.) Their Batanes trip is around 10k per person, with the following inclusions:

INCLUSIONS

• 3 Nights accommodation (group sharing)
• Airport Transfers in Batanes
• Batan – Sabtang – Batan Faluwa Transfers
• Tours all around Batan Island (Chartered Jeepney)
• Tours all around Sabtang Island (Chartered Jeepney)
• Full board meals
• Travel Insurance
• Travel Factor ID and Lanyard
• PHOTOHOLIC Batanes Tshirt

Not Included:
• Roundtrip Plane ticket

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travel factor: batanes – day 2

Day 1

Batanes is a group of ten islands, three of which are inhabited: Batan, Sabtang, and Itbayat. Do you know that there’s a plane that travels from Batan to Itbayat? The flight will take all of twelve minutes. Or else you can travel by boat over and through gigantic waves.

No plane travels from Batan to Sabtang, so we had to do the latter.

Batanes 2014

We arrived bright and early at the Port of Ivana to catch a faluwa ride. A faluwa is an outrigger-free Ivatan boat that can seat more than 70 people. And motorbikes. The faluwa is designed to just go with the flow, so to speak. It can travel over waves taller than itself, and is perfect for violent seas. So, you know, be like the faluwa.

I unfortunately do not have a photo of it, but here’s one from Choose Philippines to give you an idea:

wheeee

We didn’t fill up the faluwa to the rafters (some people mention feeling seasick in a jampacked faluwa) so the ride to Sabtang wasn’t that bad. But the waves were pretty strong. The ocean looked like wrinkled fabric.

Our first stop. Look at the grass.

Batanes 2014

You can see the direction of the wind based on these trees.

Batanes 2014

Nakabuang Beach. Here we are in front of the famous arc. Thank you to Aica for the photo!

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Batanes 2014

Batanes 2014

Batanes 2014

Batanes 2014

Batanes 2014

We stopped to register at the Tourism office and try their local tea (the sign says “tea” but they call it coffee, so I’m not sure) called tubho. Tubho is made from a fern.

Batanes streets give you sudden, bright accents of color that I love.

Batanes 2014

Hello!

Batanes 2014

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Batanes 2014

Batanes 2014

Batanes 2014

Batanes 2014

Obviously a tourist-y stop. Heh.

Batanes 2014

We also went to see the stone houses in Chavayan village.

Batanes 2014

Batanes 2014

Ate Remy said most Ivatans resort to hollow blocks now, because they’re easier to carry. To paraphrase what she told us, it’s easy to find rocks, it’s hard to find labor.

Like I said, bright accents. Pink curtain, pink door.

Batanes 2014

The lone police officer for the barangay. Mabuhay ka, kuya.

Batanes 2014

Here’s a church with a cogon roof.

Batanes 2014

Batanes 2014

Batanes 2014

Great view out of the jeepney.

Batanes 2014

San Vicente Ferrer Church.

Batanes 2014

The 10 Commandments, in Ivatan.

Batanes 2014

Ivatan reminds me of my mother’s own language (my mother’s from Cagayan Valley), Ibanag.

Small schools for a small population.

Batanes 2014

We headed right back to Basco after lunch. On the way back, the waves were bigger and harsher. One of the men seated at the back suddenly stood up and knocked on the roof to signal to the driver. I thought it was an emergency and oh good I will die here of thirst, surrounded by water. Turned out one of the men caught a deep-sea fish called dorado. The fish was a gorgeous golden color. I don’t have a photo, but here’s one from Reggie Matteo.

Free time! Some members of the group went biking; I re-read Kazuo Ishiguro’s Never Let Me Go and went to sleep.

travel factor: batanes – day 1

This marks my third Travel Factor trip (Pinatubo | Pico de Loro), and my first time to travel with a group of strangers.

Since I booked this trip pretty early, I was a ball of anxiety during the weeks leading up to the flight. So many things could go wrong: canceled flights, bad weather, accidents, terrible roommates. I kept the anxiety at bay by not thinking of the trip at all. I did not buy anything new (I usually buy a new shirt or a new scarf before a major trip, just something small), and the night before the flight I found myself still digging around for a sachet of shampoo I could bring.

It’s funny, Batanes was never on my bucket list. Actually, that’s a strange way to put it, since I don’t even have a bucket list. I mean, it was never on my agenda. It felt like one of those (financially and geographically) unreachable places I would never see in this lifetime (like Paris, France). Plane fares are prohibitively expensive (they can go as high as PhP14,000), so taking a trip to Batanes never even crossed my mind.

And yet, here I am, after having spent three and half days in the country’s most northernmost province. I still can’t quite believe it.

*

I booked the trip and the flights early in the year (around April) and considered it a birthday gift to myself. The flight out of Manila was at 6 AM on a Thursday. I packed just one bag. (Another first! That bag would have been just my overnight bag, if I had allowed myself to get carried away.)

Batanes 2014

I checked in online to avoid the hassle. I met up with Aica, our Travel Coordinator for this trip, got my ID and my shirt, and waited for the call to board.

There was a moment when I heard the announcement about the aircraft being late, and I thought, Well here it is. Me and my imagination of disaster. But the flight left the terminal without a hitch. I got a window seat next to my roommate Lee (but I didn’t know this at the time), and enjoyed the view. It had been a while since I got on a plane and flew in the early morning.

This is Ate Remy, our Ivatan tour guide.

Batanes 2014

Batanes 2014

This is where we stayed for the duration of the trip. Our group is composed of 15 people: couples, solo travelers, moms, fresh graduates, and urban professionals, from the age of 20+ to 50+.

Batanes 2014

Batanes 2014

We had breakfast and had hours to spare. I took a nap before we started our North Batan tour.

Lovely view during lunch. I ate two snails!

Batanes 2014

This is Mt. Carmel Church. They hold Mass here only every first Sunday of the month.

Batanes 2014

Windy day.

Batanes 2014

Church interior.

Batanes 2014

Batanes 2014

This view is in front of the Basco weather station. Batanes is unbelievably postcard-perfect. You can point your camera anywhere and still manage to capture something beautiful.

Batanes 2014

That’s the famous Fundacion Pacita in the distance. You can get a room for PhP8,000 a night.

Batanes 2014

Batanes 2014

Batanes 2014

Batanes 2014

If it looks tiny, that’s because the hotel rooms are underground.

Batanes 2014

Batanes 2014

Approaching Valugan Boulder Beach.

Batanes 2014

Batanes 2014

Batanes 2014

Batanes 2014

Then we went to Rolling Hills. My fave spot. These stupid phone camera photos do not do the place justice.

Batanes 2014

Batanes 2014

Watch your step.

Batanes 2014

Batanes 2014

Oh man. I could sit here for hours.

Batanes 2014

Lighthouse. It’s pretty small when you see it in person.

Batanes 2014

Batanes 2014

Batanes 2014

I climbed up to take a photo of the sunset.

Batanes 2014

I love this blue door. Can’t resist.

Batanes 2014

Tomorrow we got up early for our faluwa ride to the island of Sabtang.