Friday, April 10, 2009

Coming In and Out of BATANES - Day 1 and 2


As of the time of this writing, there are no available flights to take you to Basco, Batanes. Luckily, I was able to purchase a round-trip promo ticket via Asian Spirit (now ZestAir) for travel to July last year. Frequency of flights then was MWF.

The time of my Batanes visit was quite odd. It was the season when most thypoons hit Northern Luzon - particularly Batanes. This will be just one those off-the-beaten-track journey I have to endure and enjoy.

Knowing the odds, I scheduled my arrival on a Monday and departure on Friday.  This is more than enough to visit Batan and Sabtang islands.

Prior to my departure, I arranged my accomodation and tour package online via Batanes Cultural Travel Agency. Package includes airport transfer, accomodation, tour vehicle (tricycle), boat rides to and from Sabtang, and municipal permits and fees. Total cost was P6,000 - normal budget for a solo traveler on a strict budget like me.

DAY 1

I arrived in Basco before noon. The weather was fine - sunny and windy. The air was cool and fresh. And the valleys are in deep greens. What a sight to behold! I had lunch in Batanes Seaside Resort where I was also booked for P400/night non-aircon (P800/night for aircon room). I started my tour of the northern part of Batan Island. Here you will see the Basco marker, Radar Tukon (Pagasa weather station), Fundacion Pacita, Idjang (stone fortress up the hill), Valugan beach, Naidi Rolling Hills with nice view of Mt. Iraya, Basco Lighthouse, Basco Cathedral and plaza. Price of the tour starts at P1,600 and can be arranged through your hotel.

My tour finished right after sundown. Back in the hotel, electricity went off and the whole place turned dark and silent except for the relaxing sound of the waves and slashing coconut leaves swaying rapidly with the wind.

Basco welcomes you to Batanes
Radar Tukon
Idjang Hills
Fundacion Pacita
Fundacion Pacita
Valugan Boulder Beach
Naidi Hills
Naidi Hills
Naidi Hills
Naidi Hills
Naidi Hills
Basco Lighthouse
Basco Lighthouse
Sto. Domingo Church - Basco Cathedral

DAY 2

I can see heavy rain clouds coming from the west that morning and I knew it will reach the island in a couple of hours. This time, I was scheduled on a southern tour of Batan. We started the tour by dropping by the Mahatao view deck. It rained so hard and we waited until the rain was gone. Off on the road to Mahatao Town proper, we managed to drop by the white beach with natural stone curvings and majestic twin hills view, and the San Carlos Borromeo Church. I was so astonished by the "BLOW UR HORN" marker at the side of the road I had to take picture while sitting on top of the marker.
Mahatao View Deck

Mahatao shore below the viewdeck

San Carlos Borromeo Church in Mahatao

Mahatao beaches

Mahatao beaches

Twin peak in Mahatao

Blow Ur Horn road signs

Next stop, the town of Ivana - the point nearest to Sabtang. People going to Sabtang take the boat from Ivana Port. Here is where the very famous Honesty Store is located. Also you will find the House of Dakay (now a World Heritage Site), the oldest standing Ivatan house.
Ivana Rock Formations

House of Dakay

San Jose Church - Ivana

Honesty Coffee Shope


Moving on to the next town, Uyugan, where hills and seascape are sights to behold. Truly a work of wonder, the Scotland of the Philippines really got what it takes to be called as such, and even more.

Native Ivatan house in Uyugsn

View from the cliff - Uyugan

View from the cliff - Uyugan

View from the cliff - Uyugan

Song-song (ghost town) - Uyugan

Me wearing a Vakul

The last stop of our tour is the Itbud town. Here is where you will find the old Dekey-a-Kanayan Loran Station - an old weather and radar station built by the Americans during WWII. And the relaxing view of the sea and white beach in Imnajbu, the last stop for all forms of transportation here in Batanes. Beyond Imnajbu, left is a trail for farmers to walk up and down the hill to market their goods. Quiet noticeably is the serene atmosphere in this small barangay inhabited by around 300 people only. The church, schools, and even the barangay hall were open - yet no one was around!

Dekey-a-Kanayan = Itbud

Cliffs - Itbud
Empty with people -  Itbud Town

The past two days were blessed with very good weather, thus very fulfilling. But that second night I heard from the news that typhoon Helen, with strong winds reaching more than 100kph, was headed directly towards Basco and will reach the island the following morning. Perfect timing! Next - Day 3.
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