Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Batanes: A Walking Tour Around Batan Island (North Tour)

Walking Tour Batanes

A walking tour around Batanes. Not your usual and convenient type of tour but certainly the best way to experience Batanes at its best. Certainly. Well, you have to get some tough footwear for this kind of trip. Just a warning.

First things first. Batanes is a Philippine province that is composed of around ten islands; the only inhabited ones are the Sabtang, Itbayat and Batan. Batan Island is where Basco town is (the provincial capital). Our initial plan was to explore the three islands during our stay there. But then, things don’t always go as planned.

So after feeling the vibe of Basco, we immediately embarked on a journey that is not so popular, a walking tour of Batanes. Yes, me and my buddy ditched our plans to hire a tricycle for the North Tour of the Batan Island to save a thousand bucks and explore the place more by foot.

Actually, I didn’t know what I have gotten myself into. But, hey I’m always up for an adventure. I really didn’t mind walking but the cold weather in Batanes was what I was most concerned about. I have this very low tolerance to chilly weather but with great fervour in exploring the unknown, I indulged. It’s not everyday that you get to experience some in-your-face awesomeness (with no entrance fees or whatsoever). And I must tell you; some of these places are far from Basco town. If you are not that fit or comfortable with walking then you would rather rent a motorbike or a serviced van instead (around 1,500 to 2,000 pesos plus the tour guide fee).

First stop was the Basco Church or the Our Lady of the Immaculate Concepcion Cathedral which was built during the 1700s. The original roof was made up of cogon grass that's also a famous type of roofing for the stone houses. It's located near the plaza or the town hall.

Our Lady of Immaculate Concepcion Cathedral Basco Batanes

Our Lady of Immaculate Concepcion Cathedral Basco Batanes

Next stop was the Basco Lighthouse which was relatively near our lodge, we asked around on how to get there and people were eagerly pointing us to the right direction passing through the plaza and stuff. It was a good stroll I must say, I didn’t wish I was inside a closed van or a serviced tricycle. It was a fun walk.

Upon reaching Naidi Hills, I noticed a very white and blue bunk house near the lighthouse. They said that it used to be an American facility of some sort which they turned into a café. The Bunker’s Café serves some pre-ordered meals (reservations only) at around 300 pesos per person. Dining with the stunning view of the hills, the Baluarte Bay and the lighthouse was the steal of the deal. Having dinner there would be nice if only we had loads of bucks to spare. Moving on…

Basco Lighthouse Batanes
Bunker's Cafe
Then we headed to the lighthouse. Apart from two locals, we were the only ones who were there at that time. The majestic lighthouse stands still in spite of the harsh gust of winds. It’s so picturesque. And we were just starting!

Basco Lighthouse Batanes
no fees?!
Basco Lighthouse Batanes

Next stop was the Vayang Rolling Hills. We strolled some few kilometers just to get there. We passed by some locals, bikes and some poops. I now understand why the hills and mountains are perfectly grazed, it’s because of the goats, carabaos and cows who are left there during the day to eat some grass. I wondered all those time if they even get full with all of the green stuff they munch.

Vayang Rolling Hills Batanes
I am not in the Philippines, tell me...
Vayang Rolling Hills Batanes
such a common sight
Vayang Rolling Hills Batanes
braving the cold weather on a summery outfit
The Rolling Hills was the Batanes I imagined. The boundless mountains and hills with the perfect view of the sea are certainly breathtaking. We spent a good one hour just chasing the wind and rolling down the hills. Well no, I wish I did that though.

Vayang Rolling Hills Batanes

Due to our cheapskate mission, we went to explore the rest of what normally a Northern Tour of Batan Island would be the next day. Armed with a huge bottle of drinking water and some loads of stuff (cameras and other gadgets) we went on to the second day of our agony Batanes adventure by foot.

I didn’t know what to expect so I just followed my buddy on wherever he leads me. I was in a very good mood that crabbiness wasn't in my vocabulary that day.

After about an hour or so (got no sense of time ‘coz of the lovely place) of non-stop walking on this paved steep road, we reached the Tukon Church. This stone church is a favorite wedding destination of some. They would transport the whole clan to Batanes just to experience getting married on a nice church and with a great view. Romantic indeed.

Tukon Church Batanes
trying to capture its beauty
Tukon Church Batanes

I was taken aback of the view at Tukon Church. The beautiful seascape on one side, the landscape on the other and children playing on the school nearby were perfectly en sync. I thought I never get to appreciate the uplands but this changed everything. And we’re just on our third destination eh?

Tukon Church Batanes

Tukon Church Batanes
the only one inside
After that, we headed to the Basco PAGASA Weather Station and stopped by on a shed and chatted with some locals there. Sipping a nice hot coffee would’ve been perfect though. And then we moved on.

Batanes
no alcohol please
Batanes Hills

Still not knowing where to go and was constantly reminded to just chill (not literally) and wait, we headed, again, to the paved road and kept my calm for the next surprise.

It was the Fundacion Pacita; the house of the Abads (one of the prominent families in Batanes) that was turned into a whole complex of hotel rooms, villas and restaurant. If you have some moolah and want to wake up with a perfectly nice view of the sea and the hills then you should stay here. Getting to and fro the Basco town is quite a task though for you have to wait for quite some time for the shuttle to collect you.

Fundacion Pacita Batanes

Fundacion Pacita Batanes

We then passed by Idjang which served as a bastion for early Ivatans.

Idjang Bastion Batanes

And then we were teleported to the Sound of Music set. Vast greeneries, endless mountains, horses, cows, the mighty Mt. Iraya and the very nice locals were the next part of our voyage. You wouldn’t believe how extensive everything is until you get to see it. We had some couple of stops just to remind ourselves that this were all not make-believe (and yes, we got tired too).

Batanes Stunning View
endless stunning views
Batanes Stunning View
onion farmers
Batanes Stunning View

Batanes Stunning View

Batanes Stunning View
I can stay for a day on that spot, just feed me right
Batanes Stunning View
I get tired too
After the movie-like scene, we headed on to the Dipnaysupuan Japanese Tunnel. This used to be a shelter for the Japanese soldiers during the World War II. Believe it or not, they went up north to Batanes. And from what I heard from a local, the tunnel was built by the early Ivatans through slave labor. Very sad.

Dipnaysupuan Japanese Tunnel Batanes
me got no flashlights :(
And so we went back to our humble abode and ended the day with a beer in high spirits. I couldn’t believe that we made it that far. And it made me realize that it could be done; the walking and taking-your-time style of exploration. And everything didn’t end just right there.

The next day, we woke up very early (5:30ish) to catch the sunrise at the Valugan Boulder Beach. I’m very allergic to the word “boulder” for I have a very stressful but fun experience hopping from boulders to boulders at Hydro Falls in Baguio City. But then I fought that doomed feelings and went on with the day’s plan.

We went to the Basco’s tricycle terminal (which is open 24 hours, on-call) to get a ride to the beach. A 60-peso trike ride brought us to our destination. The chilly weather blew my head off. I was literally freezing to death and wasn’t moving for some time (thanks to the winter season).

When the light slowly engulfed the whole area, we hurriedly went to the shore. Well, there’s no shore but huge rocks, stones, boulders and whatever you call those things. They were huge. Like some were bigger than I am.

Valugan Boulder Beach Batanes
for reference
Valugan Boulder Beach Batanes
the water was tempting but the rocks weren't
Valugan Boulder Beach Batanes

Valugan Boulder Beach Batanes

We silently waited for the sun to show up to get a glimpse of what they say as the majestic sunrise at the Valugan Beach. And indeed it was such an amusing view (popcorn na lang ang kulang).

Valugan Boulder Beach Batanes Sunrise

I remembered a remark from friend of a friend of a friend; Ang ganda ng sunrise, parang sunset! And now I truly understand what he meant. Yes, sunsets are perfectly great but this particular sunrise was the bomb. If my buddy could’ve only seen my overreaction to it.

And so we went on again by foot; literally by foot for my buddy’s sandals retired on the beach. This half of a supposedly resilient pair of slippers got tired. But not us. Not yet.




43 comments:

  1. Ang ganda nga ng sunrise parang sunset. Bookmark ko tong post mo. I thought mandatory ang tour guides. Kaya pala ang DIY tour in batanes. Thanks for sharing - lakwatserong tsinelas

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    1. yep yep mark. medyo lakaran ng matindi nga lang pero kaya naman! :)

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  2. Lovely pictures! Kelan din kaya ako makakapag Batanes! Hayyy

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  3. Ganda! Namiss ko tuloy ang Batanes. :D

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  4. ganda ganda! what to bring? torn between running or trekking shoes, parang ang sarap tumakbo dito hahaha

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    1. haha. running shoes nalang para makatakbo ka ng bongga nath:)

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  5. I was hoping for a few shots of their honesty store, but all your pics here are captivating especially the rolling hills. Sobrang ganda!

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    1. hi yana! the honesty cafe is part of the south tour (which will be my next post :)

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  6. Para kang nasa New Zealand

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  7. How did those humongous boulders got there? From vulcanic eruptions?

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    1. hi bert! feeling ko sa mga rocky mountains eh. nahahampas ng malakas na alon. well, theory ko lang yun. hehe

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  8. Ang ganda ng photos, New Zealand lang ang peg, sana makarating din ako dito... :)

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  9. No wonder bkit ginawan ng movie na batanes starring iza calzado at yung f4 member , gondo parang gusto ko dyan magpakasal

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    1. oh yes! go na bilis. nice wedding destination. ubusan nga lang ng pera sa airfare ng mga kamag-anak. haha

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  10. wow.. can't wait for my batanes trip... keeping my fingers crossed... sana walang aberya..
    great post :)

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    1. here's hoping for a nice weather on your batanes trip :)

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  11. bakit so ganda ng pics lalo na ung tubig na sa may batuhan.

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    1. haha tsamba shots lang yun. thanks naman :)

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  12. You captured the contours of the rolling hills perfectly!
    All in all great pictures! Makes a trip to Batanes even more tempting.

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  13. thanks for sharing this.. I got a got glimpse of Batanes and it can offer.

    'Hope we exchange links too.

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  14. We didn't see the Idjang! Sayang :( But I love your walking tour, if we didn't have a 3 yr. old toddler in tow, we'll hitchhike and explore Batanes just like you did.

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    1. might as well hitchhike with your baby huh? hihi :)

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  15. Good day! I'm a tourism student and we are required to make a local tour package, I chose Batanes because it is indeed, amazing! But I find it difficult to finish this since i haven't been there. Can I ask for your help to make this project possible? I would be grateful for your response.

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    1. hi there jonathan. no worries, just buzz me thru email :)

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  16. :) nice walking tour...

    thanks for considering our province BATANES!

    www.discoverbatanes.com

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  17. Hello, ask lng po..can you still remember kung gaano kalayo ung nilakad Naidi hills from Basco?

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    1. Hmm... Di ko maalala Aleli eh, sobrang relaxed kasi ng pace namin. hihi

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  18. wow! grabeng lakad yan, from basco to naidi to valugan! just a tip though: sa mga mahilig sa fitness activities , you can ride a bike from basco to south towns , there are 2 routes , you can opt to ride the maid road ( the cliffside road type, sa kabila is either beach or cliff din) or yung tawag nilang interior road ( rollings hills left and right) , if you're not into biking , best to ride a single motorcyle, the end destination is same, the southernmost most town of batan, Imnajbu. ^ ^

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    1. Wow! Thanks Toni. Will definitely try that pagbalik :)

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  19. Hi BG! May I grab some your Batanes pics, will be keeping the watermarks of course. You inspired me to write my own version of my trip in Batanes hehe
    Here's our past trip there http://biyahengpandesal.blogspot.com/2011/10/batanes-batan-island-tour.html
    Thanks BG

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  20. girl, ang ganda at ang saya saya basahin ng blog mo :) punta ako batanes for a week end of october, gusto ko maglakas at mag-bike lang din :)

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    1. Go go go sa pagbbike! Medyo nakakapagod nga lang. Hehe

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