Thursday, January 16, 2014

Batanes Was Never My Dream Destination

Marlboro Country Batanes

If people just live meekly with no wants and just the basic needs to survive then the world will be peaceful; life will be simple with no complications. These thoughts were running through my head as I gaze upon the picturesque landscape of Batanes. It was calm, serene and just perfect and then I stepped on a poop. Carabao’s poop. And then laughter.

I never dreamt of Batanes honestly. It never crossed my mind that one day I will be standing on top of the hills with a very Sound of Music type of scene. Never. Until my buddy called me up one day asking me about a birthday trip/treat, a trip to Batanes. And then I was speechless.

I never checked out beforehand what’s in store for us in Batanes, I was NOT that excited I guess or maybe I just wanted to have some stress-free holiday with no idea on what to expect on this trip.

We arrived early at the airport and grabbed our banig mat and rested it in the middle of the departure area to rest our tired bodies from the bustle of the holiday season. I easily doze off.

Blissfulguro Airport
keber
Checking in was stressful. We thought (our fault) that our tickets came with a free baggage check-in. But as the attendant was telling us that promo fares for their airline don’t come with a free baggage allocation nor an online purchase mode of the prepaid baggage allowance I was stunned thinking about our camera tripod. And then she mentioned that we could purchase their 15 kg. baggage for a little more than 500 bucks. Crazy. 500 bucks for a tripod. Well, everything ended well and they let in all of our baggage (free of charge) after I found some loopholes that ended the fuss. Ask me next time.

So there. After an hour and 20 minutes we arrived at Basco. We are in Batanes. I am in Batanes. I wasn’t as thrilled as the other guests but yes, I am in Batanes. And as I stepped outside the plane, a strong gust of wind welcomed me. Apparently, it was winter season there and just so you know, me and cold weather are not the best of friends. But as I gazed upon the whole place, I smiled and sensed that a wonderful adventure was waiting for me there.

Batanes Airport
Dios Mamajes!
First in order was to find a decent place to stay for our 7-day sojourn. We didn’t get to do some prior research so we just went on and asked the locals about a lodging house or inn. And you know what? Every person (emphasis on “every”) we passed by bowed and smiled at us. As if they knew that we were guests on their island. I thought that they’d only do that to newcomers but then I saw them doing the same thing to their fellow natives; such a warm gesture amidst the very cold weather.

So our feet, and the people, led us to our turquoise blue home for the next few days. It was the Troy Lodge (check rates) in Barangay Kayvaluganan. Its location is perfect; a few hundred meters away from the airport, two blocks from the market and 25 tumblings to the plaza and downtown Basco.

Troy Lodge Basco Batanes
Troy Lodge, our home in Basco
Contact Number: 0910.773.0240

Troy Lodge Basco Batanes

We met the very gracious Ate Marina from the lodge’s first level (which is a mini grocery). She took us to the second level of the house and showed us the rooms. We were the only guests at that time and upon seeing the balcony I was sold. For 300 pesos per person per night, the lodge was quite a deal.

Troy Lodge Basco Batanes

Troy Lodge Basco Batanes
base camp
Food is such a huge problem for budget travelers in Batanes. A regular meal from an eatery would cost you at around 85-100 pesos. That’s quite steep. Good thing though was that Ate Marina allowed us to cook in their kitchen for 50 pesos per day. We abused the kitchen during our stay there. Troy Lodge (book online) truly fits our budget.

Troy Lodge Basco Batanes

On our first day, we opted to dine out and found a panciteria that serves Pancit Batil Patong. It’s the 6 to 8 panciteria along the National Road and in front of the old Ivatan Lodge. We hurriedly went inside and ordered some pancit. Again (and again), we have this thing for Pancit Batil Patong after trying the legit pancit in Tuguegarao and now in constant search for the next best thing.

Pancit Batil Patong Batanes
bakit kaya 6 to 8?
Pancit Batil Patong Batanes

We bought some Chicha-Rabao or Carabao Chicharon that’s also famous in Cagayan; it will be later on used as toppings for our pancit. We get to ask the cook of his origins and we guessed it right, he hailed from Tuguegarao and was employed in Basco to cook this regional favorite pancit.

Chicharabao
chicha-rabao! :)
First taste of the pancit was always the crucial one. I took a huge bite and savoured it for some time. I was never a foodie but when it comes to this dish, I certainly deconstruct the flavors to truly taste it. And what’s the verdict on Basco’s version of this pancit? It tasted good. The carabeef’s taste isn’t overpowering the whole dish. The veggies were not that crunchy but not overcooked as well. The soup though was a bummer. It’s too salty and tasted really bad. Overall, it’s quite a contender for the next best thing after Tuguegarao’s version.

Pancit Batil Patong Batanes

After the nice pancit meal, we headed to the plaza and checked out the scene there. We passed by some ruins of what seemed to be left of an old stone house. It would’ve been much nice if all of the houses were still like that.

Basco Batanes

Basco Batanes

At around 1 p.m. the place felt like a ghost town. There were no people around and it seemed like everyone’s having their siesta break. I can’t blame them; the cool weather was very perfect for slumbering. A very young girl peddling some native bread (bitso-bitso) was circling around town on her bicycle. We tried a piece and it reminded me of a cuapao. It had monggo bean filling and for 5 pesos it was good.

Basco Batanes
5-peso yum
Schools were empty (holiday break), offices were bare and streets were clear. It was just us and the whole town of Basco. Such a nice and relaxed first day; no worries and everything was peaceful.

Batanes National High School Basco Batanes

Batanes National High School Basco Batanes

Batanes National High School Basco Batanes
maraming bisikleta, maraming marami
As we walked around, an art gallery along the National Road got our attention. It’s the Yaku Nu Artes Ivatan. We were greeted by an Ivatan artist Leslie Joy Merina and we chatted for a while. 

Yaku Nu Artes Ivatan Art Gallery Basco Batanes

Yaku Nu Artes Ivatan Art Gallery Basco Batanes

Ivatan local artists converge to this art space and share their art pieces. Paintings, Sculptures and Mixed Media artworks were sold at the shop. We couldn’t afford these pieces and Leslie told us that she could make a special one for us. And we were ecstatic and told her that we could only pay as much. She agreed and asked for an image or an idea for the artwork; we told her to surprise us.

Yaku Nu Artes Ivatan Art Gallery Basco Batanes
Leslie Joy Merina
Ivatan visual artist
The next day we went back and checked out her artworks for us. She handed us two hand painted postcards with the two famous lighthouses in Batanes; the Mahatao and Basco lighthouses and we couldn’t ask for more. We are privileged to have an Ivatan artwork especially made for us; such a treasured piece.

Yaku Nu Artes Ivatan Art Gallery Basco Batanes
we were lucky
It was getting dark and all we could think of was a place to have some cold beer on a cold night. We were still at the National Road when we saw this souvenir shop and checked out what’s inside. We saw this gracious lady carefully weaving some baskets. I wanted to buy one but it was too costly. We ended up buying a few ref magnets and I got to try the Ivatan’s traditional headdress; the vakul. It would be great to receive a basket from Batanes as a pasalubong though (winks).

Basco Batanes Crafts

Basco Batanes Crafts Pasalubong

Batanes Vakul
lumo-lokal
Our journey ended at the Octagon Restaurant. It's at the far end of the National Road. We checked out the beer prices and it suited our budget (82 pesos for 1000ml. Red Horse). The place was so cozy and we stayed at the open area fronting the sea and the nice moon as backdrop. It was very relaxing.


Octagon Restaurant Basco Batanes

Octagon Restaurant Basco Batanes

Batanes Night

With the very chilly weather and me no grumpy with my numerous cover-ups, we headed back to our lodge to call it a day. It was just day 1 and I had this feeling that everything will be great. I never felt so calm and relaxed during the first day of a trip. It’s the warm people, the slow-paced lifestyle, the cheap beers but not the cold weather (haha). I never dreamt of Batanes and the Sound of Music theme. I never liked the mountains (bring me to the beach!). But what I find interesting in this trip was that the revelation of the unknown. The surprises of not expecting anything. That’s it. I'm a convert! Bring me anywhere. Now.









51 comments:

  1. How much did your airfare cost? I wanna gooooo!!!! :)

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    1. you really wanna know michy? haha. 1,400 ata RT. nag promo daw last october eh. sorry, di kasi ako nag-purchase nung tix :)

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  2. I love the last photo :) still dreaming of batanes trip someday!...ano airline and how much? ito ba yung napagkwentuhan natin months ago? haha pumunta ba kayo sa Yami Island? :D

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    1. pal express tel, 1,400 RT na :)

      ano yung yami island? haha. mukhang yummy ah. sabtang lang at batan kami :)

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    2. haha yummy talaga :) alam ko un ung pinaka dulong island ng pilipinas na matatagpuan sa batanes :D hehe! wow! sure win sa 1400! galing! inaabangan ko next post mo! :D

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  3. The last photo certainly is a good shot. I dream of going there..:)
    pm me the cost! hehe..;)

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    1. thanks mhaan. i will do some costing on my next posts :)

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  4. ...waiting for the next post!...nakakabitin un batanes series...sana makapunta din ako jan...
    :D

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    1. hi there! makakapunta ka diyan for sure. madali lang i DIY :)

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  5. Chong, panalo ang first and last photo mo. super love it :) Ako dream place ko yan, share mo naman please IT and expenses ;)

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    1. thanks! pa book ka muna ice bago ka mag IT diyan, madali lang yun. hahaha

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  6. Nadala ako ng slow-paced lifestyle, ang bagal ko magbasa tapos feeling ko nakakarinig ako ng Sound of Music!! Shocks!!! Kailangan ko na magkapagbook paBatanes!!! #Inggitera

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    1. haha. katuwa ka talaga. thanks naman. go na irish bilis! :)

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  7. Gusto ko na rin mag-Batanes :D Sana makapunta ako dyan pero gusto ko summer. Nag-check ako ng rates pero maharlika hehe soon i'll go :D

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  8. wow Batanes kakainggit pero kung mapdpad man ako jan di yung mismong common na pinupuntahan jan, gusto ko mai document yung "The last Samurai" sumuko siya noong President na si Marcos di niya alam na tapos na ang giyera WWII :-)

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    1. whoa! may ganun talaga?! hmm... interesting huh? :)

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  9. helooow! kelan kayo pumunta?:)

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  10. Interesting! Batanes is not also on our list but after reading your snail pace adventure, we might have a second look on this quaint town.

    Naman, nasa Batanes na nga, Pancit Batil parin. hehehe Can't get over it talaga!

    Bagay pala sayo ang Vakul! nabibili ba yan dyan?

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    1. hahaha. yung pansit ang kusang lumalapit samin eh. di ko alam kung bakit. yep, yung vakul is for sale. :)

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  11. Lovely photos, Thank you for sharing! can't wait for Feb. ay pala baka di kami sa Troy's mag stay, nasa Basco ngayon sina Mervin sila nag arrange ng accommodation nami. :)

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    1. aww. sayang naman. masaya sa troy sana lalo na if you get to meet ate marina :(

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  12. At bet ko yung headress , while reading ur post ginising ko si partner ko para planuhin ang aming 5th anniversary sa batanes ..

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  13. sa palagay ko eh hindi parehas ang di pagbabayad ng bagahe nang kayo ay nagchheck-in. kung ano man ang butas na nahanap nyo, maaaring napagbigyan kayo dahil palipad na ang eroplano o marami pang pwesto sa cargo hold ng eroplano. kayo ang nagbook ng ticket sa internet, kaya dapat kayo ay magbayad ng tamang halaga ng pamasahe. i work in airline and i know how baggage adds much to fuel cost that is why lccs charge extra. you should be aware that there are some flights na palugi talaga because most are sale tickets, some seats are empty and to think that you found a "way" to circumvent the airline baggage rules is just frustrating.

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    1. hi jeff! sa tingin ko ay hindi rin parehas na hindi man lang nasabihan sa text o email man lang ang mga pasahero na delayed ng 4 hours ang flight (alam na daw nila ito gabi pa lang). alas kwatro ng umaga eh andun na kami at hiindi kami nasabihan hanggang sa makita namin ang boarding pass namin. at isa pa, hindi kami nanghingi ng pabor na ilibre ang bagahe namin, sila ang nag-offer :)

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    2. cool down guys... survival is the game. one is very lucky and one is not. but we are all created equal. right? .... so, every one of us has an individual purpose in life. but in the end, will be buried six feet under! Explore and enjoy... don't be selfish!

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  14. Batanes is quite outworldly from Pinas... the first pic doesn't look like from our country! Stunning. Awesome. And the last pic, superb. How did you got that shot? It depicts the concept of "dreaming". Thumps-up photo!

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  15. Same baggage issues with PAL. And to think that I checked with their hotline 2 days prior to our trip. It's a bummer before we left, New Year pa naman. Buti na lang, ang ganda ganda ng Batanes, bawing bawin ang stress sa airport.

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    1. true badet. gulatan na lang sa airport!

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  16. 1400 RT!! Sana one day makatsamba din ako ng ganyang kamurang flight to batanes! Dream destination ko to eh!! Hanggang ngayon dream pa din! Haha. Namiss ko magblog at magbasa ng lakwatsha blogs!

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    1. abang abang lang sa mga seat sale chingky! :)

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  17. hong ganda!!! Batanes is in my bucketlist and im planning to go there for my bday treat this year :) tho rock n roll trip lang might to please share your IT and budget :) thanks! I follow you in IG :)))

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    1. go na! batanes is perfect for a birthday trip :)

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  18. This is definitely THE BEST Batanes blog I've read.

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  19. nice reading your article... :)
    thanks for visiting Batanes...

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    1. Thank you din Ryan for all the help :)

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  20. Hello there! I came across your blog via trip advisor. My dear and I will be visiting Batanes if all else turns right with our very hectic schedule. I am much too much anticipating this dream place and I just can't wait!

    I wonder how much a postcard-sized painting of Leslie cost? Please give me an idea.

    Thank you very much for your very informative inputs in your blog. Your photos are wonderful!

    God bless!

    Sincerely,
    Jean Rey

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    1. Hi there Jean,

      Leslie made the postcard-sized artwork especially for us (for we requested for a cheaper version of her works). But she has loads of stuff in the gallery. Please do check it out when you're in Batanes. Thank you so much and enjoy Batanes! :)

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  21. kuha mo po ba lahat ng yan? SOBRANG GANDA nung last picture. na stunned ako.. :)

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    1. Hi Lee. Thanks! :)

      Yep, kuha ko po yan. mga tsamba shots. Hihi

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  22. I want to live in Batanes. The people are nice and the place is beautiful.

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  23. Nakakaliw ng sobra your blog!! :) I'll be in Batanes last week of this month!! I don't have any plans or iti, just want it breezy and relax lang kind of adventure, since this will be my first solo travel!! :))

    PS. Hope to meet you down the road one day!

    PPS. I'm a teacher, too! :'> Apir

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    1. Wow that's Cool. Isang kaguro ka rin pala. Enjoy Batanes Cathy! :)

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