“Sabit lang ako.”
This was the catchphrase I used whenever I would reveal this super secret destination for my long leave of absence from the office. And I was that through and through. I did nothing to prepare for this trip, save deposit the P10,200 payment for the North Sky air fare and later on, pack my stuff. Oh, I did check out Airphil’s promo fares so we were able to get discounted Manila-Tuguegarao-Manila flights. But that was it. I did not read a single thing about Batanes. Not even the itinerary they sent me. I was all, “For once, I want to be surprised with what I’ll see!” I wanted the Batanes trip to be my break from vacation-planning because I still have a couple more to go before the year ends.
And this all came to bite me in the butt the next day.
We woke up to a light rain and a drop in the temperature. But as they informed me the previous day, Day 2 was beach day! I donned my swimsuit, a singlet from running and some board shorts. We were to go to the Sabtang Island and on the way to the Port of Ivana I only used my malong as protection from the cold.
Before getting on a boat to Sabtang Island, we dropped by the famous Honesty Coffee Shop. Unfortunately, we had a heavy breakfast at DDD Habitat so we were not too keen on eating or having coffee. We were more concerned with emptying our bladders before the 45-minute boat ride.
Across the port was the San Jose de Ivana Church and we did some more picture-taking while waiting for the boat.
The falowa ride was relatively an uneventful one. However, we were seated at the middle part of the boat and very near the motor, so the fumes were really bad. I got really dizzy because of that. I don’t normally get seasick but I was really so close to exhibiting my breakfast, but I managed to hold it in by continuously reminding myself that I have been on boats for longer hours and in worse conditions. But really, I have never felt happier seeing the shore.
Before starting the tour, we first had to register at the Sabtang Heritage House. We got to meet the priest of the island and that was pretty cool, too. Then we were off to our first stop: Barrio Savidug where the traditional houses are. A testament to true bayanihan, each house was built by the entire community.
Our next stop was the Chamantad-Tinian Viewpoint where I would get my first taste of how cold it could get once the Amihan started blowing. We had to do some trekking up the hill and it was there that I realized that I should have brought my winter coat instead of my beach attire. The wind was so strong that Candy had to make sure I didn’t blow away by hanging on to my top. And really, there were times when I was so near to losing my balance and falling off the edge of the cliff.
After struggling up and down the hill against the blowing winds, we had some coconut for refreshments at one of the roadside stores at the top of the hill. One could also have some photo taken using the vakul (Ivatan native headgear) and the yuvok (native basket with strap for the head) for a small fee. Then after that, we headed to the next baranggay, Chavayan, a UNESCO-nominated heritage site.
After the tour of this quaint baranggay, we were already pretty hungry. And we were also looking forward to swimming on the beach already. Despite the cold. So we went to Morong Beach for lunch. Note that this lunch was prearranged. Tourists who plan to wing it and go there without prior reservation would be facing extreme hunger and would miss this wonderful meal.
It started raining before we got to Morong Beach so it also got colder. We had our lunch hoping that a miracle would occur and the sun would suddenly come out in full-strength. Unfortunately, we were disappointed. We went running to the famous rock arch formation but it was merely to shield ourselves from the rain and wind more than anything. I was super cold by that time that I could not really venture away from the rock. Attire recap: running singlet, swimsuit and boardshorts. We weren’t meant to experience swimming in Batanes.
After lunch, we headed back to the port for the boat ride back to Batan. Along the way, we saw some Ivatan lolas on their way home and we all wanted them to ride with us on the jeep because it was raining and cold. Plus, they were a really long way off and they were carrying some really heavy stuff. We also wanted to take a photo with them but they were really shy and were keen to get off the jeep as soon as they could.
This time, we made sure to board the boat last so we would be sitting towards the front and away from the fumes of the motor. After some difficulty in getting out of the port due to the low tide, we found ourselves in for the boat ride of our lives. The waves were so big that I got scared of going overboard. We also got really wet because the boat could not seem to get a good position and timing against the waves. There were times that we would meet a huge wave head-on and we got really drenched. And with that, I would like to take this opportunity to highlight the greatness of ziplock plastic bags. Because I did not have any beach bag, I only took with me this typical bag from Thailand (that I really bought from Chinatown in Singapore) which was all cloth and very absorbent. Good thing I thought to bring a ziplock with me so that my stuff would not get wet during the boat ride. Ziplock really saved my less than 2-month old phone and iPod Touch. It also didn’t matter that it was already old and that I have used it so many time before; it saved me lots of dinero and from lot of grief as well.
After that very exciting boat ride, we had to rush back to DDD Habitat to get some fresh clothes because we had a reservation at the Fundacion Pacita for some coffee. We took lots of photos of the artworks there and there was also a great view of the island from the café’s window.
After having coffee (which really wasn’t much), we went to the admin office to pay for what we ate. It was really frightening so hear the winds howling outside. I kept asking if there was any storm but then again, it was just the Amihan. After paying, we headed back to DDD Habitat but we bought some barbeque along the way.
That night, I found out that I was running a fever after being drenched by the ocean then exposed to howling winds. It was a real lesson to me and that was when I decided that I just might take up Candy’s request on doing a blog post on traveling light.
March 1-4, 2013
to be continued… here.
***photos (unless specified) were taken using iPhone 5
Summary of the Day’s Expenses:
- P1200 van transfer to and from Port of Ivana
- P150/pax round-trip boat ride
- P20/pax water at Honesty Coffee Shop
- P200/pax entrance fee
- P1000 tour guide fee
- P300/pax set lunch
- P100/pax coffee at Fundacion Pacita
- P70/pax camote tart at Fundacion Pacita
- P10 barbeque stick
- P400 chopsuey-like vegetable dish