Friday, August 13, 2010

time-warped Chavayan Village, Batanes (it's like ugly is banned here)


The time-warped Chavayan Village. Photos don't do justice, I tell you

The back of the village is delicately cradled in the bosom of the mountains, its front plays intimate with the dark blue ocean. The only road to the village is through a snaking one-lane drive on top a hill cutting through volcanic boulders. It snakes through treacherous bend after bend the height of a 20-storey building then it gradually goes down, gracefully so, until it ends near where Pacific Ocean begins.

The houses here withstood the test of time and the unforgiving, albeit unpredictable weather. The afternoon I set foot in the village it was hot and muggy but a few heartbeats later, the sky darkened and soon the heavens opened and cleansed the whole village with the unforgiving rain. The ocean was a mist. The mountains, all gray.

The downpour was gone quickly in the same manner it arrived and the sun with its honeyed light bathe the village that late afternoon in Chavayan.


Thursday, August 12, 2010

Around Batanes on the Cheap

Eight hundred pesos (Php800.00) for a 24-hour rental ain't that bad. Gas included.

This is not a motorcycle

This is not a bicycle either!

I have issues with chauffeured tours. Checking out the sights with somebody waiting or rushing me in every stop doesn't sit well with me. I'd rather take public transport than be at the mercy of the driver moonlighting as guide. I know, local information is vital to fully appreciate the back stories of an old house, church and what-not. In that case, I'd do tons of homework before the trip or hire the services of a licensed tour guide.

Batanes Homestay in a street called Babat!

Marboro Country ||| photo lifted from this site >>>

"It's only five minutes walk from the airport."
"If we hire po a tricyle, magkano po kaya ang pamasahi?"
"The fare is around thirty pesos. Di na lalagpas ng trienta," (Won't exceed thirty pesos) she added.

Basco, the capital of Batanes Province, is a quiet little town that sits in the shadow of an active volcano.

Basco Airport + Mt. Iraya (photo: creative commons)

Basco was a ghost town the morning W and I arrived. The quietude wasn't exactly overwhelming as I thought it would be while we walked along the deserted streets to look for the homestay I fished out in google months before. My phone call minutes earlier was left unanswered so I had to make sense of the information "just look for the house of Doctor......" But the name escapes me. It had been a week since I spoke with the lady over the phone.

Like little poblacions everywhere, Basco is a tight-knit community. Easy does it! The blocks of houses are arranged neatly in a grid. The delightful mix of  traditional Ivatan houses sit alongside the new ones. Old houses made of limestones or corals alternating with a miniature villa plucked from nowhere. 

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Batanes: rough seas, turbulent skies and bumpy ride. Or is it?

"Window seat, exit row," with a knowing smile, I'd tell the lady behind the check-in counter.
"Nice view, pseudo-business class leg room..." insert these in my thought bubble whilst I wait for the printer to cough up my boarding pass.

It's always my seat of choice every time I fly.

But if I fly with my girlfriend W (she apparently prefers aisle seat) on an aircraft like the A320-200, my window seat has to, well... take the back seat (pun intended). For me, chivalry is still alive *rolls eyes. kidding!*

weather-beaten. the rugged landscape of Batan--the main island in Batanes

That said, I always end up in the middle seat sandwiched between W and some random passenger  (who can keep his/her peace since I don't usually engage in small talk. My other seatmate was an old lady last time) since the girlfriend prefers aisle seat. I'd be lucky if the flight uses the twin-aisled A330-300 since I can have my window seat and she, the aisle seat.

dreaming of Valugan Beach whilst on-board

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Batanes on a Shoestring: from to domestic airport

It's day one! Departure day!

early edition photo: time-warped Chavayan Village
early edition photo: a cafe in Basco town
early edition photo: local souvenir + thrift shop in Basco town

early edition photo: biking around Batanes
early edition photo: Valugan Beach

This trip to the northernmost province of The Philippines took ...
15 years to plan,
4 months to trim and
7 days to really, really execute (and yes, 2 months to save the moola)!