The province of Batanes, composed of ten islands, lies at the northermost tip of the Philippines, about 860km from the Philippine capital. Of the ten islands, only the three largest are inhabited - Batan, Sabtang, and Itbayat.
A regular roundtrip ticket to Basco (Batan island) from Manila would cost Php 12,000+. Ouch. Batanes had to wait. And wait, I did. Two years. Grabbed the chance to go to Batanes when SEAir had promo fares for Basco. March 2011 was it.
Peeking out the window of the 32-seater plane after one and a half hours, I was greeted by the greens of Batan and the blues and whites of the raging Pacific.
Touchdown Basco. And my first dose of Ivatan kindness. At the airport I asked a police officer for directions on how to get to Ivatan Lodge, where I will be staying for the next few days, and received an offer for a ride as an answer. Way to welcome a visitor!
With my limited budget, I chose the Ivatan Lodge (single 300/double 400/triple 600). The rooms are located on the second floor (government offices occupy the ground floor) and are quite big with its own bathroom. Not too shabby! But there is no restaurant, just a small dining area with a refrigerator and a water dispenser. You'd have to look elsewhere for your meals. And elsewhere can mean just next door or a five-minute walk.
Finding the first place that offered breakfast, Shanedel's Inn, just beside Ivatan Lodge, I ordered what was recommended --- one-day old daing with egg and garlic rice. Good thing I had finished my food before asking for the bill or I would have choked --- that simple meal cost me Php 120!
View from Shanedel's Inn (left) and the 120-peso breakfast (right)
Day one was spent walking around town and wherever my feet could take me. If you had read my previous post, then you know I only recently learned to ride a bike. A bike would have been a great way to explore the island of Batan. Yes, there are bikes for rent at Batanes Cultural Travel Agency. Another option is to rent a van but the van rental is for the whole day. No half day rates, thus the decision to just walk it the first day.
Basco is a quiet little town with boats parked on the streets and not cars; where everyone you meet will greet you good morning/afternoon/evening, whatever the case may be, with a smile on their face; and with, unfortunately, too few stone houses left.
Street parking for boats
An abandoned stone house
My legs brought me to the Church of Sto. Domingo de Basco, Basco Lighthouse, Mt Carmel Chapel, Fundacion Pacita, and PAGASA station. But I will leave that for another post.
PS While walking around, I found out that the airport is just a 10-minute walk from Ivatan Lodge. Mental note: walk to the airport on departure day.
A note on accommodations:
Ivatan Lodge and Batanes Resort are both government owned. The contact number for Ivatan Lodge/Batanes Resort is 0908 882 4510. Other options are Batanes Seaside Lodge [0921 229 0120], Shanedel's Inn [0920 447 0737], Pension Ivatan (right next to the airport), Fundacion Pacita (the most expensive).
How Batanes bore a hole thru Mustachio's pocket:
Will reveal the magic number after this series :-)
If you missed my other Batanes posts, do not fret:
Hello Batanes (you're here!)
Northern Batan on Foot
Northern Batan Not By Foot