Monday, March 23, 2015

Philippines 2015 Beautiful Batanes

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Philippines 2015 Beautiful Batanes : 14th-21st March 2015

(Click on above to see a great video on the Batanes)
Batanes is one of the most beautiful spots on earth. It's like a piece of heaven on earth, that one fine day God in His happiness dropped these pearls into the Pacific Ocean for us to enjoy.

The Batanes is a group of ten islands in the far north of the Philippines straddling the South China Sea and the Pacific Ocean, they are the northernmost part of the Philippines. The three largest islands are Batan, Itbayat and Sabtang. The northernmost island is Y'Ami Island (locally called Mavudis) is closer to Taiwan that to Luzon, separated by 160km of the Bashi Channel. It is believed that the indigenous people of the Philippines originated from Taiwan and migrated south to populate the Philippines.
The provincial capital is Basco located on the most commercially developed island of Batan. The locals are called Ivatans and speak their own dialect called Ivatan.
GPS location of the island is 20.451592, 121.980686

1. Batanes is accessible by air via Manila. Philippines Airlines have daily flights from Manila to Basco.
2. For cheaper fares, book the economy fare. There is a restriction as no checked-in luggage is allowed under this fare, only a 7 kg. cabin luggage is allocated; so one will have to travel light. Charge for additional luggage is at 200PHP per kg. (please double check latest at their website)
2. Wi-fi is available but is presently of slow speed. If uploading to the net, do it in the wee hours of the morning when there is less traffic. 
3. The best time to visit is during March and April when daily mean temperature is around 24 to 26 degrees and it is off typhoon season.
4. These islands are one of the few places that bear remnants of the Spanish era, with houses made from stone and thatch roofs still to be seen, especially in Itbayat.
5. At each of the main three islands, visitors are required to register at treasury section of the administration centre and pay a nominal fee.
6. Getting Around:
Motor Tricycle
   On the islands, other than vans or motorcycles, tourists in small groups could travel around in these motorized tricycles that sits three, the roofs are a bit low though.
7. Cycling around the islands is enjoyable, and at the slower pace one gets to see more and interact with the locals. But it is not easy to find bicycles for rent unless the place you stay in so happen to have them. We were unsure of getting rented bikes, so in the end we brought our own.
8. Electricity for the islands of Itbayat & Sabtang is available only form 6:00am to 12:00 midnight.
9. The islanders here are called Ivatans and speak their own dialect called Ivatan.
10. For more tips, read my travelogues which give relevant inside info as we went along.


Below is the link to our travelogues, we cycled there mostly:

These are some of the places of interest we visited, we did miss some.

On Batan Island:
For locations of these places click here for map link.

Stone-houses with thatch roof built along Spanish architecture. Looking like houses from a bygone era. More of these houses can be found at Itbayat.

Colourful wall murals depicting local life, found along the way up to Basco Lighthouse.

Basco Lighthouse at Naidi Hills.

Vayang Rolling Hills.
Hill just covered with light green grass slowly rolling away.

Valungan Boulder Beach.
Huge boulders formed by rounded volcanic rocks lie along this stretch of beach, slowly being lapped by blue breakers crashing onto them.

Remnants of tunnels used by the Japanese during World War 2.

The former house & studio of renown Ivatan artist Pacita Abad. Now it's a boutique hotel.

The Honesty Cafe at Radiwan, Ivana where the adage Honesty Is The Best Policy is well exemplified. No one man the shop, it's up to the customers' honesty to pay and none cheats.

A gallery set up by a cooperative of young and talented Ivatan artist showcasing their beautiful artwork.

On Itbayat Island:
For locations of these places click here for map link.

With it's large caverns it is a spectacular experience being inside there. A bit of hiking is required as no road leads directly to the caves.

View from the plateau above the Torongan Caves. There is a ancient native burial site here.

The Yauran Native Village.
Except for some basic modern amenities; the native still live in thatch houses similar to their ancient ancestors, the Yami. They harvest from the land and cook without much modern utensils.

Boats moored at Paggaraman Port.
To view nice sceneries, visit some of the other less busy ports like Valanga and Paggaraman. There are nice pools of water at Paggaraman suitable for swimming, it is shown on the left of the above photo.

Get a spectacular 360-degrees view of Itbayat from the Karavooban Viewdeck, located at one of the highest point of the island.

Visit the Santa Maria Immaculate Church. Built in 1845, this church is coming close to two centuries old.

On Sabtang Island:
Explore the quaint thatch houses at the various towns & villages. Almost devoid of traffic, walking through these places is like taking a walk into the past.

Visit the many chapels, many named after the lesser known saints and some of unique design.

The house next to the St. Thomas Aquinas Church in Savidug has windows with photo opportunities.

Glorious view of the sea at Chamantad–Tinya Viewpoint.

Go right to the end of the road and visit Chavayan.

Mayahao Arch - iconic natural arch at Sabtang.

Sabtang Church

The islands are renown for their seafood, among which are:

Authentic good Ivatan food.
Find this at Hiro's Cuisine.

The coconut crabs.
Find this at Hiro's Cuisine.

    Flying fish (Dibang):
Deep fried Dibang (this is pickled & sun-dried first).
Fresh Dibang.

The Dorado fish. This can be eaten cooked after being freshly caught. But among the Filipinos, the pickled and cured ones are a delicacy; the fish is filleted slightly pickled with some vinegar and seasoned with salt and left to cure in the wind and sun for two months. They are then smoked overnight before being sold off. Good cured Dorados can cost up to 1,000PHP per kg.

Garlic from Itbayat

Halo-Halo, the perennial favourite Filipino dessert/drink.

Related Blogs :

Useful Maps :
(Click on maps for enlarged view)
Batan Island Map
(courtesy of Ong Kay Swee)

Itbayat Island & Sabtang Maps
(courtesy of Ong Kay Swee)

Basco Town Map

Basco Tourist Spots Map

Ivana Town Map

Mahatao Town Map.

Uyungan Town Map.

Itbayat Town Map.

Sabtang Town Map.

USEFUL LINKS : Batanes webpage, gives updates, trivia, travel help, etc. : Philippines Wiki page on the Batanes : Philippines Airlines homepage for booking flights to Basco, Batanes. : Marfel's lodge homepage, one of a good place to stay. : A very informative guide to Itbayat. : Link to AirAsia airline homepage for flight bookings Kuala Lumpur to Manila. : Link to Philippines Airline page for flight bookings from Manila to Basco. : Link to Cebu Pacific Airline page for flight booking Manila to Kuala Lumpur. : Link to Manila NAIA airport page. : Link to Kuala Lumpur International Airport Terminal 2.


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