BATANES: The Winds Up North – Part 1 [Solo Travel]

Who would have thought that those vast green hills and marvelous seaside cliffs exist here in the Philippines? You don’t have to look no further because there’s Batanes right here. It has always been a dream of mine to visit this place. I couldn’t go because for the past few years, I thought I wasn’t capable of going on an adventure alone, hence I was waiting for people to come with me. One fateful night after my Japan trip, I was pondering on where to go next. I remembered that I’ve been always eyeing Batanes. I checked through Skyscanner and found a 12k roundtrip ticket with Skyjet airlines. I couldn’t get cheaper promo fares because I’m a spontaneous person who books a flight like a month before.

Days before my flight to Batanes, we were experiencing heavy rain in Manila. I was so scared that my trip might get canceled. Luckily, the morning of my flight was quite a sunny day. The flight from Manila to Basco, Batanes took only about an hour. By the time the plane landed, the first thing I noticed was the huge mountain you could see from the runway. I later on learned it was Mt. Iraya. Basco airport is not as big as the other airports. It was just a small building with a waiting area and a runway. The moment you get off the plane, you need to pay the eco-tourism fee of Batanes (Php 350) where they will give you some sort of pass that YOU NEED when you go to the sites you wish to visit. There are no baggage carousels in this airport so you have to wait for the airline staff to take all the bags out of the plane and get it from where you have entered.

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ecotourism

I decided to stay with Ysabelle Homestay during my time in Batanes. They picked me up from the airport too! There was a bit of a mix-up when I arrived because the current guests haven’t checked out yet, but that was okay. Ate Elma was one of the owners of Ysabelle Homestay and she let me stay in their “extension room” just a few blocks away while waiting for the guests to check out. There I met this adorable little fella called…. *drumroll*  S H  E R L O CK !!!

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You could imagine my excitement because this dog was named Sherlock. I later on discovered that Sherlock had a brother and guess who….. Mycroft! Sadly, Mycroft already crossed the rainbow bridge. Bless the people who named these dogs. I was quite hungry and bored so I walked around the small town of Basco. I asked Ate Elma for recommendations on where to eat and she recommended Beehan. I then had a quick lunch at Beehan which is very near Ysabelle’s extension. I got the Lumpiang Togue (Fried Springrolls with Beansprouts) for only Php 120.

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I need to warn you that there are no fast food or commercialized areas in Batanes. There are only eateries and small canteens. Beehan was a very nice place with good food. It became my go-to place to eat while in Batanes because there were only a handful of eateries in Basco. I also discovered that pork was much more expensive in Batanes than beef and seafood. Feeds were quite hard to acquire in this place as to why pork and chicken are expensive, unlike beef where the grasslands are vast. But if you do get the chance, please opt for veggies if you can.

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I only had 4 days and 3 nights in Batanes so I wanted to start early. I availed of the North Batan day tour (Php 1000) with Ysabelle Homestay. If you’re a solo traveler like me, the cheapest tours you could get were via “angkas” or a motorcycle back-ride. You can also rent a motorbike with Ysabelle homestay. If there’s two of you traveling you can opt for the tricycle ride. For groups, there are the huge air-conditioned vans.

I transferred all of my stuff to the main house of Ysabelle Homestay before my North tour began. In Batanes, there are only a handful of hotels and the rest are homestays. I chose Ysabelle Homestay because of their good reviews. I also wanted to experience staying at an actual house in Batanes. I availed of their non-airconditioned rooms for only Php 450 per day which also comes with breakfast. I had a tiny electric fan in my room which was enough for me. Ysabelle Homestay is no other than a humble home, welcoming guests. I had a huge room and a big bed all for myself. The house was very spacious and Ate Elma’s family was nothing but nice to me.

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My North Batan “angkas” tour started in Tukon Church. It was still under renovation on the day we visited. Such a beautiful structure on top of a hill.

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We then headed on to the PAGASA Weather Station. These are what remain of the area after another typhoon hit Batanes.

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Just nearby the PAGASA Weather Station is Fundacion Pacita, a beautiful hotel/restaurant with breathtaking views.

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I was most excited to see the Dipnaysupuan Japanese Tunnel. This was made during World War II by the Ivatan people when the Japanese forces took shelter in these tunnels. Now this is where that pass comes in. Remember that pass you get when you paid you eco-tourism fee? There will be people checking that so make sure you have it always.

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Next up was the Valugan Boulder Beach. It was kind of sad when I saw a few trash scattered around 😦 Please do bring your trash with you always. Clean as you go.

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We then continued on to Vayang Rolling Hills. I was like a happy child all giddy when I saw Vayang Rolling Hills. It was just like stepping into a postcard. The views were breathtaking indeed. That’s tiny little me in the photo below. Can you imagine how big this place is?

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If you’re wondering who’s taking photos of me, it’s Kuya Tino, my tour guide from Ysabelle Homestay 🙂 They take great photos and don’t really mind if you take a few minutes taking pictures.

We finished the North Batan tour at the Basco Lighthouse. People can watch the sunset here. I have my fear of heights but I still managed to go up the lighthouse to get a view of the town of Basco.

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Seeing the sunset from the lighthouse was a nice way to end the day. At around 6pm we then headed back to Ysabelle Homestay. Again, I had my dinner at Beehan. I had the Tapsilog and a coke for Php 140 this time. I found myself strangely sleeping early that night. Maybe that’s just the province life. As early as 9pm I could no longer hear people outside. I was starting to love Batanes for its peaceful community.

I’m sad to inform you guys that there’s no internet in Batanes. There used to be but after the last typhoon hit the place, all connections were lost. It’s also kind of hard to get some signal. But there are some places where it reaches 3G, just like the area of the Basco lighthouse. If you are really desperate for internet there are small stores or ‘tindahan’ that offer internet connection for a few minutes. You may ask the locals around the Basco area. Though It’s nice to shut yourself off from social media for a few days. If you’re into that stuff and living a laid-back life surrounded by nature, then Batanes is definitely for you.

 

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A small shop that offers internet connection

 

 

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They will give you this so you could enter you password and voila! you can browse the internet!

 

Part two of my Batanes trip can be found here
https://katabelgas.com/2018/03/08/batanes-the-winds-up-north-part-2-solo-travel/

 

If you would like to stay with Ysabelle Homestay in Batanes, check out their facebook page below. You may also contact them using the number below.

Ysabelle Homestay
Santana St. Brgy. Kaychanarianan Basco, Batanes
https://www.facebook.com/YsabelleHomestayBasco/
(+63) 928 234 2542

 

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