It was still dark when I left home that Tuesday for the 6am flight. As I walked out of the house and on the street, I was so very much aware of the early morning silence. It felt like the dark indigo sky and I were sharing a little secret, one which would only reveal itself when the sun makes its appearance.
Haha, di naman, excited lang ako lol. In a few hours, I would be saying hi to Batanes! 🙂
Almost every person I know refer to Batanes as a dream travel destination within the country. I share with them the same dream and just last week, I felt as if the doors of heaven flew wide open for me and the light of the brightest sun came out shining when I was finally able to set my foot in Basco! A dream come true indeed! I embraced the inexplicable joy when I landed to this quiet and beautiful province.
From the airport, Kuya Jaime picked us up and gave us a ride to Timetravel Lodge. Ate Linda, the lodge’s manager, introduced herself at once and led us to our room. I made a quick tour inside the room and felt instantly glad that we chose Timetravel Lodge.
Our North Batan tour, arranged by Travelyoung, was about to start at 2pm so we had plenty of time to do other stuff. While we waited, we biked around town. But before that, I had a short biking refresher course c/o coach Marla lol. I cannot remember the last time I drove a bike but I’m sure it was more or less 10 years ago hehe.
The sun was scorching hot but that didn’t stop us from our little biking trip. Also, we looked for a place to have lunch and our search led us to this little carinderia.
We went back to the lodge to spend the remaining time for rest. At 2pm, Mr. Ryan Cardona, our tour guide, made his first appearance… we’re on our way to our North Batan tour! 🙂
1. Mount Carmel Chapel
First we headed to the quaint chapel of Mount Carmel in Tukon, Batan. It was pretty and it silently stood on top of a hill. The walls are made of stones and they were made beautifully. It was closed when we arrived so we took our time reveling its lovely exterior. We took photos of it and with it. Before we leave though, Kuya Ryan, was able to talk to the chapel’s keykeeper and voila, the chapel’s open and we headed inside.
The inside wasn’t grandiose or sublime but it was made extraordinarily admirable by the paintings. Kuya Ryan said the murals on the ceiling and on the wall were made by the scholar artists of Pacita Abad, a famous Ivatan painter. There are six paintings of saints on the ceiling, each saint representing the six municipalities of Batan: Basco, Mahatao, Ivana, Uyugan, Sabtang, and Itbayat.
My favorite parts of the chapel, apart from the paintings of saints and the angels, were the stained glass windows and the woodworks.
They are currently in need of donations.
2. Idjang Fortress
Our next stop was a short visit to the Idjang fortress. It wasn’t actually a visit because we remained inside the van but as we took a short stop, Kuya Ryan explained what the Idjang Fortress is. But before that, I had an embarassing moment of question and answer with Kuya Ryan. He asked us what we know about the Idjang fortress and I confidently blurted out a very wrong answer. Haha! When I got home, I tried to find where I got that mistake of a description of the Idjang fortress but to no avail. I guess my readings were getting mixed up. (Oh noes, bad sign :S).
Anyway, the Idjang fortress was used by tribes to defend themselves from other tribes or conquerors in times of conflicts. The elevation of the fortress serves as an advantage for defense against the attacking tribes.
3. Dipnayupuan Japanese Tunnel
Kuya Ryan then brought us to what seemed like a hole under a hill. It was an opening to a tunnel of caves used by the Japanese soldiers during World War II, where they hid their injured and their goods. The caves, according to Kuya Ryan, came to be because of forced labor.
We went inside the tunnel, geared with phones serving as our flashlights. My phone was useless though so I depended on my companions, hehe. It was a little adventure and I find passing through that dark tunnel rather amusing. Maybe because of the dark? These days, darkness had been a friendly company to me. (lol emo lang) Well anyway, there was a steep part inside the tunnel but Kuya Ryan assisted us all carefully.
4. Valugan Boulder Beach
We visited the boulder beach of Valugan. These boulders and stones were coughed out by Mt. Iraya when it erupted in the 1400s. The stones were all amazingly smooth, thanks to the polishing done by the tides of the Pacific Ocean.
5. Vayang Rolling Hills
Next in the tour is the Vayang Rolling Hills. This is the part where I imagined myself singing ‘the hills are alive’ haha but of course I didn’t. I, however, did sing a little short song. The view was so beautiful I couldn’t help but sing a praise to the Lord. 🙂
Past the hills is a view of the South China Sea.
By the way, here’s the whole group!
6. Naidi Lighhouse
Still with a view of the rolling hills, the Naidi Lighthouse was our next stop. It was a pretty little structure on top of the hill. The little house adjacent to it as well as the base of the lighthouse were made of stones. The door was painted blue and it was so quaint I loved it. It was another good spot for photo ops and so we did hehe.
While taking a few photos I had a little chat with Kuya Ryan about this lovely lighthouse. Apparently, the Naidi lighthouse isn’t a functioning one after all. It’s more of a decoration in Basco, and it sells. I mean, it’s a favorite tourist attraction in town. Also, the Naidi lighthouse was once a Bed and Breakfast but has been out of service for about three years already. And it’s government owned.
Nearby the lighthouse is a tiny structure painted in white and blue, the Bunker’s cafe. The cafe serves dinner on irregular dates. You need to make reservations first because they don’t operate every night.
7. Dinner Time
Our last stop in the tour is of course, the dinner! The van rode past the trees and dirt roads leading to a lovely home, which is apparently a restaurant and spa.
We were served with Ivatan cuisine and they tasted so good! Wrapped in kabaya leaves, our meals included turmeric rice, luniz, uvud balls, and fish. We also had kinilaw with camote, nilagang baka, and for dessert we had warm carrot muffins.
By 7pm we’re already back to the lodge. I was more than satisfied with the tour I had. Kuya Ryan was nice and friendly, and our tour mates were all so fun loving.
The rocks in my chest that I’ve had since the third month is still there, and I was wishing that this trip would help throw them into oblivion where I could not reach them, or vice versa. Anticipating what to come for the next day, I had a good night sleep. 🙂