Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Batanes Diary 2. Finding Our Way to the Hotel

We had made reservations at the DDD Habitat Inn. This was our third choice since our two previous choices were fully booked. We could not find tricycles at the airport (no, there are no taxis in Batanes), so we asked around and were told that the hotel is a short walk from the airport. 

The walk was pleasant as the roads were clean, and almost empty - there are very few vehicles in Basco. 

Trolley bags made the walk fun and easy.

 We were excited to see our first stone house.

Slices of turmeric drying in the sun by the side of the highway - the Ivatans (natives of Batanes) use turmeric to color their rice

Orchid blooms looking out onto the street, as if to welcome us

After a leisurely walk of about 10-15 minutes, we're finally here!

Our home in Batanes

Check-in done - six of us in one room (2 big double beds and one bunk bed), and two in another room, with a bathroom in between.  It all came down to the grand sum of P350/person/day! I mean, where can one find  decent lodging that cheap?  With free wi-fi internet to boot! 

There was another bathroom beyond the kitchen, a few steps away. Airconditioned rooms, no hot showers, but the hotel provides those portable water heaters that you dunk in a pail of water. Lots of fresh water; a dining room with thermos jugs of hot water, sachets of instant coffee, and a plastic cabinet full of plates, mugs, forks and spoons.

Guests are allowed to use the small kitchen to cook their own food, although simple meals may be ordered. We ordered our first meal in Batanes - instant coffee, steamed rice, fried eggs and fried flying fish (dibang).  The fish was tasty although a little bony; it fortified us for all the thrills that were forthcoming, though. 

"Like all great travelers, I have seen more than I remember, and remember more than I have seen." - Benjamin Disraeli

DDD Habitat Lodging House
Lopes St., Barangay Kayvaluganan, 3900, Basco, Batanes
(02)3304937; +639065177580; +639993463590

Batanes Diary 1. How To Get There

Batanes is the northernmost province of the Philippines and is considered remote, unspoiled and raw. We wanted to find out for ourselves if this was still true.

If you're in the Philippines, getting to Batanes is easy via Manila. Pal Express (of the Philippine Airlines group) has flights to and from NAIA 3 daily at 6am (!) using the Bombardier Q400. It's a 76-seater turboprop that flies quietly and smoothly. 

Photo from Pal Express website

Regular fare is P7,000. one-way, but we waited and waited for promo flights, and got ours at P7,000. roundtrip. Half-price!  Life is good!

Basco is the destination to look for - it's the capital town of Batanes, and is located in Batan, the biggest island in this cluster of islands. 

After a smooth 1 1/2 hour flight (we all were asleep through most of the flight), we were excited to see this.

What surprises awaited us, Batanes? We're a long way from Davao City!

The closer to the airport we got, the  more structures we saw...

The beautiful Mt. Iraya behind Mats welcomed us. Although Mt. Iraya last erupted in 1454, it is still considered an active volcano.

All eight travelers accounted for, and happy to be at the stone house-inspired airport terminal before 8am. The early arrival meant we had the whole day to start our Batanes exploration! We were ready, Batanes!

"Travel...the best way to be lost...and found...all at the same time." - Brenna Smith