Batanes | An Extraordinary Place

Im a person who is hard to please. When it comes to traveling, I never agree that a place is excellent until I experienced it myself. The word "famous" is never synonymous to "superb", at least for me. Traveling is subjective. What could be amazing to you could be ordinary to me, and vice versa.

Batanes, the Philippine's northernmost province, is undeniably one of the most famous and most raved for spots in the country. I became curious of course, but I am never convinced (yet) that it is indeed a lovely place. Not until I finally experienced the surreal beauty of Batanes.

breathtaking Batanes indeed!

Manila to Batanes
○ Last October, I got lucky and scored my roundtrip tickets to Batanes for only P1,872! ♥  AirPhil and Sky Jet airlines fly from Manila to Basco. Normally, the roundtrip fares cost P8,000. Now how to score cheap airfares? Be patient and be quick when you hear the seatsale news!

abangers lang ng promo is the key to score cheap Batanes tickets!

Time Travel Lodge
○ There are not enough accommodation in Batanes so it's always best to book in advance. Luckily, the Ivatans are so nice that they will be the one to look for an alternative in case your first choice is already unavailable. Fortunately, it happened to me and I got even luckier to end up at Time Travel Lodge. This lodge offers 3 family rooms, all with its own bathroom and kitchen. There's a lawn as a bonus.

the added perk is the garden! yes, you may setup a tent if you like

beautiful candy-colored chairs for coffee and siesta time

Time Travel Lodge -  0939.623.8978 / 0907.443.5610
rate is 400 / person for a fan room on a low season. each room has 2 queen beds, cabled tv, sound system, kitchen, own bathroom with hot shower. coffee is free at the common area.

Batanes Itinerary - 4 Days 3 Nights
○ We arrived in Batanes on time and the first thing Era and I did was sleep. Hehe After recharging, we decided to experience biking. Bikes are available at Time Travel Lodge. Rental fee is 25/hour. So how's the experience? Great, not to mention the lighthouse is just near the town. Just be ready because the roads are uphill. Hangsakit sa legs! ^_^

bike your way to Basco Lighhouse, for experience.

○ I really suggest you visit the North Batan area first. Basta lang. For me, if you have seen the South Batan or Sabtang Island - then the North Batan attractions could not be outstanding anymore to you. *winks*

 the famous lighthouse

excited sa stone houses

rolling hills

the Bunker serves dinner to visitors who wish to catch the sunset. reservation is required.

○ Era and I biked our way home. After resting, we decided to continue our North Batan tour. We had Dale - 0929.341.0941  as our tricycle driver and guide in Batanes. For the guided trip to Fundacion Pacita and Valugan Boulder Beach, we paid P400. Dale also showed us the tunnel and some churches along the way.

big boulders and huge waves meet at Valugan beach

first taste of Batanes sea

○ Fundacion Pacita is I think the premiere accommodation in Batanes. It is situated on top of the hill and the view decks are really breathtaking! Nabwiset ako sa ganda! Haha Minimum stay is 2 nights and rate is around P8,700 per night. This is the perfect place for honeymooners.

fundacion pacita

your own viewing deck at fundacion pacita

may araw ka din sakin, babalikan kita! haha

○ We call it a day and had an early dinner at Ivatan Pension. The next day is for the South Batan tour. Rate is P1,500 per tricycle. Dale is still our driver and guide. We preferred to start the tour at 9am, though you may request to start earlier if you want.

 south batan tour

rolling hills and Tayid lighthouse

Marlboro Country - eto na yung the hills are alive!

that's Mount Iraya

breathtaking Batanes indeed

 sunny all the way!

cow congress on top of the hill

○ OK, so much of the green hills and blue seas. We also went to other South Batan spots (which I dont remember the names, really). Hehe As you know, Im not a fan of visiting 8 spots per day. I always pick the best 4 or 5 spots and that is always enough. ^_^

a stone house along the street

10 commandments in their local dialect

cheap yet good food at Vatang restaurant
all these for P800!

○ I asked Dale why most beaches are empty. He said locals are busy with their studies or business. I asked again what's their past time on weekends. He answered picnics with family on the beach. Kainis ang pampalipas oras nila!!! #kainggit

calm white beach in Batanes

more more sunbathing

○ Coconut crabs are not easy to find at restaurants. We asked the caretaker of Time Travel Lodge to find us coconut crabs instead. Achieve! (1kg of coconut crab, chopsuey, rice, and service charge = P850)

it tastes like a normal crab, only the meat is firmer (i think). nonetheless good! we love fresh seafood!

○ 3rd day is for a day trip at Sabtang island. At 5:30AM, Dale drove us to Ivatan Port, for P220. At around 6AM, locals and other tourists began to arrive. The boats are sufficient so dont worry, just arrive on time and you will surely get a slot. Boat fare is P75, per way. In the morning, the water is calm and it would only take around 30 mins to cross the island. 

 first glimpse of Sabtang island

○ Our contact in Sabtang is Michael, he is Dale's friend. Actually he works full time at the city engineers office in Basco. He happens to be free on weekends so he has time to drive us around Sabtang. Tour costs P800 only and 1,300 if you wanted to include the two farther towns.

Look at the tricycle in Sabtang, it's more like a kubo on wheels! Astig!

Michael - 0918.437.0551
kubo on wheels - only in Sabtang

○ Since most of the tourists were availing the packaged tour (fyi packaged tour costs P1,800 per person), we asked Michael that we oppose the direction of the group tours' itinerary. The group tours would go to the cliff first so we decided to hit the beach right away to avoid the crowd. Hehe

Morong Beach and Mayahaw Arch 
the famous landmark in Sabtang

no other tourists ^_^

○ Sabtang has fewer establishment, more stone houses, more scenic views, and more character. If you have time, you can stay overnight in Sabtang and sleep in one of the traditional stone houses for a very cheap price.

a village full of stone houses

scenic view on the road

lush green everywhere

another famous spot, i forgot the name

paaraw all the way!

○ Our Do-It-Yourself Sabtang tour obviously didn't include lunch so we advised Michael we wanted lobsters. A kilo costs P450 only! Omg. Ginto yan dito sa Manila!

1 kilo of lobster + rice + veggies + coke + service charge = P900

More of Batanes
○ What made Batanes very outstanding is the people. Ivatans are sooo friendly. Unbelievable. People in town would greet as you pass by, as if you are a guest and they are all employees in the hotel you are staying in. Ganung level!

a female Ivatan and her cows

○ Another very noticeable thing is when you walk in the streets and there's another vehicle that would pass by the opposite direction - the driver would stop and let you pass first before he continues driving. That's how careful and noble they are!

noble Ivatan drivers on the road

○ Tricycles are not roaming in the streets unless they have passengers. The thing is you have to text them and they will fetch you in your location. Ansabe ng Grab-A-Taxi di ba?

Dale - 0929.341.0941
tricycle driver / tour guide in Batanes 


Batanes Budget
○ Batanes expenses for 4 days and 3 nights is P3,600. Do the math for the breakdown. When airfare is included, total expenses is P5,500. Of course it could be cheaper if you won't eat a kilo of lobster and a kilo of coconut crab. Im never a fan of kuripot trips. I wanted to spend and pay the the locals what they deserve. The service is great so why not let them earn. ♥


Extraordinary Batanes
Due to the raves Batanes is getting, I cannot help myself but set my expectation high for this place. After 4 days, I finally understand why people are raving so much about Batanes. It's not just about the rolling hills, the beaches, the culture, and the food. It's about the accidental beauty and how powerless you are when you see the strong waves and unending hills. It's about the simple life and how everyone is happy with it. It's all in one and even more! This place is paradise and the people are so warm. My Batanes experience is surreal and breathtaking! Batanes now belongs to my top 3 places to visit in the Philippines. My experience is so great that Im looking forward to going back again, soon! 

From the bottom of my heart, Dios Mamajes (thank you) Batanes for that wonderful and memorable experience.

Udaipur | Rajasthan, India

While Varanasi sits on the eastern side of India, Udaipur is located on the opposite side of the map. By train, the journey would take around 17 hours on the average. Since we do not have much time for long road trips, we chose to fly again (Varanasi-Delhi-Udaipur). After all, the airfare and the first class train tickets cost pretty much the same.

Kumbhalgarh Fort, Rajasthan

India's Golden Triangle is a tourist circuit which includes: Delhi, Agra, and Jaipur. For some reasons, we decided to go farther and pick Udaipur over Jaipur. As per Marx, Udaipur is more beautiful and has more character. I believe so too.

Kat and I arrived at Hotel Krishna Niwas in Udaipur at around 8pm. This is a family-run guesthouse near the lake. The location is amazing and the view is impressive. For the price, it's a very good choice. Yes, there's wifi. Actually most of the nearby guesthouses in this area look equally great. Just look at the mesmerizing view from the roof deck.

 mesmerizing city lights

 Lake Palace at night

Even at night, we felt the different vibe and peacefulness in Udaipur.
Come next morning, well, we woke up late as always. Im never a fan of waking up so early to maximize the day and go to all tourist attractions. 2-3 attractions are already fine for me.

beautiful and serene morning in Udaipur

other guesthouses near the lake

For that day, we decided to explore some forts and temples outside Udaipur. Initially, we planned to take a bus. Thanks to the guesthouse owner for warning us that it could be difficult for us, so we decided to hire a car instead. The rate is fairly cheap compared to the distance we're about to travel. It's around 2 hours from Udaipur. What he warned us about is true, the buses are limited and only few people can communicate in English.

Kumbhalgarh Fort
Its architectural brilliance is proved by the fact that in spite of being around 700 years old it is still intact and in a very good shape. This wall is not in a regular straight pattern but it runs through mountain cliffs and valleys.

The walls of the fort of Kumbhalgarh is claimed to be the second-longest continuous wall after the Great Wall of China. Awesome! Malayo kaya di kami umeffort na lakarin. From afar lang. ^_^

This grand fort also has 360 temples within the walls. It is a lovely historical place indeed. There's not much tourists. Locals are very friendly. I cannot remember if there's a dresscode in this place, so just come prepared and cover your legs and arms.

Jain Temple in Ranakpur
Jainism is an Indian religion that follows a life of non-violence and emphasizes spiritual independence and equality between all forms of life. This Jain Temple in Ranakpur is said to be the most spectacular among all the jain temples.

 Jain Temple in Ranakpur

  temple facade

Trust me, the facade is not even 10% of how beautiful it is inside. We left our bags in the locker for a minimal fee. Btw, there's also a camera fee for this site. Kat paid for her iphone and I paid for my camera. Visitors are required to dress up properly and remove the footwear before entering this temple.

majestic ceiling

Light colored marble is used for the construction of this grand temple. Over 144 marble pillars, carved in exquisite detail, support the temple. The pillars are all differently carved and no two pillars are the same. Amazing.

 no 2 pillars are the same. every pillar is designed with exquisite detail.

While Varanasi is the highlight of my India trip, this spectacular Jain Temple in Ranakpur ranks 2nd. There's a certain calmness inside the temple and the details of each marble pillar are really outstanding.

Cultural and Puppet Show in Bagore Ki Haveli
Before nighttime, we decided to go back to Udaipur to make it on time for the traditional dance show. Bagore Ki Haveli is an ancient structure that has been converted into a museum. At night, this place is the stage for traditional Indian dance and puppet show.

cultural dance

Im always a fan of cultural shows. This puppet show is really entertaining. Dont miss this.

City Palace
For the record, we went to this place the next day. It's just walking distance from the guesthouse where we're staying. The historical place looks good, but not really something to capture my interest. Im already satisfied with the Jain Temple and the puppet show.

 beautiful city of Udaipur

Instead, Kat and I killed time by strolling along the streets and have this henna in our arms. Achieve!

less amazing race, more petiks time!

Among the cities of Varanasi, Udaipur, Agra, and Delhi - the place where I felt the safest and most relaxed is Udaipur. The streets and normal houses are already a feast in the eyes. The food are great as well, yet not overpriced. The people are the friendliest and vendors are never annoying. Im happy I've got to experience what they say is the most romantic and beautiful city in India - and that is Udaipur.

up next: Taj Mahal, Agra
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