Monday, November 26, 2012

Batanes: Little Hong Kong and Wind-blown Chamantad

Usual tourists would visit Sabtang Island for half a day taking the earliest 6am boat ride and heading back 3pm, but since we had more than enough time in our hands, we decided to spend the night in this island and homestay with a local family.

There's a jeep that plies from Basco to Ivana (port to Sabtang), unfortunately, the jeepney driver was drunk the previous night and was late in his route. Not wanting to miss the 6am boat to Sabtang, we just hired a tricycle to bring us there (P200 instead of the P27/pax had we taken the jeep). While waiting for other tourists to arrive, we had coffee and noodles at the nearby store. Our boat fare to Sabtang was P75 each.

Jeepney fare matrix from Basco

the store near the port where took the boat to Sabtang
The boat ride was not rough as expected. When Mang Edwin came to meet us, we were fascinated with our service vehicle. It was the conventional tricycle, except that the metal sidecar was not um, metal ;). The materials used were indigenous cogon grass and bamboo poles. We stopped by the tourism office to register and pay P200 each. They also offer lodge for P600/room (2 beds). 

our indigenous tricycle

available lodge at the tourism office

We covered north Sabtang in the morning, ending in the west coast in Sumnanga, also called Little Hong Kong

iconic rock along the highway

crossing the just-right-for-the-size-of-a-trike bridge

beach in Sumnanga

Instead of continuing, we had to go back because there is a portion of the island which has a gap and is simply not accessible.

Lunch was prepared in Morong beach (Nakabuang), where the attraction is a natural rock arch formation. The beach has a cemented cottage,  the only place where travelers have lunch. Unless you packed lunch, this is your only choice. At P300/pax, they served a full meal of turmeric rice, lunies (Ivatan adobo), sweet and sour fish, boiled vegetable greens, the not-to-miss special tatus (coconut crab), and uvi chips for dessert.

realized I was too hungry to capture lunch,
all I had taken was dessert : Uvi Chips

the coconut crab mobbed by the camera-clad tourists

natural arch rock formation

So typical of Batanes, it began to rain. We whiled away the time back in the tourism office, and asked for hot water to enjoy our instant coffee. By early afternoon, we made our way to the south-east, which for me, had more character and charm.

In Savidug, Mang Edwin proudly showcased his village and pointed out the location where limestone was used to be made. According to him, coral chunks were collected and pulverized in a pit. Apart from that, he stopped in a spot where he asked us to look at the mountains. "See if you can find Sleeping Beauty there," he said. A closer look revealed a face of a lady, as if asleep.

coral to pulverized limestone

inspecting a limestone pit

have you spotted Sleeping Beauty?

If Marlboro Country is to Batan Island, I would say Chamantad Sanctuary is to Sabtang Island. If I could only spend the rest of the day here, I would. It's the best place to catch a panoramic view of the coast and is fun to trek along the hills. It can be scary because of the fierce winds blowing, but the view is just priceless. If you're concerned about communicating to the outside world, this is also the last stop where you'd receive a cell signal. It's funny because huts are placed at the foreground specifically for locals to hang out, and uhm place calls.

marker which tells you you're in Chamantad

hangout hut & the last place where there's a cellphone signal

lone man walking


overlooking the view to the beach
To be continued...
In the next post, you'll read about our homestay in quaint Chavayan.

To help you imagine our route, here's a map of Sabtang island which a fellow blogger selflessly created as a guide for travelers to Batanes:

© Ferdz Decena of's map
of Sabtang Island


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