Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Batanes on the cheap

Having been travelling for a while, I fairly have a grasp of my regular spending; On the average, I spend P1000/day or less for destinations in the Philippines.

A few friends have gone to Batanes before I did, and before I took the flight, I was kind of alarmed at what I have been hearing. I have 6days and 5nights to spend, and what I have intended to spend was only P5,000; and as usual, I did not ready myself with prior reading.

We had a few places on our target, but not really arranged in such scheduled fashion. For our first day, we did the ivana tour in the morning, while waiting for the trip to Sabtang at 1pm, and then proceeded with the sabtang tour.

In the port, we were approached by some tricycle driver offering tour/transpo to our target locations. The asking wasn’t so within our kind of backpacking, so we asked instead for how far the destinations are.

 The village of Chavayan is 9kms away, and we thought it’s fairly walkable. Besides, with the stunning view everywhere in Batanes, a slower walking tour will give it the best. 

It took us only 2 hours to get to the village, and almost half of this was even spent taking pictures, climbing heights and daring cliffs, doing jump shots, etc. Our curiosity takes us always on detour from the main road to the skirts on the coast. We also hitched from passing motorcycles for probably 1 to 2 kilometers of the path.

On Sabtang day 2, From Chavayan, we hitched again from an almost empty van that’s touring a couple around. This got us up to Morong beach. From there, we walked again all the way to the village of Nakamwan. This village is just 4-5kilometers away from Sabtang centro/pier.  This village is the jump off to the Vuhus island (we took a P250 ride though on the way back aiming to catch some boat going back to Batad, so we can catch the early morning boat to Itbayat; though we missed it after all.)

The boat trips would normally have a connecting trip with the jeeps to the towns. Instead of taking special tricycle trips, we took these instead. The spots are close to each other, and are mostly walk away from the village/town centers. You may take the jeep, get off at the villages, and then just walk around. In fact, I was surprised that a tour to the rolling hills and lighthouse in Basco costs P700 from town center, whereas If my estimate is correct, it took us only 15-30minutes (max) to get there from town center.

Meantime, we missed the boat trip to Itbayat. We would have cancelled the itbayat trip, but thinking of what we’d spend anyway in basco if we spend an extra day, considering the lodging, food, etc, we might as well pay for the more expensive plane ride to Itbayat. Also, we planned to take plane anyway for the return trip, so instead, we can probably take the plane to Itbayat, and then, the boat, on the way back to Basco.

I called Skyjet and was told that only 1 seat is available for that day’s flight. I did not want to give it up, so walked to the airport, and told the staff that we’d wait and play chance. Luckily, another passenger can’t make it (or at least that’s what we were told; though I am also at a belief that she was asked to postpone to another flight). 

In the airport, we also met Efren, a native of Basco but now works in a school in Itbayat. We ended up staying at his P250/month rented house (and mind you, he pays P500 per month for his cable service for 1 standard 14 inch TV), served and ate local cuisine, and had an instant tour guide, all for free. We were even introduced to the faculty who were all very welcoming and happy to know there are people visiting their town. 

For Day 5, we have some friends coming over. I asked them for where they intend to stay, and our friend’s friend who is with them, has another friend who arrived in Basco the same time as we did; This 3rd degree friend has relatives in the town, and that’s where everybody else will be staying. Me and John ended up crashing in their circle. Free accommodation and very cheap dinner cost for this day.

In the town of Mahatao, we visited, the Diura fishing village through hitchking too with the passing trucks. They are rather service vehicles for road constructions around the town. We were served some fresh bukos too by some locals of the village. 

Majority of every Batanes traveller’s expenses would be in Sabtang. First of all, there is a P200 registration fee they charge for every visitor. For food, it is a standard. Every lunch/dinner served would be P400 per meal per head (and a P25 serving charge per serving per head), and P200 for the breakfast (and imagine a Lucky Me pancit canton + 1 boiled egg for that P200 breakfast). Should’ve bought a canned good from the store instead.

All in all, I spent P4,986 for 6days/5nights in Batanes including the flight from Basco to Itbayat. It could have been cheaper have we been informed about Sabtang, and had we taken a boat for both ways instead of a flight on one.

Below are contact numbers of accomodations as of March 2015

Name Address Contact No
Amboy's Hometel Basco 0920 910 3492
Batanes Sea Side Lodge Basco 0921 229 0120
Bernardo's Hotel Basco 0917 512 5346
Midtown Inn Basco 0921 367 7933
DDD Habigat Lodging House Basco
Martin's Inn Basco 0919 222 8898
Atunay Homestay Basco 0939 918 6506
Babat Homestay Basco 0919 987 0806
Berlen Lodge Basco 0920 478 44003
CMJ Homestay & Tour Service Basco 0999 990 7548
Jarvan Homestay Basco 0917 883 4428
Marfel's Lodge Basco 0908 893 8404
My Father's Inn Basco 0999 995 8253
Necy's Inn Basco 0999 999 4231
Novita House Basco 0928 239 7629
Pajudpud Homestay Basco 0907 282 8642
Villa Bella Ivana 0929 443 6866

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