Monday, April 6, 2015

BATANES 5D/4N Itinerary

Up until a few years ago, I was oblivious to the fact that there was such a place called Batanes here in the Philippines. I'd like to thank this coffee commercial for introducing me to it:  


Since then, Batanes was always on my mind. It seemed like the ideal getaway--perfect for pre-nup pictorials and weddings. And indeed, it is. 

Admittedly, Batanes is quite heavy on the pocket. But believe you me. It's worth every penny.

One of the many sceneries to enjoy. Pictures don't do it justice. 

Here's our 5D/4N itinerary:

DAY 1 
AM - Arrival, Check-in at Pacita Fundacion
PM - Batan North Tour
  • Mt. Carmel Chapel
  • Radar Tukon
  • Idjang Viewing
  • Fundacion Pacita
  • Japanese Hideout
  • Boulder Beach
  • Valugan
  • Vayang
  • Naidi Hills
  • Lighthouse
  • Sto. Domingo Church

DAY 2
Sabtang Island Tour

6:00 AM - Travel to San Vicente Port, Travel to Sabtang by boat
  • San Vicenter Ferer Church
  • Savidug Idjang (Fortress)
  • Savidug Community
  • Vernacular Houses, Limestone Production
  • Tinyan Viewing of Pacific Ocean
  • Chavayan Community Vernacular Houses
12:00 PM - Lunch

2:00 PM
  • Nakabuang Beach
  • Siesta (optional)
  • Swimming (optional)
  • Back to Sabtang Port
  • (Travel back to San Vicente Port)• Back to hotel

DAY 3
Batan South Tour

9:00 AM
  • Mahatao Town Tour
  • Chawa Viewdeck
  • Mahatao Pier
  • Vernacular Houses
  • San Jose Borromeo Church
  • Tayid Lighthouse
  • Sumhao Windmills
  • Racuh a Payaman (Marlboro Country)

12:00 PM - Lunch

1:00 PM
  • Imnajbu
  • Old Naval Base
  • Alapad
  • Song Song Ruins 
  • Alapag Rock 
  • Uyugan Town Tour
  • Ivana Town Tour
  • San Jose de Ivana Church
  • Honesty Coffee Shop
  • House of Dakay (Oldest House)

DAY 4
Free Day
  • Biking / ATV

DAY 5
AM - Departure to Manila


Our itinerary looks packed but it's really not. Each tour would end at around 3-4pm each day and we were left with so much free time. Although ideal for rest and relaxation, we kinda had too much of it.

Being practical, some tours could be collapsed in one day instead of two. All these places were really near each other anyway... although time spent in each place would depend also on how long you take to do your selfies. Hehe.

For those who are planning their own itinerary, include Itbayat! I hear it's worth it.



PS. Will blog about each day's activities soon.

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Interesting Observations in Batanes

Below are 10 random observations from my short stay in Batanes. Just pure observations. No hard statistics here, ok? Here goes:

1. It's as if you're not in the Philippines!
The mountains, hills, grass, rocks, and all the animals around make it seem like you're in... say, New Zealand. Every shot is picture perfect. Sometimes you just have to pinch yourself to be reminded that you're still in the Philippines and it's that beautiful.

#NoFilterBeauty

2. Batanes is closer to Taiwan than Luzon!
If you open social networking apps like Grindr or Hornet, you'd actually see more Taiwanese guys than Filipinos!

Screencaps. Opted to blur the pix for others' privacy.

3. Blue, green, and white are all over!
From walls, furniture, to books. It's actually a nice combination! Apparently, these colors are used to paint fishing boats. Leftover paints are used for other items to avoid wastage. No wonder!



4. Roads are extra narrow
Especially during our tours, the roads were extra narrow! Oftentimes, only one jeep would fit in the lane. It becomes tricky when there's an incoming vehicle! It's actually dangerous if you think about it.



5. Blow UR Horn!
These road signs are the cutest. These serve as warnings for incoming cars on blind turns.



6. Kids are very respectful
At first, I thought we were being mobbed by a group of kids when they ran towards us. Apparently, they just wanted to "mano po", as this was something taught to them by their elders. Cute!



7. Mobile Data and Wifi are very weak!
There's 3G signal from Globe but it was useless. I couldn't tweet, browse through my Facebook feed or upload photos to Instagram. Had to rely on the Wifi from our hotel's office. At least!

We'd spend our down time in the hotel office for free Wifi.

8. They like playing softball?
Yeah! Who would've thought? And they're good at it, too! I expected the usual: basketball.



9. Crab and Lobster shells are spiky and hairy! 
Scary! 'Nuff said. I'm not a seafood fan to begin with.  



10. "Hihintayin Kita sa Langit" was filmed here! 
It was on Alapag Rock that Richard Gomez and Dawn Zulueta were seen running in the movie! Wanted to recreate that scene but had no one to do it with. Lelz.

Poster from philja.com
Movie screencap from choosephilippines.com


What else can I can add to this list?

The Only Worthwhile Places to Eat in Basco, Batanes

If there was one disappointment in Batanes, it'd have to be the food. Not to say that I didn't find the food yummy... I just expected more. Perhaps I compared it too much with other provinces in the Philippines.

Why the disappointment?

  • Limited food choices. There were only four notable ones (below). 
  • Prices were steep--as if dining in Bonifacio High-Street all the time. 
  • Long lead times. Ordering hours ahead was needed. At least one hour prep time, too!

    Here are some of the places we ate in... and rotated throughout our trip, outside the tours.

  • 1. Ivatan Pension Inn
    We ordered the Pension Ivatan Platter to try local specialties: Batanes lobster, coconut crab, cuttle fish, flying fish, among others. It's good for 6-7 people. My personal favorite was the fried lumpia.

    The seafood was alright. It tasted like, well, the sea. I was never a seafood person...

    Ivatan Platter: Php 1,800
    Good for 6-7 people
    Look! The shells of the crabs and lobsters are so spiky and hairy!

    2. Casa Napoli
    Surprise! There's pizza! My favorite was the Garlic & Cheese. Up to this day, I'm not sure if it was good because we were just hungry or we didn't have too much of a choice.

    The fried sweet potato mojos that came with the chicken was yummy. The chicken was so-so.



    Casa Napoli menu. Pizzas range from Php 270 - 370.


    3. Octagon
    Home-cooked comfort food. The nilagang baboy soup was memorable. Perfect for a chilly afternoon while watching the sunset. While at it, you could feel the soup's oil coagulating on your lips. Hehe.

    Preparation time was extra long. Patience, indeed, is a virtue. 


    Click here to enlarge menu!


    4. Pacita Fundacion Nature Lodge
    Thank God for this place. Aside from having the best accommodations, they had the best food for all meals, including dessert! Food tasted legit and you can see that it was carefully prepared. Restaurant quality! Have your meals while overlooking the majestic view!

    Some of the meals I won't mind having again:
    Breakfast: Ivatan longganisa / Corned Beef (with garlic rice!)
    Lunch / Dinner: Turmeric Chicken
    Dessert: Cheesecake (super cheesy!)

    Click to enlarge menu!

    Don't worry about not being able to find these places. All the locals know them. Besides, there's only a handful anyway. You can get there via your hotel's transportation or through tricycle.

    Lastly, if you happen to see local delicacies, go ahead. Indulge! At first, it'll seem like the normal kakanin we're used to in Manila... but ingredients are mostly sweet potatoes! Also, notice how the corn is extra small and slimy! 


    Hopefully there will be more restaurants in Batanes for tourists soon. Wouldn't it be nice to have more food choices, and serving time wouldn't be that long? There's so much potential in the food industry there!

    For those who've been to Batanes, do you have any other suggestions? Please add to the list!

    Saturday, April 4, 2015

    Things to Buy in Batanes

    Here are some of the stuff I bought during my trip to Batanes. Didn't expect to bring home this much... (and spend that much, too!) Bought most of these in the local souvenir shop. 

    1. Mini Ivatan Houses
    For me, if there was one thing that symbolized Batanes, it would be this. Bought one because they were cute and I like souvenirs that I can display in my room.

    Interestingly, the more intricate and affordable ones (below) are in the tourist attractions rather than in souvenir shops. 



    2. Turmeric Powder
    This was a wildcard purchase. Bought this because I liked the color of the turmeric rice served during our tours... and I happened to like the Turmeric Chicken that I ordered from Pacita Fundacion. Might let our helper whip up something with it.  It's also said to fight cancer!



    3. Camote Chips 
    I'm not a fan but I bought some since this was said to be one of Batanes' specialties. Wasn't able to take pictures of it, though.


    4. Onions and Garlic
    This was a special request from my mom as she said that Batanes produces good quality onions and garlic. I really don't know. To me, they just seemed smaller than the ones from Manila.

    1kg of onions and 1kg of garlic was Php 250. Can't remember which was Php 180 and Php 70. 

    Bought these in the House of Dakay -- the oldest traditional house in Batanes.

    Don't forget your baggage allowance! We ended up having to pay Php 700 at the airport as excess baggage just to bring these home!


    5. Native Ivatan Headdress and Outfits
    Quite pricey (ranging in the hundreds)... but you don't get these anywhere else! If you don't want to buy, opt for a pictorial wearing them instead. Rental fee: P20. 



    I kinda regret not buying anything with the "Blow your Horn" sign. Should have bought at least a keychain or a t-shirt of it. Next time, if there will be one. 



    Is there anything I missed? 


    Friday, April 3, 2015

    Yet again, I'm back

    After more than a year, I'm back! Does it really take a heart-ache to make me come back?! Kidding.

    As usual, I've been swamped with work. Apologies, especially to those who left comments and questions that were left unanswered.

    I've made some changes to Boy Wander's look! Some write-ups and photos have been updated, too.

    Can't wait to share with you travels from Batanes and Seoul!

    Saturday, November 9, 2013

    Getting My New SSS Card

    Look what finally came in the mail today: my new SSS card a.k.a the Unified Multi-Purpose Identification (UMID) Card.

    My new UMID Card!
    (I hate my photo.)

    I almost forgot that I applied for one because it took so long to arrive. They said that it'll be delivered within two to three months. (Yeah, right.) It's been more than five!

    Supposed benefits of the UMID Card:
    1. Convenient and faster way of getting SSS benefits and privileges.
    2. Securely stores personal info and SSS data through micro chip.
    3. For SSS pensioners, easier annual confirmation of continued pension entitlement through fingerprint matching facilities at SSS offices. 
    4. Easier and faster SSS transactions. (ex. benefit and loan applications)
    5. Can be used to transact with other gov't agencies such as GSIS, Pag-IBIG, and PhilHealth. 

    Still don't have yours? To find out how to apply for one, click here.

    Sunday, October 20, 2013

    Terminal 21: Not Your Usual Mall

    BANGKOK, Thailand  Imagine being whisked off to various countries in one afternoon. That's what strolling around Terminal 21 feels like.

    The mall is like a huge airport with a different theme per floor: Rome, UK, Tokyo, and Istanbul, to name a few. It's definitely not your usual mall.

    Even if you're not into shopping, Terminal 21 is still worth visiting. It's fascinating how much thought and detail went into each theme. Even the bathrooms and uniforms of the maintenance personnel weren't spared.

    My favorite floor: UK!
    There was a bus inside!

    Awesome shirts!

    This isn't even a fourth of the mall.

    Tokyo! 

    Yep. There's a lighthouse inside!

    See. It's like an airport!

    With the pretty ceiling in the Roman-themed floor. 

    Istanbul! The bathroom is worth checking out.

    Next time, I'll make it a point to check out the bathroom in all floors!

    Happy-tired from all the walking. 

    Here's a map going to Terminal 21. It's ideal to ride the train. Depending on where you're coming from, get off at Asok or Sukhumvit Station. Either stations will lead you to the mall.

    (Image from parallel-connection.blogspot.com)

    Don't Stay in MHC Guesthouse! | Bangkok

    MHC Guesthouse
    8/4 Sukhumvit 28 Sukhumvit Road

    When in Bangkok, don't stay in MHC Guesthouse. I repeat: DON'T stay in MHC Guesthouse. 

    Why not?
    1. There's an unpleasant smell inside. Like something old and kulob.
    2. Rooms smelled like sewage! In the middle of the night, the room started to smell. We couldn't sleep! Apparently, the pipes are old and when it rains, it reeks. It was painful to the nose!
    3. Manager refused to return our money. After that unpleasant night, we considered moving hotels. We were booked for another 3 nights and had paid in full. Unfortunately,  the manager refused to refund our money for the remaining nights.
    The only reason why we chose to stay there was to be near friends who were checked-in at Emporium, which was a few streets away.

    I wouldn't recommend this to anyone. Sorry!

    Eating Creepy Crawlers in Khao San Road

    Scorpion Nights (and a cockroach)
    (Image from instagram.com/aliamistad)
    BANGKOK, Thailand — What's something I finally crossed off my #YOLO bucket list?

    Eat creepy crawlers!

    I chickened out during my first trip here, which left me semi-regretful. But this time, with a little help from my friends, I did it.

    By the end of the night, we were munching on scorpions, cockroaches, and beetles.

    Surprisingly, it doesn't taste as gross. It's crunchy, which bursts of soy-sauce-like juices.

    You just have to overcome that fear that it'll crawl back to life inside your mouth!

    Eating a scorpion with a little help from my friend, Andrew.




    We ended our day here in Khao San RoadBangkok's famous backpacker area. Everything is way cheaper here, including accommodations. Security may be a bit loose, though.

    The stretch is full of life at night. Tons of people are on the street. Music from the resto-bars are on full blast. Vendors are everywhere selling souvenirs, balloons, and foodcreepy crawlers included!

    The vibe reminds me of the Maskara festival in Bacolod.



    Khao San is also perfect for people watching. Foreigners are everywhere and they're smokin' hot.

    Here were are letting loose and enjoying the night.


    Khao San!!!