Friday, April 24, 2015

Cycling Philippines Batanes Day 6 : Subtle Sabtang & A Surprise!

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Cycling Philippines Batanes Day 6 : Subtle Sabtang & A Surprise!
At the renown Mayahao Arch in Sabtang.
Batanes Islands - Day 6 : 19th March 2015
It's a non-cycling day again today as we took a day trip by boat over to Sabtang Island. We had wanted to cycle over there but could not find accommodations and the return boat departs just after noon. With only less than five hours there, we decided not to bring our bicycles along (..regrets...) and instead took a half-day motor-tricycle tour to view as much of the island as possible.
   
This blog comes in a several parts. To go to other parts click on the following link to return to the summary page:

PRELUDE
The previous day we had done a good bout of cycling around Batan Island starting from Basco and rode along the scenic coastline. Taking the road less travelled we visited the quite isolated Diura Fishing Village. There a local, Jane, volunteered to guide us to the Marlboro Hills, but first she took us to the nearby Fountain of Youth and also showed us the Crystal Cave.
Energized with gulps of the Fountain of Youth elixir and the positive vibes emanating from the Crystal Cave; we pushed our bikes up to the Marlboro Hills for a very panoromic view of the island. Riding down hill back to the coast, we rode pass small towns and villages and popped in to visit the Honesty Coffee Shop.
Now we head for another island, Sabtang.


A DAY TOUR OF SABTANG

5:30am - By dawn's early morning light the two motor-tricycles (which we had pre-booked through Marfel's at a cost of 440PHP per pax) had arrived, and we popped in for the fifty minutes ride to Ivana Port. Ivana Port is the embarkation point for boats to Sabtang Island as it lies almost directly opposite Sabtang.


By the time we reached Ivana, the sun had risen and the port was getting quite active. Two boats were there in the water waiting for passengers to board for the trip to Sabtang which can be seen just across the sea.
The return fare for the boat ride is 225PHP per person. When boarding, no fare was collected; it was only collected by one of the boat attendants upon returning back to Ivana. There is no counter or booth to buy the tickets or make payment; that's the policy in Batanes - the Honesty policy; one just be honest, look out for the attendant and pay.


A while later, a couple of trucks brought over our friends form the Brompton Club of the Philippines. These guys are great, having secured some accommodations on Sabtang, they had brought their bikes.


The boat ride over to Sabtang takes only about thirty minutes; but as it approaches the island, get your cameras ready to snap the Sabtang Lighthhouse. If lucky, one will be able to catch the mighty waves crashing onto the cliffs on which the lighthouse stands.


Upon disembarking at Sabtang Port in Sinakan, there were these tricycles waiting to pick up passengers to take them round the island. These tricycles were much bigger AND taller than those at the other islands; and it is possible to sit fully upright without crouching and hurting the back or hitting the head onto the roof.
To play it safe, we had got the tricycle driver at Batan to call his friend on Sabtang and arrange for the friend to pick us up. The booking fee for our half day use was 1300PHP.
Wayne, our tricycle driver, took us over the short distance to the Municipal Office where tourists have to register and pay an Environmental Fee of 200PHP per pax. This done we were now ready to begin our tour and headed south.

SAVIDUG
Ong getting some local cakes at the road side stall.
Although Itbayat has many towns with stone houses from the Spanish era, it is here at small Sabtang that one seems to be transported back to that era. The thatched roof houses are here too, the difference is that here there are hardly any new buildings or extensions. Here too the streets are quieter, making the place have that pristine old atmosphere. Our first stop Savidug is a fine example, we stopped here and walked around a bit.


First we tried some of the local delicacies. A lady was selling a two types of cakes, one was brownish glutinious rice cake something akin to the Nyonya glutinous rice cake. It was the other cake shown above, the dark purplish taro cake that attracted me, it had a strong taro flavour and was slightly sweet.


Many of the stone-houses here are occupied but there are some which have been damaged or left in a dilapidated condition.


Over here, and likewise in the other towns and villages, it will be good to walk around off from the main road and explore the narrower side lanes. Many a things are just waiting to be seen.


Further in beyond those side lanes is the St. Thomas Aquinas Chapel; it's one of many  small chapel in Sabtang but it's good enough to serve the population of this little town.


Many visitors miss going into the chapel as they are busy at a building next door. Somehow the windows of this building seems to attract tourists to pose for photos. I must confess I fell for that too.... but only after I visited the chapel to say a thankful prayer for these beautiful islands and for a safe trip so far.


Chamantad-Tinyan Viewpoint
Chamantad-Tinyan Viewpoint is a favourite among tourists; even on the weekday that we were there, the place was packed with parked vans. Yup, a traffic jam in Sabtang, would you believe it?
Over here are a couple of stalls that sells souvenirs and also rent out traditional Ivatan costumes with the Vakul headgear. 


From the stalls it is a three-quarter kilometre walk to the sea's edge, it's a worthwhile walk...


... at the far end, to one side are these lovely hills with one oddly conical in shape...


... and down below, the deep blue sea of the Pacific Ocean.


CHAVAYAN FISHING VILLAGE
At the end of the south facing road is Chavayan, a small fishing village. We took a walk around; there were not that many locals around, but those that we met greeted us with friendly warm smiles.


The villagers here are not rich and sustain themselves mainly by selling their catch. Fish could be seen hanging out to dry in the sun. I thought these above were Dorado fish but a local informed me that they were Barracudas. Probably the long snout of their sharp teeth had been cut off, so it was a good chance for me to sink my teeth into one... instead of vice versa.


The Santa Rosa de Lima Chapel.
Many of chapels here are named after lesser known saints. There was the St. Thomas Aquinas Chapel earlier at Savidug, and now this here is the Santa Rosa Chapel. Later on at Nakanmuan, on the western coast of Sabtang, there is the St. Luis Beltran Chapel.
Goodness, never even heard of a Saint Rose, least of all a Saint Rose of Lima!


NORTH & WESTWARD HO!
From Chavayan we turned back (no choice there, the road ends there!) and headed north passed Sinakan port, rounded the northern tip of the island and then cruised down the western coast. Here are some photos that I took:


A poor little pig left tied to a rock on Morong Beach. Hopefully it is not going to be slaughtered, it's just too young to be heading for the skillets. Hopefully, it's a pet and the owner has gone for a swim at this lovely beach.


A rusting lorry at Nakanmuan.


A man taking a morning siesta.


Two surly looking girls, why so surly?


On the other hand, this cheerful young girl was chirpier, waving to us as we walked by.


A mother manning her sundry shop while taking care of her baby.
The people here may not be rich in material things, but they are certainly rich in their spirit; never letting hardship pull them down.


A little girl in a bicycle basket with her sister walking along the bicycle being pushed by their mother.


At a hut opposite the St. Luis Beltran, we met up with the our friends from the Brompton Club of the Philippines, they had done a good bout of cycling and were taking a rest there. We were later to find out that their reserved accommodations did not pan out, and they ended spending the night at some kindly locals' huts. That by itself was an adventure too!


The renown Mayahao Arch, it turned out to be smaller than I imagined, still it did look good.


Our lunch was at the Paypanapanyan Canteen near the Arch. They served a set lunch, the food was okay; for me the highlight of the meal was this greenish looking seaweed soup. We ate in a rush as we had to catch the faluwa boat back in antoher twenty minutes.


The altar of the San Vicente Ferrer Church.
Dropped in to say some thankful grace before we left the island.
_________________________________________________________________________________


Back at Marfel's on Batan Island, we took an afternoon siesta.
When I woke up a surprise was awaiting me, a treat by my buddies to a birthday dinner at Hiro's Cuisine ending with a beautiful cake (okay, it was a simple cake but to me it was the most beautiful thing in the world that evening). My buddies was most kind to word the cake "Joe Boy", it did indeed make this old man AhPek feel young again.
Many thanks Siew Yung and Kay Swee; I was most touched.

LIFE IS GOOD!


This blog comes in a several parts. To go to other parts click on the following link to return to the summary page:

To see more photos for the day, Click here.



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