Bautista: Breathtaking Batanes

I WON'T miss any opportunity to visit Batanes. I have never been there. A very good friend of mine, Kuya Noli, the photographer extraordinaire is also from here. He would invite me over many times. Over and over, I never could.

Arriving from Davao, I decide to get back home to pick up some clothes and a change in outfit. I'm at a loss what to expect and what to wear. I just pack my favorite hiking pant, some fast dry shirts, brief and a raincoat. My iPhone weather app has been quite accurate so far. What I forgot was for some extra clothes just in case there would be some extension to the trip for various reasons like not being able to leave.

At 5:30, I set out for Clark once more. My driver has not arrived yet. I call and he couldn't find a ride. I also find that my car had no gas, I head to the station and still I can't be served since meter reading was on going. I am already feeling it. I meet my driver along Marcos Highway. I continue on until we get a flat tire. While we have a spare, we don't have a wrench. A tricycle ride to the vulcanizing shop helped a bit. After a change, the spare is also flat. A run to the shop for some air did it.

We continue along TPLEx, then NLEx, again and before the Clark exit another of my tire burst. This is even more worrisome since I used up my spare. I had to call a friend. Indeed help will come. In the meantime another friend has provided for a rescue vehicle to ferry us to the airport. We are by this time already running late for the flight. An ambulance was what picked us up. We speed up.

Upon reaching the airport we are not allowed to board the plane. We reschedule. Most flights have been cancelled because of Typhoon Samuel. We wait and soon after all the rescheduling of most passengers affected, we get ours.

Flights to Batanes is quite limited. Our option was for Manila. We wait for the car to be fixed and ask for the driver to take some breakfast.

But as soon as we wish to leave for Manila, we have our third flat tire. Good thing was that Manila had no flights to Batanes that day. We decide to just stay. I sent my driver back home by bus to just get another vehicle.

We tried all we can, a call to a friend previously was ok, another might be pushing it, since he sent already someone and went out his way just for me. A call to a cousin didn't get me anywhere. We were stuck. We walk to the nearest hotel by the airport but find it expensive. We take the jeep out of Clark and find one just outside. Sleazy surely but will do.

By this time we are spent and very hungry, stressed cannot be stressed enough. I ask for sisig from the front desk lady, she just mentions Korean barbecue. After six hours upon reaching the airport and nothing, I will take anything for now. What we find is an oasis of Korean cuisine, a little on the expensive but authentic and worth it. We destress with soju.

We head back to the airport again by jeep and retrieve our bags which we left before looking for a place to stay and food to eat. In the jeep I fall asleep, must be my travels before all this or the soju.

With our bags in tow, I with just a knapsack, we walk away but take a wrong turn and we were off. A jeep stop was hard to find. We find one but it is now very dark. Again in the jeep I fall asleep.

Back in the hotel where we are it is very much alive. It seems from day to dusk and till dawn it is always the same. A 24 hour Chowking it was before going to bed. Alarms are set at six. A shower, then off we were back to the airport the third time. Taxis and Grab were expensive so we take the jeep again.

In the airport I immediately go for Wendy's, a no brainier since there won't be any in Batanes. Breakfast and some other all for takeaway. In the plane I was asked whether I wanted wagyu frank or chicken calzone? Wow.

The flight was nice and smooth, it was raining in Clark before leaving. I didn't think Batanes was that far. I was just taking pictures up in the air to keep me busy. Upon landing we were just so excited that we took selfies from every angle. I played Pokemon Go hoping to find some here. I did but there was no record of it being from Batanes.

We were picked up by our hotel van. While the hotel did not serve lunch, we were lucky to have a good one just beside it. A meal of local food was ordered. First was Lunis, an Ivatan adobo where pork cuts are prepped for a month before being cooked. Uved was pork, shrimp and veggies minced into a ball. It was good.

After lunch, we soon decided to walk around town. The Capitol, here we got information about Batanes. Right after we asked for instructions for the lighthouse. We were just made to follow a path.

It is now getting dark as the sun comes down. The setting sun so beautiful and magnificent. It is what I have always thought Batanes would be. Breathtaking.


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