An experiential guide to a DIY Batanes trip: Itineraries, expenses, tips, and observations

Batanes - Check!

For the longest time, Batanes has been in my bucket list.  However, it's less accessible compared to the other provinces in the Philippines primarily because flights come in only three times a week and the airfare is thrice the usual cost of domestic flights.

But this year, the boyfriend and I decided it's time to finally tick that item off in our bucket list.  And contrary to the long-running belief, there's actually a way to visit Batanes without breaking the bank!  After much research--with the help of friends who have been there (a couple of whom are actually from there) and the ever-reliable Mr. Worldwide Web--we were able to organize a low-cost, DIY Batanes trip.

Breathtaking Batanes: The Island of South Batan

This is the trip that made me realize that sometimes, we have to disconnect to stay connected--connected with ourselves, with the person beside us, with nature, and the things in life that really matter and bring us unadulterated joy.

For someone who's active on social media, I was actually happy that the whole time we were in Batanes, we were hardly able to go online because of the poor signal in the province.

There were times when we would sit a good 20 minutes just staring at the sloping emerald hills, the blue skies, and the goats and carabaos that peacefully grazed the lands.

On our third day, we explored the island of South Batan.  And like all the other places we visited in Batanes, each location we stopped at took our breath away.

Breathtaking Batanes: The Island of Sabtang

It is a place so untouched, you feel like you've been taken a few years back in time when life was so simple;  A time when the village people got their food straight out of the fish nets and used wood for cooking;  A time when the virtue of honesty was at its strongest and served as the fundamental guide for everyday living.

I almost regret not scheduling an overnight stay on Sabtang Island.  Nevertheless, our one-day experience on this island of roughly 1,465 people* is one of the most unique we've had.

And it started right away when we boarded the faluwa--a kind of boat they use to transport people and goods from one island to the other--at the Radiwan Port in Ivana.

Breathtaking Batanes: The Island of North Batan

Have you ever felt so awed by a sight that you were rendered speechless for a significant amount of time?  

That's practically how we were the whole time when we were in Batanes, easily one of the most beautiful places in the Philippines.  Last April, we were blessed with good weather and we reveled at the sprawling emerald lands and sloping hills set against the brightest of blue skies.

For a small island, there is so much to explore in this province in the Cagayan Valley Region, with each municipality having its own unique beauty.

Today, I give you the island of North Batan.

Entering the extraordinary world of the Pinto Art Museum

I have a confession:  museums do not appeal to me. (Cue: Collective gasp and raised eyebrows from art connoisseurs.)  Inasmuch as I would like to up my ante as a cultured being (haha), I'm afraid I lean towards the more indie and contemporary type of art.

That's why when I saw photos of the Pinto Art Museum online, I was instantly fascinated.

A friend from the Netherlands was coming to visit and I was looking for unique places to take her within or just outside Metro Manila.  And Pinto was spot on.  It is a charming combination of contemporary art,  unique architecture, and creative landscaping nestled in a 1.6 hectare of land.

The virgin beach of Dinadiawan

I have to go there, I thought when I saw my friend's Facebook photos of a virgin white white beach with blue waters that looked so alive under the winking sun.

Promptly, I messaged my friend and found out that the photos were taken at Dinadiawan Beach, Dipaculao, Aurora.  I'm always on the lookout for secluded or unfrequented beaches to explore.  So when 2015 kicked in, I invited my friends to jump-start the summer with a quick weekend getaway to Dinadiawan Beach.

The people of Burma

Pilgrims.  Monks inside the Shwedagon Pagoda in Yangon, Myanmar.

Like I said before, the Burmese are a people beautifully caught between traditions of the past and the threshold of  present times.  It's no wonder that in one corner, you will see women in longyis carrying fruit baskets or selling thanakas while in the other, you'll come across monks fiddling with their smartphones.

In my previous posts, I've shown you the place.  Now let me show you the people. 

The temples of Bagan

Temples in Bagan, Myanmar are literally everywhere.

They're as common as the cattle on the fields, the motorbikes on the roads, and the spices on their food.  If you climb up one, you will see sprawling lands dotted with stupas, temples and pagodas of different shapes and sizes.  (There are over 2,000 named temples around the ancient city and hundreds more that remain nameless.)  Some look like they grew straight from the soils with their brownish red brickwork while others glitter and wink under the glaring sun with their golden casts.

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