I’ve been warned about the boat ride to Sabtang, one of the two island municipalities in Batanes. There were stories about giant waves that are bigger than the faluwa and turbulent seas caused by the meeting of currents from the Pacific Ocean and the South China Sea (or is it called the West Philippine Sea now?). We probably just got lucky with the weather but the 30-minute trip wasn’t really that bad. Sure, the waves were big, the boat was constantly rocking from side to side, and some of the passengers suffered from seasickness but it wasn’t the serious life-threatening ordeal that the horror stories make it out to be.
The first thing that greets you upon stepping off the boat is the scorching heat. It was so freakin’ hot and we spent a lot of time walking around that by mid-afternoon, I had such severe sunburn I looked like an overcooked Peking duck.
Since I only had one day for Sabtang, I decided to join a tour group for this part of the trip. I met Macky and Joy who are longtime friends and travel buddies, and married couple Omar and Karen. It was fun being with other people for a change but the pace was more hurried and exhausting than what I’m used to. I’m a lazy traveler; I prefer dozing off in one place rather than shuttling from one spot to another in a frenzied race to take pictures of everything.
We walked around Chavayan and Savidug, the usual tourist spots for the classic photo-ops of stone houses, and to Morong Beach (often mistakenly called Nakabuang) where the famous arc was.
Although I’m more comfortable travelling on my own, joining the group tour had its own kind of fun. We had a blast dissing the other tour group for being late and for being such hoity-toity wimps. The guy who threw up on the boat was with them by the way. We were fiercely competitive on who could withstand the boat ride without puking and we won! Ha. (What can I say, I attract my own kind of evil crowd, which is awesome.)
Hats off to Ryan for enduring all my pesky questions, hunting me down when I’d go off on my own, picking up my stuff whenever I’d leave them lying around, and keeping me from falling off a cliff. The last one wasn’t really that scary; it was just me being an idiot again when I tried to step on the edge of a rock which turned out to be unstable. This is one of the reasons I travel solo. I’m a pain in the ass when I’m with other people and the person tasked with taking care of things bears the brunt of my jackassery.
I mostly pestered Ryan and Kuya Noli, the driver, about teaching me Ivatan. A couple of useful phrases I learned from them: Dinu mavid kanan diaya? Mapteng ko na. – Where’s a good place to eat here? I’m hungry, and Maychinuhat an madinyat – Have coffee when drunk.
If you’d ever need a tour guide in Batan and Sabtang, look for Ryan Cardona of Batanes Cultural Travel Agency, mobile: 09192795963. The BCTA guides wear a purple shirt and hang out at the airport when they don’t have tours so you can’t miss them. After being such a pest in his tour group, plugging his services is the least I can do.