It was almost pitch black. I was extra careful riding my bike as I could only see only about 6-10 feet of the road ahead of me. I was thankful for the cheap LED light I bought before flying to Batanes as I could never have ridden in this darkness. I left Basco as early as 5am so I could catch the first falowa to Sabtang island. After a day’s rest, I decided to continue biking in Batanes while I still have a group to join with, this time to bike Sabtang island. I wasn’t sure at first if I can handle the terrain but our guide Rene assured me Sabtang is a lot manageable than our North Batan Island ride to Tukon we did the other day.
“Adjust your seat higher. It would help.” Our bike-tour guide Rene told me as he saw me struggle on our uphill ride towards our last stop for the day, the Vayang Rolling Hills. With my armpit at level with my bike saddle, I stretched my arm towards the crank center to determine the proper height for my saddle. I adjusted my saddle accordingly to let my legs fully extend on pedal. We continued our ride and I felt more at ease to somehow find my right cadence. Wow! They could have told me this earlier when we were trekking from Tukon Hills to Valugan Boulder beach. As we near the day’s end of our bike trek in Batan Island, I thought biking in Batanes is the most fun I had on the island on wheels.
I could see the cellular tower standing like a centrepiece of the town. Despite its signal lights on, it’s just a static display as my phone shows no signal even if I’m just a few hundred meters away. I fan myself up as I wipe-off beads of sweat trickling from my forehead caused by the mid-afternoon heat. There are no electric fans around as there are no electricity to power them yet. That is part of the story of this town Maconacon Isabela, somewhat cut-off from the rest of Luzon but roughing it out in this region does yield some memorable travel.
We marvelled at the stars, shining plentifully at the sky. Something we don’t see in an urban night. We played around with the star-gazer on our phones figuring out the constellations, the position of the stars in the wee hours of the morning while waiting for our dump truck service to arrive. Despite the gizmos in our hands, there was no electricity in Itbayat at 4am as it runs from noon to 12 midnight only. We were headed to one of the mountains in the island, Mt Karoboboan. Usual program from tourism here is they take people to the peak at sunset. But since we didn’t have time the day before, we decided to go on a sunrise.
Up to the last-minute, we weren’t sure if we’re pushing through Itbayat on our second day. While having dinner the previous night at the Bunker in Naidi Hills, we watched how the wind threw monobloc chairs and tables making us think of a backup plan in case we don’t push through. But waking up the next day, our guide Joaquin, excitedly informed us and showed in the internet how the wind has slowed down and changed direction. That means we can push through with our Itbayat. So the group got ready for the overnight stay on one of the largest upheaved coral in the world, Itbayat Island.
It was the peak season alright for Holy Week in Batanes and our trip almost didn’t push through but thank God (and Seair) for helping us secure our flights. Albeit shortened, we made do with our time, maximizing moments to take photos and enjoy the scenery. I’ve written about Batanes so many times already in this blog so I’ll just share some memorable takes during our recent Backpack Photography 3-Island Photo Tour. These ones from the small but charming Sabtang Island.
It was 7 days, 1798 kilometers, 9 Conventions and Visitors Bureau (CVBs), 8 provinces in 4 regions, 26 people on one bus on a trip around Northern Luzon. This is the Lakbay Norte Familiarization tour held January 24-31, 2010. I’ve always wanted to do a horseshoe loop of north Luzon and I was glad I was able to do it with the help of North Philippines Visitors Bureau. It was packed, tiring but also fun and exciting. For those who would like to try the similar route, this would be a great reference on what to expect.