Monday, 25 January 2016

Remote Philippines: Batanes

The Rolling Hills, Batan Island
Going to Batanes feels a bit like you have spun a globe and resolutely made it to the first place your finger landed on. From a map, you can barely make out a few dots in the middle of the ocean, somewhere between Taiwan and the rest of the Philippines.

This remoteness makes it the perfect escape, where you can enjoy the freedom of motorbiking through rolling hills and dramatic coastlines, exploring the local villages and being switched off from the rest of the world (there is virtually no WiFi!) 

We covered Batan Island in a day, going through charming little fishing villages, picturesque farmland and the hilly interior. 

what a poser!
We stopped for lunch at Fundacion Pacita, a boutique hotel and restaurant named after the Filipino artist Pacita Abad, which houses a gallery of her vibrant artworks. 

It's is a lovely place to explore and the food there is the best we had on the island, using fresh ingredients they have grown in the grounds. 

Lunch at Fundacion Pacita

The next day we tried to catch a ferry to Sabtang Island but found out it had been cancelled because of the fiesta. This cloud had an instant silver lining since the shop owner we asked about the ferry invited us to join the feast she had prepared in celebration. 

View of the Port from the church opposite

We helped ourselves to delicious pork and crackling, turmeric and ginger rice, lumpia (Filipino spring rolls), and the most delicious purple sticky coconut rice called bibinka. 

Grilled pork, lumpia and Batan Bibinka

We ended up drinking "Red Horse Extra Strong" with her husband and his friends until late in the evening, leaving our bikes there and getting a tricycle all the way back along the winding roads to Basco. 

The next day, we made it to Sabtang slightly worse for wear, and drove through picturesque villages to some dramatic cliffs and viewpoints before racing back to the port in time for the ferry back. 

White sand coves in Sabtang Island

Sabtang Village

We stopped off for one last sunset over the rolling hills...

And then got some tasty street food in the town on our way back home: barbecue skewers and battered eggs that you dip in a sugary, spicy vinegar. A sweet end to our short stay!