Saturday, January 29, 2011

Batanes- Part 2

Before I forget the beauty of Batanes... here's a photo journal of our New Year vacation...

It was a windy day when our guide, Manong Jun, took us to the fishing village. And since it was off-season, there wasn't much to see but we had a great lunch at Monica's catering on a hillside terrace overlooking the sea. The meal was an interesting mix of cuttle fish stir-fried in ginger and oyster sauce (not as rubbery as I expected), the Luniz (adobo Ivatan style), the sweet and sour fish and the piping hot Inasuyan a Dipao. Dipao is a seasonal lentil that is available from December to March and sells for about P30 per cup in the market. It tastes like monggo and pop beans and the soup is flavored with pork and salt. The banana, which the locals call Navaya, has a reddish tinge and itastes like a mixture of lakatan  (Cavendish) and saba (plantain).
The view from the terrace
Cuttlefish stir-fried in garlic and oyster sauce
Inasuyan a Dipao
Sweet and sour fish
On New Year's Eve, we got the chance to visit the wet market, which was contained in one 2-story building and extended to the street corner where the fishmongers had their communal stall.

The fishmonger's stall on the streetcorner

Inside the Basco wet market
Gabi, one of Basco's regular produce
Round chilies pickled in organic coconut vinegar
Plows, knives and machetes
Unlike well-developed tourist destinations, Basco inns did not have the requisite planned New Year's Eve dinners tourists find so convenient. So we decided to get ourselves some supplies for our own private party- rhum, coke and crisps. As it turned out, we didn't need so much since the chill and the exhaustion from touring took its toll on us as the relatively quiet town of Basco welcomed the year  2011.

On New Year's day, we found ourselves without any reservations for lunch. We thought that we'd still be drunk and passed out from our New Year's Eve revelries. We walked around and found this little cafeteria run by Domincan nuns. SDC. Don;t expect too much as the food is similar to your home-cooked carinderia fare.
The friendly servers of SDC
SDC lunch

One of the highlights of our trip was the visit to Sabtang, an inactive volcanic island which in the 50's ws ravaged by a tsunami, most of the famous stone houses were destroyed. Our initially scheduled trip was cancelled due to bad weather. three days after, Mang Jun drove us to the port of Ivana where we had a quick cup of coffee at the Honesty store and met a new friend.
Ivana port breakwater

Inside the Honesty Store
Our little friend whom I wanted to take home

We had to wait for the coastguard to sign-off  the permit to travel before we piled into the  30-seater tugboat. The sea was relatively calm but the wide waves that the boat captain sliced through did not look very friendly to me and the handful of caucasian tourists on board.
The tugboat captain
After almost half an hour,  the lightbhouse by the shores of Sabtang was in sight. We were ushered into one of the two jeepeneys in the island. It would serve as our transport for the whole day.

We had a quick visit to the tourism area for a quick registry and proceeded to a house of one of the locals to have breakfast.

Sabtang Lighthouse
By lunchtime we were at Nakabuang beach, where the same couple who served us breakfast were already preparing our meal.
Nakabuang beach

Lunch was seaweed soup (seaweed boiled with garlic, onions and ginger), Luniz, minced pork with string beans, cuttlefish and fish fillet and lobster in lemon butter sauce.
Seaweed soup
Minced pork and string beans
Fish and cuttlefish fillet

After lunch, a few more hours was spent exploring the island. When it was time to go back to the port, our jeepney trip was stopped short by a throng of locals celebrating the feast of Sto. NiƱo.

As we were waiting for the coastguard to sign the permit to sail, we witnessed a young brave fisherman swimming in the Sabtang port breakwater, trying to catch some fish.

And on the boat, our guide and one of the younger assistants of the captain decided to do some line fishing and caught one grouper who spent its last remaining breath twisting and flipping at Mang Jun's feet.

On our last night at Sabtang, we decided to have dinner at Fundacion Pacita Batanes Nature Lodge.
The place itself is a dream. the two-story stone house is nestled on top of a hill with terraces overlooking the sea. Surprisingly, the food did not live up to the beauty of the place, it was just so-so.
But if you do get the chance to go to Batanes, visiting this lovely place is a must.

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