We are particularly excited about Day 3 because we’re scheduled to visit Sabtang Island!
That morning we woke up really early to catch the first boat trip from Port of Ivana to Port of Sabtang. Morning they say is the best time to head out to the island since it is when the water is the most calm.
To cross the Sabtang Island you’ll have to pass the very same water where South China Sea meets the Pacific Ocean, which explains the big waves and oftentimes the rough 30 to 45-minute boat ride.
The big waves are also the reason why their boats, called falowa, do not have an outrigger, it’ll just break. Falowa is rather designed to glide with the waves with its oval shape.
Base on our experience, it was a pretty good boat ride compare to our trip back to Batan the following morning ;)
Although the falowa is indeed gliding with the waves and you kind of have that feeling of being rocked in an over-sized hammock, the thing is that you can actually see how enormous those waves are! It’s crazy fun and crazy scary at the same time. It’s like you’re seeing the stretch of hills one second and 3 seconds later, all you’re seeing is a really fat wave.
I just console myself thinking we’re wearing life jackets anyway so if in case we do capsized hopefully we’ll float long enough to be rescued, haha!
Anyways, all that falowa ride scare is all worth it once you get to Sabtang. Just like Batan, the place is simply amazing! What makes it even special is that the way of life, the culture, are more preserve here.
After registering and paying for the tourist fee at the Tourism Center and making an arrangement for lunch, we started exploring Sabtang!
We stop by Chamantad and enjoy the amazing view! We were told it’s the highest point of the island. No wonder the winds are crazy up there.
I have never experienced a strong wind like that before. I really felt like I’m going to get blown off the mountain!
But the place is so beautiful you will dare the wind and your fear of heights just to see everything. I’m like peeking over the cliff to see the whole stretch of beach below us. It’s simply amazing!
Savidug and Chavayan are two traditional villages where almost all of the houses are still made of corals and limestone.
Walking along their narrow streets is an experience I will never forget!
It feels like you’re back in time where life is just simple and easy and uncomplicated.
And what’s so inspiring is that here it still does exist. People here do live that kind of life!
I can’t really explain it. Maybe I just love this kind of stuff. But really, it was pretty amazing.
It was very quiet when we got there I think it’s normally like that in the morning. They say most of the people are out to work, the kids are in school and the others? Probably minding their own business and just letting us be ;)
It started to rain when we were in Savidug, not really hard, but we had to wait it out. Weather here changes abruptly.
We get the chance to talk to a policeman resting in a shed in what appears to be the center of the barrio. He said Batanes is really peaceful more so there in Sabtang, which practically leaves him with almost nothing to do really.
He said the only incident he’ll likely encounter are minor disagreement that usually involves a drunk guy. Because of the weather they say, it’s very common for Ivatans to have a drink or a shot after a long day of work. It’s their only past time or form of unwinding really.
The thing is that if someone do report an incident, he’ll just ask the person (or relay the message) to come to the police post and that’s it, meet him there, he’ll be there. There’s no need to arrest or search or whatever. They will voluntarily report themselves. He said things like these are settled peacefully, oftentimes just among themselves.
We were supposed to stay for the night at a house in Savidug before we head back again to Batan Island the following morning.
We’re thinking we’d like to experience staying in an authentic Ivatan household.
But since the first falowa trip is so early, it means we’ll have to take the trike ride back to the port when it’s still dark. And no way, we can imagine ourselves braving those sharp curves and steep and narrow roads in the dark!
We ended up staying in the Tourism Information Center instead, they are offering overnight stay accommodation as well.
After we’ve made the decision to not stay in Savidug, we just waited for the weather to clear up, and then we headed back to the center.
After we have deposited our luggage, had lunch and walked around the area a bit, we then proceeded to Nakabuang Beach. Best known for its natural rock formation. The trip to the beach is an adventure itself! (Well, when you’re in Batanes all trips are!).
I wonder how our trike could take on such rough roads and sometimes really steep climb. I think not only once did we volunteered to just walk thinking his tricycle won’t carry us all! But he always assures us that it’s not a problem and that his trike could carry loads heavier than us. Haha!
At the Batanes Resort I read this in one of their pictures on display:
“Ahau Arch in Nakabuang beach, Sabtang, reveals the origins of the Batanes Islands. The limestone arch is what remains after powerful waves incessantly pounded on coral uplifts from the sea that formed the first land masses of Batanes. The original coralline land masses were subsequently covered by volcanic ash that formed the topsoil in most of the islands. Due to its proximity to the sea, the Ahau Arch remained a karst landmark of limestone. It is another favorite spot of picnickers.”
We still got time to spare since we’re staying for the night, so we all decided to head on to Sumnanga, to see what they called the Little Hong Kong or “Bahay sa Bato” which translates to “house on rock, “ apparently because houses were built on stones or rocks. I still don’t get it though why “Little Hong Kong.”
Anyways, the ride is bumpier that ever. The roads are crazy steep and the sharp curve could churn your stomach. Again maybe I’m just being a scaredy cat, but my sister who’s taking the tricycle back ride literally have both of her feet hanging over the cliff!
The place is not usually reached by tourist. Mainly because of time constraints. Oftentimes tourists that came in the morning, leaves in the afternoon catching the last falowa trip out of Sabtang which I think is around 3pm. So, since Sumnanga is too far from the center or Centro, it’s not usually recommended for those needing to get back to Batan on the same day.
Anyways, the trip is again well worth it.
The place is also called fishing village, people here depends on fishing for their source of living.
On our way back to the Centro, as if the road isn’t adventurous enough, it started to drizzle! Yay, and to top it all, it’s about to get dark as well!
So really, I think I’m not just being a scaredy cat here. These are things that would normally freak out a normal person!
But then again, luck is still on our side, it didn’t really rain and we made it at the Tourism Center just before dark.
The clerk at the office actually just waited for us to come in since we’re booked to stay there. It’s way past office hours and she was supposed to be home already, well we’re sorry, but we didn’t know we’ll be having the entire center to ourselves. She’s really nice, though.
She told us, the rooms are ready and inform us that electricity will be out by 12 midnight I think until 6 in the morning. She leaves us with an emergency light and told us to feel free to use whatever we need in there.
Oh and that, it’s okay to leave the doors open and assure us that we’ll be fine. It turns out they don’t lock doors here!
The Tourism Center also has souvenir items just lying out there with price tags. So just like at Honesty Coffee Shop, just take what you want and honestly pay for it.
We did take a few fridge magnets, which we paid for just so we’re clear :)
Before we went to bed, we did go outside to check how it was in the vicinity at night-time. It was really quiet and dark, aside from a couple of glimmering lights from a distance, everywhere else is just darkness. Maybe because weather is starting to turn bad then, that even the sky is black. The sound of the wind and the waves are all you can hear. And then, it started to rain.
We did sleep well! And we didn’t lock the door.
The following morning, the first falowa trip got delayed since, again, I can’t quite remember if there’s an approaching typhoon or the weather is just bad. The coast guard later on gave the go signal that it’s safe to travel.
They did say safe, they didn’t mention it’s going to be a smooth sail. The trip back to Batan is twice (if not thrice) as scary as our first falowa ride. I think we’re on the water for almost an hour because the big waves are making it really hard for the boatman to maneuver the falowa.
The enormous waves are carrying our falowa really high and then dropping us really low, giving you that notion that maybe the next time it drop us, we’ll get sucked into the water or maybe the wall of water will fall on us. Morbid thoughts, I know, too much TV I guess, haha!
I’m not really sure now how I kept myself calm all thru out. Maybe because the other locals were with do not really look alarm at all, mostly we’re sleeping actually.
There’s even one guy who’s standing by his motorcycle right in front (yup, we have a motorcycle on board, I heard sometimes even cows are loaded to falowas). He’s just casually standing there leaning at the side of the boat as if he’s Jack of Titanic minus Rose of course but plus a motorcycle! :)
And another thing, I really believe that I saw a guy apparently free diving! He got his goggles on, and I saw what appears to be a long thin strip of maybe an arrow or something like that. For a brief moment he was there, I can see his head and shoulders swaying along with the water and then he just went into the water again and vanished! I was so sure I saw him. Although now I’m thinking, there’s no boat anywhere near there, or maybe I just missed it? But then again, water is supposed to be rough that morning so what is he doing there? Fishing more likely, but in this weather? Seriously?
Anyways, we did reach Ivana port safely, and dry! Because in spite of all the big waves, falowa does glide with it! So, even if at times you feel like you’re going to capsize no fear, it’ll just glide right back up, or maybe lean on the other side, ;)
But hey, it’s an adventure you will not want to miss!
As we’re leaving Sabtang, I’m silently praying that they will be protected from all forces, either from nature or from men. And that their culture, no matter how many tourists will come and go, will be intact and preserved for more years to come, if not forever.