Batanes, there and back again (December 28 – 31, 2009)
A lot of friends asked me for details on my trip to Batanes, particularly how and how much?
Planning for the trip.
I decided I wanted to go Batanes as my final trip for 2009 sometime December 6th. I asked a friend of mine, the much travelled Ivan Henares, for some tips, who to recommended I contacty Seair’s Travel Agency… Leisure Escape Packages. But I wasn’t getting much luck with them (I sent several e-mails with no response, and the no one seemed to pick up the phone when I called). So scrap that idea.
I decided to just do things on my own. First, I needed a place to stay (I do this before booking the flight). I searched Batanes on Bing and found this very helpful website: http://www.philsite.net/batanes.htm which listed a few options. I later realized… there weally just a few options. Another site I consulted was http://www.flyseair.com/destinations/batanes/wheretostay.
Batanes Seaside Lodge
I obviously decided on Batanes Seaside. How? Well, I e-mailed all e-mail addresses on the sites and such as Seaside’s at email@example.com. Only Seaside’s manager, Lydia Roberto replied to me. So I decided that she would get my business. The different sites stated the rates of the options, but I decided that I wanted to make my life easier and specified to Lydia what I wanted. And I was very specific. I wanted a quote for 4 days / 3 nights, that I would be alone, and I requested that they arrange the tours for me. She quickly replied with some packages.
I opted for a package which included all my meals, the tours, and the stay. For a single pax (the rates were cheaper the more you are in a group.) My rate? P7,500. Which I thought was quite decent. (Note, the packages for 3D/2N in groups actually started at P4,500.).
Over the next few days we would exchange texts to clarify my needs.
Booking my flight
This was the easy part. I just went to the SEAIR website at http://www.flyseair.com and booked directly there. My total airfare was P13,897.20
So my total fixed cost was P21,397.20. I brought some extra cash, just in case which is prudent but I really didn’t have much additional expenses after.
The only unexpected expense I had was to facilitate the boat rides to and from Sabtang Island. Long story short, because it was Dec 30, there weren’t many passengers going back and forth. And since I didn’t want to be stranded, I offered to pay extra. But it was no big deal.
Those who follow my blog will know that my Dec 28-31 trip was originally Dec 26-Dec29… details here: http://lakwatsero.me/2009/12/26/aborted-departure-for-batanes-for-now-the-many-things-that-went-wrong-today-travel-wise-dec-26-2009/
All in all, the snafu aside (which I didn’t ruin my adventure) the planning and the trip itself went quite well.
Great service at the Batanes Seaside Lodge
An extra mention. I already said this in a previous blog post. Ms. Lydia Roberto, Seaside Lodge’s manager went out her way to ensure that my specific requests were met. She is also quite a woman to exchange stories with. (you have got to meet her). Meanwhile, her entire staff was great. From her driver Narding, her cook Precy (who always prepared more food than I could finish), and of course my guide Dwight was… the best!
They say that Batanes folk are quite nice, polite, and tourist friendly. I clearly saw that in the whole of Batanes… but specifically from the staff of Batanes Seaside.
Several months ago, a friend of mine told me a Photographer’s Urban Legend. It goes, while at Batanes, you take your camera, point it at anything. and the picture would turn out great. So during my trip to Batanes, I wanted to test this and see if the myth was confirmed or busted.
Amongst the 800+ photos I took I could say that the urban legend is just that. I had a lot of really bad shots as anyone would. However I would say, that because of the sheer splendor of the place, yes… majority of my pics turned out really good. Hence, I would say that the Urban Legend is clearly exag. But I can see where it was coming from. Because it was so easy to take great pictures with such a backdrop.
In the words of Douglas McArthur… I shall return.