Sunday, December 19, 2010

[BATAN] Provoking a Cow at Naidi Hills

Saturday started as early as 5 AM to make up for lost time. After breakfast I went to town to look for Amboy's bike rental. I was able to get a mountain bike for 200 pesos. I just had to return it and pay before they close at 8 PM. See, this is one thing you just have to admire about the Ivatans. They have faith in each other. At the Batanes Seaside Lodge, for example, there is a TV by the front door. The desk is often unmanned and the door is wide open. There were no security guards by the way. Do that in Manila and you are, like, doing the Akyat Bahay a huge favor. Anyway, I decided to go and see Mt. Iraya up close.

The road going north from the airport leads to the mountain. It served as a test drive for the bike. Going uphill was torture. Biking downhill was a breeze, albeit tricky. I saw a lot of cows as well as some spotted piglets on the way but the prize for Peculiar Site of the Day definitely went to the carabao and half a dozen locals farming by the runway. Without a fence. Imagining them being run over by one of Seair's Dorniers is just morbid but indeed there is some possibility to such scenario, right? On the contrary, there are usually just a maximum of two flights on a daily basis. I guess it is safe to assume that they are well aware of the schedule.

I was taking a video of the town hall when I almost crashed. I ended up with a nasty bruise. Bad pavement! I had to cut my gallivanting short and run back to the hotel to disinfect. There was still a lot of time before lunch so I was out again in no time. After visiting the church and not burning alive for the heretic that I am, I headed to the rolling hills to reenact that scene from The Sound of Music. DO NOT go there on foot. The road is a mix of uphill and downhill slopes. Bringing a bike up there is hard but you reap the rewards getting down later. A motorcycle or a van would be your best bet. ♫The hiiillllsss are aaaliiive♪ when I suddenly stepped on something undesirable. At least it was dry.

The Basco light house is more photogenic than any Philippine candidate who won Miss Photogenic in Miss Universe because of online voting. Regardless of the angle or camera you use, every photo that comes out is just magnificent, unless you are cross-eyed and you keep on capturing an image of the farm beside it. That is not the tower's fault. See an ophthalmologist. I was not able to climb the tower. I think I was even trespassing because there was a rope by the entrance. Whatever! I did not come all the way here to be stopped by a rope! The doors were locked so I just took the obligatory picture and did my own Batanes 360 on the hill nearby.

It is perhaps this combination of sea, cliff, cow, and cow poo that best represents Batanes. And the goats that stare! They are all over the place. Playing Patintero with cow dung on the hills is a sport, and so is maintaining your balance so you do not fall off a cliff and get eaten by the ocean. Nonetheless, everything was worth it. The landscape just overwhelms you. It is a different kind of high that neither text nor video could capture. You just have to experience it yourself!

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