The adventures of Batan Island

Basco itself is a pleasent place with something of an end of the world feel to it and indeed it is impossible to get farther from the Philippines without actually leaving the country. The town is green and leafy and full of pleasant anachronisms like switches at the base of the street lights to turn them on and off, a restaurant with the address of 'main road, near lighthouse' and tricycles with side cars roofed over with wood and thatch. Our first day on theisland was mostly spent in search of working internet connection to arrange customs procedures in Taiwan and keep an eye on the weather in the strait. Some places we ewnt we managed to recieve an email or two and others we managed to send a couple but the town was true to its frontier feel in that we never did find anything thst could be called a stable connection.

We had originally been intending to leave after spending only one day in Basco but upon getting the weather from Leslie of Carina and learning that it was blowing fifty knots in the strait we opted to stay in Basco until the weather let up. That this allowed us to explore more of the island was a pleasant bonus. The next day was rainy and windy and so we spent most our time eating drinking and watching the large waves rolling into the harbour. The day after that however dawned bright and clear, well relatively bright and clear in that it rained only a little in the morning and we took advantage of the break in the weather to hire a van and drive around the island.

At first I was sorry that we had to hire a driver as well and were deprived of the chance to drive ourselves but upon seeing the ntaure of the roads decided that it was all for the best. These roads wind tortuously along the precipitous cliff edges lining the coast of Batanes. At each of the many hair-pin bends a small yellow sign admonishs drivers to 'blow ur horn' and so let other drivers know that you are coming around the blind corner. Once we arrived on the more exposed coast of the island the waves rolled into the coast with considerably more strength crashinng heavily against the jagged rock pinnacles that dot the coast.

The raw natural beauty of the island reminded me at various times of New Zealand or the British Isles and I was constantly suprised that there seemed to be so few other tourists on the island. Indeed despite the hotels and restaurants present in the main town there seems little in the way of tourist development here, no vendors hawking thier goods to you, and all of the attractions we visited from lighthouses to Japanese tunnels from WWII had nothing in the way of admission fees. They asked you to sign your name on a sheet as you went in and seemed satisfied with that. The lighthouses had stunning views both of the rugged coast and inland to the many fields seperated from each other by tall hedges. The roads running through the countryside followed the line of the ridgelines and so not only gave stunning views to each side sa you drove but also wound there way through the landscape making driving along them an experience in itself.

Indeed the network of roads is so extensive and well developed that it seems almost strange on this lightly populated and remote island. Even stranger was the newly constructed port on the East coast of the island. The port was beautifully, and expensively constructed but seemed to have been abandoned even before it was fully completed and the large structure is now inhabited solely by goats. These unecesarry or abandoned public constructions seem common in the Philippines.

Our project for the remaining time on the island, and from the weather reports this did not seem like it would too long, was to spend all of our remaining Philippine Pesos and to this end we went to dinner to celebrate what would hopefully be our last night in the Philippines. We are now waiting for the weather to clear enough, either this evening or tomorrow morning, for us to raise anchor and head north to the Philippines.
Darryl.

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