I was thrilled that I got to try my first Transitions Lenses and travel to Batanes both for the first time last month. I was introduced to photochromic technology at a time when I've conveniently forgotten that my eyes play an integral part in my wandering life. I cannot do OOTDs but I promise you a glimpse of some of the most useful (and comfy) travel gear I've collected over the past couple of years in this blog. I'm happy to say that my new pair of Transitions XTRActive adaptive lens eyeglasses (there are 2 types of Transitions Lens available in the Philippines, see here) made it to my travel staples packing list (you do have one of those, right?)! My short trip to Batanes was spent seeing what's in front of me and my lifestyle (from outside in) in a different light. We were able to cover a lot of places and have that chill island vibe in 2 whole days ;) Here's Day 1 where we toured the places in Batan (where Basco is located in the Batanes group of islands).
My flying day routine is simple. I dress up in comfy clothes, shoes, jacket and eyeglasses. You won't see me posting much about this day because you'll see me like this haha. I had 2 hours of sleep coming from a flight and straight from 2 weeks of travelling nonstop in Australia and Thailand. It was extra windy when we arrived, my phone front camera wasn't working and I didn't have much allowed photo time in the tarmac in my defense for the sabog look ;) I swear it will get better below haha.
The first thing I noticed was the color change in my glasses. I could have been squinting at that moment with the super bright sun and early flight that day but I didn't even notice it as I got off the SkyJet plane in Basco airport. And so I kept clicking away before getting our bags and heading to Villa Hontomin hotel stay near Chanarian Beach (around 10 minutes away). We were able to rest til 10:30am before our free and easy tour started. We were able to rent a van (use the contact form for details). It took us minutes to get to the Batanes Provincial Capitol. Beside it was the Santo Domingo Parish Church. The structures and the sky was gorgeous and in full color.
It was definitely worth it - that magnificent 360-degree view!
This was as far as my photochromic technology-protected eyes and camera lens could see. ;)
I would go all the way up there if the wind wasn't that strong (I felt like constantly being pushed so I just had to sit down for the sake of my jelly legs).
I took the instinctive and natural route by being close to the ground haha. These animals have it best because they are able to freely graze and lie down the whole day with the views. Unlike them, however, I need some time off away from the sun and the UV rays would do some serious damage from all that chillin'. Ed of EazyTraveller has got our group shots with the darkest hint of our glasses possible. We didn't stay long (around 15 to 20 minutes was enough) to coz we had other places to go.
Sidenote: Check out their rainwater collection area ;) Did I tell you that water is our family business? We brought rainwater harvesting technology in the Philippines. I'm on the lookout for these innovations and green ideas when I travel. Hehe. Speaking of green, as long as you take good care of your glasses and your grade doesn't change, they may actually last decades. They are made for outdoor wear (my XTRActive for indoor light too!) - the molecules get pretty excited when they come in contact with sunlight even when you're cycling, golfing, hiking, etc. ;)
For the elderly or those light enough to get carried away by the wind, I have good news for you! You don't have to go all the way to our vantage point. The road for the van stop is a nice photo stop in itself. ;) You can roll in the grass if you want just be mindful of animal dung hehe.
We arrived at the Valugan Boulder Beach in 15 minutes. Here are the other transportation options for you to getting around in Batan though I'm guessing you'd have to rent them for the tour.
Batanes is not all green; it's also filled with hues of blue, white, black and grey and I loved it! They say these are rounded volcanic rocks in the beach. You can opt to walk to the right but I chose to stay in the middle and sit down in one of the big boulders.
Professional travel photographers like to get upclose, others wouldn't be able to help taking selfies in this place, but me, I like to people-watch, shoot landscapes, hear the waves crash and think about my life. Everything's been amazing so far and I love that I could stare out into the distance for a long time (quite effortless) without having to change into sunglasses or wear contact lenses with tired eyes in this windy Batanes weather during December =) I took a moment to observe my Oakleys Transition lenses and they adapt as well and fast as I do in these situations... Oh, what a fortunate life I have (and insane passion for the travel life) to be able to be here. I was even ready for winter here but the weather was strangely cooperative and pleasant for our whole trip! Haha.
I couldn't take much pictures on our fast-moving car but you can do so during slow turns. The locals like to blow their horns every time (pretty cool and safe) and you'll see the infamous Blow Ur Horn signs to warn incoming cars (whether or not they see anything). You'll be driving past cliff and beach views so don't sleep and sit in the right side or the front (if you're following this itinerary haha)! My Transitions XTRActive lenses adapt to changing light conditions so it's close to clear in our dark car tint. This is where it differs from traditional Oakley shades - you don't need to take them off and the colors switch from dark to light automatically haha. Mine keeps you light sleeping too with just the right amount of light hitting your closed eyes.
Lunch was another treat with the views of the bordering hills, sea and lighthouse at the Marconines Canteen situated at the Racuh a Payaman (big grazing area). Our tourmate Ivan (of IvanAboutTown!) and former guide now Councilor Roger told us that there wasn't a structure in this place before and they used to do picnics and packed lunches in Batanes. This one though I believe you still have to arrange with your guide for reservations so you won't starve in your tour around the Batanes islands. We took in the scenes first before they prepared our food or else it would already be cold once we finished snapping away... I wouldn't mind that but this hut isn't so bad because you just want hot food. It also protects you from the elements so to speak and helps you focus more on eating than being trigger-happy for a while ;) It helped that there was no mobile data and WiFi everywhere in Batanes to be present, esp. to the good warm Nilaga broth hehe.
I'm lucky we have a hot climate because the reaction time indoors for the lenses to go back from dark to clear is faster than in colder climates. It's a delight for me always to dine with a view so I want to be able to see clearly in a distance with a comfortable tint. Whenever I wear contacts, I only have about 8 hours to wear them so at around this time, with our super early flight, I'd already be either cranky and have heavy eyes because there's no clean bathroom to take the contacts off or take them off, have blurry vision and be lazy to wear my normal multi-coated eyeglasses. Now, I have a third option without having to worry about chronic eye fatigue!
This is the part where we marvel about Batanes' lighthouses. The Mahatao Lighthouse or Tiyad Lighthouse in Mahatao was on the way and was the perfect pitstop. Roger said we were in the east side so this is a sunrise area! Would you wake up for this?! ;)
The lighthouse bed and breakfast project didn't push through (sadly) so you can just imagine that lucky foreign researcher who got to stay here a few years ago...
This part was supposed to be the quaint cafe... I was brimming with inspiration to write here. I wouldn't want to be here in a stormy night though the walls seem fortified like the Ivatan stone houses =)
Something not to be missed are the reeds (or runo in Tagalog). They serve as demarkation lines for properties and prevent the animals from straying too far. They also protect the island from the weird weather, wind and heavy rains. :)
Our last stop was another kind of house atop a hill - it was once the studio and home of the late locally claimed artist Pacita Abad. The place is known as Fundacion Pacita Batanes Nature Lodge and as of now, the most expensive accommodation you can find in the island. I would allot an extra day here though if I'm staying here just to explore the compound and lounge around in one of the benches with a view and probably a hot drink :) I didn't see their Pacific Garden bench in person with the view of the ocean and well-manicured shrubs but it looks really nice online. They don't allow non-guests to roam around the hotel compound anymore and we just had a limited permission. In Batanes, they say hello with this phrase Kapian kamu pa nu Dios. It literally means "May God treat you well" ;) I was content with this laid back itinerary so far. We were able to rest for a bit in the hotel before walking to Casa Napoli for dinner under a sky full of stars...
Image of Batan Island and Basco, Batanes in the map (in pink) below from here.
Update: As for my Transitions, I am currently testing them for cold weather around Spain (where my hair is so tame)! Hehe.