Month: June 2014

Ilocos 2014 [Part 3]

It has been a while since the last time I fell asleep while watching TV. After a very long day roaming around the towns of Ilocos Norte and visiting places which left us all in awe, I found myself lying in the bed, resting my tired body and gearing up for yet another day full of adventure!

Day 3 – Vigan

The first half of our day was preciously spent in the beach. We took a few selfies and enjoyed the water as much as we can because we’ll be checking out before lunch time. Our next destination is Vigan, the tourist in the south of Ilocos province. Since we’re all for adventure and did not hire a van or any private service to get us to the places we wanted to go, it took us 4-5 hrs to reach Vigan from Pagudpud.

A good 45 minutes was dedicated to our tricycle ride from the hidden paradise of Casa Consuelo to Pagudpud Town Proper. From there, we rode an ordinary bus to take us to Laoag. The trip back to the capital took 2 hrs as expected. From the terminal, we hailed another tricycle to the nearby Partas Bus station which will take us to Vigan. Another 2 hrs on the road (but in an airconditioned bus, at last!)

The city has welcomed us with bustling people moving about, going to different places at once. I initially felt like I was back in Manila but when I looked around – seeing the rich Hispanic influence in the architecture – it definitely made me go back to where I am and immediately started to enjoy this last leg of our vacation.

We stayed at Grandpa’s Inn, a stone’s throw away from the famous Calle Crisologo. To fully enjoy our Vigan adventure, we chose this old-fashioned hotel with thick brick walls and enormous paintings and statues. It was a bit creepy at first – mostly when the stairs creaked (but this is part of the experience!) and the heavy wooden floors with a few cracks.

DSC_0419DSC_0420DSC_0421DSC_0422DSC_0424DSC_0425DSC_0477After settling in our room, we headed out for an early dinner. One of the most visited restaurants in Vigan is Cafe Leona. It is situated at the one end of the long and busy Calle Crisologo. Since we failed to try Pinakbet Pizza when we were in Paoay, it was the first in our list! Surprisingly, it tasted good. A must-try! We spent around P700, good for 3.

DSC_0434 DSC_0430DSC_0431DSC_0432After a very satisfying meal, we hustled into the bricked street. We were walking among other tourists and some horse-drawn carriages. No signal was needed, with shops open next to each other selling miniature wind mills, bags locally made, pashminas, t-shirts and table runners, I knew it’s time to bring out our wallets and buy pasalubongs!

DSC_0429We lost track of time but as soon as the sun set, the lights which flickered on the stalls gave Calle Crisologo a new vista. Somehow I felt like I went back in time – when everything is so laid back and it’s not like you’re always running out of time.

DSC_0453DSC_0438In between shopping, we bought a pineapple-flavored ice cream in one of the vendors. It’s quite new to my taste buds but it was good. Never thought pineapple would be a perfect flavor for an ice cream.

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After we’re through, I tugged my friends to try Vigan’s Coffee Break. I searched for a Starbucks branch but it seems they have closed a few years back. We stayed at Coffee Break for an hour or so before retreating to our hotel room.

DSC_0461DSC_0472DSC_0471It was a full day! The next day, we experienced Vigan in the morning and see different places in our carriage!DSC_0469DSC_0466

 

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Ilocos 2014 [Part 2]

It took us two hours of travel from Laoag to reach Pagudpud town proper. Bus fare is P70 each. I lost count of the number of towns we passed by. My friends and I got excited the first time we laid eyes on the wind mills which is one of source of energy in the province.

As expected, there’s a tricycle terminal at the drop-off point. We hailed one and asked the driver to take us to Casa Consuelo which was our home for the next two days. He charged us P300. At first, I thought it was a bit too pricey. But in the middle of the trip, I realized it was just enough for almost an hour drive in the zigzag road to our destination. Casa Consuelo is situated at the end of the Blue Lagoon, near Dos Hermanos. We passed by Hannah’s resort which is one of the more famous destinations of tourists.

As soon as I alight the tricycle, we were welcomed by one of the resort’s owner. The reviews I’ve read before finally booking a room at Casa Consuelo are true. I was really amazed at how personal our visit had been (mind you, we arrived just a few minutes and yet I already feel at home).

DSC_0155We booked a room good for three at a price of P3, 600 per night. It comes with three single beds, cable TV, air conditioner, daily supply of water and toiletries and a complimentary breakfast. Our room has a veranda outside which is in front of the dining area.

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DSC_0156A few steps more, you’ll see the beach. One of the best features of this place is the private beach experience and the accompanied serenity it brings about. The wind was blowing rather strong that afternoon when I roamed around the place.

DSC_0162DSC_0179DSC_0163DSC_0166The waves aren’t as strong as the others I’ve visited. Sand isn’t as fine either. But the quiet experience, the privacy and the personal service surely made up for these natural imperfections.

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Our stay in Casa Consuelo was almost perfect. Only thing I can complain about is the food service. Even though we made a pre-order of our food, it’s not always ready by the time we sat in the dining area.

Day 2 – Pagudpud, Bangui, Burgos

After a hefty dinner, we retreated to our room and slept. Our bodies were aching when we woke up the next day. I wanted to see the sunrise but I was too engrossed at sleeping I didn’t want to leave my bed.

At around 8AM, we’re already on our way to Bangui. We contracted the tricycle driver who brought us to Casa Consuelo to tour us around Pagudpud and nearby towns for P800 (including a trip back to Pagudpud town proper the next day). It took us an hour to reach the famous windmills of Bangui.

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Never imagined them to be those massive! The sand was burning our feet. There are large waves which are happily enjoyed by kids swimming.

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At around 10AM, we hopped on another town, Burgos to see the Kapurpurawan Rock Formation and Cape Bojeador Lighthouse. We stopped at a terminal to be picked up by another tricycle from Burgos. We paid P300 (thank God, it’s a bigger vehicle!)

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The heat was unbearable! But the rock formations are unbelievable! It has this chalk-like texture, a powdery surface.

DSC_0269DSC_0296DSC_0294DSC_0299After the almost unbearable heat at the majestic rock formations, we headed to another place-to-visit in Burgos, the Cape Bojeador Lighthouse.

DSC_0300DSC_0318DSC_0328DSC_0352Sadly, the lighthouse was under renovation so we weren’t able to go up. We just stayed at a narrow corridor overlooking the blue lagoon.

DSC_0349DSC_0359DSC_0331On our way back to Pagudpud, we stopped by a site where you can see the town of Bangui from atop. We didn’t spend much time there, just took a few pictures and hopped back to the tricycle.

DSC_0361DSC_0363After almost an hour, we’re back in our private resort. We just spent the remaining daylights in the beach.

Dos Hermanos

Dos Hermanos

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Next stop: Vigan!

Ilocos 2014 [Part 1]

Ilocos, a province in the northern Philippines has a lot to offer for tourists. My college friends and I have been planning on going even before we earned our degree. And here we are, two years after our graduation, finally living up to our dream of visiting this wonderful place.

Day 0 – Laoag

Our flight was delayed for 1.5 hrs. We landed at Laoag International Airport around mid-9PM. I did not charter any service van to get us around the place so we went to the tricycle terminal and rode to the city for P50 per head. It was a challenge getting all our baggage inside and I ended up sitting behind the tricycle driver.

Note: Laoag’s tricycles are rather small. It doesn’t have any handles outside so you have to lean and really sit tight. Roads are paved well, thank God for that. 😉

We checked in at Laoag Renzo Hotel. I booked a room for three via Agoda for P2,000 (incl. taxes and fees). This comes with one queen size bed, one single bed, a hot and cold shower, cable TV and breakfast buffet. Not bad eh?

DSC_0008DSC_0004The hotel is situated a few blocks away from the capitol, at the heart of the city. Once you go out, almost everything is out there – a tricycle terminal, Vigan empanada stalls, fast food chains, grocery stores. The genuine hospitality of the local residents captured us most. After my not-so good experience in Baler, Laoag has been a breath of fresh air.

Day 1 – Paoay, Batac and trip to Pagudpud

Our day started early. After a few hours of sleep, we geared up for the long day. With a heavy breakfast, we traveled to a nearby town called Paoay via tricycle. We rented the vehicle for P900 which includes a tour around Paoay, Batac and a service to the bus station going to Pagudpud.

Our first stop was at the Paoay Sand Dunes. This is not initially part of the itinerary we have. I don’t know what happened but I just found myself climbing up the 4×4 and screaming at the top of my lungs every time it plunges to a sand depression. We spent P1,500 for a thirty-minute 4×4 experience.

DSC_0016DSC_0014DSC_0017DSC_0021DSC_0028One good thing about traveling is, aside from it excites you, it helps you define who you can be and surprise you at what you can do 🙂

DSC_0054The 4×4 experience can accommodate up to five people. If 30 minutes is too short for you, you can choose the 60-minute ride for P2,500.  You can also drive an ATV or try sandboarding!

As our adrenaline rush was slowly declining, we reached Malacanang of the North. It opens at 9AM. This is the residence of the Philippines’s first family before Martial Law. There are students who served as tour guides. Trivia overload!

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It is highly recommended that you take a guided tour of the place to appreciate it even more. The house structure is still at its finest. Remnants of the residents’ possessions are still there (some are just replicas). And, of course, the beautiful Paoay lake viewed from the veranda is breathtaking.

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Next stop is the UNESCO World Heritage site, Paoay Church. This has stood the test of time. The church was built in the early 1600s. I remember one of my courses in college, Philippine Economic History, where we discussed the parish-pueblo system. Since the Spaniards who conquered the Philippines for 300 years are Catholic, the political system was highly influenced by the church, hence the need for it and the capitol to be situated near each other. It’s amazing how this has been preserved until today and we have seen this across the towns we passed by and visited.

DSC_0105 (1)DSC_0107DSC_0136After a few moments of silence with God, we keep ourselves glued to our seats as we look around the authenticity and feel the history of the place. Also, there’s a wedding happening so we waited for the bride to walk down the aisle. I haven’t seen a wedding ceremony in a while so I was really happy to witness one of the sacraments at that moment.

DSC_0124DSC_0118DSC_0130It was almost 11AM when we decided to leave Paoay. We need to be back in the hotel before 12NN for our check-out. But we did a side trip to Batac to visit the mausoleum of Marcos. We paid P50 each. Cameras are not allowed inside so I only have pictures of the museum.

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Since Ilocos is Marcos’s “baluarte”, his history is all over the place, both political and personal. I myself admire his stint as our president except for the latter years when it all got complicated. So it’s fun learning more about his life without any prejudice.

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We didn’t stay long in Batac. I was seriously scared of the Gregorian-ish background music when we entered the mausoleum. We arrived at our hotel 15 minutes before twelve noon.

After freshening up, we hit the road again, now going to Pagudpud. We ate a nearby carinderia before hopping into an ordinary bus. There are no buses with air conditioner from Laoag to Pagudpud. It’s part of the adventure!

Hapag Vicentico’s

We left Baler around midday on Easter Sunday. And since most tourists are on their way back to the city for Monday’s work, the expressway is jammed with vehicles. We let it ease up and detoured to Cabanatuan, Nueva Ecija to look for their famous Hapag Vicentico’s.

Hapag Vicentico’s is a restaurant serving Filipino food. It is located at the plaza, just in front of the city’s capitol. The interior of this well-visited place is like an old house – walls made of hard wood, delicate lights, windows with capiz and pieces of furniture like a rocking chair, wooden sofa and chairs.

DSC_0540DSC_0541DSC_0547DSC_0548Food served was superb. Authentic Filipino dishes for a reasonable price. The whole place gives you this old, Filipino under the Hispanic regime vibe. Would definitely come back and try more dishes.

DSC_0555DSC_0556DSC_0558DSC_0559DSC_0560DSC_0561Recommended food/drink/dessert: beef pochero, sinigang na hipon, buko shake with a dash of caramel and leche flan 😉
DSC_0568DSC_0573—Visit their website at http://www.vicenticos.com/.Like them on Facebook, click here.