grub + travels + perspectives

DIY Travel: Ilocos

Just recently, I went to an impromptu roadtrip/holiday vacation (March 28th until the 31st) with a few friends to Ilocos. Okay, so technically, when you say Ilocos, it means the region composed of the provinces of Ilocos Sur, Ilocos Norte, Pangasinan and La Union. Majority of our stay was spent in the first two though we did pass by both La Union (of course) and Pangasinan (I think. Hehe).

It was a last minute decision to join my friends because I didn't think my mom would allow me to leave during the Holy Week. When I asked her if I could go, she replied "Oo naman. Malaki ka na." in a non-sarcastic, non-reverse psychological tone that our parents usually use when they mean it the other way around. I was really ecstatic because it's been so long since the last time I had an out of town vacation (Puerto Princesa, Palawan, 2012: here and here). But this trip is different from my Palawan escapade since it's a DIY, budget-friendly roadtrip (itinerary courtesy of Maricris). We hired a vehicle (L-300) for this trip. No prior reservations anywhere and long travel by land! I'm definitely up for an adventure!

Just a reminder, this post is long and is photo heavy.

We left Manila around 8 in the evening of Wednesday (March 27) and I was the only person who was able to sleep well during the trip because I haven't had a decent rest since my shift ended that day. I had no recollection of the trip from Manila to Vigan because I was always in between of being completely asleep and half asleep. Hahaha. We made a few stops along the way for our dinner, buy snacks and refreshments, and to rest.

We arrived at Vigan City early in the morning, about 5:30 AM. The photo on the left is the Calle Crisologo with all the stores still closed. Since some of us were not able to properly sleep during the trip, they checked in at a nearby hostel around Plaza Burgos.

Maricris, JB, Dianne and I decided to start the day early and had breakfast at RF Aniceto Mansion's cafe.

This meal costs PhP 100. Unlimited rice but I am saddened that they only served 2 pieces of Longganisang Vigan per plate.
Plaza Burgos
St. Paul Cathedral / Vigan Cathedral
Ilocos Sur Capitol
Magic Kalesa
Wood works and crafts
Sag-sagat Furniture
Busy street
Last block of Calle Crisologo
Syquia Mansion Grand Living Room with a replica oil painting of Spolarium, done by Fernando Amorsolo's assistant
The Syquia Mansion is owned by President Elpidio Quirino's wife, Dona Alicia Quirino, which houses the late president's memorabilia. The house is indeed huge, and filled with antiques, mirrors and oil paintings. I read here that there were actually peeping holes in the master's bedroom which were used to view visitors at the receiving area. Do they still allow that? Because we missed that. Entrance fee is PhP 20 for adults and PhP 10 for kids.

Syquia Mansion Porch
Syquia Mansion Kitchen Window
Dainty designed floor
The famous and delicious Vigan Empanada. I want more!
You can find the Vigan Empanadahan stalls around Plaza Burgos. Due to time constraints (as we have to make it to Laoag before 3 PM), we were not able to visit the Baluarte Open Zoo/Baluarte ni Singson (which was just fine with me) and the Pagburnayan Pottery (I want to visit this place next time).

Photo by Maricris Elemos/JB Basco
It was an hour drive from Vigan to Laoag and we headed to Vintar as we are going to stay there. JB has relatives in Vintar and they were kind enough to let us use 2 apartment units during our stay. We rested and slept for the remainder of the day and had a few drinks during the night.

Photo by Maricris Elemos/JB Basco
Day 2 Adventures:

Most tours happen early morning until afternoon, and I'm not really sure if it's just Ilocos that's exceptionally hot, but the sun was really blazing and even the air was warm so please do bring water/Gatorade to avoid dehydration. Spare shirts or towels would be a great help, too. I think I consumed 3 bottles of Gatorade and a bottle of water just on the trip up to Cape Bojeador until we reached the Kapurpurawan Rock Formations.

Cape Bojeador Lighthouse from afar

I am a lighthouse
It was a super hot day but this view was refreshing.
Bangui Windmills

Kapurpurawan Rock Formation. This somehow reminded me of Roswell, New Mexico.
Photo by Maricris Elemos/JB Basco

Mission accomplished. I told myself, aside from buying Bagnet, my other goal would be to take a photo of myself with a drink at the beach while watching the sunset.
I've never been to much beaches but so far, Pagudpud is at the top of my list. Haha. I have a very limited list, you see. The place is not overcrowded and very clean. The bright sun is perfectly reflected on the clear, blue water. The sand was not that white but it was fine, so fine I hard time walking because me feet kept on sinking. LOL.

We went to Saud Beach Resort but was informed that the place was fully booked. What we did was park our vehicle near the beach and basically dumped all our things on a spot near the shoreline. Instant savings! Saud Beach resort, I think, had the best location out of all the resorts in the area but the amenities are quite poor. Especially the shower/comfort rooms. But I really can't complain since we paid around PhP 50 per head only.

Perfect way to end my day
Day 3 was almost the death of me: 4 X 4 Drive and Sand Boarding

Welcome to La Paz San Dunes

Patricia vs. the sand dunes
If you're in Laoag and want to do something extreme, please do try the 4X4 Drive at La Paz Sand Dunes. It was f*cking amazing. There were 5 of us in one of those mean machines without any type of safety gear. Simply put, your survival (hahaha) and safety is entirely dependent upon yourself (they make you sign a waiver). We were just instructed to hold on to the metal railings and never let go. The vehicle was making sharp turns and driving over steep hills at a fast speed! I was screaming for my life the entire ride and may have used all the curse words known to man (we have a video of this uploaded somewhere). It was thrilling and exhilirating and it felt damn good to scream your heart out. We also tried the sand boarding activity. I just did one pass because I felt so tired climbing up the sand hill again. LOL. Renting a 4X4 for an hour costs PhP 2,500, inclusive of sand boarding.

Remember to come early in the morning or late in the afternoon to avoid the extreme heat. Even the sands turned extremely hot, it was so painful to walk back to our vehicle!

After the action-filled morning, we went back to Vintar to take a quick shower so we could go to JB's relatives and to have lunch by the river. Yay!

After a hearty meal (BICOL EXPRESS AND BAGNET FTW), I spent a few hours dipping my foot in this river. You gotta love the life in the province sometimes.
Last stop: Laoag City Tour

Ilocos Norte Capitol
Patricia Building! Photo courtesy of Diana Rose Quiatchon
Our first complete group picture! Photo courtesy of Kylie Mahdalová
Paoay Church
Jardin de San Agustin Prayer Garden. Photo by Diana Rose Quiatchon.
Tricycle fare from Batac to Paoay was PhP 60. We thought we were in agreement with the tricycle drivers that they would take us to the Malacanang of the North, too, for that amount. We decided to skip it because it was getting a bit late and also, the tricycle drivers were charging us an additional PhP 500 per tricycle to get there.

We had dinner around Laoag City area and reached Vintar by 8 PM. We had a quick rest then decided to head back to Manila by 2 AM. We were cramped in our vehicle on the way home because we brought a lot of stuff with us (pasalubong hehe) and other things. I was dead tired the entire trip and this time, I was not able to sleep at all! Hahaha. I began missing Makati and my bed. Hahaha.

We left Manila Thursday night and was back by Sunday afternoon. It was a different kind of experience for me and it was all oh so worth it. I believe we managed to save a lot in this trip but every day was still filled with adventures and new discoveries. I am still wrapping my mind at the thought of me being to so many places in such a short period of time. I especially enjoyed our adrenaline rush at La Paz Sand Dunes, our quiet time at the Jardin de San Agustin Prayer Garden and our lunch by the river. And yey, I made new friends as well!

Big thank you to JB and Maricris for, basically, everything. Kim, baby girl Sun-Hye (the most adorable and intelligent 4-year old girl I've ever met! I will see you again soon!), Dianne, Kylie and Jurgen for the laughter-filled 4 days together.

Now I wonder, where will I go next? J