grub + travels + perspectives

A Weekend at San Juan, La Union

"Somewhere in your journey, you will find places. Places special enough that will make you want to stay for a while. Places that will make you dream of having a piece of it to your own one day. Places that you’ll want to keep forever. These places are rare. Because our wandering feet can’t stay still so when we find something like this, something that begs us to stay, it makes our hearts quiver and grow roots."
- Stephanie Dandan, Infinite Satori

The long hours from work made us crave for an escapade. Summer was unfolding and we've never been anywhere. Just a little break, it was all we needed. A weekend free from the confines of our night schedule, spent with friends, just to take our minds away from it all. What started as an out of town trip for a few people, turned into a full blown party for 15. (My best friend and her boyfriend who started the whole thing eventually backed out so did a college friend. Hehe.)

Here, where the temperatures rise and the waves are high, I may have found another favorite place. Funny, because I never really liked summer -- Baguio still takes the cake for being the place I will never get tired of -- and I did not even attempt to chase or ride any ripples when we were there. But the place had a whole new meaning to me since the last time I've been there 2 years ago.

I figured it must be the company you're with. There are people you meet in your life you could go on without noticing. There are some small interactions, your lives just infinite asymptotes of each other. Then there are those you meet and there's a click, and you know your life will never be the same again.

It was a bright Saturday morning when we ventured to San Juan, La Union. I was so excited the night before, I was all giggly and happy when I met up with friends the following morning. It was a 6-hour ride filled with laughter, stories, power naps and pan de sal with Nutella while coursing through the panoramic but traffic NLEX. We entertained ourselves with questions like, "P'ano kung makatuluyan mo yung dream boy/girl mo pero dyan kayo nakatira?" (referring to certain abandoned, isolated houses in the middle of the stretch of NLEX, maybe somewhere in Tarlac or Pampanga), and heated discussions about people who wear Crocs. Yes, we're very mature. We then arrived at The Circle Hostel an hour after lunch.

The Circle Hostel is an unconventional accommodation in LU. I've met one of its owners, Raf Dionisio, in a bloggers' event at GK Enchanted Farm in Bulacan. It's an eco-hostel that's got that creative, laid back and peaceful ambiance perfect for the surf and beach environment. It's the epitome of a great summer weekend. If you're after an affordable, different and friendly lodging experience, you should definitely try staying at The Circle Hostel. They offer 2 open air bunk bed dormitories (one co-ed, one exclusively for girls), hammocks, a common area (perfect for group activities or if you just want to take a nap or lounge with your friends), shower areas (they've got hot and cold water, ppl!), comfort rooms (of course), a tree house and a swing set! <3

Creativity is certainly encouraged there. The place was filled with graffiti and color, adding an even more unique charm to the already great place. There are paints and brushes available for use by the hostel guests. You can paint and doodle any time you like!

After choosing our bunk beds and settling in, we all went to get a glimpse of the beach. Somehow, this trip has a personal meaning to me. Even though it's such old news and a gazillion years ago, I still find myself a bit awed at the changes that happened in my life. I feel like taking a peek at a fragment of the flurry of things a few years back, and how it feels so distant, almost like a dream, almost like it never happened at all.

"Dream with the dreamers and invent things you never knew you had in you. Think with the thinkers and discover ideas that mold who you are. Smile at strangers and make friends that last a life time. Travel with travelers and explore a life beyond your imagination. Love only one and grow old with your best friend. Let these things bring fire to your soul, so when you look back at your life, you'll have no regrets, and you can leave this place a little better than when you found it." 
- R. M. Drake

Some of us went ahead and rode the waves. Some of us just dipped their feet on the water. A little bit of sand in between their toes, a little bit of the sea was enough. Some of us had a grand time letting the big waters crash onto us. Then letting the breeze send goosebumps to our bodies. Laughing each and every time like it was the greatest thing in the world. Some of us just lay on the sand, drinking the experience all in. It doesn't really matter. I know we all enjoyed it one way or another.

Night time was spent drowning ourselves in music and sharing a bit of booze. Burn played non-stop as we all sang along, our bodies sprawled on bean bags and pillows, with our smartphones on our hands Google-ing lyrics to songs. Hahaha. Around 8:30 PM, electricity had to be shut off because The Circle Hostel participated in the Earth Hour and though it was dark and the air was a bit thick and humid, we still proceeded belting out songs.

We stopped for a while to have dinner at a road side carinderia, the only place opened that time to accommodate us. We all had a serving of our choice of ~silog (huhu porksilog *insert sad face*) for our super late dinner then we started with games and booze when we got back to TCH's common area. Music in my ears, the laughter and banters were background noise. There were red cups handed out with Jack and Coke. They were playing Jenga, playfully trash talking each other. Muffet, Dino and A were in one team and kept making a "pyramid" using their hands. So hilarious. I was talking to Bell and Jef the entire night, once in a while laughing with everyone when the wooden blocks fall apart. Someone would shout "Cheers!" every now and then, and we would all toast to celebrate that wonderful evening that stretched to the very early morning of Sunday. Time indeed flies when you're having fun.

I was awoken by footsteps and bright morning light. Everyone apparently woke up earlier than me (haha) and went ahead in groups to do what they want: More surfing, reading by the beach and/or scouting for breakfast and coffee. We went back to last night's carinderia and had pancit canton topped with fried egg and sampled El Union's coffee. (After this, I was already at my third cup of Moonleaf tea. Haha.) 

With the hours remaining, we endlessly snapped group photos in the common area, wishing we could stay longer. This photo by Denvie is my favorite out of the bunch. :)

And came the part I dread the most: leaving. You know that feeling when you really like someone and you just want to be around them all the time? That's how I felt during our stay. There's a bit of anxiety, there's a bit of longing. I'm already thinking of coming back even though we haven't left yet.

I'm thankful for photographs and memories translated into words. I've grown roots for a place I never thought I would like again. I've developed bonds with people over a night of songs and jokes. I know I've spent such a short time in this wonderful place, but I send my gratitude for making me feel infinite; for making me enjoy summer and the sea; for turning former acquaintances into good friends; for everybody's warm smiles; for the funniest night of games; for the craziest impromptu version of La Bamba; for making me realize that I am fine where I am right now; for the comforting feeling that home is also whenever I am with my friends; for supporting my addiction with Yakult teas and cupcakes; and for giving me closure, for sealing things.

I will be back soon.

Photos by Honey Ramos, Muffet Sta. Maria, Denvie Balidoy, Ian Manzon and Chris Dino Belacho.

The Circle Hostel is located at Barangay Urbiztondo, Circle Road, San Juan, La Union
Contact No.: 0917 832 6253


  1. Helga Gabrielle WeberApril 7, 2015 at 6:11 PM

    I spent a lot of childhood summers in San Juan (and that ocean) because that's where my mom's family's from. Our ancestral home is a quick jeepney ride away from Urbiztondo. The beach used to be empty, actually, because no one really surfed much then. I haven't been back in years.

    Helga | blog.ditz-revolution.net

  2. Your mom's family's from LU pala. I've been reading on your blog that you were a competitive swimmer. Did you ever try surfing?

  3. Helga Gabrielle WeberApril 8, 2015 at 11:18 AM

    Yup! 2008 or 2009. I managed to stand up my first try naman haha.

  4. That hostel reminds me of the hostel we stayed at in Siargao -- Paglaom Hostel. Incidentally, that's also where I met Stephanie Dandan, though I didn't know yet that time that she's a blogger. :P

  5. Oooh. You met Stephanie Dandan! Super inspiring the way she writes her blog posts. Hope to stumble upon you too soon, Mikyu. :)


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