Ilocos Norte: Day 2; Life Is A Beach

Most of time paradise is where you least expect it, when you think that a place is over rated but then proves you wrong. Many have touted that Pagudpud is the Boracay of thee north, but I am one of those who think that Boracay is Boracay this place – with all confidence can;t possibly compete with the powdery white sand of the World’s Best Island.

We arrived in Pagudpud a bit late that day, nothing can be seen anymore at middle of that pitch dark silent night. We settled in our room in a home-stay and ordered for dinner. The area though a tourist spot was still very provincial, stores close early and no “restaurants” were around the area that you can dine in. Lights out,

A plan is always a plan until you get to execute it. We are good, no I say great in planning…. but execution? Hahahaha. We planned to wake up really early in the morning and enjoy the beach, getting that morning sunshine on to our skin. But the climate control of our room did a great job and kept us tucked into our sheets well into mid morning. I got our of bed by about 9 in the morning but Jr wasn’t that keen in getting up; yep that air conditioning unit took him down.

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I decided to see the beach on my own, with no breakfast no shower I put on my flipflops and walked my self to the beach. Our home stay was located on the other side of a small municipal road and on the oposite side are the beachfront properties of big resorts. It isn’t really that bad, the beach is just a three to five minute walk.

There’s this thing that I’ve come to form as a habit for my travels, I tend to lower down my expectations for the places that I go to. Why the hell would I do that? To save my self from disappointments – oh yeah drama king am I hahaha. To be fair, I just to want to ruin my trips and the good thing is that when the destination actually delivers, I actualy get one heck of a trip; But when it does not the trip isn’t ruined at all!

Anyways, just right across the road is a small community gate that the homestay owner told us about so we don’t need to pay for any fee – yep perks of staying with a local ^_^. I stepped right in and found my self on an unpaved road, several steps more I found my self staring at the limitless ocean inviting me to take a dip.

Pagudpud

Now pickup your jaw and step into the sand Ian. I was blown away with the beauty of Saud Beach. People always say that it is the Boracay of the north, but I felt that it was unfair. Saud beach exudes a different kind of beauty, leaning towards an untouched piece of paradise. The resorts are well down on the southern end of the curving 2 kilometer white sand beach while the northern end stays pure void of any modern structures.

Returning to our homestay I caught up with Jr on how beautiful the beach is and that we should enjoy with the day, he concured. After breakfast we packed a few things on my bag and went back to the beach. We ventured further into up to its northern end, it was a weekday and lean season so we literally had the beach for our selves. We looked for a good spot to swim where we could go farther inot the sea without drowning, we’re not really good swimmers.

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At aboout 12 PM we walked back to our homestay for some lunch. Like I mentioned earlier we didn’t find any restaurant around our area so we picked up some canned goods from the store and some bread – diet kase hahaha. Here comes the air conditioning unit’s magic spell again, yep we lazy around after eating. Gahd that aircon really did hit our lazy buttons hard.

Mid afternoon and we stood up and got our selves back to the beach, we had a good excuse – you know, UV Rays, Skin Cancern those stuff – but really we we’re just lazy. It felt like -at least for me- that I belong to the place, you know that feeling if you live in an area that you won’t miss a thing coz it is always there? yeah something to that effect, then I come to my senses and got dragged my ass back to the sand.

 

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The day was coming to an end kand the sky was playing with colors, shades of blue, orange and yellow painted the sky like an empty canvas. It was magical, however we need to go back to our homestay as it was getting dark. As raw as it gets there are no ilghts on the beach which I approve of.

It was just a lazy day to be honest, the perfectly hued water the fine sand and the abseence of people just made it perfect. It seemed like the beach wanted us so much welcoming us into its arms wide open. It was like it had prepared for our arrival making sure that our experience will be perfect. It was beyond perfect, it was like a dream.

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Ilocos: My Northern Escape, Day 1

Brought about the pending burial of former president Marcos, I and a friend toyed with the idea of visiting his mausoleum in Batac, Ilocos Norte. The plan was just simple, visit Batac. But my friend was whining about how he had not been to the beach still this year so I suggested that we visit Pagudpud too. Well,  I think it was inevitable, I know that I would have pushed this opportunity to cover what there is to see nearby.

Got my backpack ready with my gears I navigated the metro to our meeting place at the Partas Bus Station to buy our tickets. I just wish that I could get those awesome backpacks I found on a site called backpackhack.com. Not that I am complaining but those bags can really help give me peace of mind when I bring my gears through my adventures! It was a bummer that we had to wait for the nigh trip, thanks to my crazy schedule that changes every so often, we could have had more time to explore.

Ilocos Bound Bus

9PM the bus left the station starting our 9 hour journey to Vigan our first stop.

Clock ticked 5AM as we arrived at the Vigan terminal. We decided to do a walking tour of the city, really it is very much walkable. From the terminal we walked all the way to Plaza Salcedo. We can’t help but notice how clean the city is.

Vigan Ilocos Sur Plaza Salcedo

From the plaza the Vigan Cathedral prominently dominates the skyline as you stand from the end where the provincial capitol stands. This is not the first time that I have seen the church but no it doesn’t get old. After exploring the church we said a little prayer before leaving.

The plaza just looks so inviting with hues of blue pleasing your eyes. We hanged out and talked with some locals about their food and places that tourists come for, while the cool morning breeze keeps on blowing as we sit under the shade of the trees.

Ilocs Sur Cathedral

After resting for a bit we continued with our walking tour of the heritage village. We walked down the the historic Crisologo street all the way to its southern end and it felt like I was walking in a quaint European town with its old buildings, missing some al fresco coffee shops where you can sit and enjoy the view.

The Crisologo Museum can be found at the southern end of heritage village, the caretaker that greets you as you enter boasts that it is the best museum that there is Vigan, I think she’s not just bluffing  about that. The museum is filled with many memorabilia about the Crisologo family which was the most prominent clan at their time. From the ambushed cars to the collection of hats from all over the Philippines, even the world! The entire place was just overflowing with information and history, truly a must see when in the city. Donation is asked upon entry.

Vigan Ilocos Sur Crisologo Museum

From the museum we decided to make a loop and walk back to up north of the village through the parallel street from Crisologo. There can be found the Syquia mansion, it houses the President Elpidio Quirino memorabilia which was closed when we were there.  The care takers of the house collects entrance fees before you go upstairs, where the living areas of a typical Filipino house was. If you are a fan of the president or if you like class interiors, maybe you’ll enjoy the house. What I am trying to say is that what I just saw was just a house asking for a fee so that you can see its furniture and interiors and that was it. There were no signage, no labels and no one there to guide you through and tell you stories about the house, I mean I am sure that there’s a good story in each corner of the abode. In the end, I felt cheated my friend felt otherwise. He enjoyed the posh interior and furniture, maybe I was just expecting too much. Was I?

Much disappointed from the museum, I asked for us to move on with our mini tour. Vigan should be enjoyed with leisurely walks, preferably early in the morning or late in the afternoon when the it’s not too hot and most importantly the light is perfect. The soft light in the morning and afternoon gives you a chance to see the vivid colors of the houses contrasting the blue sky letting you observe the village at its best.

Vigan Heritage Village

Back now at the northern end of the village, we sat on one of the tables in Plaza Burgos to savor on Ilocos Sur’s famed Empanada. Something that we couldn’t let pass. My first bite of our empanada took me years back when I first relish on its adventure filled fillings, the softness of the egg contrasts well to the crunchiness of the deep fried wrapper skillfully hand made on the spot by each vendor.

Ilocos Empanada

 

we decided to move on to our next destination the Batac-Loaog area to visit the former president’s mausoleum. We headed back to the Partas station to take a bus to Loaog. The trip to the capital of Ilocos norte took a little close to three hours, which was an hour longer than what we were expecting.

Initially our plan was to arrive at about 1 pm and take a tricycle tour around the Batac-Loaog area but arriving late forced us to change our plans, we’ve underestimated the travel time. Faced with a conundrum of how to proceed, we took a break from all the walking and snack for a bit. Decided, we opted to go on and spend the night in Pagudpud instead.

Loag Welcome Sign From Afar

We met the sunset on the road on board an ordinary bus where the wind blows on you as you navigate a coastal highway for a good two and a half hours. It was a perfect time to reflect about things in life. I shoved my headphones on distancing my self from my surrounding. The perfect view of the sea, the setting sun  and nature was more than enough for me to feel at peace. The idea of being on a bus lets me feel the joy of escape and new beginnings as you move farther from the chaos of the city and the madness of real life.

A temporary euphoria.

 

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This post is part of my Ilocos Backpacking trip covering Ilocos Norte and Ilocos Sur.

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