24 April 2008. At long last Mark, Tom, and I had finally reached heaven! Imagine a 10-hour bus trip all the way from the mountains of Sagada and Banaue. I swear my butt felt like, for the lack of a better term, hardboiled buns. At 4am, the Autobus terminal was beyond any doubt an honest-to-goodness welcoming treat from a polluted Manila. The three of us felt euphoric yet dysphoric at the same time.
Albeit distressed from ‘hardcore’ mountain adventures, I had no time to relax. I was in a haste throwing my dirty clothes into the clothes hamper, filling my backpack with fresh personal necessities, and rejuvenating the capacity of my physical system to do work whilst toiling online being a hero to my cluttered and ‘clinging on for dear life’ email account. All that, whilst Mark was in a dormant state comfortably tucked in bed.
“TAng-tang! TAng-tang!” That’s supposedly the Nokia sound of a text message. Whoa!! I had 30 more minutes before my goofy mate arrived for our wicked 15-hour bus ride to a seriously distant and off the beaten track land of PAGUDPUD. You know what they say…the show must go on.
“TOng-tong! TOng-tong!” Now that’s the doorbell sound. JASON CUNANAN, who was fresh from Thailand really surprised me at 6:30 in the morning. So would you had you seen him looking like toast bread, or the crisps of a burnt Tilapia. A ‘Sawasdee’ Thai wine present, despite unnecessary, was truly appreciated. What’s disturbing though was despite our 7:30am trip, the scallywag took an eternal bliss of showering off his stench while humming to the tune of what seemed like a Thai song. The nerve! Just kidding.
Even as a child, I was already fascinated with taking the road less travelled. I surprisingly realised this about myself in time. I had planned the Pagudpud trip for 2 years already after learning of it from my Josh Groban-look-alike mate Howie (his picture below).
It was a failed attempt on our part though. Now that the summer of 2008 opened a renewed nomadic opportunity for me to explore the tempting remoteness of the northernmost tip of Luzon, I knew I just had to grab it. Who would have known another chum would hop along?
We arrived at Partas – Cubao Terminal few minutes shy from being late. As expected, there’s half a long line based on my standards of length. But duh! The thrilling sensation rushing into my nerves was too overwhelming to ever entertain annoyance. As in all my conversations in my worked-up mood, the general public would certainly end up hearing and knowing all my stories even in my rapid speed of talking. No wonder I always made it to the “Talkative List” back in elementary days and endured a exciting shameful ‘stand-in-front punishment’.
Finally! It was down to one person standing in line before us to purchase a ticket. Just when it was our turn to buy, the ticket seller budged in his seat. My Colgate smile faded and was drastically overpowered by my shocking eyes as I suspected a pending serious problem. The seller never looked at me as I was eagerly waiting outside the transparent divider whilst he was talking to his officemates. In a few moments, his right hand reached for that dreadful cardboard marked with a “CLOSED” sign and covered the hole…that only medium to him from the outside world!
What?!?? Was I dreaming? Were the staff of ‘Wow Mali’, ‘Bitoy’s Funniest Videos’, or ‘Just Kidding’ lurking somewhere? I swear I could have smashed the partition had it not been made of fibreglass.
In an attempt to refuse our fate of having something to go amiss and awry in our plans, I knocked on the transparent wall and resorted to my ever-reliable body and sign languages coupled with puppy eyes, and charms aplenty. Oozing even.
Oh no. Not me. I am known to be too stubborn and persistent to ever refrain from getting what I really, really want. Thus the desperate moves:
Me: (my mouth on the hole) “Kuya (big brother), we really need to ride this bus.”
Seller: “I am sorry but the bus is already full.”
Me: “Please Kuya, it’s our first time to go to Pagudpud and we can’t miss this ride. Had I known this would happen we could have just flown to Laoag.”
Seller: “There’s nothing we can do about it. Just ride the next bus at 10am.”
Me: (showing a more desperate look) “But Kuya! We can’t! We need to arrive at Laoag before 6pm. The last bus for Pagudpud from Laoag is at 6pm!”
Seller: “Just get a hotel room in Laoag City. There are a lot of hotels there anyway.”
Me: (frantic with panic) “But Kuya! We already booked a hotel in Pagudpud! It’s very expensive and is non-refundable” (3 parts lie, 1 part truth)
Me: (sensing the slightest hint of compassion from his eyes) “Please Kuya, have mercy on us. It’s okay if we sit on the walkway for 12 hours to Laoag, right Jason?”
Jason: (showing mediocre acting skills despite being a fellow Centre for Pop graduate) “Yeah! Yeah!”
Me: “Please Kuya, just this once, pleeaaase…and our families are waiting for us in Pagudpud! They would be very worried because they’re already expecting for us to arrive tonight. Jason just arrived from Thailand and I just arrived from Sagada” (I’m being a grave sinner now)
Seller: “Okay. We’ll consider your request. We have the last 2 seats, but the seats are separated. One of you gets to seat on number 1, and the other on number 49. Just sit separately for the time being. The man without a leg seated on seat number 2 will get off the bus in Tarlac. That’s about an hour from here. One of you can just transfer to seat 2 then.”
Me: (confused with what I heard) “Man without a leg?”
Seller: (giggling) “Yes.”
Me: “I’ll sit beside a man without a leg anytime! Just let us ride the bus!”
People Inside the Office: (laughing)
I am seriously indebted to my theatre directors back in Cebu City (and to myself) for my stellar acting skills. Just so you know, white lies fall under the amoral principles on matters of ethics. *evil grin*
Off we went to Laoag City!
My sense of time may be hopeless. But I am almost excellent at calculating risks estimating time. I had a hunch that the 10-hour bus ride estimation from Manila-Laoag I read on most blogs was problematical since our bus was due to leave at eight in the morning. Unfortunately for us it took us 12 friggin’ and agonising hours of enduring Nicolas Cage movies.
On my first Partas bus ride 2 months back which was the Partas bus prior to this trip, I had to endure two long hours of getting caged with Tom Jones music the Pussy Cat song still reverberates in my head. What should I be expecting next? Seated next to a serial killer?
Anyway, it’s cute how the provinces seemed to extend the Christmas season by keeping the Christmas lights from last year’s still aglow in late April time I almost ended up eyeing for Christmas carollers. But arriving at 8:30pm, our 6pm mini-bus last trip bound for Pagudpud was scrapped off, and we just resorted to hoping for the last non-airconditioned bus trip bound for Cagayan Valley at 9pm.
GMW bus wasn’t such a sight to behold. But what the heck! We’re up for anything even a fruit cart will do. I was being stubborn thinking I should only wake up the next morning greeted by the beach sun and breeze – and not by Scalaoags. The bus trips had to be over that night – whether the bus drivers like it or not.
Guess what chicken butt?!? The last bus bound for Cagayan Valley was full too! That’s it! It only meant one thing – it’s either Jason or I was the jinx. Most probably we’re both hexed. I knew I had to be in my desperate theatre-mode again. I swear my acting skills and my “even sitting on the bus walkway will do” line were really that effective. I had never felt more proud of myself.
PA, GOOD FOOD! (Pagudpud)
After more than 2 hours of bus ride standing in front of all the seated passengers, we’re finally dropped off at a waiting shed along a highway. In front of us was a huge concrete clam affixed with PAGUDPUD you would be tempted to think there’s a huge pearl inside.
It was 11pm. That meant it took us almost 15 hours travelling from Manila-Laoag-Pagudpud. It was wet-cold, very windy, almost pitch dark, devoid of humans, and at our back there was an uncomfortable and eerie stillness in the woods. Not to mention the black cat! It was in truth a spooky ‘Shake, Rattle, and Roll’ moment Jason seriously failed to put his brave mask on for a good 25 or so minutes of waiting for our tricycle.
My contact Ate Me-Anne, who also happened to be the owner of our guesthouse, was in Metro Manila at that time but she had previously arranged for our free pick-up delivery service for a 20-minute tricycle ride from the waiting shed to Polaris Beach Resort. How thoughtful of her.
Polaris Beach Resort
Arriving at Polaris Beach Resort looking drained and wasted must have scared the sun-kissed guests chilling at the huge lobby cum reception and restaurant. The hell I care. They never experienced what bus-tripping really meant, BIG TIME! And besides, being at the moment of a ‘huge’ accomplishment necessitates me to cherish the pleasant feeling. Again, I was too excited at that moment everyone had heard all my silly talks at the bar.
As if we weren’t completely worn-out, we braved the darkness and walked past the trees that hampered our guesthouse from having a front view of the beach. We walked by the beach feeling the soft, powdery sands of Saud Beach. Aaaahhh! Seventh heaven!
Past midnight, stress had finally taken its toll on us. We had to rest, but not before Jason committed theft at the bar. (Jason, this is my answer to your demand of casting you a co-lead to this blog. After all, bad publicity is good publicity right?) Anyway, he ended up paying for it at the last day. Snaps, I shouldn’t have said that!
FIRST DAY (Friday)
9:00am. “KrRrRIiiIInnNNG!!” One…two…three rings. Although I was awoken by the first telephone ring, I refused to budge, upset about my disrupted dream. Seven… eight…nine rings. Jason and I stared at each other.
10…11…12 rings. ZzzZzZzzz. 14…15…zzZzzzZZZzzzzZzZZZz. Deafening silence. The poor phone realised it’s ringing was inutile on two stubborn dregs of the earth. And besides, that wasn’t a boot camp. We seriously needed to catch some Z’s.
An hour passed and after a few personal necessities, we went down for our morning sunshine and breeze bath, and of course, for our day’s tour with our guide-by-day, guard-by-night escort. It turned out it was he who phoned us at 9am sharp. I wished he had the slightest idea that in situations like that, when we agreed on a 9am appointment, we meant 10am.
It was a pleasant morning, and it was a lovely surprise to know that we were there at a time where the whole region was celebrating a weeklong fiesta. What’s more, we will still be there to witness the culmination of the town fiesta the next day. I sensed no bad omen, and it was indeed a brand new day for the both of us. The first thing to do then was to ensure a successful day.
For starters, we stopped by PAPA NARD’S at the town for breakfast. We were craving for their Pochero (poached beef aka Bulalo by Manilenos) but our table mates ordered the last servings. *Damn!* We settled for their Pusit (squid) and their local Igado. YUMMM–MMMY!!!
At 700 pesos inclusive of the gas and a whole-day Northern-part Tricycle tour to below-mentioned sites, we closed the deal.
Patapat Viaduct – I am pretty sure most Filipinos have seen of this famous snake-road in books and travel magazines.
Paraiso ni Anton – Streaming cold water from the mountains rushing its way down the road and under to converge with the sea. It almost looked like a hidden paradise.
Agua Grande River Park – Just near Patapat Viaduct and Paraiso ni Anton. I forgot to take pictures of it since we never bothered getting inside because we can see it from the outside. Oh! To compensate for the lapse, I had taken a picture of my “Dream House” which was located near Agua Grande. Take a look.
Bantay-Abot Cave – On the way to blue lagoon you will pass by a huge rock formation. You will need to go down and walk past rocky areas to find the cave. It looks more like a ring portal to me than a cave though. hihi
Maira-ira Beach (Blue Lagoon) – Frankly speaking, my initial plans of staying at Saud Beach was shaken when I saw the strikingly stunning images of the blue lagoon on google. It looked so remote, and indeed it was.
Bingbong’s Restaurant – Along the highway near the entrance road to Maira-ira Beach is a cheaper alternative to the resort restaurants located at blue lagoon, like the Kapuluan Beach Resort’s. Aside from the relatively low-priced food served at Bingbong’s, they actually allow cooking whatever fresh catch you buy at the seafood market right across the road for a measly 50 pesos per maximum of 1 kg. What’s more, you have the option to have it grilled or cooked with soup. Cheap bargain aye. Lunch = grilled fish…hmmm.
Kaibigan Falls – After about an hour, we headed off to Kaibigan/Kabigan Falls. We were given the option to walk or to ride a jeepney for a price that was a bit expensive if you were to ask me. We asked how far it was and they said it was far. They gave us an estimate in km. Having known ourselves to be legendary walkers on a literal sense, we decided to walk. We were given a “required” guide for a price of 100 Pesos. And you know what? The “supposedly” far distance was too short to even make us sweat! What’s annoying though were the handfuls of white sands stuck inside my shorts’ built-in underwear. My butt seriously had an instant sand therapy – if there even is such a thing.
Prior to our waterfall trip we decided to get right back to blue lagoon. But after a short deliberation, we both decided to just get back to Polaris Beach Resort and enjoy what we hadn’t even seen yet in bright day, or afternoon — our own stretch of Saud White Beach.
Whilst Jason was sunbathing on a remote spot, I went for a long walk towards the ‘somewhat’ crowded part of Saud Beach which was located at the west endmost. There were a lot of cute inns, hostels, and eateries in line that were very clean and nice to look at as compared to what I saw in Puerto Galera’s white beach area. I took a few shots of the place and after a few minutes, I walked another good 15-minute back to our remote spot by the beach and settled next to Jason. And oh! He looked like a month-old infant sleeping and drooling.
We swam and sunbathed a few times. The sun just set but there was still that mild late-afternoon light. Before our tummies rumbled from hunger, we walked to the endmost part where I just went earlier in the mid-afternoon. There were a lot of places to eat – and the place was cramped with really posh resort hostels and eateries. But choosing is not my cup of tea. So the friend chose.
At Emohruo’s Beach Restobar, we found our table closest to the seashore and which would later become our exclusive spot for the rest of the days to come. We had Pinakbet with Bagnet for meal, Mango Crepes for dessert, and the oh-so yummy Lemongrass Tea with “rare” honey.
Pure heaven. But reality bites. As we were paying our bill, we realised we totally forgot to consider our budget for the entire stay. Adding to that was our impulsive decision to stay until Monday, disregarding our academic and professional duties back home. That’s basically one of our alarming qualities aside from being stubborn and spontaneous. People who wish to join us on our travels must know that.
After gathering what’s left of our coins money the previous night, and after calculating future expenses, we were relieved at a surprising realisation that we had 300 pesos in excess. It took few moments to mentally process that we entirely forgot to include our food budget for the next 3 days. Que horror! Refusing to eat rice + soy sauce and stealing leftover food for the rest of our stay at Polaris had us deciding to head back to Laoag the next day to withdraw.
Tip: Lots of travellers get stranded thinking there are banks in Pagudpud. Your “plastics” don’t hold power in this remote territory.
We didn’t know there was an impending surprise upon our way back to Polaris. Who would have known Jason’s Kapampangan friends, along with their families, are staying at Polaris for the night.
SECOND DAY (Saturday)
The second leg of our Tricycle Tour to the southern part of the region started at 9am sharp. Our security guard by night-tour guide by day escort was beaming with gratitude for what I suspect to be a result of an overnight sacrifice to his pagan gods that Jason and I won’t be such slowpokes.
The day was exciting in that the town centre of Pagudpud was embellished with colourful decorations. The streets were swarmed with busy people selling popcorns, barbecues, clothes, shirts, and more food, while floats roamed from corner to corner. Since Papa Nard’s was still unable to have enough Bulalo for us, we decided to have brunch at a local carinderia (eatery) in the town of Bangui.
First carinderia stop (North Star I think). I forgot the name of the carinderia but since it’s along the main road, it’s quite popular. I was drooling over a plate of “Bagnet”, a native delicacy of Ilocos region which is a sun-dried pork meat. Nobody was around to serve us and after gentle screams, I had to open the backdoor to literally look for a human being.
A woman saw me and called for someone to serve us but after another 10 more minutes of waiting, what I thought was a heaven-sent lady was of no help. She literally didn’t talk. And stranger it was that she had to leave us while ordering and hadn’t come back at all. We could have stolen everything inside and I’ll bet they won’t even notice everything was missing. Might as well steal the entire carinderia.
It was strikingly out of the ordinary (a.k.a. strange) that we transferred to another carinderia. However, I forgot to take pictures of the food we ate. But it would normally end up to a common scenario: half of my rice donated to Jason.
By the Bangui bay stood 15 majestic wind turbines. The construction of the Bangui Windmills was an initiative of the NorthWind Power Development Corporation as a response to the global call of preventing global warming. The “Wind Farm” provides most of the electricity to the region, and is expected to provide electricity that will cover the entire region of Ilocos Norte in the future.
The good news is everybody’s welcome at the wind farm. Aside from taking in the awesome view, one can actually take pictures on-shore. Just pray the earth doesn’t quake intensely to spare you from getting splatted and chopped by a turbine. Those were massive structures for chrissakes.
Cape Bojeador Lighthouse
In Burgos town you’ll find the famous historical landmark of Ilocos Norte. The Cape Bojeador Lighthouse which was built in 1892 surprisingly remains functional to date. Overlooking the South China Sea, it serves the ships passing by the northern part. The lighthouse is the highest in the Philippines above sea level on top of a hill named Vigia de Nagparitan.
Before we climbed the old but gallant steps to the lighthouse, the place cruelly marked its territory on me. I became a hapless victim of the “bubble gum” plague. My precious shorts!
Avenging myself was by means of taking as much pictures as I could. After some exhibitionist and sadistic poses of us, it was time to take the Midnoon Bus to Laoag City. But not before we threw numerous stones at a mango tree along a highway for them tempting mangoes. Hmmmm!
What’s heartbreaking was that I lost my precious in-style bonnet that had always been with me through thick and thin, through clean and dirt. I was in noetic pain trying to recall where I could have possibly left it to which Jason replied, “You’re gonna lose it one way or another.” (What moral support!) He lost his precious water bottle in Thailand inside a bus, and to be honest, it only comforted .001% of my sorrow.
But oh! You should know by now that I never give up in a swift. My bonnet shall return.
It took 2 hours to travel to Laoag City. Upon our arrival at the bus terminal we were greeted by tricycle drivers selling their tour guide services. Since Jason and I were planning on touring the place anyway, we negotiated with a local driver who insisted on a 400-peso fee. I tried to haggle for a hundred less more but he won’t yield to my request so I invoked my powerful liner “Sige, wag nalang po” (Okay, never mind). 90% of the time they’ll end up coming after you to agree on your set price.
Before you nickname me as a cruel and notorious haggler, I actually gave him 400 bucks at the end of a 3-hour trip. I was just testing my knack for power-tripping.
This time, aside from our carinderia lunch at the bus station, we had our all-time Philippine favourite “Halo-halo” (google it). The frustrated food critic in me rated it 2.5/10. And it had macaroni in it too which was quite a regal shocker when I first had it in Sagada.
After withdrawing sufficient funds for the next two days, we were toured to:
Fort Ilocandia, Malacañan Palace of the North, Paoay Church, the Marcos Mansion, and a local Museum.
Malacanan Palace of the North (Front View)
It took us 3 hours to gather enough evidence that we had been to those places.
On our bus back to Pagudpud, I still hadn’t forgotten my trendy bonnet that I just had to talk to the driver to stop at that eery North Star carinderia in Bangui to have a final search at the nearby carinderia that Jason and I had breakfast at. Only a failed attempt to recover it at that place will I surrender in peace.
A miracle of miracles happened! The carinderia owner (near North Star) took care of my bonnet and even placed it inside a plastic bag. See how my persistency can do to me? Sweet!
What’s even more sweeter was that the mini-bus we took goes straight to the concealed town of Pagudpud. At around 5pm, the town proper and the plaza was flocked with people. Jason and I had our snack of Special Ilocos Empanada (with longganisa) after our eternal walking and 2 hours of bus ride. It was too oily and greasy that we felt like vomiting. We were unaware that it was supposed to come with vinegar sauce. Muchachos estupidos.
A stroll at their fiesta market and plaza had us hypnotised. It reminded us of our childhood days. True provincianos that we were, that was something we were deprived of in urban settlements. So we decided to stay and celebrate with the townspeople of their first ever Kangayedan Festival.
We stayed at the plaza from 5pm up until 1am for the grand coronation of Queen Ana Liza-I (what’s the I for anyway?) and her legion of beauty queens, and the showcasing of interpretative dance winners from various schools. Since the stage and the plaza were still less than half-done, we played, danced, and fooled around with the local kids. Too bad I forgot their names. Blame it on my laziness to write a blog, and an epic one that is.
The program started at a freakish 9pm. And you know what’s mind-blowing? When the program started, the emcee had to dedicate one full song for each local official before the real entertainment begins. And there were about 20 or more of them. Por Dios Por Santo!
Anyway, Jason and I were truly blessed that we were there at a time where the entire region of Ilocos Norte was in its highly festive ambiance. We can’t stop from discussing how truly lucky we were. Our ad hoc experiences had given us amusing incidents so far. Shocking, but amusing.
THIRD DAY (Sunday)
We were ready to conquer the Saud Beach. Armed with our iPods, flip-flops, hijabs, sun-blocked skin, and a camera, we left our Polaris turf. The fair weather was an invitation for a sunbathing that was extremely hard to resist. Used to be the whitest of four siblings, my sister and I were recently in a competition for the brownest. She was ultimately humbled at the sight of my golden brown skin.
We took what’s left of my Cinnamon Rolls from my Sagada Trip and had it for breakfast. And there we were on the white, powdery sands, having an ostentatious display of our sun-kissed bodies. Later on, we had lunch at Emohrou’s Beach Restobar and had Chicken Curry, Milkfish Breakfast Meal, Orange Juice, and Mocha Banana Shake. Due to our personal favours and bungled requests about our orders, we ended up having an extra rice. (Not my fault).
Fixing our mesmerised gaze on the sparkling blue waters, we decided to begin our walking adventure. Since we were already feasting at the rocky ends of the very long stretch of Saud White Beach, we started our long walk to incertitude – to the other end of the island, and to yonder point.
1 hour of walking. Crystal clear waters. Trees. Rice in a Styrofoam. Wait…water. Water!!! We were already in the middle of the entire stretch of the long beach, without a resort or an earthling in sight. And worse, without water. Looking back to a trail of an already getting invisible-to-the-naked eye footprints on the sands, we’d rather drink seawater.
But serious thirst just makes you relatively demented. And the blazing sun kept on…blazing more. Out of desperation, we looked for a sign of civilisation behind the line of trees and bushes. After several minutes of walking, we finally found a Nipa hut which was thrice bigger than a typical doghouse. The sight of it was already a nirvana to us. We were instantly discouraged as we saw there was nothing inside but a mound of fish nets.
Looking and walking further into what seemed to be an underworld, there was a house by the mangroves. We were too excited we didn’t realise there was nobody in the house. But our animal instincts had told us that if there was a sign of water, break the door! Joke.
There it was, standing mightily in all its glory. Lost and found treasure. Blue and bronze. – The Water Faucet. For 10 seconds and a half, we doubted the credibility of the faucet to provide potable water. It looked stained and dirty. But knowing us, you know what happened next.
That dirty water revitalised our energy. And even more fortunate we were that we found an area that was purely uninhabited. It was one of the perfect spots for sunbathing at Saud Beach. After burning more layers of skin, we swam like crazy whilst also busying myself collecting few seaweeds and throwing them away. It got us paranoid because they looked like snakes and mini-crocodiles under water.
After about two hours of sun-baking and enjoying the blue waters to ourselves, it was time to walk even further. Along the way we saw few kids water-rafting that we wanted to join in on the fun. But our curiosity led us way further.
So now we found ourselves at the endmost of Saud White Beach. What’s beyond the island curves? Another long stretch of white beach? We walked through what seemed like a coconut plantation. I got paranoid with all those coconut trees thinking a coconut fruit will land on my head. The idea of a person killed by a coconut fruit was way too unacceptable. That passageway really reminded me of Narnia Chronicles.
Anyway, there was indeed another long stretch of beach after that. Only though, there were rocky areas and gooey seaweeds. Still, we walked even further. How adventurous can we get you might say.
The sight of small resorts was timely as we were in dire need of water. We passed by a family having a picnic, and they called out on us for food! That’s just way beyond hospitable. Feeling shy, we declined, but God knew how much I needed it. But thinking there was another resort anyway, might as well just buy our own food and drinks.
At the sight of a small cottage, I was relieved knowing I can finally have that much-needed water. I walked faster and smiled at the people enjoying their videoke challenge. I ordered for water. I was plain stupid not to notice it was a family picnic.
But heaven smiled upon us. They were extremely hospitable that they offered us free water, free mocha cake, and free beer softdrinks. Just so you know, we were instant celebrities. They requested to have their pictures taken with us. That was the only thing we can do to repay a genuine hospitality. As we bid farewell, they made us wait and had someone rushed to us for our take-away “Singkamas”. Seriously, they are the kind of people who truly and unconsciously spread love amongst humankind. Just as promised, I’m posting a picture taken with their family.
We love the Polaris Beach resort area albeit its separate location from the beautiful resorts. Although there weren’t much people on that area, we love it even less crowded than usual. We had another plunge and sunbathing at a nice spot, and were damn proud of our sand-angels. Our craziness was already at a point of no return.
For our last night we decided to have dinner at Polaris. It’s about time to mix and mingle with the guests at our resort. Our dinner consisted of Bagnet and Binagoongang Talong (Eggplant with Fish Paste).
Not a chance that I’ll pass up on a videoke/karaoke challenge “before” and “after” dinner. After some serious vocal stints, Jason and I watched our favourite television series, “FRIENDS”.
LAST DAY (Monday)
We just had to take advantage of what’s left of our time at Saud White Beach. At 9am we headed for our last sunbathing extravaganza. It was our first time to swim at Saud Beach in the morning so we didn’t know that jellyfishes were going to feast on us. I ended up having skin rashes. Nothing can stop us from enjoying the clear blue waters. I even managed to catch a small fish with my bare hands. I freed it after a couple of shots. I hope it didn’t have a nervous breakdown.
We left Polaris Beach Resort and finally, we were able to meet the owner Ate Me-Anne. She modestly gave us a discount which really provided Jason and I some extra cash. Things that had happened were far beyond expectations. The reason I chose to stay at Polaris albeit the many resort hostels located exactly in front of the beach and the cheaper homestays was the fact that I had read only great things about Polaris over the internet and its satisfactory customer service.
Of all the good things I heard about Ate Me-Anne, I had never seen a photo of her even after consuming my energy of searching for her over the net. I am delighted that I took a photo with her for you guys out there who wish to stay at Polaris. And yes, I too have only kind words of praise for her.
GOING BACK HOME
Parting from astonishing experiences just drains people’s energy. But knowing that there’s a fun time ahead during our trip home filled the void in our mobility. We had our last stop at Papa Nard’s for lunch and we were lucky to be at a time where there was enough Bulalo/Pochero for us. It was a timely gift for our departure.
Last Stop in Laoag
Boarded on a bus for Vigan, sweat trickled ceaselessly from my temples as I was waiting for Jason who left to buy both of us some “Halo-halo”. Buses in that station leave every 15 minutes, and he disappeared quite longer that I could no longer bear the driver’s vexatious complaints that I just had to get off the bus, carrying our stuff and Jason’s backpack, and had to wait for the next bus in line. The bus just left when Jason, in a composed and unconcerned manner arrived and spoketh, “Why did you get out?”
I wanted to burn him at stake.
And guess what? The halo-halo tasted like crushed ice with only but a food colouring and a few unidentified floating objects.
GONE TO VIGAN
It wasn’t my first visit to Vigan City in Ilocos Sur. However, on my first time I wasn’t able to tour the famed city of the north because our choir spent most of our time at the Capitol. I didn’t even know that the renowned Heritage Village of Vigan City was just a block away from the St. Paul Cathedral. So on that second visit, I had to make sure that I’ll set foot on that aged and preserved settlement.
Arriving at about 5pm in Vigan, we walked straight to the St. Paul Cathedral as I was told before that the Heritage Village, which is the best-preserved Spanish town in the Philippines, was located at the back. Jason and I thought it would be exciting to ride on a “Calesa” for our trip to the olden times. To make the story short, the Calesa driver tricked us into getting his escort services. He told me that at the back of the church were roads and highways. Innocent that we were, we agreed on a tour package for 200 pesos.
It was my first time to ride a Calesa despite a lot of opportunities from everywhere. That was somewhat strange since our family owned Calesas in the old days as a family business. Let’s just say my grandfather’s stories on how one of their drivers was badly booted by a horse, and the great force of their awful farts led to a collapse of my interest.
It was an awe-inspiring ride indeed. The trip brought us to a pottery, the old house where the local movie “Maruja” was filmed, and the Heritage Village. And of course, we ended our Vigan tour with a delicious dinner at Cafe Leona.
TOUR BACK TO THE METRO
We just earned ourselves some golden tickets back to civilization. Just kidding. For a hundred pesos more, we got ourselves a real cosey and luxurious 27-seater Partas bus. A 10-hour bus ride in its sweetest form.
To rate our trips as great was to underestimate. It was grand. Pure, genuine, and vivid pictorial of adventures, and happiness in its lifelike portrait.
When the cold front meets the warm front, an area of turbulent air is created capable of producing thunderstorms and tornadoes. That’s Jason and I. And we’re off to storm the world with our silly, scary, and spontaneous travels. Seriously.
On “our” mark, get set…GO!