Friday, May 25, 2012

Travel up the North! Ilocos Province Here I come... =)

A friend offered a cheap travel up the north, and who am i to decline such an offer, right? 

Thursday night at 8 pm, we left Quezon City armed with stomach full and a back pack for a 3 day trip to Ilocos Province. We arrived at around 8am in Ilocos Norte. 

These are the places we visited on Day 1 in Ilocos Norte (Friday Morning):
Paoay Church - No entrance fee, this church is so breathtaking, the whole garden smelled of sampaguita flowers! It is really a great place.
Sta. Monica Church - Very calming place, this is also the same place as the Sta Monica Park. 
Malacanang of the North - Old house of the Marcoses, They had a couple of paintings of the former President Marcos, A life size "mannequin" of him too, and some old furnitures (probably what's left of the old grandeur of the place) - They charge an entrance fee of 20 pesos for adults, and 10 pesos for students.

We went straight to the Polaris Resort in Pagudpud after our visit of the above. Had our lunch, walked the beach a little and freshened up ourselves. We are off to another set of places to go in the area and we left at 230PM.

Ilocos Norte Day 1 (Friday Afternoon):
Patapat Viaduct - This place is very far from the Pagudpud beaches, still about an hour of travel. It is very beautiful though. I do not have a good shot though. =( I was busy looking at the sea... and was too busy feeling the breeze in my face - the air is so fresh and wonderful. 

Blue Lagoon - Oh this place is yet another set of long stretch of white beach. The sand is similar to that of the Saud Beach resort. In this area, you will see the more expensive places to stay such as Hannah's Convention Center. The setting is somewhat similar to Boracay (only much shorter). There are stay in houses too! 

Bantay Abot Cave - oh this one is such an experience. There is a steep stone ladder down the sea, with lots of slippery rocks and occasional waves slamming the side of the cave. The place is very beautiful too and makes you wonder how can such a hole (lower left in the above photo) happen in rock formation.  There is an entrance to this too - 20 pesos for adults and 10 pesos for children.  Right photo is the view to your right when you stand beside the rock after going down the stone steps. =) 

To close the road trip, we had a pitstop and "re-fueled" ourselves with 1 Buko each. Its only 15 pesos! =) Our day ended  at around 7PM in the evening, where me and my friends had a good swim. We would never have thought of getting out of the water had they only had lights on the shore.... Pagudpud beach is really clean. The water is very clear too. Having a dip in the sea water never fails to give one a good night sleep! 

Day 2 of our trip

Starting very early, we checked out of the resort early, as we had many stops to take and a friend to visit in Vigan. 

Day 2 Ilocos Norte (Saturday Morning)

Bangui Windmill - My friend's Aunt said she was able to count how many windmills are there... 20, she said. =) They are huge, and they look very good up close! =) The seashore though is very rocky... (No entrance fee - just go there and take pictures - its hard to do a jump shot though! haha)
Cape Bojeador /Burgos Lighthouse - No entrance fee! A lighthouse built during the Spanish era. Going up this place was somewhat challenging for the driver of our van, there was only one road, whether going up or down the place. The top already is a cliff, i can say. Lots of vendors for souvenirs and refreshments. There's nothing much to see though, but its got both the background of the sea and mountain ranges to the other side. 

Marcos Mausoleum - 50 pesos to view the house, free to view Marcos(?) preserved in a dim lit room with smell of death all over the place. No cameras, videos allowed and you can only go over the place, you aren't allowed to stop and take a closer look. The house displayed some more Marcos memorabilia(photo below). This museum opens at 9am in the morning. 

Day 2 Ilocos Sur (Saturday Afternoon):

We also passed by the house where Marcos was born - we did not stop but just took a picture... and here it is... 
We have a friend who lives in Ilocos Sur, just 5 minutes away from Vigan, and so we decided to stop over their place as they also have a baptismal celebration. I also need to see my God-Daughter! =) She offered us a roof to stay in for the night which was also great! ha ha 

We had lunch at their place and settled in a bit, then we also asked them to show us around the city for some mini tour. 

First stop in the afternoon was the St. Augustine Church and its Bell Tower. 

Next is the Baluarte - this is the mini zoo that is owned by Governor Chavit Singson, There are no charge to get inside, it is free, and you can even have a pony horse ride (it was rather a short "Kalesa" ride. The Baluarte have quite a number of exotic animals, like ostriches that wander about the place - they are not caged or was not contained in a location, there are cute little horses or ponies, peacock, deer, a couple of camels and turkeys. 

Some Tips on shopping for souvenirs like T-shirts, bags, etc - we found that it was really cheap in Baluarte mini Pasalubong Center. They only sell about Php 110 t-shirts that sells for 180 to 260 pesos near the Marcos Mausoleum. We found them to be selling even cheaper than the Vigan plaza stores. 

Late in the afternoon, we arrived at Vigan. We parked our van in the Mcdonald's and off we went to Calle Crisologo for that Vigan Tour. You may also opt for a Kalesa ride (about 200php) but you will appreciate it more if you just walk, to my surprise, it really is just a short distance from the Vigan Cathedral. This is the street where you will find the famous Vigan Empanada (which we were not able to taste because Aga Mulach and Bayani Agbayani was shooting for a feature of the Empanada at the time, hence we are not even allowed to set foot the area. 

It is best to come to Vigan in the evening - you will appreciate it more as the lights of the street gives boost to the "feel" of the lost era where this setting used to be at. 

Our Ilocos Trip was marked to an end with our visit to the Cathedral at Vigan as we pray for guidance for a safe way home, Sunday Morning. 

I will post a separate blog for what you can buy in Ilocos for your pasalubong to friends and family. =) 

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