At the end of May, my mom decided it was time for a family trip. We usually have a family trip every year whenever my dad is home (he works abroad) and like I previously mentioned in my first post, we always go to Aklan. So for this year mom insisted we go some place we haven’t visited before.
My mom came home with brochures about travel tours and told us to look it up on the Internet and after listening to her comments we finally settled on Triple 8 Travel and Tours. That agency offers many places/ tourist sites around the Philippines like Calaguas Island in Camarines Norte, Bolinao, Pangasinan, Baguio, Baler, Bohol, Caramoan and so much more! After researching and thinking of ootds (that was just me), we all agreed on Ilocos because we’ve never been up there and during that time, Vigan was all over my news feed that I want to experience it in all its glory.
*The process to get tickets is one of the most important things to do. If you don’t do it right away, it could throw your schedule off track. In our family, there are three working girls, my mom, sister and cousin. They all had to file a leave of absence. If you’re working, I’m sure you already thought of this.
Before you can buy the tickets, you have to pay P500 for reservation fee. I think this can be redeemed after paying the full price of the ticket. Our ticket is estimated to be P3000 per head, minimum of 4 persons. If you’re travelling alone it’s much more expensive and it only gets cheaper if you go with your family or friends.
So yay! Here we go!!
Before I tell you how the short vacation went, let me insert tips here and there because this was my first time. I learned a lot of things. Paragraphs with * means there’s a tip in it, you can skip it if you want to know how the trip went 🙂
I prepared all of my OOTDs but I only brought one pair of shoes because we all just brought backpacks with us, to feel like a real backpacker. So there I was with my newly washed backpack brimming with clothes and other knickknacks. But I forgot to bring slippers! This wasn’t the first time and definitely isn’t the last. Ugh. I remember when we went to Baguio when I was just 6, I think my mom forgot to pack me my slippers so for the entire trip, I was wearing this white shoes. Not a great feeling.
*I always, always recommend bringing your own slippers because first, you don’t want to wear others’ slippers, right? I borrowed my cousin’s slippers because I have no shame. Second, there was a beach trip in the itinerary and there is no way in hell that I would wear my white shoes to the beach and get them wet. Third, we spent most of our time in the car. It means it’s probably sweating like a pig in there.
Also *don’t sweat the unimportant stuff, in my case, my hat and my water bottle. I got a new water bottle with tiny little red hearts and I was excited to use it for the trip and I wanted to bring my red hat as well for all my OOTDs, so there I was worrying about squishing my hat and thinking about drinking from my new water bottle that one of the most important things to bring slipped (slippers, pun, get it?) my mind.
Okay so the plan was to meet up in a mall parking lot at 8pm on a Friday. We all went there via taxi because there was no overnight parking around the area and then dinner and we headed to the parking lot.We waited for half an hour and my knees were about to give up until we finally loaded inside a car, so there we were, watching Point Break, not the one with Patrick Swayze in it, when we were told we were going to have a different car and driver and I was a bit irked because I was already comfortable and about to go to sleep. We were transferred to a much worse van but I shrugged it off because what can I do? And it’s just a van, I’m just being dramatic.
Inside our van, there’s a family of four and a group of (3) friends who are in their 30s. For the rest of the night we were either watching Lord of the Rings or dozing off. I woke up when we stopped for a bathroom break and the line was long so I didn’t go but *I strongly recommend going to the restroom. Some people can hold it in and some cannot. There’s also the case of the next stop. If you can go, just go, even if there’s a long line, the van wouldn’t leave without you, so don’t worry about it.
It was 6am when we got off a restaurant that served breakfast. We thought it was complimentary. It wasn’t. If the package said it’s complimentary or free, *you should still bring extra cash with you and most of the time they don’t even accept credit cards. This rule always fall in the top 5.
Our very first stop was Baluarte ni Chavit. It’s like a zoo with dinosaur displays. There was no entrance fee.
The place was amazing because it’s my first time to see an albino wallaby and an alpaca (or was it a llama?) up close! We were in Baluarte at around 9am and the sun was already blazing. Good thing I brought my red bowler hat with me. (It was actually the only good thing that came with that red hat, more on that later.)
I was annoyed because I thought we were going to be dropped off at hotel first and freshen up and all that but I sucked it up and enjoyed the zoo. After that we went to the Bantay Bell Tower, the oldest bell tower in the Philippines and rode a Kalesa ride around Vigan. It was truly a fascinating city.
Our kutsero was so nice and giving us random facts about the city. Then they brought us to the heart of Vigan, where Calle Crisologo is located.
I think Calle Crisologo is the most famous of all the Calles because of its cobblestone streets and tiangges. There was an antique shop in one of the streets that sold old vinyl records, figurines, daggers, blouses, pasalubong and random artifacts. What a treat! I think we only stayed there for an hour and a half and we’re off again to our next destination and I’m hoping it’s our inn this time.
For the entirety of the ride I listened to my iPod and tried to connect to WiFi. *If it’s gonna be a long ride with people sleeping in, it’s better to have your own entertainment system. My iPod lasted for the whole trip except the going home part which kind of sucked
But if you’re with friends, it’s best not to use any gadgets and have fun. Of course, I also spent the road trip bonding with my parents.
Finally!!! We arrived at our hotel which is more like a resort. Actually its name is Subli-Subli Resort and it’s called a resort because next to the houses was the beach!!! The beach baby inside me is screaming! Ahhhhhh!!
We dropped our bags inside our room and everyone started hogging the bathroom. Imagine a van full of people who were dripping wet because of sweat. This was during the summertime so 9am sunshine could mean 2pm weather.
After all the shenanigans, we all went for lunch and it was bagnet, a famous dish in Ilocos. We all had lunch by the sea while some people played beach volleyball. Our room didn’t have TV so we spent our time, either charging or on our phones. Then we’re off to another place! I changed my outfit and now I couldn’t care less about OOTDs because of the sweltering heat.
Ilocos is the home of Marcos family. Former president Marcos is also ‘buried’ here. I didn’t know that it was in our timetable to go to the Marcos Museum. I forgot the ticket prices but there’s a student and senior citizen discount. The place was well preserved and quite large. I also saw Marcos’ body, sadly picture-taking isn’t allowed.
It was afternoon now and we’re all going to the Sand Dunes. Heaven!!!!!!!! I may hate the sand inside my shoes but sand to me is synonymous to beach, summer and everything fun!!! It was my first time to be standing around sand dunes and I was beyond ecstatic that my dad told us we were all going to ride the 4×4!!!! My first time! We rode the 4×4 that toured us around the sand dunes and our driver took pictures of us and I WAS HAVING THE BEST TIME OF MY LIFE!!! while I was having the best time of my life, my mother wasn’t having any of it. She requested to be seated in the front seat where my dad was sitting. For our trip back, they switched seats and my dad was firmer this time so I couldn’t raise my hands to feel the air ala Perks of being a Wallflower.
After the 4×4 experience, we get to try sandboarding. Only my dad and I tried it and it was so much fun! I couldn’t find a better word to describe how I was feeling. I have never felt so young and so free when I was sliding on the sand. *I was wearing shorts but the sand still went inside my shorts and shoes. So if you’re wearing short shorts you might want not to try this unless you’re in for an adventure. I think the only way to not get sand inside your shorts is to wear pants or leggings. But you should still try it, I don’t think this should stop you from sandboarding. Also sandboarding was free.
The next destination was Malacanang of the North. Unfortunately, we were too late because the establishment was closed and it also started raining. So our driver drove us to Paoay Church and it was magnificent, I felt like I was in a French or Italian movie. The church was beautiful up close and even from afar. It was already closed as well so we weren’t able to enter. We also had dinner at a very authentic restaurant that screamed vintage at me. I also got to buy a new hat, it was the hat that I’ve been looking for. So now I’ve got two hats with me. Ugh.
It was getting dark so we all called it a day. It was another long ride so we all spent that time sleeping. ZZzzzzzzzz.
For our second day we were told that we’re going to the beach. ABOUT TIME!! It was another long drive so it was again, surprise, surprise, spent sleeping! Yesterday we were in Ilocos Sur and now Norte! It was 6 am and our first stop was Cape Bojeador Lighthouse or better known as Burgos Lighthouse. It was a gruelling trip to get there because the road was uphill and we just woke up so we didn’t really have the energy. The lighthouse was ancient because it was built during the Spanish colony. The view from the top was breathtaking and I was close to the sky. Inside the lighthouse, there are rooms with very old furniture.
I was sweating profusely and the swimsuit was sticking to my skin so I wanted to get out of there but the place was just brimming with history and stories that we stayed a bit longer. The rest of my family also bought their hats and I finally bought slippers from one vendor, ahh my toes can finally breathe.
The second thing in our itinerary was to go to the Kapurpurawan Rock Formation.
Everything that was being shown was made by God. Truly our God is an amazing God. The place was stupendous! Spectacular! Fantastic! Extraordinary!! The place was filled with people and some of them were horseback riding and unfortunately I didn’t get to do it because we were running on short time. The place was so beautiful I couldn’t take my eyes off of it. We didn’t explore the place because we weren’t trained and some parts were off limits. The pictures I saw on travel magazines, I was seeing it right in the flesh. These are things that money truly can’t buy. If I were a movie star I would definitely want to film an action-adventure film here. There were also windmills located atop the hills/mountains. After a while, it started to pour so we all rushed inside our van and off we went!
Once again, another long drive and this time we’re finally seeing the infamous Bangui Windmills. Whenever I hear or read about Ilocos, I instantly think of the windmills. I think it’s one of the first places to have windmills.
When I got off the van, the sun was scorching hot because it was almost lunchtime. The sun was festering on my skin but that didn’t stop us from taking pictures, enjoying the scenery and looking up at the windmills. The windmills were located right by the bay so it was very, very close to the ocean and I thought that this was the beach they were talking about but it wasn’t because the waves were too big for us to handle and it’s very dangerous.
Now this is the longest drive for the day, we were now actually headed to the real beach, the most renowned Pagudpud, I’ve always wanted to go to Pagudpud because one of my goals in life is to go to all the great beaches of the Philippines. I also have no idea that Pagudpud was in Region I and it was this far!
We had stopovers here and there and we also stopped for the mountain miraculous water. Locals said if you drink from the water cascading down the mountain, it will cure any sickness. I wasn’t in the mood to try it so I stood back and watch almost everyone drinking the water or splashing their faces with it.
Our driver said that we’re so near to Taiwan that Taiwanese radios can now be heard from where we are!! They also said if you swim on the beach right now you would find yourself in Taiwanese territory.
And finally, we’re in Pagudpud! AHHH The sand was so white it’s glistening and I can definitely tell that it’s going to burn your feet if you walk too long on the sand. It was lunchtime now so we grabbed lunch by the beach and my cousin, sister and I went to go swimming. My parents didn’t go swimming because it was too hot for them. *Now if you’re going to a tropical vacation with suns and beaches, SUNSCREEN IS A MUST. And I must say, even if I’ve been going to the beach/ocean since I was a tot, I didn’t put sunscreen on. I know, I am a hypocrite for even writing this. No matter what, always, always, always put sunscreen. Even if you’re not going to the beach, that’s like the basic rule of life. The reason why I didn’t put sunscreen? We were too lazy to get up and trudge to our parents and ask for sunscreen. AND BOY DID I REGRET IT. When we got home I was reprimanding myself for being so careless and lazy and until now I am angry at myself. Didn’t Baz Lurhmann teach us anything?!
During the trip, we made friends from all the people from our van and we spent the day swimming with our new friend, Trisha, 11 year old girl who thought I was also 11. Now all of us have damaged skin, thanks to the sun and our laziness. After swimming we all went to take a shower and what a disappointment it was that the water coming out from the shower nozzle was still seawater.
We then had the long drive back and had dinner with our driver and we all plopped down on our beds. It was such a productive and fulfilling day and the feeling of cold water against our skin was the best feeling ever. We all had a good night’s sleep.
Am I ready to say goodbye? Will I be able to move on after all the memories and adventures that were made for the past two days? Will I come back? Definitely. But the answer for the first two questions is no. I’ve had too many fond memories of this place and already told my parents that we should go back here. Even if I am sad to be leaving I was kind of excited to go back home because there’s nothing better than living in your comfort zone (hello comfy bed!) and because my cousins will be visiting.
For the trip home, we went back to Vigan where we stayed much longer unlike the first visit. My skin and my body was so sore that I spent it sleeping again. Vigan was full of surprises and beautiful things that I couldn’t forget. The only regret that I had in Vigan is that I wasn’t able to ride a bike and tour the place via bicycle, some of the tourists with us got to do it and I was so jealous. Anyway we had a very Ilocos breakfast near Calle Crisologo where I had barbecue (wow that was very Ilocano breakfast ahahah) while the rest of the family had empanada. It was one of their specialty apparently. Near that restaurant, there was a legit antique shop that sold clocks that looked straight out of a 60s household and the lady that was in the store told me it was the collection of the owner and the retro clock is being sold for P600. Too bad I really wanted to bring it home with me. The trip was so amazing to see the many sides of nature, to experience another world with people who is also seeing it the first time and to know and immerse in the rich culture that Ilocos has to offer.
Now time to go home. I didn’t want to go home yet but I was missing the fast WiFi back home. The trip home was excruciating, all those hours of sitting that almost broke my
tailbone and my bladder being demanding. My mom was right when she said that the ride home was the most boring and most painful.
The trip is one for the books. A trip that was thankfully documented via snapchat, twitter, facebook and polaroids.
I am truly grateful to have experienced this with people I love and to be in places I have always dreamed of visiting. I wish I can go back there and make more memories.
The final grade I’d give this trip would be a 9/10.