Ilocos Sur Travel Blog› entry 1 of 5 › view all entries
This trip all started with a spark of interest ignited by my colleague. After her encouragement on the possibility of backpacking in Ilocos, I decided to post the trip here in TB. A month later Jear messages me that he's planning to go on similar dates and let's me know we might eventually bump into each other.
2 weeks before the well deserved and desired trip after 2 of my planned leaves were cancelled, we decided to go together.
A newfound friends sees my blog and asks me about it, I invite him nonchalantly and to my surprise he files for a leave a few days later and joins me.
Scheduling who goes first, the trip details and where to meet up with Jear took not a few SMS messages. We finally decided on just meeting up there as I wanted to get to an early start and I was on leave the day before the trip versus Jear who was coming out from the night shift 7 hours after I board the bus.
Much to our dissappointment, the bus schedules were not accurate, making him resort to taking his initially booked plane flight early evening of the day we arrive.
Andy, being the easygoing person that he was, was just nodding and saying yes to anything I brought up. We ended up taking the midnight bus to Laoag, Ilocos (Partas, Php 815), boy was the bus fare expensive but it was the closest station to our main highway, EDSA, and that was fine by me. I really think my American friend did not have any idea of what he was getting into. This was going to be his longest bus ride ever and am sure he could have easily afforded to get a plane ticket. I on the other hand, apart from wanting to cut cost, did not want to miss the view I've read about by taking the easier route by air.
On the bus, I kidded with Andy that we start the 20 questions game, this was the title of a play we watched the first time we met, together with other TB's. To sidetrack a bit, the play is simply about a tradition of a guy and girl being trapped in a room for 20 hours, and the pair we watched started playing the game, asking anything under the sun about the other person. On and off Andy and I tried to sleep in the bus, there were 2 stopovers early on the trip but my bladder was ready to burst on the last one as it was too far off. Intermittently throwing questions to start the game.
I woke up a few times, watching the country side. I just looovvvee rice fields, you'll of course never get to see them in Manila.
I thought I had prepared myself for the bus airconditioning but was I mistaken, I was shivering almost the entire time, with my jacket, jeans and malong (tie dyed cloth used as an accessory at the beach) I was still barely able to sleep. Andy probably thought me creepy to be covering my face and having my jacket hood on to protect me from the A/C. Locals who boarded halfway also pissed me off not only with their loud conversations but also because they pointed their A/C exactly on my nape!!! So I stood up and rudely yanked it back in their direction which made them keep quiet, teaching them a lesson in not messing with tired tourists!
I can never forget, watching the sunrise just as we passed by the beautiful winding road to Vigan with the famous Cordillera mountains on the right and the South China Sea on my left.
Jear's evening plane arrival would mean that we were missing the last trip to Pagudpud so we settled on staying at a hotel in Laoag.
Getting there past 9am, I short temperedly haggled with a nice tricycle driver, who turned out to be a toad milking us for money after helping us find a decent, affordable hotel, Texicano, on the fare. I didn't find it worth paying him what he was asking for as he just dropped us at the 2nd hotel we passed which was just 5 min away from the bus station.
Andy and I just decided to grab 'Chopsuey' (mixed local vegetables) and rice at the unimpressive hotel restaurant out of hunger and rested a bit till the tricycle driver picked us up to start our afternoon tour at 1pm.
The 20 questions resumed and was finished in the confines of the hotel room in between watching a 'Charmed' episode.
We decided to just take the toad tricycle driver to the Sinking bell tower, our first stop, and let him off the hook, as the locals advised me that it was cheaper to just hop on and off the jeeps and tricycles instead of renting one to bring us around the sights in the other towns.
We passed by first at the supposedly old St. Williams Cathedral which, with its newly painted facade betrayed the date it was built by the Agustinians which was 1612.
The Sinking bell tower is part of St. William's Cathedral and is known to sink an inch every year, because of its weight and sand foundation.
With a white guy in Laoag, we were getting a bit of attention. It got a bit tiring to keep on deciding for both of us and make sure he was okay with it, when his non verbals would sometimes seem to say otherwise. He was obviously not used to it, having stayed at hotels and probably travelled in more style than our local transportation.
The afternoon was not wasted though as Andy remained behaved in taking the jeeps and tricycles. Both of us falling asleep alternately on the rides due to the warm weather.
The short tour in the warm afternoon weather left us famished and decided to try a must- not- miss local delicacy, the 'empanada' which is pan bread filled with their popular sausages, boiled egg, papaya, and bean sprouts, at their popular again fresh aired eatery, Dap-ayan or Food Court. Praying that Andy's tummy would survive it after he mentioned that it tends to reject unfamiliar contents.
Ready for another round of touring we hopped on a tricycle (normally costs Php 8 for short distances) and a jeep to Batac (Php 10) to see the Marcos Mausoleum (our famous former Martial law president) and Batac church.
I was again dissappointed to find out that they did not allow tourists to go inside the Marcos house but seeing Marcos in his coffin gave me the creeps as Andy looked on with intersest. Pitifully seeing his body that was never laid to rest due to the pending discussions on where to put it after his family's request to have it buried in the National Heroes cemetery was declined by administration. It used to be housed in a freezer and now that it's been waxed people contest if it's the real thing.
After speedily getting a shot of the Batac church, we took another tricycle and jeep (Php 10) to Paoay to see the UNESCO heritage site.
Paoay church is a sight to behold, with its crumbling, moss covered at some points, unique combination of Gothic, Baroque and Oriental facade. The plain interior though is something you can opt to skip and the grounds are interestingly maximized for goat breeding. The Agustinian friars had the church built in 1694.
It is probably the best-known “earthquake Baroque” church in the Philippines. Large coral stones were used for the lower level while bricks were used for the upper levels of the church. The walls are 1.
The day was concluded with dinner with Jear who thank God finally arrived past 8pm, at a restaurant we had an afternoon snack at close to the hotel. I could not remember the name but they served decent local dishes. The bedcovers closed to the last half hour of 'Music and Lyrics' and a bit of a chat with my crazy bud. Andy at this point was deep in slumber, dead tired from his first day of adventure, poor child.