It was last September 2015 when I finally decided that the corporate world is really not for me. I’ve been working right after my graduation in 2009 and I personally believe that I need to take some time off. So for the past five months, I’ve been taking as many writing assignments and rakets as I can to earn even while at home because hey, I can’t travel without huge funds. 🙂 The freelancing world has been so good to me so far and I’m very thankful for that. However, my mind gets really exhausted most of the time and that is probably the reason why I can’t even update my own blog. Hehe!
Anyways, for 2016, I vowed to update this blog as much as can because this has always been one of my ways to unwind. I was in Tokyo last month with my mom and it was my decision to stay offline as much as possible for me to enjoy the trip. Now, I’m back in Manila and the first thing I want to do is to update my blog. Yey!
After our trip to Busan last August 2015, we decided to push through with our planned road trip to Ilocos because it was our anniversary week. We got back in Manila around 1 AM on August 18 and got home at 2 AM.We overslept but decided to go anyway. We were on the road at 12 NN of August 18.
Going to Ilocos from Manila and leaving the house at noon doesn’t seem like a good idea for many, for us however, it was just fine. We were at Vigan around 7 PM and we’ve reached Fort Ilocandia, our hotel, at 9:30 PM.
There were two things I’ve learned instantly from this: (1) With the Tarlac-Pangasinan-La Union Expressway (TPLEX), traveling to Ilocos from Manila would just take about 6-8 hours so if you are the type who don’t want to wake up early in the morning to travel, it’s completely fine. Leave the house at 11, be at NLEX at noon, and reach Ilocos Sur by 6 PM or Ilocos Norte by around 8 PM. It took us more than 9 hours to reach Ilocos Norte because we had some stops along the way — we had our late lunch at NLEX, we took our time to enjoy the sceneries of La Union, and stopped by a McDonald’s in Ilocos Sur to have dinner. (2) It’s still best to bring your own transpo and travel by land. Traveling by plane and getting to Laoag International Airport after about an hour is convenient but you have to commute or rent a car in order to explore most tourist spots. Joining a group tour is a good idea too, but your time can be limited. And if you are the type who want to take the road less traveled, this could be a real bummer.
In 4 days, we were able to explore Ilocos Norte, Pagudpod, and Ilocos Sur. The goal really is not to visit all places of interest but to rest and let the provinces of Ilocos surprise us with what they have to offer. It’s really beautiful and its’s one of our most memorable and relaxed trips to date!
The following day, we went around our home in Ilocos Norte for two days — Fort Ilocandia. It’s obviously old but it is undoubtedly the best hotel in Ilocos. Some thoughts about the hotel: the rooms were old but clean, the breakfast buffet is so-so, there are a lot of activities you can enjoy even while inside the hotel’s compound, there are a lot of tourists (mostly Chinese), and the vibe overall is relaxing. We love the view!
I booked through Agoda.com using my rewards points and paid for less than half the price.
After lunch, we decided to do some sightseeing around Norte and then visit Pagudpod after. We don’t have one solid itinerary but we have with us our mobile phones with data plans and we just searched for places right then and there. Our first stop was the Cape Bojeador Lighthouse in Burgos, Ilocos Norte. Along the way, we were greeted with beautiful sceneries.
Stopped by this beach somewhere to take photos. 🙂
The Cape Bojeador Lighthouse is easy to spot but in order to reach it, you would need to pass a steep winding road. But the view on top is rewarding. The lighthouse was built in 1892 and it is set on top of a hill overlooking the South China Sea.
There is NO entrance fee in Cape Bojeador. It seems like a deserted place but it’s still functioning to date.
A bit of history.
There’s no one around when we got there so we just climb and enjoy the view.
Guess its safe to say that you’re at the edge of the Philippines here.
Our next stop was the Bangui Windmill in Bangui, Ilocos Norte. You’d surely spot them on your way to Pagudpod but you really have to drop by the Bangui Bay if you want to take awesome photos of the turbines. 🙂
The windmills were project by the NorthWind Development Corporation. Aside from providing a source of power to the province of Ilocos Norte, the windmills help reduce the emission of greenhouse gases that cause global warming.
Typhoon Ineng was just about starting then and it was Signal Number 1 in Ilocos Norte so most of our photos were dark. But we were lucky to just see and enjoy the place.
Again entrance is free here. There are also a lot of souvenir shops and restaurants along Bangui Bay. Getting there is easy because there are a lot of directions along the way. Sign that you are near the bay: gravel, rough road.
At around 4 PM we decided to grab a quick bite near Pagudpod and drive to see the famous Patapat Viaduct. At first, we really wanted to spend even just a day in Pagudpod. We even searched for a good place to stay. And although the place has a lot of awesome beaches, we are not ok with the resorts. Some say that it’s the Boracay of the North but when you get there, you’d know instantly that it’s not. If you are the type who really enjoy swimming and doing beach activities, then it is advisable to stay there only for a day or two but a day trip is perfectly fine.
A quick research lead us to Bergblick Restaurant in Pagudpod. It’s currently the number 1 restaurant there according to Tripadvisor.com. The food are awesome so here’s a separate post about that. 🙂 We were able to meet the owner as well.
The weather was getting worse so we decided to make the viaduct our final destination for the day and head back to the hotel before it gets really dark.
The Patapat Viaduct is an elevated concrete highway that offers a breathtaking view of South China Sea. This is on the top edge of the Philippines map and it was such an amazing feeling to just reach it. Imagine, we were able to reach the top. 🙂 It is 16 Kilometers from Pagudpod, about an hour away.
We were at the hotel at around 7 PM, had dinner, and just watch TV. 🙂 It was really an awesome, hassle free day (Well, aside from the typhoon). I love that we are not required to wake up early and follow a specific timeline. I’ve always loved hassle free trips. Whenever we go abroad, we always have a detailed itinerary even if we are not part of a tour. The best thing about traveling around the Philippines is that we are completely okay with getting lost and that we can speak clearly to people. Filipinos are really hospitable and kind. And there’s so much to see! The Philippines is beautiful.
Can’t wait to share the other places we visited around Ilocos Norte. We also went to Vigan, Ilocos Sur. Part II coming up! 😀
PS: Here’s a video I’ve made documenting our road trip. I’m no pro but I’m sharing it with you guys still. 😀