“To travel back to a place for the second time around is not just about exploring but also having the chance of being acquainted with to some old and new friends, and make new unforgettable memories along that journey.” –Jassy
I’ve always loved the idea of returning to a place that I’ve once visited. And Ilocos Sur and Norte are definitely one of them.
So why did I came back?
Well, it was more of an invitation from a good friend of mine that I’ve met in Sagada named Ate Arge. And if you’ve read my “That Place Called Sagada” blog posts, then you’ll have an idea on how truly enjoyable and memorable that trip was for me; something that I think about every now and then because I’m still longing to go back.
Calle Crisologo Before Sunrise
Anyway back to the travel diary of my second trip to Ilocos. I honestly had no idea that I would be able to visit that region again. Because there are so many places that I still wanted to see and explore. But I guess fate had its own plans. The thing is that our first choice was to visit Bicol. However, due to the recent volcanic eruption of Mount Mayon, Ate Arge had decided to change the location of our tour to Ilocos. In which she had also asked me if it was okay since I’ve already been there. And so I said yes, and that I also volunteered to be the one who will be making the arrangements for the upcoming trip.
So I called Travel Ventours, (the same travel agency who’ve handled our Sagada Tour), in order to start booking our reservations. It was supposed to be a private tour, but since a lot of those we’ve invited couldn’t commit, Ate Arge, Ate Isa, and I had opted for the joiners or scheduled tour.
And after almost two months of making some calls and inquiries to the said travel agency, we were officially days away from our scheduled trip, which was on April 5-8, 2018. Plus, we got so lucky because a day before my flight going to Metro Manila, I’ve received a text message from Travel Ventours that our assigned tour driver was going to be Kuya Ryan Asilo, the one that we’ve met during our Sagada tour back in December 2017. In a way, it made us so grateful because we’re already acquainted with him.
Moving forward, I’ve arrived in Metro Manila on April 5, 2018, the day that we were scheduled to be picked-up by Kuya Ryan Asilo. Then from the airport, I went straight ahead to Ate Arge’s house, since we’ve planned to go together to our assigned meeting place which was in Ayala South Malls, Alabang. Well, we were actually a bit early, but Kuya Ryan was a bit late due to a conflict of schedule in his work, and thank God it was sorted out. I think he arrived at the mall at 7pm. Plus, he had to be in a hurry since he still has other guests to pick-up in Mall of Asia and SM Mega Mall. And despite the fact that we’ve arrived there a bit later than scheduled, such guests were quite patient and understanding enough towards him. But there was a particular guest who wasn’t able to join our group because he couldn’t be reached thru his given phone number, so such payments made by that person was already forfeited. That instead of 11 joiners, we were officially narrowed down to 10 travelers for the Ilocos Tour.
I think it was around 10pm that we’ve departed from Metro Manila, and arrived in Vigan, Ilocos Sur at 5am; which was just in time for us to witness the beauty of Calle Crisologo during night time or before sunrise.
After that, we went to the Hidden Garden for our early breakfast, and as expected, it was entirely crowded that I knew that I had to eat first because for sure later on, its comfort rooms were going to be bombarded with such long lines, and I needed to make sure that I’m a bit earlier to use it for personal purposes.
For our next activity, it was a visit to Baluarte. In which almost everyone in our group went inside except for me, mommy Carol, and Kuya Ryan. So while everyone was busy exploring, we were just inside the van chatting to one another except for him because he was taking a short nap, and eventually went outside. And since I’ve already been there, I’ve decided to stay behind because I was so tired from the lack of sleep, and also to accompany mommy Carol for she finds it too physically exhausting to go there, and was trying to make sure that she doesn’t feel so alone, and that she has someone to talk to.
After an hour of staying at Baluarte, we went to Bantay Watch Tower and were there for about 30 minutes before moving on to our next road trip, which was going to Ilocos Norte. And while on the road, we’ve had the chance to take a short stopover into such two local souvenir shops that sell its local delicacies. It was more of a free taste, something that they tend to give to their tourist/visitors, so that they may already have an idea as to what they might want to buy during their souvenir shopping on their 3rd and last day in Ilocos before heading back home.
BANTAY WATCHTOWER AND JUAN LUNA SHRINE
The road trip to Ilocos Norte took for about two hours, and for our first stop it was the Juan Luna Shrine, and then head off to St. Augustine Church in Paoay for our lunch break.
I must say, it was such a hot and humid day, yet definitely a fun one. For I had a great time talking and laughing with my fellow travelers. However after lunch, while my fellow Team Ilocos were roaming around outside the church, I was so exhausted that I fell asleep within the stairs outside its restaurants, and had no idea that they were already looking for me! And I was so embarrassed upon arrival inside the van that I apologized right away for being late. Oh well.
TEAM TIYA DELY AT PAOAY CHURCH
THE PAOAY SAND DUNES 4X4 ADVENTURE
Afterward, we went to Paoay Sand Dunes for the 4×4 ride experience, in which by the way I already did during my first trip there. So it was only Ate Arge, Ate Jane, Eds, Almer, and Gladys who’ve decided to go for it while the rest of the group stayed inside the van. But as for me, I went outside, took a nap under the tree, and it was such a very relaxing experience. Especially when you get to see the light of the sun connects into the leaves of the trees that makes it such a peaceful and serene sight to see.
We were there for almost two hours, and then move forward to the Malacañang of the North, and stayed there for about 45 minutes.
Then went back on the road from Paoay all the way to Laoag City and Pagudpud. So it was more like a 2 hours road trip. Plus, the journey going there was actually quite fun since Kuya Ryan had a built-in Karaoke inside the van, so we were busy singing tons of old songs, plus we were entirely amazed of Ate Jane’s beautiful voice.
MALACAÑANG OF THE NORTH
And for our last tour of the day, it was the Cape Bojeador Lighthouse. However, our time of arrival was entirely late, so we weren’t able to go inside, and what the rest of the group did was that they took a photo outside of the area.
While on our way to Pagudpud, we’ve had an unexpected short stopover near the Bangui Windmill and had the time to be acquainted with to one of the most persistent, but entirely charming kids who lives near that area.
But before we went into town to checked-in at our assigned hotel, we’ve also had the chance to dropped-by at a local restaurant that sells one of the best local Empanadas in the area. Seriously, it was so delicious, and the way it was cooked was definitely well crafted, and everyone really had a wonderful time eating their very own empanadas.
CAPE BOJEADOR LIGHTHOUSE
I think it was around 7pm, when we’ve finally arrived at the 3M’s Place Resort and Restaurant, and went straight ahead to our assigned rooms in order to freshen up and take a bath. Then went back to the lobby to meet the rest of the group because some of them were in a drinking session. But for the reason that I don’t drink alcoholic beverages, I was just there, sitting and chatting with them. And afterward, we all went back to our rooms way too earlier than we’ve already planned since everyone was so exhausted, and just wanted to sleep right away.
So that’s how our first day in Ilocos had turned out to be.
And will definitely keep you posted of my travel diary with regards to our next two days of exploring.
Thank you so much for reading.
TEAM TIYA DELY
(BY THE WAY, ALL GROUP PHOTOS BELONGS TO ATE ARGE, KUYA RYAN, GLADYS, EDS, AND ATE JANE).