Travel Tales: When in Ilocos

The thing with having a last minute additional rest day is that you get to have too many times on your hand. In my case, I had the entire day to look at old pictures on my hard drive and check if I have blogged about them or not yet!

For the third time, I visited the beautiful region of Ilocos last 2013. If you must know, Ilocos is about 8-10 hours by land from Manila. There are domestic flights available as well but majority of the folks I know actually travel either by bus or private vehicles – definitely less expensive. For this trip, I went with by BFF Joewa and his friend John together with his college friends.

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Think of it as a friends of friends kind of trip. Well that’s the thing with traveling, you really get to know more and more people and you get to widen your network.

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First stop, Calle Crisologo. It’s considered one of UNESCO’s World Heritage Site and you will understand once you are there. I like that the Ilokanos are doing their part in preserving this place. You will see the old buildings still there and even the new establishments try to blend in with the old world Spanish feel of the place.

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A few blocks away from the area is the Bantay Bell Tower. There is no entrance fee, and the good thing about it is you can climb up to the top and check out the bells and the view.

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Right beside the tower is St. Augustine Church, and inside the church is a small chapel called Chapel by the Ruins. I don’t really know why it’s called such, but I love the feel of the chapel. It’s like a small garden with benches that you can sit on and just pray or just rest, or maybe read a book?

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For lunch, we headed back to Calle Crisologo and went to Vivientes Pizza. They have regular pizza but they also serve Ilocano Pizza: pakbet, bagnet, longganisa. And because I have such bad memory, I don’t remember the pizza that we ordered! We didn’t stay at a hotel, we actually stayed at our driver’s house, and the entire family were really very nice to us because they cooked food for us and made sure we are all comfortable. The house is still a few towns away from the city proper but it’s okay. Because in the town plaza is where I got to taste one of the best empanadas ever!

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We woke up early the next day for an early morning visit to Cape Bojeador Lighthouse.

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The thing I like most about these places (like the bell tower) is how strong these buildings were built. I mean, we get to see how they looked like hundreds of years ago. Too cool for me to comprehend haha.

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We also dropped by Kapurpurawan Rock Formation, which my friends and I called our own version of Mexico. I haven’t been to Mexico but maybe it looks like it? Haha.

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I highly suggest that you put on some sunblock and if you can, bring an umbrella. We were there July but it was still extremely hot.

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Another favorite of mine is the Bangui Wind Mills. Again, this is another place that has no entrance fee where you get to see the huge wind mills of Ilocos. I think I counted 10? Or is it 11?

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Bantay Abot Cave where the gang did a photoshoot for their version of Lost. It looks like it could be a scene from Lost ‘no?

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Patapat Bridge is also one of the must-sees in Pagudpud, Ilocos Norte mainly because it is a looong bridge that connects Ilocos region to the Cagayan region.

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This is the church right across the plaza where we go for our afternoon snacks a.k.a. have Ilokos empanada. We tried to check the church out but it was closed, boohoo.

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I almost forgot to mention, the place that we stayed at for two days is literally near a long stretch of gray sand beach. The two afternoons that we were there, after eating empanada, before heading home and preparing for dinner, we would go here and just watch the sea and the sunset. I don’t know if it’s a safe place to swim, but the view of the sunset is enough for me.

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Just to make things clear, my uber favorite part of this trip is going to the sand dunes and trying out sand boarding!!! When we did this, I have never tried surfing yet, so it was really scary and exciting for me. I seriously had fun, especially since I was one of the two people who kept on falling into the sand instead of ending my slide properly. I actually ended up with lots and lots of sand in my clothes, legs, and yes, even my butt! There’s even a video of me falling over every time! Really fun, and funny!

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Before heading home, we dropped by one of the most famous churches in Ilocos, the Paoay Church. I don’t think anyone would even question why the church is a celebrity, right?

And so, we ended the trip with 10 more hours of travel time to Manila. I can most definitely tell you that 10 hours is an extremely long time for traveling, but seeing the entire region is extremely worth the trip. 🙂

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