Excerpt from Wild North by Mari an Santos, InFlight April-May 2011
“DAY 1: Limestone rocks
I took the 10:30pm bus from Manila to Laoag and arrived at the Farinas bus station at 5:30am, much earlier than I expected. I called the Ilocos Norte Hotel and Convention Center for a pick-up service. After the shuttle picked me up, within 15 minutes, I was checked into my room with a comfortable queen-size bed. The room combines modern and traditional design, with use of mostly hardwood furniture and nice touches like the use of the Ilocano blanket abel. After taking a quick shower in the spacious bathroom, I fell into a deep sleep.”
DAY 2 Currimao: A fine beach and ancestral houses
My next stop was Sitio Remedios, also on Currimao Beach. Sitio Remedios is a heritage village made of Spanish-era houses. I felt like I had passed through a time warp and was back to the time when the Spanish occupied our islands. There were no electronic gadgets in the rooms, with the WiFi service being the only reminder that I was in the 21st century.
The proprietor Dr. Joven Cuanang built the ancestral houses using original architectural pieces from Spanishera houses in Ilocos Norte. Each home retains a distinct character and is adorned with antiques — from furniture to bedding to cutlery. The chapel facing Currimao Beach is also inspired by the Spanish era.
The beach was dotted with fishing boats, strewn with nets, as fishermen awaited the cover of night to sail to sea.
DAY 3: Pagudpud
It takes an hour and a half to get from Laoag to the National Highway, then 20 minutes from there to Kapuluan Vista Resort in Maira-ira Cove or Blue Lagoon in Pagudpud, reputed to be one of the best beaches in Luzon. It’s the last resort at the end of the road. We pushed on past the resort – about a five-minute drive — to find the perfect vantage point for watching the sunrise. Here, I sat on the beach littered with crushed shells and corals looking out at the Dos Hermanos Islands, watching the sky turn from dark to light, with wisps of pink, orange, and yellow. The waves hit six feet, but closer to the shore, the water was clear and calm. This side of Pagudpud attracts local and foreign tourists who come for the surfing.
Riding the dunes in Ilocos
Paoay Sand Dunes, located some 88 hectares of sand and wild landscape, is a favorite not just of tourists, but of budding sandboarders and surfers.
The 7km stretch of sand offers tons of attractions. There are trails for thrill rides on a four-wheel drive, and two allotted areas for sandboarding, a sport using a skimboard to ride down a sandy hill. One sandboarding area is for beginners, with the ride starting at a 10ft point, and the other for the more experienced rider, with the jump off point at about 20 feet.
Essentials: Where to eat
A chill place with free WiFi. Try the nutty
chocolate or mocha caramel frappe and creamy
Drinks from P75 to P150. Cakes at P120 a slice.
LG/F 365 Plaza, San Nicolas, Ilocos Norte (near
Robinsons Ilocos Norte)
Tel.: +6377/ 781 3199
A gourmet restaurant serving home-cooked Ilocano meals. Must-try are traditional Ilocano dishes like bagnet, pinakbet, and poqui-poqui, and carrot cake. About P200 per person.
J.P. Rizal St., Laoag City
+6377/ 773 1162
Saramsam Ylocano Restaurant & Bar
An informal dining place with a bohemian atmosphere. Try their cherry potato salad with aioli dressing, oriental pasta, pinakbet pizza and poqui-poqui pizza. From P200-250 per person.
N. Corpuz Building, Rizal Street corner Hizon St., Barangay 7-A, Laoag City
+6377/ 771 5825
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