Sunday, April 24, 2011

5 Day Itinerary: North Luzon Road Trip Adventure

This is an overview of the specific places we've been to during our 5 day North Luzon trip.

Day 1: Baguio day tour (Part 1)
Day 2: Baguio day tour (Part 2)

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

North Luzon: 5 Cities, 5 Days for only Php5,000

There must have been something amusing about the number 5 during my recent out of town trip. Working harder for my annual pension plan payment, I was geared to be wearing my tipid mode hat for this 5 day trip up north. Luckily, I ended up using less than my target budget. With only Php5,000 this trip covers Baguio, Benguet, Vigan, Laoag and Pagudpud leg with the Panagbenga Festival Grand Float Parade as the trip’s highlight. So how in the world did I manage to work within that budget? Here are my saving tips for those planning to travel to North Luzon:

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Morning Swim at Saud Beach,Pagudpud

Since we didn't had the chance to swim after we arrived in Pagudpud, we decided to wake up early for the morning swim as we planned to leave the homestay at 9am sharp. I woke up at around 5am, however it's still really dark outside. So I patiently waited and checked back again by 5:30am, still no light. But we started to ready ourselves and went to the beach at exactly 6am. We could still clearly see the quarter moon and the morning sun hiding from below the mountains. Excited to swim, we dropped our stuff at a nearby beachrock. From Saud Beach, one could see the famous Bangui Windmills surrounded by the morning mist from a distance. The view is breathtaking!

Friday, April 15, 2011

Bye Vigan, Hello Pagudpud!

Our 2 hour Kalesa Tour ended in Plaza Salcedo right in front of St. Paul Cathedral. We paid Php300 and had a quick dinner at McDonalds, just beside the cathedral. There are also a number of good local restaurants you can choose from in Vigan such as Cafe Leona, Epectos Bar and Grill, Cindy's, Hambre, Tessie's, Uno Grille and Los Majitos. And yes aside from McDonalds, there's also Jollibee and Greenwich.  

Dadapilan, Center for Ilokano Studies
After lunch, we went back to our lodge, the Dadapilan and bid farewell to Ate Malot for the warm welcome and hearty breakfast meal. Our accommodation fee is an affordable Php 300 including breakfast. Their area is just a few blocks away from Heritage Village and a stone throws away from Simbaan a Bassit and an internet shop :)

We left off and made our way to Partas Terminal heading to Laoag. It was an hour and a half trip and paid Php121 for the bus ticket (air conditioned). From Partas Terminal in Laoag, we quickly rode a tricycle to take us to the terminal bus going to Pagudpud. The ticket cost a cheaper Php60 but unlike Partas, the bus we rode was just ordinary and crampy. But heck, we enjoyed the 2 hour trip anyway with gorgeous views to feast on!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Vigan: A Haven of Cultural Heritage

Vigan is synonymous to history. When we think of Vigan, pictures of old Spanish houses, century old churches, of calesas, longganisas and bagnet comes to our mind. It magically walks you down memory lane.

Vigan, the only World Heritage City in the Philippines was inscribed in the UNESCO World Heritage list of sites and monuments on December 2, 1999. It represents a unique fusion of Asian building design and construction with European colonial architecture and planning. Today, Vigan remains to be the home of proud BigueƱos who welcome everyone with warm smiles to the city where traditions blend well with the present demands of the times.

From Baguio to Vigan, join me as I drive you up North and transport you to thousands of years back during the Spanish colonial period,  minus the war of course.:)

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Kalesa Tour: Bantay Bell Tower and St. Augustine Parish Church

From the pottery shop of Mr. Fidel Go, our Kalesa Tour brought us to two of Vigan's best known and picturesque sight - the Bell tower and St. Paul Cathedral. Before we could all get off the kalesa, we saw lovely Chinese couple who were probably in their 70s about to leave the place with their hired kalesa as well. They smiled as they bid bye bye to us. They seem to be enjoying their romantic kalesa tour like us. We also also said hi and smiled back at them as we get down and started walking our way up.
Bantay Bell Tower and St. Augustine Parish Church
It was already noon at that time and we could really feel the burns on our skin so we just contented ourselves with merely taking photographs and a quick tour as we marvel at the two remarkable landmarks.  We really don't have the luxury of time to climb the bell tower as we needed to be in Pagudpod hopefully before sunset. So off to tour last historical site for the day, the St. Paul Cathedral.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Vigan's Pagburnayan: Meeting Philippine's National Folk Artist, Fidel Go

Right after a fun tour at Baluarte, Kuya Arnel of Calesa #157 brought us to one of Vigan's must see attraction, the Pagburnayan. This is where traditional burnay jars of varied shapes, designs and sizes are made. It was also here that we get to meet and talk to Vigan's pride, Philippine's National Folk Artist, Mr. Fidel Antiporda Go.
Fidel Antiporda Go, National Folk Artist

Monday, April 4, 2011

Kalesa Tour: Visiting Baluarte

We started off the kalesa tour at the end of Calle Crisologo Street at Heritage Village. Getting to Baluarte from Heritage Village through a kalesa is not a wise decision since they charge per hour - it basically ate up our half an hour tour because it was far! We suggest getting there by tricycle.

Baluarte is 80 hectares of gently rolling terrains, hills and mountain sides, the structures of facilities and amenities, its phases of construction is in its best possible realistic and natural habitat for good and sound animal care.

Located along the western seaboard of Northern Luzon 408 kilometers north of Manila, bounded in the South by South China Sea, Baluarte has its breathtaking view of Vigan City. Baluarte is open to the public and admission is FREE. It is actually Governor Chavit's gift to the people of Vigan where residents are accorded free use of spaces for their livelihood programs. (source)

When we arrived, a line of colorful birds greeted us at the entrance and an ostrich strolling freely around the area. It was already noon when we arrived, the people  were saying we're lucky because it's feeding time! We get to see the animals in action! Feeding time you say? Sounds like a scary Jurrasic line to me!

Presenting the familiar faces of Baluarte!

Have the courage to come face to face with the world's largest cat?

Right after the live animal show, the host started presenting to us this huge Siberian Bengal tiger as he was being brought out from a nearby cage. It was amazing to see a tiger that big outside of its cage (don't worry he has steel chains). My cousin wanted to hug the tiger while I am gathering my guts to get near it, it left me with no choice. It was a scary decision but I'm glad I did.

Touching the tiger is like touching one of God's magnificent masterpiece - so beautiful yet so fierce! But I guess Mr. Tiger has long been used to being surrounded with people. For Php100, you can have your picture taken with mr. tiger and will then be given the print out copy after 15 minutes.

my cousin Leah with Baluarte's parrot
You can also ride a pony to get around the circle. You can also race with the ostrich if you want! Lol! Oh, don't forget to take a picture with the birds, you can ask someone there to put the bird on your shoulder or on top of your head, your choice, really! 

If you get to visit Vigan, don't forget to stop by Baluarte. Kids and animal lovers will surely love the place, like we did.

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