Tuesday, February 26, 2008

***My Weekend Vacation travels for Feb.2008***

I am not really a "travel bug", as people say for people who are always on the go for travels, but I would look forward to travel "locally" if opportunity (financial and time-wise) strikes. Two of the most recent travels I made are in Pagudpud, Ilocos Norte; and Puerto Princesa, Palawan. I was able to take a longer weekend -offs during the past two weeks of February to accompany my Uncle and Aunt in their Philippine vacation to escape the winter in Seattle. I am chronicling my two out-of-town travels in two succeeding weeks in two opposite directions, northern-most tip of Luzon and the South-western part of the Philippines.

First trip, Pagudpud, Ilocos Norte - Feb.8-10

This trip has been one of the most memorable and challenging trips I ever encountered because this is actually the longest land-travel time I have experienced in my entire years of living. This is approximately 566 Kms. North of Manila or actually the Northernmost part of Luzon. If 566 Kms will be translated into travel time, it would have to be approximately 9 hrs of continuous travel time at speed of 60 kph, or lesser if travelling at a much faster speed. But in reality, without a clue of our actual destination, we took it at around 12 hrs given the sidetrip we made at Vigan, Ilocos Sur for some breakfast, tour and souvenir shopping and also for our gasoline station stop-overs, and because we travelled in two private vehicles in convoy.
The verdict on Pagudpud? Actually, I never really liked the beach in Pagudpud. We stayed at Bgy. Saud which is popularfor their white sand beaches. We stayed at Tera Rika Beach Resort in Bgy.Saud which is just beside the more popular (and upscale) resort, Apo Idon. When we arrived at Tera Rika, the beach was not calm and strong waves greeted us. During our stay
at Tera Rika for 3 days and 2 nights, we were not able to take a swim (or even dare) to take a dip at the beach since you wouldn't really like to be swept away by the strong waves. However, you would appreciate the serenity and peacefulness in Pagudpud since there are no nightlife present, and we were there during an off-peak season. You could have the beaches to
yourself during this season since strong waves and current aren't really tourist friendly, but I appreaciate the cool winds there during night-times that seems like a typhoon is present since you can hear strong wind being blown. During night-time, you can only hear the strong waves and wind blows which is a part of what you would appreciate from it's charms, serenity. During our stay in Pagudpud, we were unfortunate to have rains in the evening til mornings which coupled with strong winds would beat
baguio for it's coolness. My advice is to bring sweatshirts if you are not used to a somewhat cooler climate than in Manila. My
Uncle and Aunt liked Pagudpud for it's cleanliness and away from the hustle and bustle of city life, noise and pollution. Their allergies were gone because of the natural sea breeze in Pagudpud.

On our second day, we actually were looking forward to buy fresh catch from the local fishermen to taste some fresh fish and other seafoods. I was also looking into trying to buy me some lobster since from what I've heard, and read...lobsters are cheaper there. Unfortunately, we were not able to avail of some fresh catch since no boats went out to fish and braved the strong currents, therefore my looking forward to taste lobsters were gone in an instant. We just headed up to the Pagudpud Central Market but it is bare of fresh seafoods there. Only cultured fresh water fishes, meat and some vegetables are present. So we just bought enough for our meals during our stay. We just asked Tera Rika to cook those for us. Note that there is a charge for cooking for each meal asked for/served. Plus is dining by the seaside - experience dining out with the sea breeze and the sound of the strong waves. During our second day also, we went out to see some of the tourist attractions that Pagudpud has to offer, and more famous for.

First stop: Aqua Grande Picnic park.This is one of those stops famous for it's 'batis' coming from the mountains that meets the South China Sea. Entrance fee is P20 for picnic and if you would want to take a dip into the 'batis' but we did not enter here and
just took a photo op at the resort with the 'batis' at the background.

Next stop: Patapat Viaduct. This is just a bridge that connects Ilocos Norte to Cagayan. This is just beside the mountain and overlooking the open sea. It is a very beautiful sight to behold since a view of the open sea you will not find any nearby islands. This I think is also where the South China Sea in the North and the Pacific Ocean in the East converges. You will also pass-by a small waterfall just beside the mountain in Patapat that forms a small creek where the water is cool and clear - not for bathing though but feel free to have a 'lusong' in the creek.

Next stop is the Famous Blue Lagoon which is one of the famous attractions in Pagudpud. This is just 15 mins away from Bgy.Saud. This is a downhill travel that will allow you to see its beauty from afar as you go downwards to reach the beach. The waves are much more calmer here as compared to Bgy.Saud but there are also some portions which are restricted for
swimming since there are strong waves and currents also present. Sand is white and much finer than in Bgy.Saud but not really fine than in Boracay. Shore is also not yet clear of sharp stones so be bewared. However, one you reach the sand portion of the
beach, it is already shallow and clear. I wonder also as to why the water is blue from afar yet when you are already in it, it is just as is, a clearear sea water. However, clear and shallow as it is, when you use your goggles, you wouldn't really see anything underneath
other than sand and sea weeds. Back at the shore, I happen to also have a conversation with a Local fisherman and asked as to where I can actually buy a 'lobster', as to satisfy my curiosity of what a Lobster really tastes like. Since according to him, lobster are seasonal catch only and can only be caught during night-time with full-moon. I asked for the price of a lobster and it
seems like its price ranges from P300/kilo which seems a little cheap for me.

During our tour, we missed out some other tourist spots along our way like the Kabigan falls - due to the 1.5 km mountain trek that can't be made by my Dad, the Cape Bojeador tower and the Bangui windmills, but they are visible from afar from the highway stretches of Bangui.
I asked the resort what's the best time to go back to Pagudpud, and was told that they are peak during summer time where the sea is much more calmer and good to appreciate the beach.
Is it worth to travel back to Pagudpud? Based on the long travels, I would just opt to go to the other parts of the Philippines that have good beaches with lesser travel time by air. Pagudpud is clean but the beach is rather similar to Puerto Galera, with the exception of Blue Lagoon. Snorkelling is also not possible due to the strong waves and sea current. Though I appreciate the rice fields, greeneries by the mountain-side along the way, and the natural cleanliness in some un-touched portions of Pagudpud.

There is also less or zero air pollutants in the area - which is a good factor in my rating of Pagudpud. If you are after a serene place to get out of the hustle-and-bustle of city-life but is ready for, and adventurous enough to take a long travel by land, then, Pagudpud is your place to be.

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