My recent Ilocos trip was born out of a dream to get to the Maira-Ira Beach, popularly known as the Blue Lagoon in Pagudpud, Ilocos Norte. I first learned about it from the blog site of the solesisters. One look at the images of its white sands and pristine, blue waters and I was sold. Immediately, I proposed the place to become our summer destination, to the same people I went with in Baler; good thing they didn’t need much convincing. And so, as early as February this year, we devised the plan to get to Pagudpud.
Thanks to the bloggers who shared their Ilocos adventures on the Internet, searching for information was a breeze. Eventually, we realized we should maximize the trip by including Laoag and Vigan to our itinerary.
The “Baler people,” Rhoda, Gerald, Pao, Alchris, and Athan signified their intention to go, Boni on the other hand declined. We added Kean and Patti, two of our office mates, to the list. Unfortunately, Alchris had to bail following the unexpected passing of his father last April. Since our preparations were tailored for 8 people, we had to find another person to take Alchris’s slot. Thankfully, Pao managed to convince one of his friends, Joyce, to join the trip.
There are many bus lines that can take you to Ilocos such as Maria De Leon, Partas, and Dominion. As with us, we picked the GV Florida sleeper bus. It has three rows of 32 reclining seats, double decks. The bus has a toilet but lacks complimentary blankets, pillows, and snacks. Ticket price is PHP 780 (USD 15.62). Time of departure was set at 10:00 in the evening.
Two days prior to our trip, I went to their terminal in Sampaloc to reserve our seats.
April 26, 2012 (Thursday) – The day has come! We left the office at 6:00 in the evening, had a dinner in Ayala Triangle, then took the PVP bus, fare is PHP 26 (USD 0.52) to get to the Florida bus terminal in Manila.
Tip: if you are taking the sleeper bus, it’s best to place your reservation in the morning so you could pick the lower bunks. I’m telling you it was a lot harder to sleep on the upper decks. In fact, in our 8-hour trip, I didn’t manage to get some zzs until the bus had a quick stop over in Bantay, Vigan. Also, bring an effing jacket and socks ’cause if motion doesn’t get you, the coldness of the bus will.
April 27, 2012, (Friday) – Finally, we reached Vigan a little before 6:00 in the morning. We put off in a gas station in Bantay. From there we hired three tricycles, fare is PHP 20 (USD 0.40) per head to get us to the place where we would be staying.
Where to stay
Last month I placed a reservation at Grandpa’s Inn. They don’t ask reservation fee by the way. Grandpa’s Inn is every photographer’s dream; the place has so many interesting antique pieces on display that soon our cameras got busy. From old paintings, musical instruments, furniture, to technological devices, Grandpa’s Inn perfectly complements the old texture that defines Vigan.
Since we arrived too early (check-in time is 10:00 a.m.) and we were already starving, we left our things in the lobby and went out to eat. Grandpa’s Inn is a stone throw away from the famous Vigan Heritage Village, we took the opportunity to go sight-seeing and take some pictures. The charm of the village helped kept our hungers at bay. So we walked, paused to take pictures, walked some more, until we reached the plaza.
This was around 6:00 in the morning and to our dismay most of the food establishments were still closed. So I think I saw the doors of heaven when we found one of the rolling stores opened in the plaza. That’s where we had breakfast. I ordered “mami” (noodles) with egg and a cup of instant coffee.
At around 7:00 we were back at Grandpa’s Inn. Before we were sent to our room, we had to pay the full amount of our stay first. That’s PHP 4,640 (USD 92.95) for an over night stay with free breakfast. The amount also covered the early check-in fee of PHP 150 (USD 3.00) per hour.
We occupied one of their dormitory rooms, equipped with 4 double deck beds, aircon, and TV. There were complimentary towels, soaps and shampoos, tissue rolls, and bottled waters. I loved everything about the place except their communal showers. It has two shower rooms with three toilets. I just didn’t like how it looked; the tiles were all moldy, the doors were made of aluminum with rusted latch for door locks, the shower heads were covered with molds, definitely not something you would expect in a decent inn or hotel.
As soon as we were settled in our room, we took turns in taking showers. Then At around 8:00 a.m. we met Kuya Arnel (Arnel Aguila), the most recommended tour guide in Ilocos of some bloggers. We used his Mercedes Benz (MB100) during this tour, driven by his companion, Kuya Vincent.
When I discussed with Kuya Arnel our agenda for the day, we realized we had to make a major adjustment in our plans. According to Kuya Arnel travel time from Vigan to Pagudpud takes 4 hours. He said that once our tour begins, we couldn’t afford to go back anymore ’cause it would waste our time. Given the fact that it takes 2 hours to get to Laoag and another 2 hours to reach Pagudpud, we realized that Kuya Arnel had a point.
We had no choice but to check out from Grandpa’s Inn right then and there. Since we only stayed a few hours and the only thing that we were able to do there was to take a shower, I asked the receptionist if it’s possible that we get a refund, at least half of what we paid for our stay. Good thing they agreed so we’re able to take back PHP 2,320 (USD 46.47).
In the meantime here’s the damage for the day (per pax):
|Bus – Ayala to Manila||26||0.52|
|Bus – Manila to Vigan||780||15.62|
|Tricycle to Grandpa’s Inn||20||0.40|
(Dollar conversion based on 2016 exchange rate)
Photos are courtesy of Patti Agnes)