Now that you’re back, tell me about what you did in one full day while you were overseas. Pick a day, any day. (Haha, apologies it’s not as deep as your first question, but I thought I’d change it up a little by asking something people never really ask after you come back from holidays. :))
Apologies for the late response, it’s been crazy being back. Response below – enjoy!
Wednesday, November 23, 2016 @ Ilocos region, Philippines
The day started like any other holiday – waking up in the hotel room, craving for breakfast. Unfortunately, for an early bird such as myself, I woke up at about 6AM that day; which essentially meant that I had to wait at least 2 hours before my sister and brother in law wake up. With this in mind (and with our dodgy in-room wifi connection), I got my phone and started browsing for other attractions outside Ilocos Sur (this was Day 2 in Vigan City (Ilocos Sur) so we already visited majority of the sites in Vigan itself). Coincidentally, my mother texted me to check out Fort Ilocandia and sand dunes up in Laoag City (Ilocos Norte), so I took her suggestion on board and ‘chucked a Google’.
From looking up the distance between cities (80kms), how to get there (Partas bus), how long it’ll take to get there (approx. 2 hours each way), to looking up what we’ll be doing once we got there – namely, hitting the sand dunes!
At about 8.30AM, I had enough – I started poking my sister to wake her up, and started filling her in with my findings from the morning’s research. She was just as pumped and excited as I was, so she proceeded to wake up her husband… by lying to him, “Babe, wake up, we’re going to miss the Breakfast buffet downstairs!!!”. To which he groaned and replied to, “Why, what time is it?”.
“It’s 10AM. It closes at 10.30AM.”
“Crap! Okay let’s go!”, getting up immediately, in panic – he couldn’t believe we (he) slept in!
Breakfast buffet time – which really meant all you can eat Vigan Longganisa time!!! (Seriously, Vigan Longganisas are probably my favourite type of Longganisa in the Philippines!) I had them with Pandesal, with Garlic Fried Rice and by itself. I had to maximise it, I won’t be in Vigan for a very long time! In the midst of breakfast, I ended up breaking the news to my brother in law – it was actually just after 8.30AM. Boy was he pissed. (Although when we told him our plans for the day, he was pretty okay)
The bus ride to Laoag felt pretty long – 2 hours, but the roads were winding and narrow. We drove through so many towns, farms and villages. It was refreshing to see everyone going about their daily lives, doing everything they can to earn a living. I guess one call out from the bus ride would be the students who come on the bus, they hand everyone a piece of paper that says they’re selling local snacks (Otap and Pastillas) on buses in order to fund their studies, so that they can send themselves to college. Having lived in the Philippines for the first decade of my life, I’m no stranger to the poverty stricken country, but I guess it was a reminder of just how difficult life is over there. A reminder of my annoyance towards people who take education for granted here and other first world countries, and feeling guilty for the times I did the same.
When we got to Laoag, we were picked up in a red 4×4 buggy (kind of like a really hardcore ute) by one of the guys working at the sand dunes. This was the same vehicle we used to ride up and down the sand dunes. We all got in and went to the back of the ute. The vehicle started moving, and there we were – standing, unrestrained, in the open air, holding onto whatever we can grab onto, under the heat of the sun… as the roads got bumpier and steeper.
We clearly didn’t know what we were really getting into, because once we did – it was too late. We felt the vehicle climb a hill, which only meant one thing – we had to go back down the other side of that hill.
That first drop was also the first time our hearts jumped out of our chest that day. (Little did we know there’d be more where that came from)
At one point, we were approaching this cliff, overlooking a fabulous view… until the driver turned away from it, instead, he started reversing towards the cliffside. He revved the buggy, put his foot on the gas pedal… and then SLAMS HIS FOOT ON THE BRAKES JUST AS WE WERE AT THE EDGE OF THE CLIFF!!! Again, we lost our shit.
That was merely the introduction to the buggy adventure. As time went by, the hills got higher, which meant the drops got higher, and the speed definitely increased. The overall experience increased in intensity as we got closer to the end. It was definitely what people would say, “one hell of a ride”.
At the end of the buggy ride, we got taken up to another hill where we could sand board down the face of the hill. We were exhausted from holding onto our dear lives on the buggy, but of course we were keen to try sand boarding. It was also exhilarating but unfortunately by this time it was around 2PM so the sun was right above us and the sand was scalding hot. We only went up/down a few times before calling it quits.
Our post-sand dunes meal was at Jollibee (yep, literally went to a Jollibee at every city we visited, except Boracay because they don’t have one there!), after which we boarded another bus back to Vigan City.
We got back to our hotel in Vigan at around 5.30-6PM, which was perfect because we wanted to catch the rooftop session in our hotel, which started from 7PM onwards. We rested for a bit in the hotel before heading out to the streets of Vigan at night – boy was it beautiful! It sincerely felt like we were in another country.
After gallivanting and roaming the streets of Vigan, it was time to head back to the hotel for dinner on the rooftop – it was Inihaw night! We went up and were pleasantly surprised to find someone playing live music! Dinner + drinks + music + rooftop = what more can you ask for? We ate a lot that night, drank ample and sufficient amounts (San Mig Apple was so addictive!), and had good solid conversations.
It was a great end to a fabulous day.
It was by no means the best or most exciting day on the trip, but it’s probably one of my favourite days from this year – not necessarily because of the things we did, but mainly because of how randomly the day unfolded.