The weather didn’t cooperate with my trip to Aurora. It was raining hard when I reached the town of Baler after 7 long hours of travel from Manila by bus. I was fetched at the terminal by my friend who lives there and accompanied me to search for a decent hostel where I could stay in the next few days. We took a tricycle going to Sabang Beach where we found Jam Jen's Lodge. Although there are many nice beach front accommodations available, I opted to stay here to save on expenses. As I've said on my previous posts, I travel on a defined budget, and spending too much on accommodation is a "no-no" for me.
My Dearest Aurora,
My excitement never ceased from the moment you invited me to see you. You know that it was a long time dream for me to meet you. The decision to finally see you happened so fast that I didn’t think twice and just gave in to your invitation. For such a long time, I was just contented seeing you on photos and hearing stories about you from my friends, but I never realized that you are far more beautiful from what I've seen and heard from everyone.
Travel Guide : Ilocos Norte - How to Get There, Accommodations, Transportation, Travel Expenses, Contact Details and Itinerary
HOW TO GET THERE
How to get to Ilocos Norte from Manila
By Bus. Take a bus bound for Laoag. Travel time is 10-12 hours, so I would recommend a night trip for this. Several bus companies such as Partas, GV Florida Transport, Dominion Bus Lines, Philippine Rabbit and Fariñas Transit have regular trips that will take you directly to Laoag City. Check out their websites for the trip schedules.
By Plane. Take a direct flight from Manila to Laoag via Cebu Pacific or Philippine Airlines. Travel time is about an hour. Flights are usually at night, so better make the necessary adjustments on your itinerary.
After thanking Ate Cathy and her family for a great stay in their home stay facilities, I hopped into the tricycle that I rented for my tour around the towns of Bangui and Burgos. I met Kuya Rene, the tricycle driver, he will be my tour guide for the rest of this tour.
When in Pagudpud, there are 2 options to explore, the north and the south tour. Due to limited time, I opted to do the south of Pagudpud tour which includes a visit to the Bangui Windmills in the town of Bangui, the Kapurpurawan rock formation and the Bojeador lighthouse both in the town of Burgos.
After my tour around the city of Laoag and the town of Paoay, I had lunch at Dap-ayan Ti Ilocos. It is like a food court / fast food where there are stalls offering a variety of food choices. Here, you'll find the famous Laoag empanada and inihaw na longanisa. I had the empanada on my first night in the city, I just had longanisa, fried rice, egg and a bottle of soda for lunch. Open 24 hours and is located near the capitol building, behind Philippine National Bank, it will surely be a delightful treat anytime of the day.
Laoag is a 1st class city in the province of Ilocos Norte. It is the province's political and industrial center where the region's only commercial airport is located. Hence, it is considered a major hub for international trade and commerce in the entire Ilocos region.
Within the city limits, there are several interesting places worth visiting. So after having a very challenging sand boarding experience at the La Paz Sand dunes and a visit to Paoay Church and the Malacañang of the North, I roamed around the city to check out these landmarks and attractions.
My next stop was the Malacanang of the North, also known in the local dialect as “Malacañang ti Amianan”. Built as the official residence of then President Ferdinand Marcos in Ilocos Norte, it is an imposing structure that resembles a 19th Century "bahay na bato" with an overlooking view of the legendary Paoay Lake. This once a seat of power is now converted into a museum that houses several memorabilia of the former President and his family.
This is the second reason why I was very eager to visit Ilocos Norte. I wasn't just contented seeing it on postcards, on friends' photos, books and magazines - I have to see it in all its glory.
The St. Augustine Church or popularly known as Paoay Church is one of the oldest churches in the Philippines. It's construction started in 1694 by the Agustinian Friars, completed 1894 and was re-dedicated in the same year. It is made of coral blocks and brick that incorporates Gothic, Baroque and Oriental designs that add up to its striking appeal.
Sand boarding at the La Paz Sand Dunes has been long overdue in my "to do" list of adventures. Aside from visiting Paoay Church, this is one of the main reasons I've been dying to visit Ilocos Norte.
The La Paz Sand Dunes is an 85 sq. km. of protected sandy coastal desert located in the capital city of Laoag. It is part of the Ilocos Norte Sand Dunes which stretches from the town of Currimao all the way to the town of Pasuquin, north of Laoag City. As a distinct land formation, it was declared as a National Geological Monument by the National Committee on Geological Sciences in 1993.