Friday, September 14, 2012

North Luzon Adventures: Itinerary & Travel tips

      We planned to visit various places in North Luzon for just 4 days without compromising our vacation-spirit adventures & relaxation. Places we wanted to see are as follows: Vigan, Batac, Laoag, Sarrat, Piddig, Pagudpud (Saud & Maira-ira).  So, if you are a group of 3 pax and wanted to explore North Luzon by simply commuting, I have the best travel tips for you.

August 17: Friday
8:45pm – GV Florida bus from Sampaloc to Bantay (Alight at Caltex Gasoline Station at around 5am)

August 18: Saturday: Stayed at Bantay Health Center (next to Bantay Police Station) up to 6am. We had our breakfast there.
6:00am – Walked to Bantay Church & Bantay Bell Tower
7:00am – Trike to Calle Crisologo/Heritage Village
7:30am – Trike to Pagburnayan Jar Making
                Trike to Baluarte Open Zoo
                Trike to Maverick Weaving
                Trike to Crisologo Museum
                Trike to Syquia Mansion               
10:00am – Trike to Padre Burgos Museum
                (Walk) Plaza Burgos
                (Walk) Vigan/St. Paul Cathedral
                (Walk) Plaza Salcedo – A taste of Vigan Empanada
11:00am – Trike to Bantay Highway
1:00pm – Marcos Mansion & Mausoleum
                A taste of Batac Empanada
3:00pm – Bus to Laoag
                (Walk) Laoag Museum (next to Laoag Capitol)
                (Walk) Tobacco Monopoly Monument
                (Walk) Laoag Sinking Tower
                (Walk) Laoag Cathedral
4:00pm – Early dinner at Mcdonalds
6:00pm – Trike to Laoag homestay

August 19: Sunday:
9:00am – Trike to Sarrat Jeepney Terminal
10:00am – Sta Monica Church and Sta Monica Park
10:30am – Jeep to Laoag
                 Trike to Paoay Jeepney Terminal
11:30am – Paoay Church
                Trike to Malacanang of the North/Batac Ti Amianan
                Overlooking Paoay Lake
                Paoay Sand Dunes
1:00pm – Jeep from Paoay to Laoag
2:00pm – Trike to Laoag Homestay
2:30pm – Trike to Saramsam Resto
               (Bagnet, Pinakbet Pizza & Ilocos Longanisa adventure)
4:00pm – Trike to Pagudpud Bus station
5:00pm – Burgos Highway
                Trike to/from Burgos Lighthouse
5:30pm – Bus to Kapurpurawan
                (didn't pursue since it’s getting late, opted to visit Bangui instead)
6:00pm – Jeep to Bangui
                Trike to Bangui Windmills
7:00pm – Bus to Pagudpud Highway
                Trike to Homestay

August 20: Monday: (planned to wake up at 6am to stroll along the beach but it mizzles in early morning so we opted to snore longer ahihihi)
8:30am – Municipal Beach Park (strolling & swimming at Saud)
11:00am – Brunch at Saud Homestay
12:00am – North Pagudpud adventures
                Kabigan Falls (allot 2 hrs: 30 minutes trek to the falls + swimming)
                Patapat Viaduct
                Agua Grande Park
                >>> Timangtang Rock Formation (just  few meters from Bantay Abot Cave)
                Bantay Abot Cave
                Blue Lagoon
                Dos Hermanos Island
5:00pm – Rest/Organized things at Blue Lagoon Homestay
6:00pm – Stroll along the Beach Blue Lagoon + Dinner (Paluto is usually served after an hour)

August 21: Tuesday:
8:30am – Breakfast
9:00am – Strolling the shore + swimming
10:30am –Ordered our Lunch, rest, eat and organizing our stuff
1:00pm –Trike to Pagudpud Highway (Dropped by Timangtang Rock Formation)
2:00pm –Alight at Kapurpurawan, Trike to Kapurpurawan Rock Formation
4:00pm –Bus to Laoag
6:00pm –Arrived at Laoag 
             ---last itinerary (personal) before heading to bus station to Manila
11:30pm Bidding goodbye to North Luzon Adventures

 Vigan Travel Tips:  Bantay Church/Bell Tower should be the first travel destination since it is just 3 buildings away from the gasoline station. Baluarte Open Zoo opens as early as 6am also, it is best to visit it first.  Afterall, Baluarte is the farthest tourist destination within Vigan.

Batac/Paoay Travel Tips:  Batac is very near to Paoay also.  It is just 15 minutes travel thru jeepney. It can save you a great time and money to travel it simultaneously. Negotiate with tricycle driver for Paoay adventures (From Paoay Church to Malacanang of the North/Paoay lake and Paoay Sand Dunes and going back to Paoay Church or Laoag Jeep Terminal). For Paoay Sand Dunes, you have to allot a budget (at least Php1,500 for 30 minutes and Php2,500 for an hour) for the 4X4 car to bring you to the heart of sand dunes.

Sarrat Travel Tips: Allot 30 minutes waiting time in jeepney terminal

Pagudpud Travel Tips: Pagudpud is 2 hours travel from Laoag.  It is best to avail the tricycle travel package (Php600 each) for North Pagudpud and South Pagudpud.  For South Pagudpud Adventures, tourist destinations are quite farther from each other and you may spend more by commuting and negotiating with different tricycle drivers.  For North Pagudpud Adventures, don’t miss to swim (or soak yourself in a very cold and relaxing water from the falls. Don’t swim nearer the falls because you may compromise your safety with the (water) current. Blue Lagoon meals are usually Palutuan (you select the fish/meat that you want and they will cook it for you). You have to wait for an hour for the food to be served.

North Luzon Adventures: Budget & Expenses

Our budget is Php5,000/pax. And our expenses are inclusive of food, accommodation, transportation expenses, souvenirs and entrance fees.

Bus fare (Florida Bus – Sampaloc to Bantay) @750/pax                   Php2,250-
Bantay Tower Entrance fee (donation)                                                       20
Trike to Calle Crisologo                                                                                30
Trike to Pagburnayan Jar Making                                                                 30
***Trike (special negotiation for the rest of Vigan adventures)                   300
Baluarte picture with parrot donation                                                           20
Vigan Shirt souvenirs – 3 pcs.                                                                   300
Crisologo Museum Entrance fee (donation)                                                 20
Syquia Mansion Entrance fee (20/pax)                                                        60
Padre Burgos Museum Entrance fee (20/pax + tip 20)                                 80
Plaza Salcedo – Vigan Empanada                                                              219
                Empanada – 30 each
                Ukoy – 30 each
                Softdrinks – 13 each
Trike to Bantay Highway                                                                             40
Bus fare from Bantay to Batac (90/pax)                                                    270
Batac Empanda (35 each/ 2 softdrinks @13)                                            131
Bus fare from Batac to Laoag (25/pax)                                                      75
Laoag Museum (50/pax)                                                                           150
Dinner @ Mcdonalds                                                                                280
Trike to Homestay                                                                                       52
***Homestay rental - Laoag                                                                      1,000    
Total expenses – Day 1                                                                   Php5,327-

Trike to Sarrat Jeep Terminal                                                                     33
Jeep – Laoag to Sta Monica (Sarrat) 15/pax +15                                       60
Jeep – Sarrat to Laoag                                                                               45
Trike to Paoay Terminal (34/pax)                                                              102
***Trike from Paoay Church
    to Malacanang of the North/Paoay Lake/Sand Dunes                           250
Jeep to Laoag (34/pax)                                                                             102
Trike to Homestay                                                                                      33
Trike from Homestay to Saramsam                                                             33
Late Lunch at Saramsam                                                                           780
Water (35 each)                                                                                        105
Trike to Pagudpud Bus Terminal (2 tricycle)                                                50
Bus to Burgos, Pagudpud (40/pax)                                                            120
Trike to/from Burgos Lighthouse (50/way)                                                 100
Bus to Kapurpurawan                                                                                 50
Jeep to Bangui                                                                                             50
Trike to Bangui Windmill                                                                             100
Souvenirs                                                                                                  500
Bus to Pagudpud                                                                                         30
Trike from Highway to Homestay                                                                 70
Homestay Rental - Saud + breakfast 50/pax + 4 SM Light Beer              1,116
Total expenses – Day 2                                                                  Php3,729-

Souvenir – Saud Beach                                                                               180
Trike for North Pagudpud Tour                                                                    600
Kabigan Falls
                Environmental Fee – 10/pax
                Tour guide – 100 + 50 tip
                Snacks/Buko Juice + native food – 120                                        300
Dinner                                                                                                             877
Homestay Rental – Blue Lagoon                                                                     750        
Total expenses – Day 3                                                                       Php2,707-

Trike from Homestay to Pagudpud Highway                                                    100
Bus from Pagudpud to Burgos/Kapurpurawan – 40/pax                                 120
Trike to/from Kapurpurwan (200 + 20 tip)                                                       220
Snacks                                                                                                               60
Bus from Burgos to Laoag                                                                                 90
Snacks                                                                                                             275
Bus from Laoag to Quezon City (700/pax)                                                    2,100
Total expenses – Day 4                                                                       Php2,965-

BUDGET:  5K/pax                                                                                    Php15,000-
EXPENSES:                    Day 1                           Php5,327-
                                        Day 2                             Php3,729-
                                        Day 3                             Php2,707-
                                        Day 4                             Php2,965-                    Php14,728-
Savings***                                                                                                Php 272

***It’s so great to know that we travelled within our budget. Although, we have not negotiated some of the expenses. (Especially the South Pagudpud Tour, trike for Php600 is still the best option.)

In addition, the expenses presented is from Bus Terminal only. So, transportation from/to home, the dinner before the adventure and the snacks brought by my niece and nephew are not included.

North Luzon Adventures: Ilocos Special Empanada

       Last August 17 to 21, 2012, I’ve been to Ilocos.  I’ve seen a lot of places and I ate a lot of food, including the very popular – Ilocos Empanada.  I taste the Ilocos Empanada from different towns of Ilocos – Vigan, Batac, Laoag, Pagudpud and even the Empanada from Katipunan (QC).  I tried to eat all to know how good the empanada is.  
     Empanada is composed of 2 to 3 kinds of vegetables with egg and Ilocos longanisa (for the special one).  It is wrapped in a rice flour with orange food color and some seasonings.  The empanada is cooked by deep frying. 
     I want to describe the Empanada in a nice thought that I could, but I can’t.  I am wondering what is special in Ilocos Empanada, what is it?  Why is it very famous?  In trying the various empanada, there’s one thing that I am sure, that’s the name itself that I am paying for.  I said that because there is no special taste, no WOW factor! (Or I just expect too much for the taste). VIGAN EMPANADA:  It is just more of flour (light brown in color) and oily with vinegar dippings.  Actually, I don’t like vinegar and it is too oily, if you will eat the Vigan empanada, you have to drink softdrinks along with it to avoid the “Umay” (lose of appetite) factor and for me, single order is good for 2 persons.
BATAC EMPANADA: (the original and most famous): My Tita told me that I should not leave Batac without tasting it because for her, it is really good.  I am confused with the taste of it knowing that my Tita is very meticulous when it comes to tastes of the food.  And I became curious that she actually boasted it to me.  To stop my curiosity, I tasted the Batac Empanada and I can say, it is much better than the Vigan’s.  It is not salty but at the same time, not tasty.  But again, you need to have softdrinks with it but not as the craving for the softdrinks that I felt when I am eating the Vigan’s Empanada.
PAGUDPUD EMPANADA: It has the same color like Batac’s that’s orange in color. It has monggo beans and cabbage with a lot of MSG, an egg and longanisa. It’s good to eat the empanada while it is hot but again, nothing is really special with it.  I am really wondering. What’s there in empanada. I want to know, I want to satisfy my curiosity.

 LAOAG EMPANADA:  For the fourth time, in Florida Bus Station while waiting for our trip going home, my brother bought an empanada again. He actually likes it because of the free catsup. Yes, it taste better but the crust is thinner and it is messy even if it was put in a paper bag.  I ate only the fillings and left the crust in the paper bag. Again, I need softdrinks and I am full already.  
KATIPUNAN EMPANADA:  Actually, this is the last empanada that I have eaten. Popular Ilocos Empanada in Katipunan that my Tita bought after her work.  I like the crust but not the fillings. 
      After tasting the Ilocos Empanada from different suppliers, I can say that the only special ingredients is that one (1) whole egg – Nothing more, nothing less.  And since it is deep fried, it is oily that you will only crave for softdrinks.  And I believe that one serving is good for two.  
     Therefore, don’t expect for more “WOW” factor in Empanada because there’s nothing special on it.  It is just my curiosity to try the famous Ilocano food.  But then, you should try it, there’s may be special that you can find.  Unfortunately, it’s not the case for me.  Though, it is the cheapest way to feed my hungry tummy in a cowboy style (on my Ilocos adventures).

This is written by my neice, Keishel.  I am sharing the same sentiments also.  But as to its cost, I feel that it is expensive based on the ingredients used.  It costs Php30 to Php45 (Blue Lagoon, Pagudpud is the most expensive).  In addition, I personally disliked deep fried food and those wrapped with flour.  So, it may add the factor of not liking it.

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