Friday, December 17, 2010

Road Trip to Northern Luzon, Part 2: The City of Pagudpud, Waterfalls, Caves, and Blue Lagoons.

Saud Beach, Pagudpud

After visiting Vigan we hired a tricycle driver to take us to the bus station. At the station we boarded a run-down, barely operable looking bus. And just as we were about to leave, the driver shifted the bus into park and began repairing it. It took the driver about 30 minutes before he finished. However, after about 5 minutes he pulled over again. We waited for another 30 minutes before I nudged Sheila, who had been asleep, and exited the bus. The driver was nowhere to be found.

“What the . . .“ I said in disbelief. I looked up to Sheila who was sitting near the window and told her that I didn't see our driver. To our dismay, a passenger who had just boarded the bus said that our driver was taking a bath.

“He’s doing what?” I said to Sheila, as I was certain that my ears had just deceived me.

“He’s taking a bath,” Sheila responded, gesturing a person taking a bucket bath.

That was the last straw.

I walked straight to the street and hailed the next approaching bus. It pulled over and we hopped inside.

Boom. Done.

I love how you can hail buses anywhere in the country. I wish it was like this in the States so I didn't have to drive. That would be amazing.

Two hours later we arrived in the city of Laoag where we transferred onto another bus to Pagudpud, near the northernmost tip of Luzon. The sun was rising as we were riding along the island’s northern coast which made out for some pretty scenery. I had difficulty staying awake during this stretch as it'd been over 24 hours since I'd slept. However, when I did awake from my brief, periodic slumbers it was to the regions diverse landscape: pretty mountainous scenery, rolling hills, green coastal land, water buffalo, and rice fields which were attended by people in ankle deep water.

About a half hour outside of Pagudpud, our bus driver pulled over and picked up an old woman who was standing along the street, waiving. The brittle old woman looked as if she'd been alive since Moses: she was about 4 feet tall; had zero teeth; dark skin; and deep, thick facial lines which zigzagged across her entire face, undoubtedly the result of exposure to the sun for over 10,000 years. She was full of personality and always smiling and laughing, and her voice sounded like one of the munchkins from the movie The Wizard of Oz. She was so adorable. And when she spoke it wasn't in Tagalog - the Philippines official language - but in Ilocano, the predominant language spoken in this region of the country.

Once we arrived in Pagudpud we immediately hired a tricycle driver for the day. We didn't have a hotel booked as of yet, so we asked our driver to take us to a place within our price range. He took us to Northridge Beach Resort, located along Saud Beach. I would guess the beach was over a mile long, and was lined with pretty palm trees and clear blue water. The view of Saud Beach was definitely well worth the long sojourn to the north.

We requested for our driver to pick us back up in 2 hours, giving us ample time to check-in, eat breakfast, and take a brief nap.

The first stop of our tour around Pagudpud was to Kabigan Falls. To reach the falls we had to pay a small entrance fee and hire a guide. It was compulsory. The people managing the entrance desk said the money would stay within the community. I hope so.

To reach the falls we had to walk about 1.5 miles through pleasant panorama scenery with gorgeous green vegetation. The sun was intense as we walked through the small village. However we were protected by the sun once we entered the jungle and its thick foliage.

Kabigan Falls was amazing. The pictures speak for themselves.

Stop number 2: Patapat Viaduct, one of the northernmost roadways in the Luzon.

Stop number 3: Aquao Paradiso/Grande.

Stop number 5: Timmangtang Rock.

Stop number 6: Bantay Abot Cave.

Stop number 7: Blue Lagoon Beach.

The Blue Lagoon Beach was our final stop before returning to Saud Beach.

Back at the hotel we decided to walk the entire length of the beach. The beach is so long that it's easy to find a section vacant of tourists. I think the round-trip took us nearly two hours, with one brief stop in order to enjoy the sunset.

We worked up quite the appetite walking the entire length of the beach and back. So immediately after our return we enjoyed a delicious dinner, which included pasta and salad.

An eventful day it most certainly was :-)