Friday, April 6, 2012

Salt, Sand, and Surf: Pagudpud


I am a beach lover. Plain and simple. Maybe because of my complexion, I look like I avoid hitting the beach, but make no mistake, the most anticipated part of most trips for me, is going to the beach. I love the water, feeling the waves caressing me, and the sun kissing my skin, it's the most heavenly feeling. However, just as much as I love soaking and sunning myself, I really have to be careful. I don't tan, you see. I skip tanning altogether and go straight to full on sun-burn. As in lobster red sun burn and flaking skin sun burn. When I was a kid, I wasn't really worried about this, since after a few days of peeling I would go back to my normal color. But as I've gotten older, I've gotten more conscious about premature aging from sun exposure, so I am a sunblock and sun protection addict. I go the whole nine yards, re-applying every few hours, with wide spectrum SPF.

This trip was no different. My best buddy was my Hawaiian Tropic Baby Faces and Tender Places SPF 50 sunscreen. I have sensitive skin, so I use a milder formula. I didn't even bother putting on makeup anymore, I just slathered on the sunblock and used a translucent setting powder to mattify my face, since I knew the beach would be the highlight of the day. But before going to the beach, we would visit three tourists spots along the way first because Pagudpud beach was at the very end of the line, so to speak. I actually wanted to wear a swimsuit and just a cover up because I was so excited and didn't want to waste time changing, but I decided against it, because when we inquired about our itinerary, Pagudpud is a two hour drive from Laoag, and we still had other places to go to.

Anyway, just to recap, I barely slept the night before, so at breakfast, I asked for coffee with my breakfast. And then after breakfast, we were ready to leave at 8, as agreed upon, but lo and behold, we sat waiting and our driver and tour guide were nowhere to be found, at a quarter to 9 they finally show up, and not a word of explanation or apology, but we were delayed enough as it was, so we just went ahead. But I was miffed when I heard that we were expected to arrive at the beach resort by noon, but we had to leave by 2 pm, so we would be back in Laoag by 4 pm. Not only were they late by nearly an hour, they then had the nerve to eat into our (MY) beach time! No way, Jose. Not happening in my book. Why should we be the ones to adjust our itinerary when they were the one who were late. Mama was actually just going to stand by and let them, out of I don't know, some sense of consideration for them. Well I wasn't going to have any of that. Of course I insisted that we stay until 3, and get back by 5, that way our day tour would be 9-5 instead of 8-4 since they wasted our time. I really didn't want to unleash the monster on vacation, but they pushed me. Beach time is absolutely sacred, Palm Sunday, or no.

IMG_0205Okay, after being difficult, everything else went as planned. I can't tell you much about the drive to Pagudpud, other than it was a blur of houses, because I fell asleep intermittently during the ride. Our first destination was the Cape Bojeador Lighthouse. For real. I've never seen a lighthouse before in my life, but there it was. A lighthouse on a hilltop overlooking the sea. The main highway branches out to an uphill road and we parked at the foot of the hill, and climbed up the stairs a little bit. Manong Jorge, our guide, told us that it used to be operational (again, I'm no good with dates), and there is an initiative by the local government to have it up and running again as a functional light house, and not just at landmark or tourist spot. Either way, it's just really novel to me because I didn't think we had those in the Philippines.

The steps are a little bit steep and you have to be careful on your way up because therIMG_0207e aren't any hand railings for support. Just at the top of the stairs you can already see the ocean. And it's a long way down, so if you're afraid of heights, it might not be such a good idea to climb up. The main light house building is still another two or three flights up from the main set of stairs. On the first level, there's a mini museum for the lighthouse itself. A few glass displays and models.



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On the second level, there's a viewing deck or a sort of balcony and then the tower of the light house itself. There's a really terrific view of the ocean on one side, and the mountains on the other. You can even see the huge waves just pummeling the shore.













But while we were there, it suddenly got crazy windy! I've never experienced such strong wind in my life before. My body felt almost swayed by the wind, it was blowing that hard, like I could be lifted off the ground. You might think I'm exaggerating but I'm really not. Papa tried taking pictures of us, but it was hard to keep our eyes open, or our hair in place for that matter because it was just that windy! This is also my first time to experience wind burn. My skin actually got stung by the wind. There really is a first time for everything. Luckily the wind settled down for a moment and Papa was able to take a more decent picture of me. My outfit for the day is a blue, floral printed backless mini-dress, that I wore shorts under, and my pink crocs, for the beach.



  Manong Jorge took this picture of us going down the lighthouse. Papa always looks so serious.













Our next destination was Kapurpurawan, or the White Rock formation, down the beach. Manong Jorge said Kapurpurawan means whiter, or more white in Ilocano. We drove from the hill and down the highway to the beach and trekked quite a bit to the rock formations themselves. IMG_0236



















The path was pretty rough, really rocky, with lots of brambles. Good thing I wore my crocs or else my sandals would have been ruined. There were these puddles of brackish water, because apparently at one time or another the ocean reached up to there.









The main rock formation looked a lot like Noah's Ark!








IMG_0252By this time the wind was literally howling in my ears and I had to put my hair up because it was blowing into my eyes. The waves were really high too. But the very best part was after all that trekking, getting to climb up the rock formation. It was pretty far, and you actually have to go around to get there. We even had a Titanic Moment. Alas Papa's not in the picture because Manong Jorge didn't tag along for the long walk, he'd just taken another group of tourists to the same place the day before and wasn't up for it, so he wasn't around to take a picture for us.









It was actually a bit dangerous because if you didn't watch where you were going, or if you lost your footing on the rocks, then a really rough and sharp landing is waiting for you, plus the gustiness was another factor. But that made it all the more thrilling. Mama was actually nervous and wanted to turn back but we kids just kept going further.








Next to the beach of course, that was the most awesome place we went to in Pagudpud. I love nature trips where you can actually interact, unlike in museums where you just look around. It was a lot of fun, and Papa, as always got my good angles while I was having a blast.









IMG_0278 After that, we went to the famous Bangui Wind IMG_0273Mills! I had seen these on television, but I had no idea they were that tall, that many, and that big. On another note, I guess it was just appropriate that on the day we visited the Wind Mill it was exceptionally windy! And it was so cloudy on the beach, it even drizzled a little, that the wind mills looked like they were touching the clouds. It kind of reminded me of Jack and the Beanstalk. Random, I know. But I just had to mention.

Manong Jorge got this nice picture of all of us.













Last stop: Hanna's Beach Resort Resort, Pagudpud! Finally! I had been itching all day to get into my bikini! No joke! Anyway, we got there, as expected, at noon, driving on some rough mountain roads, because as it happens Pagudpud is really almost at the northernmost tip. But it was worth the wait! White sand! We were really starving by then, and had to eat first, and the whole strip of beach has lots of small restaurants, but we ate at Hanna's. The food was overpriced, but at least it wasn't open air and noisy. After that my sisters and I made a mad dash for the water. My parents didn't join us though, Mama because the water was too cold for her liking, and Papa because he was keeping an eye on us. Their loss. The water was only cold the first five minutes, but after that you get used to it, and that day, there weren't too many people (perverts) so we swam with abandon. What I liked about this beach compared to other beaches I've been to (Batangas), is that we didn't have to go far from the shore to get to deeper water and the sand was fine. In other beaches I've been to, we would have to go really, really far, and still the water would only be waist-high. Plus, the waves were really big, you could really ride them. It was divine.

There was one downside. Seaweed. Every ten minutes or so, the waves would bring seaweed with them. If you're not fussy, no problem. But I get creeped out when seaweed touches my skin. It gives me goosebumps. Other than that, it was the refreshing swim.

On another side-note, our whole family has poor eyesight, and we all wear either glasses or contact lenses, and just imagine how salt water stings when you swim with contact lenses. It can't be avoided, we love the beach so we put up with it.

Papa captured this candid moment of the three of us, but I can't remember why we were there and what exactly we were doing, for us (me) to end up doing a funky chicken pose. But I think it's cute anyway.













We swam for about an hour then we'd had enough fun under the sun and then we headed to the showers at Hanna's and paid a small fee to use the showers and changing rooms. And as promised, we were done by around 3 pm. I had a hissy fit earlier, because, it takes an hour to eat and order food, almost another hour to change before swimming and to rinse off and change back afterwards, so if we had given in to the 2 pm deadline, that would have left us with 30 minutes to swim. We don't ask for much, namely me, in wanting a full hour on the beach.

Anyway, we made it back to Laoag before 5 anyway, so no harm done. We asked to be dropped off near the Capitol because we wanted to eat dinner outside of the resort. We walked around some and did a little exploring before we did though. And Mama marched us over to the Cathedral we visited the day before to hear mass. It was in Ilocano and we couldn't understand so we just left, and went to the nearby park.

















I even took this adorable picture of my parents together.













Actually, and I'm not saying this out of conceit (for once) or anything, but when we stopped by their local grocery everyone stared at us. I don't think we were eye-catching, or sticking out like sore thumbs as tourists so I don't know why we got looked at funny... While we were there, I finally got to try the Magnum ice cream, by the way. I got the Chocolate Truffle variant, and it was pretty good to me. Then again, any chocolate ice cream is good to me and I'd be willing to shell out PhP 50 anytime for it.

And also, while we were at the Church, the local women gave me the stink-eye and the men gave me lecherous stares. Granted, my outfit was less than suitable for Church, but I had no idea that Mama would drag us to Church in Ilocos, when all I packed were sleeveless and short hemmed dresses. But I wasn't expecting that Ilocanos would be that conservative. Even by Manila standards my dress wasn't all that short. It might have been a little Marilyn Monroe getting blown up by the wind, but I wasn't flaunting on purpose. Honest!

Here's what I was wearing. Blue is one of my favorite colors and it suits me, so a lot of my clothes are blue. All I'm saying is I just came from the beach and I wore a summer dress, but I had a cardigan on because it was nippy. But the women looked at me like the length of my dress was the work of the devil! No joke. The men looked appreciative though. It seems even in the provinces, roving eyes never run out. And there I am a little on the rosy side, while my sisters are toasted.









Anyway, we ate at a local Ilocano restaurant called Saramsam. They had all these Ilocano fusion dishes, like pinakbet pizza, but I played it safe and went with their pasta, which was also pretty good. We also tried their version of fondue, instead of chocolate sauce, it was molasses, and rice cakes and fruit to dip. Yummy and their special iced tea was a real treat! The main attraction though was that they had Wi-Fi. My sisters and I came back to life, or rather, came back to our e-mail, social networking accounts.

We went back to the resort on a tricycle. Their local tricycles are a bit different from the ones in Manila, they're shaped a bit different. It's something that we compare whenever our family goes to different places in the Philippines, because it also says something about their local culture. For instance, in Palawan, the tricycles are really bulky. And in Cebu they have unusual jeepneys.

In any case, that night, I slept like a baby. I shut my eyes and was asleep almost instantaneously. We had another early morning the next day!


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