Monday, September 2, 2013

The Treasures of Ilocos Norte (Part 2)

Laoag & Paoay, ILOCOS NORTE
Date: AUG 31, 2013

A different kind of adrenalin rush is what our adventure today is all about. We went to Paoay and Ilocos Norte’s capital city, Laoag, to try out some cool activities. From visiting Laoag’s cultural sites, we found ourselves driving through the sand dunes of Paoay trying out sand boarding and some other “extreme” stuff.

Riding a 4x4 truck on the sand dunes of Paoay


Only a few hours left before we leave this paradise called Pagudpud, and I spent the remaining time I have swimming. After swimming, I went back to the hotel to pack up, and then we texted the tricycle driver from yesterday to fetch us from the hotel and take us to the waiting shed where buses bound for Laoag pass by.

Feeling Dubai
We didn't have a hard time waiting for a bus because after we got off from the tricycle, an air-conditioned GMW bus came and there were available seats for us. The bus ride took us two hours, and when we reached Laoag, we ate lunch at a nearby carinderia. After eating, we looked for tricycle drivers who could take us to Paoay.

Because we carry lots of bags, we had to take two tricycles for the tour. We went to Paoay first and headed to the sand dunes. We registered at the entrance, and they asked us to choose the truck that we wanted to drive and the duration of the tour inside the sand dunes (longer stay = higher price). We selected the blue one, and when the guy started driving, it seemed like we were inside a roller coaster. It was rocking so hard, and it was way scarier when we headed down the slope.

I wanted to do this again and again
You could fall off the truck if you don’t have a good grip, that’s why I almost hugged the truck handle for me to stay put. After driving through the sandy track, the guy told us to get off near the beachfront to strike for a pose. He took us our photos, and he let us walk around the beach.

We only stayed here at the beachfront for a couple of minutes, and we went back to the truck. The guy brought us to the other side of the desert, and then he offered sand boarding for an additional payment of P300 (P75 per head). That was a cheap offer, so we agreed and had a deal. He then opened the trunk and got his board, and I was the first one to try it. I was nervous at first because I might fall off, but as I slide through the slope, the nervousness turned into excitement! I enjoyed sandboarding! Too bad we could only do it once.

I managed to reach the end of the slope in a matter of seconds, and I was very proud of myself because I finally did sand boarding. We had so much fun that day and given another chance, I would love to do it over and over. Our time is running out, so we decided to go back to the entrance and proceed to our next destination.

Outside Malacanang of the North
Malacanang of the North was our next stop, and it was an elegant, Spanish colonial era styled building where old furniture, artifacts, and memorabilia from the Marcos family can be found. A vast garden can also be located outside the building facing Lake Paoay.

You would see many rooms on the first floor of the building, and inside were old clothes and furniture owned by the Marcos family. There was also a giant portrait hanging on the wall depicting Imelda and Ferdinand Marcos on the central atrium of the building, and past these paintings were stairs that lead up to the second floor.

The view from the balcony
Replicas of President Marcos’ office can be found on the second floor. There were also some dioramas and scale models depicting various infrastructure projects that he managed to accomplish during his term – like the Mt. Samat National Shrine and the San Juanico Bridge – and other programs that helped the nation’s economy. The tour at the Malacanang of the North ended when we reached the dining area, which offers a scenic view of the lake.

Laoag Sinking Bell Tower
We went back to Laoag after exploring Malacanang of the North and went to the Sinking Bell Tower. Not far from the bell tower was the Provincial Capitol Building, which was the last landmark that we visited.

After the tour around Laoag and Paoay, we asked the tricycle drivers to take us to Partas Bus Terminal. We rode an air-conditioned bus that will be leaving shortly and got a comfortable seat at the back of the bus. I enjoyed the trip around Ilocos Norte and given a chance, I would love to come back. But for now, I will be enjoying our trip to the next town on the list – Vigan!

Ilocos Norte Provincial Capitol Building
This post is part of my Ilocandia Trip that took place between August 28 - September 01, 2013. Read the first entry here. Read the post about the previous destination here. Proceed to the next destination here.

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