Monday, October 17, 2011

Bicolocos Express Adventure

Travel Period: October 7 - 11, 2011
Destination: Legazpi City, Albay and Pagudpud, Ilocos Norte

The Preparation
It was last March of 2011 when AirPhil Express offered a promo fares on all of their domestic destinations. I quickly booked for a round trip flight of Davao - Manila route for a family of five which just cost around 2000 pesos, indeed it was a very cheap fare. Fortunately, my schoolmates in college were able to grabbed promo seats from Cebu Pacific, Davao - Manila route with the same schedule (October 7 - 11, 2011) I had booked for my family.
I thought this would be great but as the days came closer, there were typhoons that came along in the Luzon area namely Pedring and Quiel that devastated some places and caused floodings. Then hesitations began to settle on my parent's mind about the trip and finally decided not to pursue the trip. I even try to convince them to continue with the plan but it ended up that they're the one who convince me not to continue. Hehe. But with my determination, reasoning and planned itinerary, they allowed me to go on with the trip. :D

First Time with AirPhil Express
Day 1, October 7. When the day came, I decided to take a cab since it was raining hard. Also, this time I brought with me the small tripod and I didn't checked-in it for baggage since it was just small piece that it can be tucked inside my bag pack. And when I reached the second x-ray, I was advised by the security personnel that tripods will be checked-in and I replied that it was allowed the last time I brought it. And since I don't want to argue more, I decided to checked-in for baggage just for the tripod, luckily, AirPhil Express has this 15 kilos baggage allowance so I don't have to pay for checked-in baggage. While waiting for the flight at the boarding gate, all of the passengers bound for Manila got an advise that their respective flights will be delayed due to airport traffic in NAIA. So, my original departure time of 2105hours was moved to 2140hours, 35 minutes later of the departure time. But as time came closer, we haven't heard any pre-boarding announcement and later on, another advise was being announced and that our flight will be move by 2310hours, that was almost midnight. I didn't stress myself with the delays since everything was not in conflict with my itinerary, waited for the time and finally boarded the plane, at last!

Bicol Side Trip
Day 2, October 8. It was one of my travel destination to visit Legazpi City and witness the famous Mayon Volcano. so when Cebu Pacific posted a promo fare bound to this destination, I quickly booked a seat. The initial was plan was just to spend around six hours in Legazpi but everything will be change and will discussed it later. It was past midnight when I arrived at NAIA 3 and kill some time there while waiting for a flight bound to Legazpi by early morning. And when the check-in counter opened, I got my ticket and requested a Row A seat to be able to see the majestic Mayon Volcano while en route to Legazpi. Another heart pounding experience when I approached the second x-ray, luckily the security personnel was on fast pace on scanning the baggage and my tripod wasn't notice or they just allow it, either way I was grateful that I will not be throwing my tripod on the garbage bin rather than paying for check-in baggage. Before we landed on Legazpi airport, I had glimpse of Mayon Volcano and was awed even if it was partially covered by the clouds, you could really picture out the perfect cone of the volcano. 

Cagsawa Ruins
I arrived at the airport around eight in the morning and will be back to Manila by two in the afternoon, that's basically six hours to spend touring around the city. I walked almost two miles navigating the city, came across with St. Gregory the Great Cathedral and took a photo of it. Took my breakfast in a carenderia  and was surprised when I heard their dialect, it was not a pure Tagalog while others are understandable but some of its words or phrase are not. I just keep on smiling and nodding whenever I heard an unfamiliar phrase. After my breakfast, I looked at my itinerary and do the DIY thing, ride a jeepney and commute to the destination. I rode a jeepney with Polangui on its sign board and while passing on different landmarks and streets, I also counter checked it with the map on my android phone. When I reached the crossing entering to Cagsawa Ruins, I alighted on the jeepney and took a hike up to the entrance of the ruins as suggested on the travel blogs. Another luck had came up, no one was manning on the ticket booth so I decided to proceed to the ruins without paying for entrance. Hehe. It was dream came true when I personally saw the ruins, just like the picturesque we found on our history books on elementary or even on postcards. And of course, photo ops here, there and everywhere, thanks to my tripod that I was able to took a photo of myself from afar.

Ligñon Hill
After taking some time at the ruins, I decided to went back to Daraga proper and this time bound to my next destination, the Ligñon Hill. I called a trike and said to "Lig-non" Hill, I was corrected when he replied "Li-nyon", I said yeah that's it. Hehe. Arriving at the Ligñon Hill, I paid for 20pesos entrance and 20pesos motorcycle ride to the top. When I reached the hilltop, it has the vantage point of Legazpi City and also to the famous Mayon Volcano. Again, picture taking time. I've spent some time just to see the Mayon Volcano without clouds covering but I guessed that time the weather was bad. And when the moment came were the other half till apex is visible, I quickly grabbed my camera and take some photos. :D

Unexpected Circumstances
When I had enough time at the hilltop, I've to trekked down to had my lunch since it was already noon. While on my way, clouds are beginning to form up and minutes later, it started to rain. No, not at this time please, but the rain started to pour and I was stranded in one of the huts along the road, good thing I was not alone, we're just waiting for the rain to ease up and when the clock ticks to one in the afternoon I decided to went to the airport even if there was still a little rain, glad I had with my jacket and my pack bag had a "rain coat". When I arrived at the airport, my flight was canceled due to bad weather and zero visibility. We were advised that we will be catered by the next available flight and that will be by the next day or we can rebook our flight within 30 days. While some passengers are in commotion, I had kept my calm and reorganize my itinerary, part of my plan was to join in an Ilocos trip with my schoolmates later on that day, I informed them about my canceled flight and not be able to tag along on their trip. It was also a good thing that my family did not pursue with the trip or else they will be having a hard time spending the trip on their own without me for the rest of the day til the next day. On to the next plan, Embarcadero de Legazpi! :D

Embarcadero de Legazpi
The moment I settled on the canceled flight, one thing came quickly into my mind, my accommodation. So, I take a trike and ask the driver if he have some information on where to have a cheap accommodation since I'll be staying just for a night. He drove me to an inn just in front of the Pacific Mall and it was okay considering with its cheap rate. Prepared myself and off to explore the city, I had another walkathon of my trip where I navigate to Embarcadero de Legazpi from Pacific Mall. The place was located on the bayside of the city, I explored the place and took some photos including the Mayon Volcano on the background around dusk. And finally went back to the inn and bed time.

Back to Metro Manila Part 1
Day 3, October 9. I woke up early, prepared myself, and went to the airport. I booked to the next available flight and I'm glad there's still some vacant seats. I arrived at NAIA 3 around 11 in the morning and took my brunch. Then I contacted my friend I will be catching up with their Ilocos tour and got excited when they had the Ilocos tour on its first day while the Pagudpud tour on the second day which I prefer to have. I also had a hard time finding the bus terminal of Partas since the one I had found was only a garage for their buses. So, I back tracked to MRT Taft, took an LRT bound to Doroteo Jose station. This is the third time of walkathon of my trip, I navigate from LRT station up to Florida bus terminal along Lacson Road in Manila. I bought a ticket to Laoag for 650pesos which will leave by 3:30 in the afternoon. Since it will be a long ride, I played my playlist and begun to sleep while waking up every other time.

Laoag City
Day 4, October 10. After a very long bus travel of 10 hours from Manila to Laoag, finally, I arrived at Laoag bus terminal around 1:30 past midnight. I took a trike and proceeded to UKL Ever Hotel, where my companion stayed. We woke up past six in the morning, prepared ourselves, took our breakfast and off to Pagudpud tour. My travel companions this time were Gerbie, Domar, Guia, Marco, Sherwin, Maricar, Jason and Francis.

Cape Bojeador
After more than an hour of travel from Laoag, we've reached Burgos town and proceeded to Cape Bojeador lighthouse. It was situated on top on the hill that guides sailors and fishermen fronting the West Philippine Sea. Of course, picture taking here, there and everywhere, and from solo shot to group shots. :D

Bangui Windmills
Onto our next destination is the famous Bangui windmills. When we talk about Ilocos, the icon that will come up into our mind will be the windmills and in case of politicians it will be the Marcoses. Below are the shots we took with the windmills on the background.


Saud Beach
Saud Beach is a long stretch of white sand beach with mild waves smashing into the shore. There are some developments in the area including the Apo Idon resort. We took our lunch there and spent some time chatting with others. Of course, picture taking shouldn't be miss. :D

Patapat Viaduct
Next stop was in Patapat Viaduct, this bridge connects Ilocos Norte and Cagayan Valley Region. It was long winding bridge situated at the edge of the mountain range fronting the ocean where vehicles are seldom to pass. Again, photo ops this time.

Blue Lagoon
Onto our last destination of Pagudpud tour is the Blue Lagoon which is accessible few miles from Patapat Viaduct. It was a jaw-dropping reaction when we saw the lagoon from uphill, it was serene and beautiful seeing those crystal clear blue waters of the sea edged with a white sand beach. See pictures below for amazement. :D

Back to Metro Manila Part 2
Day 5, October 11, my birthday. :D When we're done with the tour, we went back to Laoag, took our dinner and rode a bus back to Manila, another 10-hour ride of the trip. We arrived in Sampaloc before six in the morning and decided to look for apartelle where we can deposit our baggages since when have some ample time to kill before our returning flight. After minutes of exploring the streets, we decided to went to Taft and booked a room at SOGO Hotel.

Malacañang Museum
This will be our final destination of our trip, one of our companion had an uncle working as PSG in Malacañan. So his uncle invited us to visit the Malacañang Museum and off to go to the site. To cut the story short, we were introduced to our very own Philippine history particularly the lives of our former presidents who ruled the country. After touring the place, went back to the hotel, picked-up our bags and off to the airport.

I travel from Davao to Manila, then explored Southern Luzon to witness Mayon Volcano and toured Northern Luzon during the Pagudpud trip. Indeed, everything happens for a reason and we are glad that no unnecessary incidents happen on our trip and to mention that any incoming typhoon could hinder with our plan. Thank God that all is well. Another milestones of my life that I will surely treasure and a new friends I found and know more.

Thank you and God bless us all!

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