Wednesday, 24 December 2008

Manila to Ilocos in a Picanto, Part 1 (Manila to Alaminos, then San Juan, La Union)


The first thing we did was to get a copy of the EZ Map Luzon Road Atlas from National Bookstore (PhP 399). Then it was much easier to actually plot where we want to be on which dates and not get lost in the middle of nowhere.

The first leg was a drive from Manila to Alaminos. We left White Plains at 9 am on Monday morning, took the NLEX to Dau, the SCTEX to Tarlac City, and then up, up north to Alaminos. Originally we thought of staying somewhere in Patar beach in Bolinao. The drive from Alaminos to Bolinao wasn't easy. We had to take a detour because the bridge was under construction, and that took us to a dusty rough road in the middle of what looks like a mini forest. That wasn't so bad at all.

We got to Bolinao and the only decent place to stay there was charging too much, something like PhP 4,000 for two persons. That was a bit too much. I wouldn't recommend going there at all. I think I wanted to take Pedro there because when I went with Ken, Dave, Glenda and Jon there back in 2004 we had such a lovely time. Kaya lang noon nakitira kami sa bahay ng kaibigan ni Glenda sa Alaminos ng Mahal na Araw tapos ginawa lang naming day trip ang Bolinao. We even snorkled and had a little barbecue sa beach at that time.

After two hours of stopping at resorts to enquire about hotel rooms, Pedro and I decided to drive back to Alaminos and spend the night there. We ended up staying at the Mare Nostrum Hotel and at PhP1000 a night, we weren't complaining at all. It's owned by a Spanish guy and his Filipina wife, and the room has air conditioning and a cable tv. Very clean room, very clean bathroom,
and plants all over the place. Very pleasant. I didn't get their number because I was exhausted when we got there and we left pretty early the next day so I forgot to get it but if you're facing the church in Alaminos, walk for about five minutes towards the Lingayen Road and you'll find it on your right, beside a funeral parlor, which would explain the tranquil ambience.

We left the hotel at around 8,30 am and drove through Sual, Labrador, Lingayen, Binmaley, Dagupan and San Fabian in Pangasinan. After several more minutes, we crossed over to La Union, driving through Sto. Tomas, Agoo, Aringay, Caba, Bauang and finally ending up in San Fernando. We found the website for Sunset Bay Beach Resort in San Fernando, La Union, and the place looked quite good. It's run by an English guy (so Pedro thought we might get some pies and sausages there) and the rooms look clean and the rates reasonable. We got there a bit after noon and of course the place was fully booked until the 29th of December. If we ever find ourselves in these parts again we'd certainly try to book a room at this place in advance. Sayang nga lang kase matigas ang ulo namin e. We thought it would be better to go to the place first and have a look around kaysa naman mag-book ng hotel na maganda sa website pero nakakadiri in real life, parang Fort Ilocandia.

We looked at a couple other places in the area, with one under construction and the other only with a couple of musty rooms charging almost PhP 3,000 for two persons, and at the back of a rather messy garden at that. Why do some people think they can get something for nothing? I mean, come on.


We decided to drive further north and got to the surfing town of San Juan, La Union. We asked at a couple of places and finally settle for the bizarrely named P&M Final Option Beach Resort and German Bistro. At PhP 2,100 for a very clean room we thought it was a pretty good deal. They have a little bar facing the beach which is open during the day, and after 6 pm the German Bistro on the 3rd floor is open for meals and drinks. The food averages at about PhP 200 per order, the servings are huge and it's actually quite good.

The staff are the giggling girls variety, which can be annoying at times but with Christmas in the air and a feeling of sweetness and light upon us, that can be forgiven. We're staying here for three nights and really just want to, um, not do anything. I slept all day yesterday after arriving. This morning Pedro and I went for a long walk on the beach. Not the romantic kind. It felt more like a morning exercise than an easy stroll. Good trying to keep the fatty midsection from creeping back in!

More anon!


1 comment:

ken mermida said...

Hi walter:

...It was really indeed nice and funny to read your blog about your north luzon adventure... especially your witty side comments...hehehehehe...

...i really miss our trip to bolinao pangasinan. And I still remember that was the time where we almost have a terrible collision accident.. But, thank God we were all safe.. I still remember you shaking in shock and your feet were sweating.. Because of that, we decided to visit the our lady of manaoag church..

...Great blog my friend

...Keep on writing