We tried to sleep during the eight-hour ride from Manila, but the bumpy highway made everyone in the van a bit jumpy. It’s my first trip to Ilocos and I brought along my mom with me. I wanted to make my birthday a bit special and adventurous, so going along in a sleepless ride is enough to brush off my doubts that everything that is happening is true.
I’ve been anxious for the past few days. Since I’ve booked a tour with King and Joy Travel Tours, I wondered if it was real because I have never tried joining a tour group before. I’m used to getting lost with a group of friends who rely on Google Map and crude instincts when we trek small mountains or search for beaches, only to find out it’s against every magical expectation. Relying upon really positive recommendations and comments, I guess it’s not bad giving the tour agency a try.
I could not believe the moment I’ve set my feet upon the cobblestones of Vigan’s Heritage Village hours before dawn. The cool air seemed to make the streetlamps give a more romantic glow against pitch darkness. About one or two souvenir shops were already open, expecting a few tourists to come see the village at nightfall and dawn. It is so different from the Vigan that is doused in the summer morn which we will see in the last day of the tour.
Our group went to Paoay after a 30-minute picture taking. Upon reaching St Augustine Church, the breaking dawn was already basking it in heavenly light. I was surprised that tourists were flocking in the region at this time of the year. I first thought that tourists only come to the Ilocos region during school breaks and long holidays. I guess adventures are not hindered by calendar dates because everyone wants a little escapade once in a while.
Now, my favorite part of today’s trip is the Paoay sand dunes. A 4×4 jeep brings tourists through a bumpy and sandy ride along the coast. My mom, who’s in her 70s, says no to adventures. She was with younger tourists, but that did not intimidate her from having fun while the jeep was going up and down the steep and hilly terrain. Oh, she was so happy she can’t hide it in pictures.
What I did not expect was her willingness to try sandboarding! The instructor was so scared to have a 73-year-old on board, he kept on telling her to listen to his instructions. She did not tumble down the sand, but she stopped screaming when the sand entered her mouth haha.
I had so much fun with sandboarding I gave it a second try. However, the sand kept me from yelling “Yahoo!”, too.
Our last stop for the day was the Malacañang of the North. This was former President Ferdinand Marcos’ abode during his reign. Love him or hate him, tourists still stop by to quench their curiosity in what they can find in these vintage walls.
The Marcos Mausoleum could have been a part of our itinerary if we came before he was buried at Libingan Ng Mga Bayani (Heroes’ Cemetery) a few years ago. That seemed to be a morbid place to visit, but I’d like to see whether it’s true that the one lying in the glass coffin was a wax figure after his death in 1989. But there’s no chance for that now. Instead, what was left in the Malacañang of the North were memorabilia of his regime.
We checked in our hotel early before 12 o’clock. It’s great we got so much time to rest before tomorrow’s long tour. What’s not so great was that the sand in our shoes were starting to stick on the shiny floor and clean white bed sheets.