Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Holy Week Vacation in La Union--Other Stuff

Fares, accommodations, and other things might worth mentioning. Seems there's no getting out of the lazy mode, after all.

1.Bus fare: (Manila - San Fernando City, La Union) 
Free. Yep,. you  read it right. Free, courtesy of Globe Love Bus. Probably the main reason why I embarked on this trip in the first place. Aside from the ride, I also got a really cool lanyard and a Php50 off a movie ticket for participation in two of their on bus games. Yeah, yeah, I'm a sucker for freebies. :))
Thought bubble: Go lang ng go.  

2. 1st night accommodation
The Php 300 fan room with a nice view and a terrible common CR of Plaza Hotel. Plaza Hotel's beside San Fernando plaza. It's an awesome location for me, because I was planning to explore the area, but for those with the sole purpose of beach bumming and surfing in the one-jeepney-ride-away San Juan beach, it's not too strategic.
Thought bubble: For a fan room, it was actually nice and not too hot, but boy, the CR was a real downer. But I can tolerate it, since I'm just staying overnight. Dear God, please let there be a spare room in the beach when I go there tomorrow. 
View from my room

3. To Ma-Cho Temple.
About half-an hour walk (with a slightly heavy backpack) away from Plaza Hotel under the sweltering heat of the sun. No entrance fee. Really awesome view of San Fernando bay. Breezy and picturesque (have I said that before?) and the lotus plants were really lovely.
Thought bubble: It would be nice to have a nap here.   

4. To Sebay (pronounced as sea-bay)
Php14. Catch the jeep right outside Ma-Cho temple's arc. Just tell the driver to drop you off the beach. He'd most probably do it in the back of the popular Sebay resort. There's a small alley leading to the beach itself. No entrance fee whatsoever. Fare going back to the plaza is Php16.
Thought bubble: Rooms, please?

5. Room hunting in San Juan beach
FAIL. All the resorts and  homestays were booked to the rafters as of the week before the holy one.
Thought bubble: Huhu?

6. Surfing 101
Php400 for an hour of surfing lessons including the long board. I wasn't able to get my instructor's number, but just look for Mark Gil, or Patoots. He won't be difficult to find: he seems to be popular around (he even taught celebrities like Jericho Rosales).  He had innumerable cousins around the area (includes Daisy, a really famous champion surfer in the area), and aunts and uncles, so asking for him around won't be a problem. Or just look for a dark, skinny guy at the halo-halo stand a little beyond Hacienda Peter. He and his folks are super, super nice and has taken me under their wing when they found out I had no room to go.

The lesson took over an hour (but Kuya Mark didn't charge me extra. Super thanks!), but in hindsight, I think it was easy. Learning starts when you have accepted that no matter what, you'd fall off the board anyway, so why not do it while standing on the board? And oh, you don't have to know how to swim. The water's very shallow, and you'd have your instructor to watch over you.
Thought bubble: (reached the shore while lying down on the board) This is embarrassing. >.< (reached the shore on knees) Yay. Level 1 complete. Can't I surf on my knees all the time? (reached the shore on a near-squat) Wee~ Fun!

7. 2nd and 3rd night accommodation
Php800 for 2 nights in a fan room with private CR of Plaza Hotel. Infinitely better! The Php100 upgrade is so worth it.
Thought bubble: I had no idea how much a clean CR can greatly uplift one's mental state. 

8. San Fernando Plaza
Beside Plaza Hotel. It's a very nice place to loiter around, and San Fernando folks seems to agree on that a lot. Still, it's not too crowded not to let anyone carve a virtual personal space. It's a great place for people watching. It was filled with devotees during Good Friday, since the church is just at the back. The capitol's also nearby.
Thought bubble: There was a playground for kids in there, and I so badly wanted to go on the swing. I wasn't able to, because it was always occupied with kids. hmph.

9. To La Union Botanical Garden 
Php 25. There's a sort of the terminal at the left side of the church, across a building whose name I remembered includes 'Marcos'. Word of caution though, trips are very infrequent, and there is no schedule. Be prepared to walk about 5k downhill from the botanical garden (I did!) up to where you can hail a trike back  to the plaza. The view's very scenic though, so the walk was a breeze. Alternatively, you can ride one of the habal-habals(motorcycles) around if you can find one, although I have a feeling it wouldn't be cheap.
Trike fare from a few kms away from the garden to the plaza was Php 10.
Thought bubble: I really am walking all the (10k) way to the Plaza? Crazy.

10. La Union Botanical and Zoological Garden
Php25 entrance fee for adults. As a shutter bug, I had a ball inside. Pretty flowers, expressive animals, and the cool embrace of the verdant forest. And I had a swing to myself!. Hurray, says the inner child.
There were different themed gardens, a mini zoo, an eco trail and a butterfly garden (sadly though, I haven't seen any butterflies there. XD) The place was so huge and it was fun to explore.
Thought bubble: Yay, trees!

11. To Vigan
Aircon bus fare from the Plaza is Php198 (Dominion bus). The view along the way was awesome! Sunset and all that. It was a long ride, about 3 and a half hours.  I got off a few meters away from the Heritage Village and walked (well, apparently, aside from freebies, I also love walking very much. Nah, I'm just a cheapskate)
Thought bubble: Dear God, please let there be light when I arrive. Please?

12. Vigan Heritage Village
I bought Vigan Langgonisa (Php100/dozen), a t-shirt that says Ay-ayaten Ka Vigan (Php100) amd some bibingka for Php120.  I walked around the place (what else?), took pictures and tried to quell my disappointment on the not-so-oldish
vibe that the place is giving off. I was expecting a trip back to Spanish era, and I guess my expectations went overboard.

The fare back to the Plaza was Php 220 via Partas bus.
Thought bubble: Those modern establishments look gaudy. Sad.

13. And some more thoughts:
San Fernando City, La Union is solo-friendly. There were no over-persistent touts and not much surprised looks whenever people finds out I'm alone. The people were friendly enough, although not that great in giving  out directions. Or maybe, I didn't ask well. It's relatively easy to go from one place to another: there are buses, jeeps and the beetle-like white trikes that scuttle all over town.

And what I like most? Being called ading (little sister). The word feels warm and caring and makes me feel that the people I meet-- bus conductors, vendors, bystanders, drivers, guards, etc-- are all looking out for me.

14. So...
Thank you San Fernando, LU! It was a nice stay. :)

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