Ilocos: At First Sight

August 16, 2012 marks another milestone in my somehow boring life. Months ago, Joie and I scored a promo fare via AirPhil. Our next destination: Ilocos. With its very rich culture and being a haven for food lovers, Ilocos never fails to fascinate me. I know that most people choose to travel by land, but Joie and I agreed that we couldn’t bear the long drive. We booked August 16 – 19 since we knew that August 21 is a holiday. But luck was definitely on our side because August 20 was also declared a Philippine holiday.

Days before our trip, we were so worried that it would be cancelled because Typhoon Helen was predicted to hit the northern regions, and with the habagat making things worse. Joie even checked the situation in Ilocos through our tour guide who said that rain hadn’t stopped for almost two days. On the day of our trip, we got another message from our tour guide informing us that the rain finally stopped! Wohoooo!!! Hello, Ilocos!

Our 4:20 PM flight was a few minutes delayed. We arrived at Laoag around 6PM where we were fetched by our tour guide (that on my succeeding posts) and brought us to Vigan.

DSC_0923 Laoag International Airport

DSC_0924 Laoag International Airport

Before I go on into full details on our Ilocos trip, allow me to share with you some of my observations on this beautiful paradise.
  1. Police visibility, especially at the airport is very impressive. Aside from the usual security officers, you’ll also see a lot of men in blue who somehow make the tourists feel more secure.
  2. We travelled both Ilocos Norte and Ilocos Sur, and I didn’t see a single trash on the streets. Since some areas were still flooded, I was so amazed to see that even the floodwaters are clean, except of course in the areas near the mountains where it’s a little murky.
  3. You’ll get the best of both worlds in Ilocos. The Ilocos in my head was a province surrounded by farms and animals roaming on the streets. But other than that, I was surprised to see barangay halls which are bigger than the ones we have in Manila, grand houses and familiar establishments. We kept on exclaiming, “WOW! Ang laki ng bahay!” “Uy, may Jollibee!” Joie even said, “May ATM!!!” Hahahaha!
  4. Motorists are very disciplined! When a sign says SLOW DOWN, drivers slow down. Drivers stop on the RED signal even in the middle of the night and even if no one is coming from the opposite direction. When bigger vehicles give the signal, motorcycle riders and tricycle drivers go to the side of the road and give way. AMAZING! Kung sa Manila ‘yun, sila pa matapang gumitna at sumingit sa pagitan ng mga trak!
  5. If you think that the oil prices here are high, wait ‘till you go to Ilocos! Their unleaded gas is more or less PHP5 more expensive than here in Manila.
  6. Foods are inexpensive. We were warned that prices are very high especially if you stay in Saud. Fortunately, we stayed in Blue Lagoon where food is cheaper. Would you believe that our first dinner in Vigan only costs PHP500? That was a first! That's 500 for four people with gluttonous appetites!
  7. Chooks to Go are everywhere! I don’t remember seeing Andok’s or Baliwag. Here’s a funny anecdote. While we were travelling on our first day from Laoag to Vigan, I kept on saying, “Wow, may Chooks to Go!” But I stopped when I realized that I’ve already seen 5 Chooks to Go in an hour. As soon as I stopped, Jeff said in his most amazed voice, “Uy ang galing, may Chooks to Go sila!”
Writing this post made me giddy all over again as I reminisce our Ilocos adventure. So please watch out for my future posts! ^_^

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