Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Lakbay Norte 2013 – Laoag Adventure Edition

It’s another fulfillment, a dream come true when i was given the chance again to visit Laoag.  Same drill from my last year’s IT, we didn't stay overnight.  I missed 2 beautiful spots last year and I made it this year. Malacanang of the North and of course, the main reason why I would want to go back to Laoag, the Paoay Sand Dunes Adventure.

We left Vigan past lunch time and we took another roadtrip bound for Laoag. After 2 hours of traversing Ilocandia road, we touched down Loaog City. The Capital of Ilocos Norte. We were all so hungry and decided to take a break for Lunch on one of the fine dining restaurant nearby. Thanks to the power of search engines, we found a great place just near the bus terminal. La Preciosa Restaurant, authentic Ilocondia Foods served with pastries and cakes for those with sweet tooth.



We got some good food here, we ordered:  (left to right) Crispy Diguan, Puki Puki (Ilocandia Version of Omelet) and at the same time their Pochero.     IMG_4428IMG_4429IMG_4430







Talking about Luck or Coincidence, Kuya Rey and I met again. He was my tour guide and driver last year. No more second thoughts, we got him hired for that day to take us to places we wanna go in Laoag. We negotiated at Php 1,000.00 and we closed the deal. 

IMG_4505 First part of the tour is the Malacanang of the North.  I am glad I was able to take a glimpse of this historical place in Ilocos Norte.  Malacanang ti Amianan in Ilocano is always part of everyone’s Itinerary when planning or visiting Ilocos Norte Dubbed as “Marcos Country”, Ilocos Norte is home to many remnants of former President Ferdinand E Marcos and one of these is Malacanang of the North.

The Lobby Area


The Grand Stair Case leading to the second floor of the Palace


The Dining Area at the Second Floor


The Office and the Library


One of the Bedrooms


A great overlooking view of Paoay Lake from the Balcony


The Malacanang of the North is 5 hectare property that overlooks Paoay Lake, and is the residence of late Ferdinand Marcos and his family when they are in the North. This was one of the 29 houses that the Marcos regime was able to build during its two decades of power. The entire structure is very impressive. From the grand living room to the elegant dining rooms, attractive guestrooms and master’s bedroom – everything is just a perfect work of art. It has also an equally grand staircase that compliments the grandeur of the mansion.

I am glad I was able to finally step my feet in this place. To enter and personally see one of the most famous houses of the most influential families in the land on their time was a rare experience and at the same time it’s like going back to history as it takes place in the modern times.

This is now being managed by the Department of Tourism, entrance fees are Php 20 for adults and Php 10 for children and open between 9am-1130am and 1om-430pm daily except Mondays. (We visited Laoag Monday but we got lucky because its a Holiday and its open).

Off we go to the next destination which is the Paoay Church.  This is the Roman Catholic Church and a prime example of Earthquake Baroque Architecture. Completed in 1710, the church is famous for its distinct architecture highlighted by the enormous buttresses on the sides and on the back of the building. In 1993, was designated as UNESCO World Heritage site as of the best examples of the Baroque Churches of the Philippines.


After a short trip to Paoay Church, off we head to the ultimate Northern Adventure I've been dreaming of. The Paoay Sand Dunes Adventures. It’s almost sunset when we arrived and just the perfect time to capture a great view of the Sand Dunes, plus a great adventure.


Package is 2500 good for an hour off road adventure including sand boarding. Since we were also pressed with time we got a 30-minute package for Php 1800.00 and that includes sand boarding.  I think we just made the right choice to just settle for 30 minutes because that’s a massage to death from the entrance of the site off to the magnificent sand. That was one hell of a ride and it’s just perfect.

To start the Sand Dunes Adventure, we hired a 4x4 Rough Riding vehicle at the base of the site. A fleet of these 4x4 are on stand by and includes a professional driver that will serve as your guide to the vast sand dunes.  Off we go to our ultimate adventure and thrilling drop on steep sand ridges that made us scream to death in excitement.  According to our guide, the sand ridges can go as high as 10 – 20 ft at the most while the most thrilling ride is the “rollercoaster”, where a series of sand hills will make you hold on to that bar of steel for dear life and survival.

Our 4x4 Rough Riding Vehicle – All Smiles



The Undying JumpShot at the Paoay Sand Dunes with a great Sunset View


This Paoay Adventure will never be complete without trying the SandBoarding. Here you will be given a plank of wood similar to skate boards less the rollers. Here it requires a sense of balance and a thrill seeker spirit. My first try was, of course (with my inborn uncoordinated self), a fall in the middle of the slope but not that painful at all. I am just determined to achieve a sense of fulfillment by conquering so I didnt stop until i finally landed safely. The soft sand is my cushion and my defense to the fear of trying again. After 3 attempts yey! I finally did it. It was so much fun! The hardest part and most tiring aspect of this sport? Going up again the sandy slope after sliding down.

First Attempt to Slide (fail)


Second Attempt (sitting while sliding is fun but not really fulfilling)


The Third and Final Attempt…. yey! Success! I reach the bottom safely :)


Proud Me After successfully conquering Sand Boarding!


It’s a short but a memorable side trip in Laoag City, i have fulfilled my dream to step into Malacanang of the North and Conquered Paoay Sand Dunes Adventures! Checked!

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