When my time in Vietnam ended, I headed back home to the Philippines on a red eye flight from Saigon to Manila to visit family and friends. I was also home in Manila when I celebrated my first year travel anniversary and wrote my most personal post in this blog.
Catching up and celebrating my first year travel anniversary over delish lunch with family
I was supposed to stay only for a few days in Manila to relax, ‘end’ my adventures and just take in the whole year that I spent traveling. But during my short stay I was invited by Our Philippines TV for a travel interview on solo travel and my take on the spots I visited within the Philippines. So for one weekend, I took off from Manila and joined the Our Philippines crew on a 10-hour drive to the Northernmost part of the Philippines: Ilocos Norte. Still no rest for the long-term traveler.
A Few of the Places We’ve Visited (and recommend):
1. Maira ira Beach (Blue Lagoon)
Maira ira Beach in Ilocos Norte
I haven’t really explored the Northern part of the Philippines. During my travels here, I only went south and mostly to explore some of the islands. Compared to the beaches in the south, the beaches in the north are not really that exciting, yet they are a sight to behold. As the northern region is more of the mountainous region in the Philippines, the mountains provide a wonderful backdrop to the white sand beaches of Pagudpod and Maira ira.
2. Bangui Windmills
These windmills on the Bangui Bay area facing the South China sea is considered the biggest windmills farm on shore in South East Asia. It has gained popularity in Ilocos tourism and is a site frequently visited. But like most of the parts of the Philippines during off season, it was deserted. When we came here, we were the only ‘tourists’ in the area. I’ve never seen windmills before so seeing windmills for the first time and in my home country was actually cool.
3. St. William’s Cathedral and the Sinking Bell Tower
Sunset shot from St. William’s Cathedral in Laoag City
The Ilocos region is also home of cultural heritage spots and beautiful gothic churches and historical sites. There are tons of old churches that were put up during the Spanish colonization period. If you want to learn more about Philippine history during the Spanish colonial period, this is the region you want to go to.
Another site a few meters away from the cathedral is the Sinking Bell tower. Back in the 1800’s the tower used to be pretty high in a sense that a horse drawn carriage can actually enter the front door. Nowadays, you couldn’t even enter the door without stooping down.
There are A LOT more places to visit and learn cultural heritages in the Ilocandia region. However, given our very short time and long drive to the north, we weren’t able to visit some of the historical spots.
If there’s anything I learned from this experience, it is not to try to cram and see everything in a few days. It became very tiring for by the time we drove back to Manila. I also had to adjust my travel style with a group of people and I did miss the flexibility of traveling on my own. Nonetheless, we didn’t skip on UNESCO’s Cultural Heritage City of Vigan, which I believe should be on the list of any traveler to the Philippines. Vigan also has become one of my most favorite destinations in the Philippines and that deserves another blog post before I head over to my European adventures! A lot more good stuff coming!
P.S. I’m writing this post in the midst of Hurricane Sandy. If you’re also from the NY area or reading this from the eastern coast of USA, stay safe!