Ilocos Getaway Part II — Pagudpud

Saturday, 2011 December 24

Before we hopped on the bus, we looked around in the nearby stores for sunblock to use at the beaches in Pagudpud. We didn’t find any. Well, it turns out we were in for a surprise up north after all.

Road trip

From Laoag to Pagudpud bayan (town proper), we traveled 71.9 km by bus (₱60/person); then another 18.4 km by tricycle (₱300/trip) to the resort we were staying in, Kapuluan Vista Resort in Barangay Balaoi. The tricycle ride is expensive.

Along the way we’d pass the towns of Bacarra, Pasuquin, Burgos, and Bangui. The bus was already full when we boarded, so I got to sit just behind the driver. Jackie took the seat behind me.

View from the front of the bus

The weather was fantastic, with the cool sea breeze blowing in from the west.

Infant

Somewhere just beyond Pasuquin, a family with several young children boarded. Jackie lent a hand in carrying the youngest.

We never really had plans in mind as to how to get from point A to point B. Or more accurately, our plan was just to ask around. A lady beside me had her little daughter with her. I think she is the driver’s wife. I asked her about directions to Kapuluan. She then volunteered to text her uncle, Kuya Butching, a tricycle driver in Pagudpud. Naturally, we also asked around for other alternatives, lest we find cheaper rides.

Rain

Rain started falling just beyond Burgos. Cellular signal from Sun is gone, not because of the rain, but we were already quite far up north. We had no alternative SIM cards.

We were told that Kapuluan was still a long way from the bayan. I said we were advised by the tourism desk to stop at the Pagudpud Triangle and take a tricycle. I expected the Triangle to be some busy town center. Instead, it was actually a quiet junction point where you turn left to get to the town center itself, or go straight ahead for Barangay Balaoi. I began to worry as the weather grew colder, the wind whistled louder, and the rain showed no signs of letting up.

Pagudpud Triangle

The Pagudpud Triangle

Kuya Butching came up to meet the bus at the Triangle. He surely recognizes the bus that his nephew(or nephew-in-law) drives. So we thanked the driver and his wife for the valuable help and moved on to Kuya’s tricycle. Too bad, no pictures here.

It was a dark and stormy night...

We forgot to ask Kuya how much the fare is. It was difficult to talk to the driver because the sidecar was fully wrapped up in tarpaulin to shield us from the wind and rain. Fortunately we first headed for a nearby station to refuel.

₱300 po, sir.

Oh no. Of course, being the wary travelers we were, we haggled. We soon found out it was actually the regulated fare for such trips.

Malayo talaga ang Kapuluan, sir. Lagpas pa sa Hannah’s. Kung gusto nyo, dagdagan n’yo pa nga pagdating natin do’n.

Kapuluan is quite far. Even beyond Hannah’s. If you so wish, you might even want to add a tip.

To Barangay Balaoi

For the next 30 minutes, Kuya braved for us the pitch dark roads, the howling winds, and the heavy rain. We even doubted for a moment that he was taking us somewhere else. Haha! Just kidding.

Blue Lagoon

A 5-minute walk towards the south from Kapuluan is the famed Blue Lagoon.

Seriously, we wondered if this was a normal trip for them given the inhospitable weather conditions. ₱300 may have been just right. We finally got to Kapuluan Vista Resort, where the wind blew with steady and resolute strength, dousing the reception lobby with rainwater. True enough, we gave Kuya Butching a tip, and thanked him for getting us here safely.

Kapuluan Vista Resort

Ah, welcome drinks at the Kapuluan: homebrewed iced tea and Alma’s Margarita.

Protip

December is the time when amihan (northeasterly wind) hums with unwavering resolve. The weather in these parts is like this from September until March. I think it’s even colder than Baguio because in here it’s damp and windy.

A more sulit trip would have been that we boarded a bus bound for Cagayan, alighted at the police outpost of Barangay Balaoi, then took a tricycle for Kapuluan for ₱60. The Pagudpud bus only stops at the bayan, 18 km away from Kapuluan.

Buy an alternative SIM card.

Quite an interesting prologue for our adventure. No cellular signal from Sun, no smartphones or laptops for Google Maps.