DAY 1

Apr 23 2018

I initially planned this trip not just as a summer getaway this year, but as a birthday treat for myself as well. I invited my besties Esel and Chrissa, and Jojie (Chrissa's boyfriend) too, to go with me and Axle on this trip because the more the merrier, right? Too bad Esel was not able to go since she is in Iloilo and her schedule does not permit her to go home here in Rizal.

As early as January, Chrissa and I have decided to make our reservations for our 2-night stay in San Juan, La Union. Although the peak season in the said area is said to be around October to March when the waves great for surfing are at its most amazing state (as I have read in other blogs), we still did not risk doing a last-minute booking. As April is still considered peak because of summer season and everyone is finding a place to go, it's indeed better be safe than sorry.

Another thing we secured in advanced was our bus tickets. The advantage of today's modern technology is that you can now also book your bus tickets online. Searching through google about how to get to La Union, I discovered this online booking site of Partas Bus via Biyaheroes. Instead of the usual Partas bus trip en route to Vigan, Laoag, or Abra as it will pass by San Juan, or the bus trip to San Fernando then jeepney ride to San Juan after, Partas now has a bus trip straight to San Juan, La Union. Fare is at Php541.00 per person per way for a Deluxe/First Class trip. We booked the 1:00AM schedule, which amazingly departed on time. Travel time is approximately 5-6 hours.

Partas Bus Terminal Cubao

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Sebay Surf Central

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As a first-class trip, the bus did not pick up any passenger along the way and at the same time only allowed drop-off at either San Fernando or at its end point, Sebay Surf Central. It's like a point-to-point kind of bus, which means faster travel time. We have one stopover, however, at the official Partas bus stopover in Luna, Pangasinan. We arrived at San Juan at around 5:30AM. We did a 10-minute walk from Sebay to our first accommodation, Flotsam and Jetsam Hostel.

Since it's way too early for check-in, we asked the reception if we can just leave our bags so we can spend the morning exploring the area. Luckily, Flotsam does offer luggage depositing service. We also inquired where to possibly rent a motorcycle so we can just explore the area by ourselves. The one we talked to at the reception, was not sure if he can get us two motorcycles we can use for the day but promised us he will get back to us within the day if he can find motorcycles we can use the following day instead.

Flotsam & Jetsam Artist Beach Hostel

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San Fernando

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We went to San Fernando after depositing our things at Flotsam to grab some breakfast and possibly roam around the area, since we still don't know where to go. Jeepneys bound for San Fernando conveniently pass by the beach resorts in San Juan. Travel time is around 15 minutes and fare is at Php11.00 per person.

Right at the center of San Fernando City is a huge plaza fronting their town cathedral. In the usual #QuestsOfCess manner, of course we paid the church a visit and stayed for a little while simultaneously asking for God's continuous guidance for this particular trip.

St. William the Hermit Cathedral Parish

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La Union Science Centrum and Museum

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La Union Botanical and Zoological Garden

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It's only 7:30 in the morning and we impulsively decided to go to La Union Botanical Garden and La Union Science Centrum and Museum which happen to be located close to each other in this area of San Fernando. We hailed a tricycle, asked if he can bring the four of us there, but the driver told us that his tricycle will have a hard time going there considering its exact location. He then suggested that we just ride a jeepney at the highway near the church since it will directly go to our preferred destination. What happened next was not what we all expected.

We rode the jeepney bound to the LUBG and LUSCM as suggested by Manong Driver. While en route, Axle did some small talk with the jeepney driver and we surprisingly discovered that the end of his route is just at the foot of the mountain going up our destination! So.. Mountain. Okay. So apparently, jeepneys bound to this side of San Fernando only go up based on a schedule, which, the driver said is at 11:00 AM. Being somewhat "shookt" and still clueless travellers, we pushed through with our agenda thinking it will just be a simple trek. But we thought wrong.

We started walking up the mountain which has concrete roads for the convenience of vehicles passing by this route. The surrounding is not that secluded as many houses are very evident and the place is frequented by lots of vehicles, mainly motorcycle, going up and down the mountain. Minutes passed by and we are starting to feel very exhausted due to the never-ending uphill walk. The heat of the sun sort of made the trek much harder. We discovered from the residents there that the LUBG and LUSCM are 4 kilometres away from where the jeepney driver dropped us off. God, this is not a lovely birthday present. 🤦🏻‍♀️

After an hour and a half, we have already reached La Union Science Centrum and Museum. La Union Botanical Garden is just a 5-minute walk from the museum. The Museum has an entrance fee of Php10.00 per person, while the Botanical Garden is Php20.00 per person.

It's now 10:00 AM and we have explored the place and made the most out of our time up there since we do not want to waste the energy we exerted literally walking for an hour and half under the intense heat of the sun. We initially planned to wait for the jeepney until 11:00 AM so we do not have to walk once again, but this time mainly downhill. Although it's a lot easier than the previous trek, the sun just got hotter and very much unbearable. After getting some rest at the Botanical Garden, we unanimously agreed to walk once again, hoping to all the gods and goddesses that we'll come across with the jeepney so it can bring us back to the city proper. We've gone halfway already and we have finally got hold of the jeepney (ah, yes!). We waited for it in a waiting shed nearby as it still had to drop some passengers who did some errands at the city proper. After 10 minutes or so, we are now riding the jeepney with so much relief.

After taking our lunch, we went back to Flotsam for check-in. We arrived at around 1:00 PM which is still a bit too early for check-in (perhaps they're fullybooked that's why they cannot accommodate early check-in requests), so we decided to stay at their lounging area near the bar/restaurant. Their lounge is very laid back and sort of Balinese-inspired with lots of huge pillows as well as hammocks that you can use to relax with.

Upon check-in, we decided to freshen up and rest before we hit the beach. At around 4:30 PM, we changed to our beach outfits and proceeded to Urbiztondo Beach just in front of Flotsam. Too bad we cannot go surfing since the sea is very calm and no waves can be found. We just decided to have fun swimming and taking photos, taking advantage of the magnificent La Union sunset.

After freshening up (again), we went outside to explore where can we possibly grab dinner. We discovered a food park just a 5-minute walk from Flotsam, the Beach Bum Food Park. From Filipino to Mexican to Japanese to Korean to American to anything under the sun, they have it here. We had also decided to have our alcohol fix here since the drinks here are much cheaper than the bar at Flotsam.

We got back at Flotsam at around 11:00PM. Since we wanted to make a "salubong" for my birthday, we decided to grab one more bucket of beer at the bar. We would like to experience the ambience of the hostel as well in terms of nightlife.

DAY 2

Apr 24 2018

I don't know about you but I'm feeling 23 🎶 (see what I just did there? 😂)

Lights out. Tomorrow, or should I say later, is another day.

It's 7:00 AM and after Axle and Jojie got hold of the motorcycles we fortunately found and rented for 24 hours for Php1000.00 per unit (exclusive of gas), we immediately headed to the bar to eat our breakfasts. The breakfast that came with our accommodation is like an American-style breakfast consisting of breads (they have oven toasters just so if you prefer yours toasted), fruits, boiled eggs, varieties of jams, cereals, milk, coffee, and juice. Since they promote a laid-back kind of vibe in the hostel, you are encouraged to look after your own plates and glasses and put it in their counter for bussing.

After taking a bath (we love taking baths tbh), we now proceeded to our itineraries for the day. Time check: 9:00 AM. We did an early check-out and deposited our bags once again so we can explore conveniently. We headed to San Fernando once again, riding the motorcycles we rented, to continue with our DIY exploration.

Flotsam & Jetsam Artist Beach Hostel

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Ma-Cho Temple (Taoist Temple)

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Christ the Redeemer Statue

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Pindangan Ruins

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Gapuz Grapes Farm

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Halo-Halo de Iloko

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Since we do not know how to get to each of the destinations, we just made use of the Waze app. We first went to Ma-Cho Temple and Christ The Redeemer Shrine which are both in San Fernando and are just 10 minutes away from each other.

Unlike Ma-Cho Temple which you can easily see since there is a signage and arch along the highway, Christ The Redeemer Shrine is situated inside a compound. Once you're up there, you will see a breathtaking, overlooking view of San Fernando.

Afterwards, we proceeded to the Pindangan Ruins, which is also located in San Fernando but a bit far from the other two destinations. It's approximately 15-minute drive from Christ The Redeemer Shrine. Just like the shrine, the ruins is located inside a compound. The entrance fee is at Php25.00 per person. The caretaker told us that it was a church before the Japanese era but eventually was bombed during the World War II.

Since we really like to visit the pride of La Union in terms of their famous grapes farms, we braved another 30-minute drive from Pindangan Ruins to Gapuz Grapes Farm, located at another town called Bauang which is right next to San Fernando. The heat from the sun is very intense and I failed to bring somewhat of a cover-up, though Axle reminded me several times (hashtag sunburrrrn! 🤦🏻‍♀️).

There were lots of people when we arrived at this particular farm because apparently, this is the only plantation area left with lots of grapes hanging from its vines. Other farms have already harvested theirs. We failed to do a Napa Valley-inspired picture-taking since the vineyards are located above your head and not like in the US that grow sideways. 😂

After the picture taking and feeding our ignorance for being in a grape farm for the first time, we left to grab our lunch. This time, we decided to try La Union's pride: Halo-halo de Iloko. It's located in San Fernando so it's right on our way going back to our hotel in San Juan.

Upon arriving at the restaurant, there were lots of people at their waiting area, waiting to be seated inside. Since we were already freaking hungry, we just decided to go back to San Juan and have our lunch elsewhere.

After lunch, we came back at Flotsam to get our things that we deposited once again and proceeded to our next hotel, Awesome Hotel.

Flotsam & Jetsam Artist Beach Hostel

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Awesome Hotel, San Juan, La Union, Philippines

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We arrived just in time for check-in and the check-in process was as smooth as I wanted it to be. We were even escorted by the Front Desk agent who checked us in to our room. Our room is located at the 3/F (again! 😛) and is overlooking the sea. Beds were super comfy and the bathroom is very spacious. There's even a mini-sala with a couch! Few minutes after the staff who escorted us left, another staff knocked on our door and gave us complimentary welcome drinks. 15 minutes in this hotel and I am already satisfied with their service!

We took a rest after our tiring tour and discussed if we should still go to Tangadan Falls, located in another town called San Gabriel, as planned. Since it is already 3:00 PM, we scrapped the idea since we are already running out of time until dusk. Anyway, more reasons to come back to La Union, right? 😉

We took our dinner at Beach Bum Food Park once again, drank at the hotel via room service (wala na kaming pera! 😂), and watch movies on their cabled TV. I must say that their staff are indeed well-trained and very much accommodating to the needs of their guests. Thumbs up!

What a memorable birthday this is. Thank you, Lord. 💙

DAY 3

Apr 25 2018

Day 3. Last day in La Union.

After breakfast, Axle and Jie returned the motorcycles we hired. We then decided to use our remaining half-day lounging at the hotel's pool. The pool area even has a bar wherein you can literally order from while you are enjoying their swimming pool.

At around 10:00AM, we went back to our room, freshened up, and prepared for check-out. Check-out time was coming so fast and we were still too lazy to go. We asked if we can extend for another 30 minutes and the Front Desk agent I have spoke with on the phone unhesitantly approved my request (yey! ☺️). Check-out was as smooth as the check-in process and I can say it was indeed a hassle-free and enjoyable stay!

Awesome Hotel, San Juan, La Union, Philippines

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Sebay Surf Central

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We took a jeep going back to Sebay Surf Central where our bus will pick us up. We were a bit early so we ate lunch first, chilled at Figaro for a while, until our bus arrived.

Sebay Surf Central

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Partas Bus Terminal

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Thank you for the wonderful, awesome, memorable, unforgettable, happy memories, Elyu. You may have given me sore legs, calloused ankles, achy sun burns, and very obvious tan lines, but I will be back for sure. 😉


PS. Please do watch our travel video at this link 👇🏼

https://www.facebook.com/princessderosas2408/posts/1873516442700590 ☺️

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