Beauty queens and chicken intestines.
Trip Start Oct 11, 2011
30Trip End Mar 23, 2012
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Hello everyone, like I said last time I headed north, firstly I decided to head for Laoag no particular reason it looked off the beaten track tho and I did read in an in flight magazine there is a potential to do sand boarding in a desert near by, which sounded cool. So I boarded a night bus and was ready for the 12 hour journey ( which turned out be less). I was feeling tired which was good I watched some boxing for an hour or so which was being shown on board then got a good sleep. I woke quite early in the morning to put my fleece on as the air con is soo cold on the buses. I arrived In laoag to find the town decorated for a festival which was unexpected. I got off the bus and a few tricycle drivers and some other workers at the station approached me and gathered round and watched in amazement as I put my backpack on!? I got the feeling they hadn't seen many tourists here. One said to me "I take you to your hotel sir I know where it is" I replied "I haven't got a hotel yet" he said "yes yes you will be staying at Fort Ilocandia, I know where this is" now I knew from a guidebook this place is a high end resort near the desert with a casino and the cheapest room is 6000 peso (about 90 quid), I started to laugh and said " no no the cheapest room there is 6000 peso!!
It was still only early and after my sleep I was feeling ready to explore. I saw a travel agent down the road so I popped in to ask If there were any tours available to which the lady replied "sorry sir we don't have, but I can make you coffee?!" not the answer I was expecting to be honest, after some more discussion, laughing and me repeating tours around 7 times it turned out she thought I wanted "toast" . I inquired about sand boarding but the price was 2500peso per group of 8 so would cost me the same and I didn't see there being much chance of me getting a group together to split the costs as I hadn't seen another tourist
I paid my 10 peso fair after being taken to the bus station, I jumped on the bus and asked the driver to drop me at the mini park I paid my 25 peso meaning I was well on my way to following step 2. On the bus two young boys spotted me and then moved to the seat behind me and shook it a few times to get my attention I turned around and they were smiling at me "hi" I said then they started laughing and said "hello,hello, hello,hello,hello,hello" then paused as tho they were waiting for a response so I said "hello" then they replied "hello, hello hello hello" I started to laugh and so did they. It was exactly the same when I was leaving but with bye and goodbye, they even moved seats to the side I got off and were waving me off all the way down the road, I was definitely feeling the love here.
So I was at my first attractions which were all about the quite controversial ex president Ferdinand Marcos who was born here in batac just out side laoag, I don't know too much about the history but he was allegedly involved in corruption, helped himself to billions of dollars from the treasury and He also deliberately placed the Philippines under martial law in 1972 to keep himself in power for a longer period
The next step was the impressive Paoay church which would've been almost perfect if there wouldn't been scaffolding over the front of it, nevertheless it is a nice place and didn't feel like a tourist attraction at all. The last step was to ride a jeepney back to laoag which was easy. mission complete. on arrival back in laog a crowd had formed around the centre as there was a parade happening as part of the festival, I asked a policeman what the festival was and he told me its a month long beauty pageant festival with competitions and parades almost every day. I watched for a bit then headed back to my hotel to avoid the numerous ladyboys that wanted to pose for pictures with me. It was here where I noticed a sign welcoming some of the contestants for the beauty pageant to the hotel, so I polished my best dancing shoes, ironed my best shirt, practiced a few pick up lines and went to find myself a beauty queen, ok this is all a lie, I don't have dancing shoes, I certainly don't have an iron, my pick up lines don't need any practice and the beauty queens usually come to find me ha ha
That evening I decided to head out for some food and a few beers, after food I struggled to find any bars of such just food joints that had beer but no atmospere. I asked a local and he told me to go to the, wait for it ,,,,,"Cock house" I thought oh well whats the worse that can happen? and decided to check it out. It was just like most of the music clubs around the Philippines there are a few singers and dancers and can actually be quite entertaining. That is until an old man came to sit with me and tried to pair me off with any female he could see, he was ok at first just the usual chit chat then once he found out I was traveling alone he turned into match maker. I tried to stop him but he would call a waitress over and like "you and him"pointing at us both, I apologized to the waitress and told her to ignore him It was a little awkward but that was nothing compared to his next trick. On the stage there were the female singers performing , the old guy stood up and started waving at them until they had his attention I though to myself oh no hes not. The girl with the mic walked over whilst still singing the guy again started pointing at us both and even offering her his seat next to me, the entire bar was staring over at me I just had my head in my hand but I did see the funny side to it especially when the old man shouted in a very exited manner "yes!!! yes!! she likes you!!!"
The next day I had a lie in did some laundry, had a look at where to head next and just sorted things out really, I did have time to visit a local museum which was ok, I purchased some local sugar cane spirit to try and as it was getting later decided to find a place to watch the sunset. I spotted a ledge from a pathway which overlooked the river so I jumped down and took a seat. I could hear some kids playing on the path one jumped up the wall, looked down and looked totally shocked to see me sat there, next there were kids jumping up for a look. I looked up and saw a hand holding a gun and then a little boys face he climbed right over smiled sat down and said (probley the last thing I expected) " do you have facebook?" he asked!?. The kids carried on playing with the realistic guns shooting plastic balls in to the grass below. I decided to go for food and was pleased to find some street stalls that were selling all local items to celebrate the festival, I tried some tiny local sausages and another item that was like a crispy taco filled with egg and other things they were both good. Back in the hotel I bumped into miss Philippine Hawaii dressed ready for the competition, I had a chat with another traveler Corrine who was heading to Vigan the next day like me, then went to pack my things and sleep
The next morning I left with Corrine to get the bus to vigan a nice few hour drive away. I found a cheap hotel dropped my things off and went to explore the UNESCO heritage city. Its a nice place and was set up for tourists with horse drawn carts and souvenir shops lining the historical streets but again there wasn't many tourists. Vigan was spared bombing in ww2 so has the best examples of Spanish style buildings still standing in the Philippines today. Nothing really eventful happened here and next I will be heading to baguio and then even further up north. I will keep you posted how I get on.
Hope all is well.