Yay! In my 10+ years of existence in the blogging world, this is the first time I’m having a guest blogger (hopefully, not the last) ^_^ My friend Jinbei is here to write about our recent trip up north. Read on to find out about our funny adventures and mishaps in La Union. Enjoy!
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I’ve been longing to go to the beach for over a year now, and last January 26, my foot was able to feel the sand once again. This time, it’s in San Juan, La Union.
We got a really nice deal via CashCashPinoy: for only P1,499, you get to stay overnight at a deluxe room for two at Normi2s Beachfront Resort in San Juan, La Union. But wait, there’s more! The voucher includes 4 hours surfing lessons too. How great is that?
To get to San Juan, we initially planned to take a Florida Bus headed for Laoag (our only reason is that the bus is pink). But when I got to the station before 6am, I was told that the 6am bus already left. Huh? So the misadventures begin
So I rushed over to Dominion, which thankfully runs on schedule. We had a little time to kill before the bus conductor told us to start boarding. The guy at the resort told us to tell the conductor to drop us off Barangay Taboc in San Juan, where the resort is only 100 meters from the highway.
It was an uneventful trip. We watched a bit of Papa George Clooney in “The Descendants” until they started playing “The Scorpion King” in the bus and now, it was Papa Dwayne Johnson’s time.
Some seven hours later, the conductor comes up to tell us we already missed our stop. And this is after we specifically told him to tell us when we reach Taboc. We had to pay P50 for a tricycle to take us to the resort. I am quite sure the tricycle driver ripped us off, but whatever.
The seven hour pain-in-the-behind travel and that bus incident were soon forgotten when I saw the resort. The place was much more than I expected. It’s not the best I’ve been to, but for the price I paid, it is a bargain.
Upon arriving at Normi2′s, we went straight to the restaurant and told them we had reservations; the lady told us to go to the reception desk instead, which we passed unknowingly. At the reception, we registered and got the key to our room. Somehow, I felt no warm welcome from the employees; the receptionist didn’t even offer to carry our bags or escort us to our room. She only gave the directions and went back to minding her own business. This irked me a bit but I let it pass.
Our room is actually a nice resort cottage. Good for two, it could fit two more but I don’t think it’ll be comfortable and it would make you feel like you are sleeping in a dormitory. There are two things I found that made it better than your usual resort rooms: First, the ceiling covered in banig, and second is their mood lights. Both were quite nice touches for that overall beach resort feel.
Our room faces a decent sized pool which goes up to 10 feet deep. A few meters away, there is a gate that opens up to the beach.
After dropping off our things, we went to the restaurant to have lunch. As we were waiting for our order, I walked outside and surveyed the area. There was another pool outside the restaurant, more appropriate for kids I think, since this is a lot shallower (only 3 feet). Then I saw another table where we could eat with a view of the beach. When I returned to the restaurant, I asked the waitress if we could eat outside. She agreed but told us to return the dishes after we’re done because it is prohibited to eat outside the restaurant. That’s the first time I experienced someone ordering a customer to clean up his own dishes. It would’ve have been OK if I was in a fast food restaurant or there was a sign that says “Clean as you go” but there’s none. This annoyed me a little but again, I let it pass, I don’t want to ruin the vacation because of petty things.
Our orders of fried chicken, chicken tinola and rice were served shortly. In fairness to them, we did not have to wait too long to eat. Also, you could order anything from the menu except for nilagang baka — since it would probably take forever to tenderize the beef. The food weren’t as good as I expected but they were quite cheap so I guess you get what you pay for.
After eating, we brought the dishes back to the restaurant then went to the reception area to ask if we can have our surfing lessons after an hour or two. The receptionist said that they’ll just inform us if the waves high enough for surfing later. If not, they can schedule the lessons for the next morning. We then went to the shore, tried to walk along the beach but the sun is still hot so we decided not to walk, rather I decided not to… hahaha We just sat in the makeshift cottage, watching the waves, and I thought that it’s really not high enough for surfing. So after that, it was back to the comforts of the air-conditioned room.
Nighttime came and we still do not have updates on our surfing lessons. It was alright, since the waves did not seem optimal that time anyway. There’s always tomorrow. We then decided to have dinner at the restaurant. To our surprise, it was pitch black. Turns out that they have already closed for the night and the cook already left.
Again, I was annoyed — this time, doubly since I was also hungry. They did not even ask us if we want anything before they close the restaurant. We asked the receptionist if there are open diners around the area, but she told us she was not sure and that most fast food restaurants are in the next town, San Fernando.
We decided to try our luck around the neighborhood and luckily, there’s a cafeteria near the highway. My stomach was singing with joy as I pedaled towards it on my borrowed kiddie bike (which a hotel staff lent to me). I don’t even remember what I ordered because I was really hungry and all I wanted is to eat.
When we got back, we decided to hang out at the beach, just eat snacks (we just had dinner, remember? ^_^) and chat. The sky is filled with stars, I only hoped that city nights would be like this. I was lucky enough to see a falling star, and I wished that tomorrow will be good for surfing. After an hour or so, we went back to the room to watch a movie, then called it a night.
We woke up around 5am. Can you believe it? Waking up early when we don’t even have to go to work. Haha. We went outside for a walk. The air is fresh and cool. The sound of the waves is very relaxing, just like in the movies. While walking, we saw some people doing their morning exercises, running along the beach. There were only a handful of people outside, minding their own business, some are fishing, others are just enjoying the beach and scenery.
At around 7am, we went back to the hotel to have our breakfast. The food was nothing special, just your regular breakfast meals. We had daing na bangus, Vigan longganisa, fried rice, coffee and canned fruit. Oh and just a note, if you are craving for luncheon meat for breakfast, forget it. Apparently, the CashCashPinoy deal does not include Spam. Funny, we must have missed reading that from the fine print.
After eating, we asked the receptionist again regarding the time alloted for us for our surfing lessons. Again, she said that she’ll inform us once the instructor is available. While waiting, we decided to take a dip in the swimming pool. The big one, not the 3-feet-deep kiddie one. I tried if I could still swim, good thing I was able to. I don’t want to try surfing if I can’t even swim properly, hehe.
After an hour or so, I asked the receptionist if the instructor is already available, she told me that he is already at the beach and we could go ahead and ask him about the schedule. This pissed me off because now we’re supposed to arrange the schedule ourselves. This was after I was told twice that we would be informed once the instructor is available.
I really feel like shouting at that employee because she is really lacking in good customer service. Good thing I was still able to control my temper and walked away without saying anything harsh. Back at the beach, someone came up to us and he turned out to be the surfing instructor. Yes, finally! He called another guy so we’d have a teacher each.
Before getting into the water, we had a short session on the sand. We learned how to position ourselves on the board, how to paddle and how to stand up from the board. It feels easy while doing the drill in the sand. A little later, we were paddling away from the shore.
Paddling is real fun. When you see a wave coming, just hold on to your surf board and position your body so you keep your balance. Then paddle some more. When we were far enough from the shore, we turned around to begin riding the waves.
As expected, I failed in my first couple of tries, but I never gave up. I tried and tried and tried… but after 30 mins or so, I felt like this sport is not for me. The instructor then decided to go to the shore and rest. Even though we failed to surf the wave, it was fun trying to. Maybe, I’ll try it again sometime. I’ll do some diet first before attempting again.
Because we weren’t able to use up the entire 4 hours allotted for the lessons, we had a lot of time to rest and eat some light snacks before we start packing our things.
At 12noon, we checked out of the hotel and headed to San Fernando for lunch. We found this place called Cafe Esperanza near the plaza. It looked like an ancestral house converted into a restaurant, which gives it an old world, classy feel. The food is just so-so, though, just something to tide us over for the long ride back to Manila.
We wanted to buy pasalubong for family and friends, but there weren’t any stores selling them so sorry for the people expecting something from La Union
After that, we went back to busy Manila with aching muscles, burnt faces and recharged spirits. Hope to be back in La Union again!
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Normi2s Beachfront Resort
Address: 9-10 Seaside, Taboc, San Juan, La Union, Philippines
Contact Numbers: (072) 720-0519, 0927-4496934, 0928-4231-476
Getting there and away
Dominion Bus Lines – P395 one way per person for a deluxe ticket. Daily trips start at 3am and leaves every hour.
EDSA cor New York Street, Cubao, Quezon City
Phone: 741-4146, 731-4180
Take any bus bound to Vigan, Laoag and Abra. Bus companies plying this route include Dominion, Partas, Farinas and Viron. Just make sure to inform the bus conductor to drop you off at Taboc.
Going back to Manila, just hail any Manila-bound bus that pass by the Normi2s stop.