Misadventures in Laoag

March 26, 2010 at 12:43 PM | Posted in Food and Dining, Travel | Leave a comment
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The next day proved to be full of misadventures. My officemate and I went down early from our hotel room for breakfast. Though the service was slow due to undermanned staff, our breakfast was delicious. We attended to some business after that and once we’re done, the General Manager was nice enough to offer us assistance in touring the nearby local attractions. Unfortunately though, once the General Manager was out of sight, the Front Office Manager of the hotel refused to give us assistance and was reluctant to let us use the hotel shuttle to take us to Laoag’s central district. His excuse was that the shuttle was in the service of guests staying at the hotel. And since we weren’t exactly guests at the hotel – though he knew we were doing business with them – we weren’t given priority. The hotel is located far away from any public transport and since we couldn’t very well walk that far, we had no choice but to wait for the hotel shuttle to become available. My officemate as well as our other colleague and I were getting really frustrated. We felt like we were wasting so much time just waiting for the shuttle. There was no other form of entertainment at the hotel (unless you consider watching TV in your hotel room a fun activity) to pass the time. Food at the hotel bar and restaurant was expensive and we didn’t really want to hang out there.

Finally after hours of waiting, they let us use the hotel shuttle. The driver dropped us off at the central district of Laoag and we let the shuttle go back quickly to the hotel as we didn’t want to become a “burden” to them. My officemate and I just decided to explore the city on our own and hired a tricycle to take us where we wanted to go. We had a late lunch at Macy’s Diner, which my officemate and I found pretty cute and interesting because of its 60’s American-style theme. We headed off to San Nicolas after that where there was a small branch of Robinson’s mall. I got frustrated with my other colleague that time because she wanted to take refuge from the heat of the afternoon sun by malling. She said that we should just wait for the sun to go down then we could set out to explore the city again. My officemate and I weren’t bothered by the heat at all and we wanted to go out and do a bit more of sightseeing and not waste any more time.

St. Augustine Catholic Church in Paoay

See, this is one of my pet peeves when going on vacation. I don’t like to go on vacation with a companion who complains about little things like heat or the possibility of getting dirty. To me, vacation means going on an adventure and having fun even if it means you’ll get sweaty or dirty. Where’s the fun in worrying about the heat or getting dirty while you’re exploring an interesting location? If you’re the type who gets easily sun burned, then put sunscreen or wear a hat. Gulp down a chilled beverage if you feel the heat. Don’t go running inside an air-conditioned mall and stay there for hours. You’re not a vampire. You won’t melt under the sun.

sunset at Paoay beach

Anyway, after impatiently waiting for our colleague inside the mall, we headed outside and took a jeepney going to Paoay. We got to see an old church there and afterwards, we hired another tricyle to take us to the sand dunes in the area. We were disappointed when we saw the sand dunes because they weren’t that pretty. The area was just a small patch of creamy sand. We ended up exploring a nearby beach instead. We left the beach when the sun was setting and went back to San Nicolas. From there, we ate dinner at La Preciosa  where I sampled a delicious local dish with a rather risque name – puqui puqui.

We hired another tricyle to take us back to the hotel after dinner and that’s when something funny happened. The tricyle we hired was really small and my robust officemate, our colleague, and I were amazingly able to fit inside the small interior. Unfortunately though, while we were on the way back to the hotel, the tricyle gave a loud popping sound and the driver had to stop to find out what it was. We didn’t really know for sure what happened with the tricyle but I guess it conked out because we were too heavy. I had difficulty coming out of the tricycle and so was my officemate. And we all laughed about it. So there we were – the three of us in the middle of the road at night. The hotel was still too far away for us to walk and the place we got stranded on was just full of bushes, grass, and trees. There were a few houses here and there but other than that, the place was dark and deserted. It was such a relief for us then that another tricycle came along to help us out. He tried to help our driver revv up his engine but to no avail. We felt sorry for the driver we hired so we paid him good money while he waited for another help by the side of the road. The other driver assured him that he’d help him after he takes us back to the hotel. So the three of us hopped onto the bigger tricycle and went our way back to the hotel safe and sound.

Semi-charmed Kind of Trip

March 23, 2010 at 11:03 PM | Posted in Travel | Leave a comment
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I just got back from a business trip to Laoag last Saturday and boy was it eventful! I was with an officemate and a colleague when I went there and we stayed for three days and two nights at the newly opened Ilocos Norte Hotel and Convention Center. My officemate and I opted to travel by bus as my friend Lily, who’ve been to Laoag before, recommended it for the scenic views we would see on our way there aside from the fact that it was cheaper. We booked seats on Florida bus and chose one that came with a small toilet as the journey from Manila to Laoag would take us eight to ten hours. I’m used to long land travels since that’s what I do when I go back home to my hometown in Bicol. Normally, I prefer sitting by the window and seeing different places and people along the way when I travel.

The journey to Laoag took us nine-and-a-half hours because the bus kept stopping to pick up more passengers along the way (the bus wasn’t full when we left). Ironically, the movie that was being shown on the bus was Speed. I stayed awake for most of the journey and just drifted off for a few hours. I usually don’t sleep soundly when traveling long distances. Somehow, I’m always conscious about my surroundings and the possibility that I might miss my bus stop.

I was practically groggy when we arrived in Laoag. There was a hotel van waiting for us at the bus station that took us to the hotel. The location of the hotel isn’t exactly convenient. It is located within a sprawling complex with no easy access to any public transport. There are no jeepneys, tricycles, or taxi cabs that ply the area – not even a pedicab. One would need a car to go to and from the hotel.

Checking-in at the hotel, we were warmly met by the gracious and accommodating General Manager. The Standard room we stayed in was spacious, clean, and comfy. I was delighted that there was a small balcony too. Our room came with coffee-making facilities, bottled water, mini-bar, cable TV (with very limited channels), and telephone. The bathroom was OK but there was no towel rack and bath doormat.

Our first day at the hotel was practically boring. My officemate and I attended to business stuff and tried to go online using Wi-Fi (we brought a laptop). But the Wi-Fi connection was only accessible at the hotel lobby. It was a good thing that we brought our own wireless broadband plug-its. I tried using my Smart Bro plug-it but due to the laptop’s hardware “problems,” I wasn’t able to. So I used my officemate’s Globe Tattoo plug-it.

Feeling tired and sleepy from the long trip, I went to bed early at around 10:00 PM while my officemate spent the night reading the Sookie Stackhouse e-book.

To be continued.

If the Shoes Fit

March 13, 2010 at 12:17 AM | Posted in Lifestyle, Shopping | Leave a comment
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I always have a dilemma whenever I go shopping for shoes. The thing is, I’m petite so naturally my feet are small. I know most women consider shoe shopping as exciting but in my case I take it as frustrating. It takes me longer than usual to pick the right shoes. And it’s not because I’m picky or anything. It’s just because my feet are so small. I’m a size 5 and I always have a hard time finding the right shoes that would fit my feet.

I tried shopping for shoes today but by the end of the day, I went home empty handed. There were a few pairs that I really wanted to buy but couldn’t because the brands I happened to choose only carry sizes 5 1/2 or 6 as their smallest. There are a few stores that carry my size but they’re either out of stock or they don’t have the style or color that I want.

And it’s not just the length of the shoes I’m having problems with. It’s also the width. Sometimes the shoes I like fit the length of my feet but the width isn’t right. My feet are not wide and small; they’re short and slim. So just imagine the frustration I feel every time I go shopping for shoes. Normally, I allot at least 6 to 8 hours of the day just to shop for one pair of shoes. I go from one store to the next just to look for the perfect pair.

A friend told me once that there is a store that customizes shoes. But when we checked the store out, their designs were not my style. So I don’t know if there are other stores out there that customize shoes. And if there are, I doubt they offer a reasonable price.

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