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The last leg of our north Luzon trip included a stop in Vigan.  Vigan is a beautiful town.  Very clean.  It is also one town where there are a lot of heritage houses.  Calle Crisologo - is the main attraction because it remains to be a cobblestone road.  However - outside of Calle Crisologo - there are still numerous Spanish-occupation era houses.

The old houses remind me of my home in Sta. Ana, Manila.  Sta. Ana also has a lot of heritage houses.  In fact among all the districts of Manila,  Sta. Ana has the most number of houses that survived World War II.

When we visited Vigan --- it was so crowded.  It was during the New Year break of 2014/2015.  It was impossible to get a picture of Calle Crisologo without a person ( I could have - maybe if I went there really early in the morning ).  So instead of taking numerous pictures of the houses - I just did the next best thing.  I did people watching.

We stayed in Casa Rica.  It's one of the bed and breakfasts in Vigan.  The owner is really nice.  They don't have parking - but the owner said it's safe to park on the streets.  Vigan is one of those towns in the Philippines with virtually no crime.

A visit to Vigan is not complete without buying Vigan longganiza and Bagnet.  We just asked the staff of Casa Rica to buy for us.  While we're in Vigan - we also tried Cafe Uno - located at Grandpa's Inn. I love their Bagnet Quesadilla and their Pancit Loglog. 

After this quick visit to Vigan - we headed home to Baguio.   I have one more post on our great Luzon journey after this.  It's about my home in Baguio.  Watch out for that last post

Pagudpud and The Bangui Wind Farm

Pagudpud is the northenmost part of the Philippines that I have visited.  I have heard of many stories from people saying that it's beaches are really nice and that it can be called the Boracay of the North. To be honest --- I actually take offense to that title because my opinion is that each of the beaches that we have in the Philippines have their own characteristic.   I understand that Boracay is internationally known - but Boracay and Pagudpud are very different from each other.

Anyways - back to my trip to Pagudpud;  this is still part of the great North Luzon expedition that the queens embarked on last year.  First stop was Laoag and Paoay.  Second stop is Pagudpud.  We stayed at Saud.  I googled what Saud is - trying to figure out why the place is called Saud.  I can't find an answer to that question but I did find out that it's the name of the ruling family of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.  Interesting - you really get to know a lot of facts - when you google.

The resort is nice.  It has that Filipiniana decor that most resorts have when it is still not spoiled by a commercialized tourist industry.   I remember Waling Waling in Boracay - before it became Estacio Uno.  I like the feel of Filipiniana - and I prefer it over the concrete resorts.  It give off that island feel.

The waves were very strong when we visited Pagudpud.   It was actually very noisy --- that at night - the loud crash of the wave sometimes woke me up.  Like most beaches - the best part of staying seaside is that of being able to wake up early to do a sunrise walk or for those who can't wake up early - they can always do the sunset walk.   Pagudpud faces the west - so the sunset scene is more spectacular.

When we left Pagudpud,  we checked off another site from Ilocos Norte:  the Bangui Wind Farm.  The wind farm was the first one installed in the Philippines.   It provides electricity to the town of Bangui.   I can understand why it makes sense to install these wind mills here.  The wind was so strong that there are times I felt that I was going to be blown away ( exaggeration ).

For people who want to visit this place - and are turned off by the long drive from Manila ( or even Baguio ) --- I suggest breaking off the trip midway.  For us - as I described in my earlier blog - we spent a night in Laoag going to Pagudpud.  Coming back we spent a night in Vigan.   It may be a long trip - but I assure you it's worth it.

The Paoay Sand Dunes

I watched the movie Panday when I was young.  I can't remember the story - I just remember the late Fernando Poe Jr. fighting his enemies in this desert.  I can't remember who in my family said that this was shot in Ilocos.  So - as a kid - I wanted to see this Ilocos desert. 

Last year,  my friends and I embarked on a quest - which we called the great northern Luzon journey. It started in Baguio and ended up in Pagudpud.  From Baguio to Pagudpud - with my driving,  it would have taken us close to eight hours - so we actually decided to break down the trip and going north,  we stopped by Laoag and Paoay.  The Ilocos desert - I discovered is actually the Paoay sand dunes.  I'm not really sure if it's an actual desert - but since it's actually close to the sea,  I'm thinking it was actually a portion of the land which was under water so many years ago ( actually I think there are a lot of deserts like that - except that those were actually lakes that dried up ).

Anyways - when we reached the Paoay sand dunes,  there's only one thing in our minds --- we had to ride the sand dune buggy.   I have heard of the first world version of this ride from people who have visited Dubai.   In the first world version,  you are strapped in.   You wear seat belts.  In the Philippines version,  there are no seat belts.   You just have to hold on to the bars.   You have to hold on tight for dear life.   If you are unlucky and you bruise up easily - you will end up black and blue.   But I must say this --- I think that when you have that thought that you can die from the ride - and you survive it,  you end up thinking that it was a lot of fun.

The whole ride is half an hour to an hour.  At the end of the ride,  you get to try sand boarding ( standing up or sitting down ).  Again - no safety equipment.  No safety briefing.  Just try to have fun - and if you break a bone ( or bones ) while doing it --- tough luck.

I guess the tag line for Philippines is right --- visiting the sand dunes in the Philippines is definitely more fun.   Especially when you survive it.