For our last full day in Ilocos, we went to Vigan. Leigh informed us that ever since it was declared as one of the new seven wonder cities of world, tourists were relentlessly flocking particularly on weekends. Good thing that we decided to go on a Monday, hoping that there’ll be less tourists when we arrive there. As we were already coming from Laoag City, we just took the bus from Partas, which has trips to Vigan every 30 minutes. We paid Php 137 to the ticket station and waited until 10 am before leaving. The travel took around 2 hours. It would have been faster if there were no road construction during the trip. Only one lane was open on some points and we had to wait it out before we had our turn. It would also have been quicker if some of the motorists were attentive and disciplined to strictly follow the change between the red/green lights.
We arrived at exactly 12 noon in Vigan and we immediately went to the comfort room because our bladders were bursting. We then tried eating at Café Leona, but sadly, we were forewarned by the staff that the food would take a significantly long time to be served. I had a Sweet Brown moment (Ain’t nobody got time fo dat!) and told Mon that we should just somewhere quicker. After walking a couple of minutes, as any prospect of eating in a fastfood was crossed off our list, we settled on the eateries beside St. Paul’s Cathedral. I was so hungry that I did not bother choosing what food to eat. The first thing I smelled was the nilaga from a big vat still on fire. Mon, on the other hand, had to go to another stall to buy some okoy. I thought he just bought one for both of us to share (it cost Php 30), but my jaw fell to the floor seeing that there were actually two. Needless to say, I wasn’t able to finish my share.
Since St. Paul’s Cathedral was already near the place we ate from, we only walked for a little less than two minutes. Inside the church, I took notice of the ladies selling religious items and I was determined to get something for Mama. Mon saw this bright red rosary bracelet and I knew right away that it was what I wanted to buy.
Next stop was the Heritage Village, which was just next to Café Leona. LOL
First impression: it looked old, but in a nice way. Considering that most photos of the Heritage Village I saw online were taken at night, the place still looked frozen in time. However, I just had a major LOL with Mang Inasal at the corner because it was as commercialized as it can be. Mocha Blends, on the other hand, blended perfectly with the vibe of the street and did not stick out like a sore thumb. And speaking of street, I thought that the Heritage Village would be more than a couple of streets. Don’t get me wrong, it is beautiful but I just thought that we would get lost navigating the streets. =P
Near Café Leona, we asked a tricycle driver for directions, and he then asked us if we’d like to hire his trike to go from one place to another. We agreed on Php 150. Our first stop was Crisologo Museum, which was the ancestral home of Floro Crisologo, one of SSS’s founders and former Vigan congressman. The museum houses memorabilia of Floro and Doña Carmeling (who is still alive), especially the Chevrolet that the former used when he was assassinated.
I loved looking at the old newspaper clippings and it was surreal to read news articles back in the day. I also enjoyed looking at Doña Carmeling’s travel photos, and some of them even had French captions. On the second floor, there were portraits of the family and a peculiar dressing with old bottles of her perfume collection. That’s a lot.
From Crisologo Museum, we headed to Pagburnayan, a place were pots were made from scratch. We were taken inside the atelier (pardon the fancy word, because I don’t really know what it was called), and it was way hotter than outside. There was this one kuya who asked us to follow him to watch how to make a clay vase.
According to him, the material were source from normal rice paddies (nothing fancy). Once they done with shaping the clay, they let it dry for 10 days before finally baking it in the oven. All along, I thought they go straight to the oven once finished.
From Pagburnayan, we went next to the Hidden Garden. After alighting the trike, there was a booth with two ladies who greeted us with cups as free taste for the product they were selling. Even before having an idea of what I was drinking, I almost gagged because it was the familiar taste of one thing I hate: ginger. Well, it is technically turmeric, which belongs to the same family as ginger. I just did my best to be polite, but I really don’t like ginger. 🙁
The Hidden Garden is, well, a garden. I bet that this place is usually the last stop for most people for lunch break or a bit of rest when on tour in Vigan. We just walked around, took a couple of photos and used the comfort room. The comfort room is something of interest. When you walk inside, you are facing a clear glass with a garden setup completely visible outside — a bit intimidating and it is understandable that one would be taken aback. You might be paranoid if somebody could see you peeing or taking a dump. LOL You also MUST give a mandatory Php 10 “donation”, which is just plain euphemism for “paid comfort room”. *shrugs*
They have plants for sale as well. I would have wanted to buy some, but I was not sure whether or not these would be allowed on board the plane. The staff said that it was allowed, but I’m not taking her word for it. There was also pots of strawberries for sale, and it would have been cool to have your own strawberry in your own backyard. =D
As expected, we only spent a couple of hours in Vigan because we had to go back to Laoag. We asked the trike we rented to take us to Partas, where there were trips every 30 minutes (still at Php 137 per head). My greatest mistake would have been drinking lots of water prior to the trip, which left me no choice but to hold it for two hours. =/ On the other hand, I had a great time laughing my head off over Adam Sandler’s “Jack and Jill“, while Mon tried his best to sleep.
Our flight back to Manila was for February 10, and we did not do anything for this day, except buy pasalubong in the market. With the help of Leigh, we had a 15kg check-in baggage allowance to accommodate things we bought for our friends and families.
We could have stayed for another day, but PAL Express moved our flight from 9:00 PM to 2:00 PM instead. 🙁 We went to the airport by 12:00 noon but we had a little problem during check-in. Apparently, the 15kg allowance was not enough because I shoved in the other bag I was carrying. We had a 2kg excess and I had to open the box on the spot, pull out my bag and seal it again with packaging tape I was carrying in my bag. LOL
Our return trip surprisingly took longer than 50 minutes. I think we might have spent around 1 hour and 15 minutes because we’ve been circling the air and I’ve seen the Philippine Arena thrice already. I was rushing to go back to Makati because I had an appointment to attend to before 6:00 PM, thus we had no choice but to use the yellow metered taxi from Terminal 2. If I remember it correctly, the flag down was Php 70, and Php 5 for every patak.
I had a blast in Ilocos, albeit the short stay. Hopefully, we get to visit again before the year ends (maybe during the holidays), and Mama in tow with us. She has been hoping to see Pagudpud and the windmills in Bangui.
On a different note, you might want to benefit from Leigh’s wealth of knowledge in the tourism industry. Two years ago, she graduated with a degree in Tourism and currently working for “My Travelicious Travel and Tours“. I particularly enjoyed her stories and interesting insight about the industry. So the next time you think of touring the Ilocos Region, you might want to give her a ring through the numbers in the link! =)