Hello! Ilocos Norte! – Day 1

I have never been to Ilocos Norte and I was very happy to be invited by Mon to stay in the place where he grew up. According to him, it was approximately a 9-hour night trip and I knew that Bonamine would be my best friend again. We arrived in Fariñas Bus Transit near UST, Manila because our bus was scheduled to leave in exactly 9:00 PM. We were seated directly behind the driver and we had enough leg room to even put our bags on the floor. It was at Php 750 per person because they had an on-board comfort room! No more waiting for the stop over. It was difficult to sleep, though, because I was really suspicious of the people getting in and out of the bus. I fear for the sake of the duffle bag on the overhead compartment.

Laoag Bound - Fariñas Bus Transit

Around quarter to 6:00 AM, we arrived in Fariñas Terminal in Laoag City, where we were met by Mon’s aunt, who will be accompanying us to the house. The air was so cold and FRESH that the difference between city and rural atmosphere could not be starker. Reaching their house, Mon’s mother greeted us from the veranda and the next thing I know, I was being finally introduced to his grandmother. =D She was still full of energy at her age, and I was really delighted to see her. One by one, within the next hour, most of the people in the house began waking up. We had to eat breakfast before going to the cemetery to visit their grandfather’s grave (Mon was the first-ever grandchild), which was followed by a mass because it was Palm Sunday.

Mangoes directly from the tree

Mon visiting his late grandfather's grave in the cemetery

The mass was delivered in Ilocano and I could not understand a single thing. LOL There was also a sinking bell tower right across the street. They say that one can make a wish whenever visiting a church for the first time — I just did that as well. =P After the mass, Mon and I separated from the group to buy things from the market. I also needed my quick fix of coffee and we found one near PureGold, Laoag City.

Palm Sunday mass in Laoag, Ilocos Norte

Sinking Bell Tower in Laoag city center

Before lunch time, we went home to fix our things because we will be going to the river! I forgot the name of the river but it only took us around 30 minutes to get there. As soon as I saw the rows of nipa huts, I knew I was in for a treat. =D

A view of the river directly from the water's surface

Look how clear the water was? Amazing!

River from Ilocos Norte

But before anything else, we had to eat our lunch and I was surprised to see that the watermelon we bought from the market did not have a red flesh inside. LOL A lot of Ilocano dishes on the table as well, and I was particularly pleased with the longganisa and pinakbet. I think bathing in a river was an ingenious way to start the summer season!

Colorful watermelons! I never thought there were yellow-fleshed watermelons

LOL

I think after the lunch was over, I was one of the first people to jump right away to the water and was also the last one to get out. LOL That was how river-deprived I was. The water was not that deep, though, as the deepest part was barely above my waist. It was a good thing especially the place was packed with families with little kids.

Enjoying the cold river water

Mon's sister, Anne, striking a pose

I think these girls were looking for fish and shells to play with

Then at around half past 3:00 PM, we decided on a whim to head to Batac and visit Ferdinand Marcos’ body preserved in a mausoleum. We were not allowed to use our cameras inside and the guard was watching our every move, trying to catch people violating the rule. We were inside for less than two minutes as we only had to walk around the casket.

In Batac, Ilocos Norte after visiting Ferdinand Marcos' body on display

Then for a late merienda, it was a perfect opportunity to eat empanada! After a five-minute drive, we reached this area, with rows of stalls selling food. We sat down in Glory’s Empanada and I finally  had my first ever empanada from Ilocos. LOL

Finally! Got to taste empanada from Ilocos Norte - Glory's Empanada

 

After that quick snack, we went to Paoay to visit St. Augustine Church a.k.a. Paoay Church (“Paoay! Kumakaway!”), a UNESCO World Heritage Site built primarily with coral blocks. We got there late in the afternoon, so naturally, we were not able to see the church lit-up. which was too bad because I was sure it would have looked heavenly in person.

Paoay Church (St. Augustine Church), Ilocos Norte

 

Peculiar material of the structure - coral bricks

 

Tourists in Paoay - Paoay Church, Ilocos Norte

 

 

And in the nick time, just before sunset, we went to Fort Ilocandia’s beach just to literally take pictures. There were also a lot of people and the beach itself was quite OK. We would have loved to swim as well, but we were not to go to the beach until Pagudpud on Tuesday.

Dropped by Fort Ilocandia beach

 

Literally dropped by to take photos

 

Getting our feet wet, but no beach until Pagudpud on Tuesday

 

This amazing race in a day made me love Ilocos Norte very much. =D It made me realize I should be really going around the country more than outside because we have an amazing share of wonderful spots — without breaking the bank. Tomorrow would be a less eventfuly day because Mon and I still haven’t properly slept because of the bus ride! One regret: I should have bought at least two more empanadas to take home with me!

Yay for 4Y6M!

Today, Mon and I celebrated our 4th year and 6th month together. Six months more and half a decade will have already passed. But because we were already on leave last Monday, we just had our dinner in Ayala Triangle and tried a place, from which we have never eaten from before.

Ayala Triangle on a windy, Wednesday eveningMon wanted to eat in Wee Nam Kee, located in that strip of restaurants in Ayala Triangle. He had been itching to try their Hainanese chicken and I was also curious to see how good their dish would be. There were not a lot of people dining, though, because most of them were outside Banapple waiting for their turn to be seated. LOL I love their interior, especially the arch on the way to the kitchen, because it reminded me of a garden I visited with Mon and Ikle in Macau in 2010.

Wee Nam Kee in Ayala TriangleBird cage lamps hanging from the ceiling

I'm wearing the same color as the seatsAs for the menu, our eyes beelined to their Hainanese chicken because it was a non-negotiable option. But we ordered two varities, one steamed and the other roasted, so that we could taste both and judge which one was better. Their chicken rice smelled extremely good and I was thinking that they might have used chicken broth in cooking it. We ended up ordering two more extra cups they go really well with the chicken. =D Their eggplant with minced pork in hot pot was really delicious as well. I immediately thought of Tempura‘s mapo tofu, but served with eggplant.

Steamed Hainanese Chicken - Wee Nam Kee

Roasted Hainanese Chicken - Wee Nam Kee

Eggplant with Minced Pork in Hot Pot - Wee Nam Kee

Of course, Mon was very eager to try their dessert. I was already full but I agreed to eat one of the three flavor buchis he ordered. The dessert was daintily plated: whipped cream and cherry, with colorful dots all over. I did not know that the three flavors went beyond the buchi themselves, as each one were filled with different chocolate filling. I had the one with white chocolate. I then had an idea and took consecutive shots (which I turned to an animated gif) of the last buchi as it was being punctured by the fork. =D

Three Flavor Buchi - Wee Nam Kee

Having fun with the buchi filling - Wee Nam Kee

Happy 4Y6M again Mon and love you so much! =D

Very stormy weather in Manila

Would you be happy to get off the bus in this weather?

Animated view of the strong Wind and rain Makati Central Business District - Philippines

Animated view of the strong Wind and rain Makati Central Business District

I was stuck in the waiting shed for more than 15 minutes, hoping that the strong wind and rain will subside. But alas! I made a run for it because I can’t be more drenched under the shed than braving the weather. Because of this weather, I had a chance again to use the higher and most weather proof boots I have: my 14-hole Doc Martens! I was initially wearing a polo shirt inside, but it got wet. :/

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