February 25, 2014

San Juan, La Union: Where the wind blows

It was August 15 of 2013 when we bought our tickets at the Partas bus station en route to San Juan, La Union. We left at 12:30am in Cubao and arrived at 5:30am in Urbiztondo.

If there is one thing about August that I enjoy, it's the month filled with holidays (and typhoons, too). 

Meet the Kaladkarin (easy to drag) Kids
One random day, my officemate, Ada, approached me in my cubicle and told me that she wanted to go on a trip. She initially suggested Boracay since she missed the place and asked me if I can go with her on the upcoming long weekend. I was hesitant at first, knowing that I should be saving up for my Cambodia-Vietnam trip (held last October). When she insisted that she'll pay for the expenses until I can save up for it, I said yes. Unfortunately, this was also the time when strong typhoon, Maring, hit the PH.

Ada and Cor
Due to limited funds, we chose to stay at the Circle Hostel in San Juan, La Union. The bamboo-gated hostel welcomes you with awesome graffitis, hammocks and huts. The super chill vibe blows away like a breeze to your face that it makes you leave whatever stress you're going thru at the doorstep. For P450, you get to sleep in a bunk. My friend, Ada chose to sleep in a 350/night hammock. The hostel has its own common area where you can plug your ipod and lie on the oversized-pillows. There are also magazines, books, and musical instruments at disposal for your entertainment.

We curled up in our beds to recharge and woke up at 10am. We stayed at their super chill lounge and met new friends.

Meet Andres, our new friend from Colombia who jammed the Spongebob theme song with me
We jammed using the hostel's guitar and bongos until we decided to head out for lunch and try the small cafeteria around the corner called, the Urbiztondo grill.

Their food is a little pricey when compared to its quantity. Rain was pouring hard so we stayed a bit to get to know more about our new found friends.

The rain stopped so we immediately ran to the beach to hit the waves.

If it's your first time to surf, look for this guy named 'Chris' because aside from teaching you the basics, he can also share tips and techniques that other instructors won't.
Board rental costs at 200, instructor = 250. Total cost/hr =450. Like other beginners, I fell several times until my patient teacher finally applauded for gliding my first wave. I was able to do it for 5 times until our time was up. I've never felt so much stoke in my life. I had that feeling of scratching off a tough challenge on my bucket list. It was almost night time when everyone decided to have a drink at Sebay. 

The food was great, conversations with our large group was amazing, plus, an acoustic band performed alongside the loud shrills of the rain. Night fell and the band let us sing on stage. Ada and I did our karaoke version of Sunday Morning while our newfound friends: Rebecca and Dex sang OPM songs.
Dex and I listening to the strong waves
It rained harder (not because of our voices!) so we ran (I kind of danced since i'm super soaked!) back to the hostel and took a quick shower. The night was young so everyone stayed at the common area. We drank and played Kings Cup until the morning till we hit the hammocks.
The common area
The next morning, we said our goodbyes to our new friends. We had light breakfast first thanks to the Circle's complimentary (and unlimited) pandesal (buns) with peanut butter. Then we decided to do a mini photo-shoot on the hostel since the lighting was perfect, and we had the whole place to ourselves. 

It was our last day and it was still raining. But that didn't stop us from surfing. Ada, Cor, and I shared on our surfboard and paid for the half day rent: 500php. Again, heavy rain fell so the winds were angrier and hit us off our deck. We stayed at this small cafe and had 2 cups of coffee and 2 cups of hot chocolate until we saw our instructor from yesterday, Kuya Chris. 

Ada chilling while waiting for her turn
People watching
He taught us more techniques on surfing while watching Cor try her luck on the waves. It ended at 5pm so we tried out famous surfer, Luke Landrigan's, restaurant. 

Price was okay and they have group meals for 3/pax. We headed back to the hostel and began to pack our bags. Ada made new friends so we stayed for a while until 9pm. We bid farewell and hailed a bus to Cubao and slept for 5 1/2 hrs until we hit Manila. 

This impromptu trip was fun and memorable because of 3 things:

1. It was random and we didn't have enough money. But thanks to good research, we were able to try out cheap restaurants and the awesome Circle Hostel.

2. We learned how to surf. In spite of the storm, we were able to ride the waves. The stoke was priceless. (For beginners, I suggest you try learning the basics here in La Union first before Baler.)

and 3. We found new friends. Friends that we'd hang out with and share the same love we have for travel.

The next time I go back to La Union, i'll try their famous halo halo from San Fernando. I heard it's a must! :)

Summary of Expenses:
Bus (Partas) - 650 (one way) / 1300 (round trip)
(For inquiries, you can contact them at +63 (74) 2420464+63 (74)  2420923)
Food - P150.00 at Urbiztondo + P300.00 at Sebay + P210.00 for 3 bottles of San Mig Pale + P150.00 contribution for the drinking game + Tapsi for lunch at local carinderia + P200.00 at San Juan Surf Resort
Accommodation - P450.00 for the overnight bunk rental at the Circle
Surfing - 450.00 for board and instructor/hour + 200.00 board rental for day 2
Souvenir  - Every traveler has a preferred memento,
I got myself a keychain and a sticker of the hostel. :) - 100.00 at the San Juan Surf Resort and 50.00 at the Circle Hostel
Total = P3,700.00