Hello, everyone! I’ve been out and about for some good reasons. Work. Life. Birthday. and. Travel. Before my birthday month ended, I embarked into a once-in-a-lifetime adventure. A solo trip to India, my first out-of-the-country alone! And I would like to share with you my learnings and realizations via #IndianInsights series. I hope you’ll enjoy reading this, guys!
Whenever I mention my India trip, people will warn me about two things aside from rape: dirt and stink. The basis? Shared personal anecdotes and travel videos.
Dirt is fine. Manila isn’t as clean as Singapore. But stink is a different story. So I flew ready with Vicks inhaler and a little bottle of oil from my former bossy. Better be ready than sorry. 😁
The moment I got in the plane from Kuala Lumpur to Kolkata, I braced myself and started sniffing (which I’m so good at). They said the flight will be a nice introduction to India’s smell. Thankfully, there is none. Yet.
When my plane landed, when I came out of the airport, when I got in a taxi, when I entered the train which will take me from Kolkata to NJP, my sniffing was in full mode. My hand, ready to grab the oil anytime. To my surprise, a single drop wasn’t necessary.
Yes, Kolkata is not so clean, but it isn’t stinky as it is believed to be.
There is nothing wrong in coming ready. In believing stories. In researching about a new place. But I’ve learned an open mind is more than essential. You’ll never know how a country, a place, a human heart can surprise you.
Like how I thought I can only see a cherry blossom tree in Japan and in South Korea. Then I stumbled upon this lone Himalayan cherry blossom. (Some research says cherry blossoms are originally from the Himalayas. 😊)
My Ilocandia adventure was wrapped up last week. But because of a special request from my dearest Fun, here’s another Ilocos-related post.
This time, I am showing you the photos I captured inside Safari Gallery at Baluarte Zoo.
Honestly, this place crept me out.
I have necrophobia, extreme or irrational fear of death or dead bodies, and as I entered the gallery full of ‘stuffed’ dead animals, I almost run out.
The animals that you’ll see below have gone through taxidermy. (P.S. Sorry Fun, mummified isn’t the right term. :D)
FYI: Taxidermy (from the Greek for arrangement of skin) is the art of preparing, stuffing, and mounting the skins of animals (especiallyvertebrates) for display (e.g., as hunting trophies or museum display) or for other sources of study (like species identification) or simply the preservation of a beloved pet. Taxidermy can be done on all vertebrate species of animals, including mammals, birds,fish, reptiles, and amphibians.
The photos beside or in front of the stuffed animals showed their ‘killed’ version.
And for me… the gallery is more morbid and saddening than fascinating.
FYI:The Vigan empanada is much in keeping with the Vigan people’s love for vegetables in their cuisine. It is similar to a thin taco that is fried to a crisp, with vegetable and meat filling. Rice flour is used for making the crust or the shell. The galapong or rice flour dough is made a day before it is used. Atchuete or orange food color, salt and oil are mixed into the rice though. The dough mixture is then kneaded as thinly as possible on a banana leaf (wax paper is a good substitute). Vigan empanada’s vegetable filling is made up of green papaya that is grated, toge or mung bean sprouts, monggo or mung bean and shredded carrots. Its meat filing consist of whole egg and skinless Vigan longganisa.
After buying souvenirs and pasalubongs, we then proceed to a place to eat called…
The Hidden Garden
There are some beautiful flowers and plants but our main concern is really… to eat. 😀 Soooo…
(L) Bagnet – Bagnet, to put it simply, is crispy fried pork belly, a cross between Chicharon and Lechon Kawali, where the lean meat is crispy but not dry and the pork skin with all the pork fat is fried to a crisp. It is usually served with a dipping sauce of Fish Paste (Bagoong Isda) with chopped red or white onion, tomatoes and green onions.
(R) Tapa Tagalog – Tapa is dried or cured beef, mutton or venison, although other meat or even fishmay be used. Filipinos prepare tapa by using thin slices of meat and curing these with salt and spices as a preservation method.
Tapa is often cooked fried or grilled. When served with fried rice and fried egg, it is known as tapsilog (a portmanteau of the Filipino words tapa, sinangag and itlog[egg]). It sometimes comes with atchara (pickled papaya strips) or sliced tomatoes as side dish. Vinegar or ketchup is usually used as a condiment.
After the late lunch, we then proceed to our penultimate stop…
FYI: The Baluarte or fortress is a must-see attraction for first time visitors, and even for those who have visited Vigan before. It has a mini zoo with animals from other countries and others endemic to the Philippines. It is a private collection and is therefore continuously being improved.
There are indeed animals that we saw for the first time. 🙂 There is also a Safari Gallery with a lot of mummified animals inside. (Which for me is really creepy!)
After Baluarte, we also went to…
FYI: Pagburnayan Jar Making is one of the famous and must see attraction in Ilocos Sur. It is located in Brgy. Pagburnayan Vigan. Pagburnayan is a place where they used the old and authentic methods in pottery. The root word “burnay” is an earthenware jar crafted by potter’s hands with the aid of a potter’s wheel. It uses fine sand (anay) as a tempering material and fired at a high temperature in a huge brick-and-clay ground kiln that make it is harder and more durable than other terra cotta. The local bagoong(fish sauce), sugarcane vinegar, and basi wine would not taste as good as if not fermented in burnay jars.
We’re not able to take photos as we are actually rushing to go home already. (The travel is roughly 12 hours. :D)
Let me take you to a joyride. Let’s discover the beauty of Ilocos Norte!
The first three parts of this journey are posted here, here and here! 😀
Hop on and let’s continue the ride! 😀
The beginning of the second day of our three-day trip in Ilocandia was marked by this awesome Laoag sign!
FYI: Laoag, officially the City of Laoag (Ilocano: Ciudad ti Laoag; Filipino: Lungsod ng Laoag), is a third-class city and capital of the province of Ilocos Norte in thePhilippines. The northernmost city in the nation, it is the province’s political, commercial, and industrial hub and the location of the Ilocos region’s onlycommercial airport.
And our first stop is…
The Bell Tower
FYI:Sinking Bell Tower, which is part of Laoag Cathedral, canonically known as Saint William Cathedral, sinks into the ground at a rate of an inch a year. It has an Earthquake Baroque style. The tower, built presumably after the 1707 earthquake, has a foundation of 90 metres (300 ft). It is made of locally manufactured bricks joined by molasses and juice of sablot leaves mixed with lime and sand, and reinforced with four massive columns on each corner and a winding stairway leading to the belfry. It used to have a big clock on the tower’s western face.
It has started to rain a bit and we just stayed there for a couple of minutes.
Because we arrived at almost lunch time… our next stop is
The Ylocano Resto
FYI: Saramsam is an Iluko word, which means informal and constant dining, with connotations of a fun atmosphere of friends getting ogether to eat. The Restaurant is furnished with an eclectic mix of furniture and decor, which complement each other to exude a bohemian atmosphere.
I would say that the restaurant interiors is surely captivating. It’s eccentric and the ambiance is truly rustic.
Our orders are…
(L) Bagnet, deep fried pork’s meat, the Ilocano version of Lechon Kawali, also known as Ilocano Chicharon Baboy.
(Top Right) Poqui Poqui , an Ilocano dish made of eggplants, tomatoes, onions, and eggs.
(Middle Right) Dinardaraan is the Ilocano term for dinuguan or blood stew. Dinardaraan which refers to the blood stew of the Ilocanos is very much different from the blood stew, dinuguan, of the Tagalogs. Dinardaraan is dry and sometimes oily as compared to the soupy dinuguan.
Bottom Right Ginisang Monggo with Tinapa, or mung-bean soup with smoked fish is a known dish for the poor but hey! it’s flavorful!
Let me take you to a joyride. Let’s discover the beauty of Ilocos Norte!
Last week, I posted Part 1 of Ilocos Norte escapade! The beginning of the more-than-one-year-in-planning adventure was also posted already!
So hop on and let’s continue the ride! 😀
After almost 12 hours of road trip! We finally arrived to Pagudpud! 😀
FYI: Pagudpud is a fourth class municipality and a coastal resort town of Ilocos Norteprovince, in the northern Ilocos Region of the Philippines. According to the 2010 census, Pagudpud has a population of 21,877 people. It is the northernmost settlement on Luzon Island and a popular tourist destination because of its resorts and beaches.
And our first stop is…
It was raining hard when we arrived in Kabigan Falls but we brave the rain and the one-hour trek to see the majestic Kabigan Falls!
FYI: Kabigan Falls in Barangay Baloi, Pagudpud is a 120-feet high falls with a base of natural cool pool. Tucked inside a forest of rich greens, the more-than-a-kilometre trek is surely an adventure worth trying.
Because it was raining, we rented a 20-peso-worth of raincoat!
The trek was muddy, tiring and a bit slippery, but the view is indeed breathtaking!
And then… we reached the falls! 😀
After we got back to our van, we had a yummy lunch but we fail to take photos! (Maybe the trek really made us hungry! :D)
And then… while the rain is getting really really hard, we take a quick peak to the famous…
The bridge is elevated 31 meters over sea level. It is a concrete coastal bridge 1.3 km long and connects the Maharlika Highway from Laoag, Ilocos Norte to the Cagayan Valley Region. It rises along the town’s coastal mountains, which is the starting point of the Cordillera Mountain Range that snakes through Northern Luzon. It is the 4th longest bridge in the Philippines.
The viaduct is truly a beauty to behold. But we’re not able to cherish it ’cause the rains really hard. 😦
Travelling is like a far-flung mystical village for me, when I was young. It seems true, but it seems imaginary, too. – Rosemawrites, Suitcase
2015 ended with a bang last year. Aside from the great food and good times brought by the holiday break, my vacation started early as I embarked in a journey that was once a dream, and now a reality.
Together with my dear friends, I had three unforgettable days discovering the beauty of my own country, proudly Philippines!
To keep a record of my memories and to show you guys the beauty of the Philippines, I will be publishing a series of posts about this travel! 😀
And this is the beginning! Please join me! 🐱
December 14, 2015 Night
Before 9 PM, our five-member gang started waiting for our rocket to come. (It is not a rocket, just a van! :D) Our driver was late, yeah, because of the very usual Manila traffic.
No bad vibes were welcomed because we are all excited to start the trip that we planned and save for for more than a year! (Yes, more than a year! :D)
We prayed as we jump in our hired van for the first time! Off we go before clock struck 10!
It took us roughly 11 hours to reach our destination! It’s because we travelled by land. 🙂
FYI: We are headed to Ilocandia. Ilocandia is the term given to the traditional homeland of the Ilocano people. Today, the first three regions of the Philippines (Region 1 or Ilocos Region, Region 2 or Cagayan Valley and Region 3 or Central Luzon) comprise the present-day Ilocandia.
December 15, 2015 Day 1
Our morning begun with a stop over in the iconic ark welcoming us to Ilocos Norte, the northest part of Ilocandia!
A group picture is a must!
After we take photos, we head to a local food corner to eat our first breakfast in Ilocandia!
Ilocos is famous for their longganisa! So I ordered one! 😀
FYI: Longganisa is the Filipino version of Longaniza, a Spanish sausage similar to a chorizo and also closely associated with the Portuguese linguiça. Ilocos longganisa is known for its garlicky flavor! 😉
After I took my first bite, I realized, this is indeed the beginning of Ilocandia 2015!
The awesome trip, Christmas parties and the holiday break put my writer-self into sleep! 😀
Because I have been absent for quite a while, I know I have to explain. (facepalm) I have no internet connection at home, that is why I blog at my office. I live in a province, not so far-flung but still far from the city.
Nonetheless, today, I am able to sneak sometime in an internet shop! (HAHA) So here’s a quick update for my 50 Days of Gratefulness!
Day 13 – I am grateful for a safe trip blessed by God’s mighty hands.
Day 14 – I am grateful that I experienced to get my fingernails and toenails done! (Yes, for the first time in 23 years!)
Day 15 – I am grateful for the job that God has blessed me this year. My decision was definitely right.
Day 16 – I am grateful for my two tiny feet, that allows me to literally move forward and climb up and up and up!
Day 17 – I am grateful for my dearest‘s grand gestures during our anniversary. (YES, cheesy at its best!)
Day 18 – I am grateful for all the coffee that I consumed this year! Cheers to more coffee next year! 😀
Day 19 – I am more than grateful to still have my Tatay and Nanay with me. Their lives are surely my biggest miracle.
Day 20 – I am grateful for the thrilling sand dune experience that I had during our trip! It was surely a blast!
Day 21 – I am grateful for Mitch Albom’s sharing of my posts on is own Facebook. (Ultimate fangirling moment, those are!)
Day 22 – I am grateful to witness a proposal, for the first time! It’s really tear jerking and sweet! (That’s my bestfriend and her man!)
Day 23 – I am grateful for the two strikes that I, miraculously did, when our office joined a bowling tourney!
Day 24 – Today, I am just grateful to blog again! I missed everyone! 😀
P.S. I will catch up on reading your posts, soon! ❤