Running Away from the City Life-- My Ilocos Birthday Getaway

March of last year when I and my friend Lala decided to celebrate my birthday away from home. Being the adventurous “soul sisters” that we are, and because I was still dwelling on my heartache (again! ugh!) we travel up north to Ilocos Sur for my “Birthday Getaway”. It’s actually my second time to be in Ilocos. My first being last 2008 with my sister in tow and yes, my good friend Lala. Still, I am captivated by the beauty of this province.It’s a good thing to travel with only one buddy with you especially when you both wanted to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city life. You get to bond with each other, de-stress, relax and reflect on what is happening with each other’s life.

Anyhow, let me share with you the places I’ve been to in Ilocos Sur...
Ursa Major resort
Ursa Major's pool

enjoying the clear water while basking under the sun

Our first stop was of course, the beach. We enjoyed walking on the seaside (I forgot the name of the barrio, pardon me) and take pictures—lots and lots of ‘em! From there, we went to a resort named Ursa Major in Barrio Apatot, a 1 and a half kilometre ride from the main road of San Esteban. You only have to pay Php 100.00 as entrance fee.  We basked under the warm rays of the sun and enjoyed the clear water as we swim.
Adorable ostrich with her winning smile =)
Bengal Tiger on my right
What's a dinosaur doing here?!

Our 2nd stop was Chavit Singson’s Baluarte Zoo, a 10 minute ride away from Vigan City. It is a wildlife sanctuary with a view of scenic boulders, rolling terrains and grassy hills. We enjoyed riding the tiburin, a small horse-drawn carriage, we took photos of the different species of birds and butterflies in the butterfly garden, watched the camels, group of deers and goats, interact with a civet cat, posed with the friendly ostrich and the not-so-friendly Bengal tigers. I remember Lala was taking a picture of me beside a caged Bengal tiger when suddenly the tiger jumped and was about to pounce at me. If it were not for the cage, I would be dead meat! Hahaha! Next time, be sure to remove the flash of your camera before taking pictures.
Heritage Village at night... lovely

Our 3rd stop was the Heritage Village in Vigan. There are horse-drawn Calesa you can ride while having a tour around the Heritage Village and the nearby landmarks or you could just walk around. The Heritage Village is such a sight especially during the evening. The glow of the street light lining up Calle Crisologo (Cobblestone Street lined with museums, souvenir shops, inns and Spanish-era houses) gave it a sepia effect.
Ar-arosip- fresh seaweed it is!
Posing in front of Uno Grille

For my birthday treat, we dine at Uno Grille. It is one of the three restaurants in Grandpa’s Inn—a hotel situated at Bonifacio Street Corner Quirino Blvd near the Heriatge strip. The other two was Kusina Felicitas and Uno Cafe. We dine on authentic Ilocano dishes including Ar-arosip- grape seaweed made into a salad, Sinanglao- Vigan version of beef sinigang and Wareck wareck- grilled pork head with liver , mixed with onion and vinegar.

It was really a Birthday getaway I will never forget. And I have to thank Lala and her family in Ilocos for that- the Manuels and Arreolas.
me and my "soul sister" Laarni Joy Arreola

And of course, we ended our adventure with another skinny-dipping on the beach before heading back home.  =)

Me, Lala and my sister Tatiana during the summer of 2008


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