Believe it or not, this is my second time in La Union. The first was quite horrible because there was a typhoon when we got there, Bernice was sick and during the end of the trip, I was feeling under the weather as well. To add to that, we had a flat tire when we reached the highway and had to change tires.
This time, I went with my high school batch mates: Jillian, Erika, Rose, JP, Evan, Cedrick and Mark. It was a pretty random crowd because we didn’t belong in the same clique when we were in high school but it was great to see some of them again after a long time.
We started our day by meeting up at Jillian’s house which is very near mine. We left Manila at around 5:30am and went on the road trip to La Union. The highways were pretty smooth. We encountered a bit of traffic because of an accident but after that, we were able to pick up speed. Our speed started to decrease when we reached the town on the way to La Union. There were a lot of tricycles, pedestrians and road works on our way.
It was half past 12:00nn when we arrived at Halo-Halo De Iloko, one of the most famous restaurants in La Union. The street was pretty narrow but there were “kuyas” who helped us secure a parking slot. We had to line up to get a table since the place was jam-packed. It was scourging hot in the middle of the day but we had to wait outside since the waiting area inside was also full.
Let me talk about some of the food that I enjoyed.
If you are a fan of “sinigang”, you will definitely like their “Sinalamagian Nga Buknok” which is their tamarind soup. We ordered the one with chicken and it was great! The sour taste of the soup was perfect for our hungry appetites. It had an interesting kick to its taste which I really loved. I guess it was the taste of the coconut. The soup was placed inside the coconut shell and I was surprised that there were actual coconut strips inside it which added sweetness to the soup.
For dessert, we ordered their bestsellers which are the “Buko Halo Halo”, “Ginettaan Nga Halo Halo” and the “Deep Fried Halo Halo”.
The Buko Halo Halo was basically just halo halo placed inside the coconut shell. I thought they use the shell as a bowl but I was able to carve coconut from the walls inside the shell. There is something really special about their halo halo, it was quite sweet but it was very different from the usual halo halo that I eat in Manila.
The Ginettaan Nga Halo Halo is halo halo mixed in oatmeal. The thought of it was weird but it worked, it really did. It doesn’t show in the photo but when mixed, the whole thing turns ube colored.
Lastly, the Deep Fried Halo Halo is halo halo ingredients that are wrapped inside a lumpia wrapper and topped with ice cream. It was mostly filled with ube so imagine how sweet that was.
After lunch, we checked in our hotel and played card games while some of us took a nap. At around 4:30pm, we changed into our swimwear and was ready to surf. However, when we got to the beach, all the instructors were occupied and we only had a short time before it got dark. In La Union, they don’t allow surfing or even swimming when the sun sets for safety purposes. We walked by the seashore towards the sunset and took photos. The view was beautiful. I wasn’t quite sure where we were exactly because we walked a good 1km to the place from our original spot but the view was worth the walk.
It was almost dark when we finished taking the photos. After picture taking, we were quite excited to play by the waves. We put down our stuff and started running towards the sea. I haven’t even reached the water when the coast guard started blowing his whistle to get people out of the water. It was hilarious. You should have seen our faces. It was like we got ripped off. The others just soaked themselves and the rest of us had to accept the inevitable fact that we wouldn’t be able to swim that day. Good thing our hotel had a small pool, we were able to soak in some La Union chlorine.
The next day, it was surf day! Honestly, I wasn’t quite excited about this because I didn’t know how to swim or even float on water and I’d have to battle with the waves while balancing myself on the surf board at the same time. Our surf location was just outside of Flotsam & Jetsam. There was a small hut there where the instructors stayed in and we just had to approach one of them to tell them that we wanted to surf. Their rate for an hour of surfing lessons complete with the board rental and surf instructor was at PHP 400 which wasn’t so bad. They had small lockers in their hut where they allowed us to store our valuables in.
The only thing we weren’t able to store were our slippers. The kuya told us to put them together as there were a lot of slipper thieves around the place. True enough, Evan’s slippers got stolen. To people who are planning to go surfing in La Union, please make sure to put your slippers in a secure location. Bury them in sand if you must, as long as you remember where you buried them.
Since all of us were first timers, they briefed us about the dos and don’ts of surfing which came helpful later on. The instructor told us that when we get separated from our boards, we shouldn’t grab the board itself and merely pull it closer using the rope attached to it. True enough, this happened to me loads of times. Good thing I remembered what the instructor said. If I had grabbed the board it would have bruised me or even worse. The waves were strong. It helped having instructors with us 1:1. They helped us push through the waves and get ready to ride the waves. It was difficult for me since fear took up most of my thoughts. I kept thinking that I didn’t want to fall and the opposite happened to me. I was able to stand probably twice or thrice but that was it. How I envied my batch mates who were enjoying themselves so. This was when I realized that surfing wasn’t for me if I am unable to conquer my fear of the water. I kept thinking that I must conquer this fear and when it was almost time, I started getting the hang of it but my balance was the next problem. It was hard for me to stay on the board for more than 5 seconds. I was lucky that my instructor was very patient with me. He celebrated with me during the times that I was able to stand up and he continued to push me during the times that I fell over.
I didn’t bring my GoPro while surfing since I didn’t have the surfboard mount, unfortunately. The only photos we had were before and after photos.
Suggestion for first timers like me: It’s better to surf in the morning since there are only a few people around and the waves are not as strong as when you surf in the afternoon.
We weren’t able to hike to the waterfalls since it rained in the morning and the road going there was steep. Our original plan was to go directly to the waterfalls after surfing. We heard that we could ride “habal-habal” instead of hiking so save time. But since it rained, they told us not to go for safety purposes.
Before driving back, we visited El Union Coffee which is the famous coffee go-to in La Union. The problem with their venue was that there were only limited number of seats and tables. If you happen to go during the peak hours, you would have to wait in line just to get a seat. It’s worth a try though. Their grilled cheese is superb! The smores are sweet but perfect when you pair them with coffee.
Well, that about sums up our La Union trip this 2017. It was short but I had a lot of fun. I guess it’s true when they say that it’s better the second time around.