El Nido: Hadefe Cottages and other Budget Accommodations

Hadefe Cottages

View from Hadefe Cottages

I felt the driver crank up the speed as he leaned forward the tricycle looking at him from the back seat. It’s not that the three of us were heavy along with our baggage coming from Lio Airport, it’s just that the road going to El Nido town slopes prominently high. Once past that it was a breezy 10-15minutes ride into town. The group was split into half, Melo and I would be staying in Hadefe Cottages in Caalan Beach.

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Transit: Flying from Manila to El Nido Palawan via Seair

Seair 19-seater Let-410

Seair 19-seater LET-410

El Nido Palawan seems so far away. An elusive paradise tucked at the north western side of Palawan. It’s one of my local dream destinations so when I was given the chance to go there I didn’t pass the opportunity. South East Asian Airlines (Seair) is one of the two airlines (the other being Island Transvoyager Inc’s (ITI) using their 19-seater Dornier 228) who operate the Manila to El Nido route. Last week 24th of February, we flew Seair’s 19-seater LET-410 plane en route to El Nido Palawan.

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Lakbay Norte: Paoay Lake, La Union Surf and Baguio Dinner

Lakbay Norte Paoay Lake

The tranquil Paoay Lake

It’s time to slow down after an adrenaline filled morning with the 4X4 thrill ride and sandboarding at Paoay Sand Dunes. As we head back, we stopped by the glimmering Paoay Lake. Again it’s a place I’ve been to several times but it must be the time and the lighting because I have never seen the lake as tranquil as this.

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Lakbay Norte: Paoay Sand Dunes 4X4 and Sandboarding Adventure

Lakbay Norte 4x4

4×4 at Paoay Sand Dunes Ilocos Norte

I try to hold on tight to the loop bars at the back of 4×4 jeep we were on but the large un-even size of the bars which are both larger than my grip were already a challenge. Besides, there was another person in front of me hugging the bar tight while screaming her head off. I let-off a scream as well as soon as I saw our way down the high ridge. Then it’s a strategic balance of rooting my legs inside the jeep to keep me from flying out as our jeep descends. The brief landing didn’t give us enough time to breath as our jeep make its way up the ridge and there are more ahead. Of the many times I’ve been to Paoay Sand Dunes in Ilocos Norte, it has never been this fun until now.

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Lakbay Norte: Ilocos Norte Blue Lagoon to Paoay Sand Dunes

Blue Lagoon Sweeper

Maira-ira or Blue Lagoon in Ilocos Norte

From our last church stop in Cagayan Valley, it was a smooth ride going along the coastline heading to Ilocos Norte. It did help that we had a police escort vehicle on our way there but even with that we were behind schedule already. There were unexpected long stops and even the pull of local food was hard to resist further delaying us. Its Filipino hospitality at its best, it’s just hard to leave.

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Ifugao: Banaue, a rustic transit town

Banaue Window View

Window view from Stairway Lodge

It was cold even with the windows closed. I woke up with the cool morning air at one of the three bedroom lodge at Stairway Lodge. It was a spartan room with en suite bathroom. Much of the accommodations here in Banaue Town proper are like this – basic, functional and homey. I have never tried staying in town before as I have always used Banaue Town as a gateway to either Sagada or Batad. But my last visit gave me a chance to get to know this little town more.

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North Luzon: 7 days up North at Lakbay Norte Media Tour

Lakbay Norte Morning at Paoay Sand Dunes

Lakbay Norte group Morning at the Sand Dunes

Pardon the lack of updates for the past few days as I was too busy to do advance post. I just got home from sweep tour of 4 regions, 8 key province stops and 1798Km road trip up North Luzon Philippines with 26 travel-hungry people aboard a Victory Liner Bus. It was packed, tiring but also fun. It was the Lakbay Norte NPVB (North Luzon Visitors Bureau) Media Tour with the aim to rediscover the north. I’ve always wanted to do this up-north horseshoe route and now here it is. Here’s a quick look of our 7-day sojourn up-north from January 24-31, 2010.

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