NLEX Lakbay Norte 5: Day 2
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The first thing on the itinerary on our 2nd day was to head up the Tangadan Falls in San Gabriel. It is known to be a hidden gem among the locals but they were gracious enough to share it with its curious visitors.
We rode to the town municipal hall for a brief orientation by the local guide who was going to lead us to the waterfalls. Our squad of 35 people were then split into 2 groups so we can fit into the jeepney which was going to take us to the drop off point where our trekking adventure truly began.
Some of the girls in our team were asking if we could go top loading on our way up there. Now while I may be adventurous in terms of trying out new things, placing myself on top of a jeep while riding up the mountain was, by no means, part of my bucket list. Though the spirit of carpe diem and making the most out of my youth, I chucked down my fear and just went with it. I got up the ladder and made my way to the roof of the jeep with my camera equipment in tow, figuring out how to strategically take pictures while holding on for my dear life once our ride finally hit some bumpy rode during its ascent.
At first, I seriously thought I was going to fall off the vehicle. But watching the bunch in front of me having the time of their lives, filming with their go pros and all, kind of put me at ease as I held on to the huge tire they were seated on. When I finally learned how to let loose, we were already on top and the view was nothing short of breathtaking!
We reached the drop off point in what felt like 40 minutes. I let out a huge sigh of relief, unaware of the trail along the rainforest that lies ahead. We were told to anticipate a 45-minutes to an hour’s trek towards the waterfalls and 1.5 hours heading back to the drop off point. However, it took us more or less 30-45 minutes each for both. I guess they were anticipating a lot of breaks along the way, but not for this bunch of adrenaline junkies that I was with!
We passed through some slopes and huge bushes, and some vast green rice fields. The trail was generally ok although there were parts that were steep and would require more tact than usual. I caught myself having to stop and catch my breath quite a few times before moving forward. At some point, I had to resort to rolling myself down the slopes just because I wasn’t really wearing a proper pair of hiking shoes like the others did. Some of the people in our team were just in their rubber sandals or slippers and they seemed to have fared just fine. I would highly recommend that you get some hiking shoes, though, to prepare yourself fully. During the wet season, this trail could get really muddy, not to mention slippery, so hitting this place during the summer would be ideal.
After what felt like an hour, we were finally rewarded with the beautiful view of our destination – a 40-feet cascading waterfalls! You could hear the splashing of water even before actually seeing it, which made drawing closer to it all the more exciting!
It was definitely photo ops time before actually taking a dip in the cold waters of Tangadan falls. We must’ve spent 2 hours there of fully taking in the beauty and serenity of the place, coupled with some fun and laughter. As if that weren’t enough, our team mounted on 2 huge bamboo rafts that were combined to accommodate our group to the waterfalls for a quick massage therapy. Needless to say, the water pressure was too strong for one to be staying under there for more than 2 minutes but it was a good experience!
Some of us, the more adventurous among us, I suppose, took the chance to actually go cliff jumping, which was possible here. Now this is something I should come back for next time!
After that, it was time to dry up and take the same route back to our drop off point for another round of the bumpy jeep ride. This time around, most of us took the seats inside the jeep!
Came lunch time, we sped off to a restaurant in Bacnotan with an interesting concept. Pronounced as the Tagalog word for hut, “kubo”, Cube-O-Grill serve traditional Ilocano dishes with some Asian & Western fusion offerings as well.
I love the cozy interiors of the place. Some of the dishes that stood out from their menu were their award-winning pinakbet, their chicken binagcol. Another dish I enjoyed immensely was there Cube-O-Salo-Salo, a mixed platter of different fried fish strips, dinakdakan (a special dish in that the ears are cut in smaller chunks ala liempo style to reduce the fatty serving).
After a very filling session over at lunch, the organizers were able to squeeze in a quick visit for us to the Bee Farm. We were taken to see the different frames where they house the honeybees. Unlike the other bee farms that I’ve visited, here we were given an in-depth lesson of the social hierarchy in the bee kingdom. We also had the chance to get up-close and personal with the “Queen Bee”, who is basically the one that gets the privilege of a “good life”.
In your interest, here are some interesting trivia in case you didn’t’ already know: The only type of bees that actually produce honey are called the honeybees. Also notably present is their social hierarchy. Did you know that in each hive, there should only be 1 queen while the rest are worker bees who will remain to be workers their entire life? If a queen finds another queen in the same kingdom, the natural tendency would be the same for us humans, which is to out power and out-throw each other until one survivor remains. So much similarity with us humans, don’t you think?
If you get the chance, do taste the honey in its raw form by punching holes out of the hive frames. From there you could already tell how honey taste like in a jar after being processed.
It was a productively sweet day for us but it was far from over after that as we headed back to Kahuna resort for a quick surfing lesson facilitated by the San Juan Surf School. I had stood on waves quite a few times before but I still needed to work on being able to catch my own waves. Since the waves were less strong this time, I took the chance to work on that, along with everyone else until the sunset caught up with us.
When evening came, we made our way to check into our next resort, La Roca Villa . It is only 10 minutes away from our previous resort. The place had this beautiful garden theme set along the beach. However, we got there at nighttime and we only had less than an hour to wash up and get right back out again for the evening socials!
After a long exhausting day, the fun continued as we were brought to Mommy Lu’s for dinner. They have been in the business for 15 years and they serve a fusion of Chinese and Spanish food. The owners gave us a warm welcome and the dining time was filled with so many stories to be exchanged.
I may have been to La Union before but I never really had a chance to check out its night life so I was thrilled to go on the bar crawl planned out for us after that. We hit Mad Monkeys and Surf Shack. For the latter, I highly recommend their Mommy Lu’s Gourmet Tuyo, which is a combination of salty tuyo, mozzarella cheese and honey. Munching on this took us right up to heaven! We also dropped by to check out some restaurants in the Planet G complex. The fun night came full circle when the clubbing began in the Clique Club. After that, some of my crew and I had to call it a night while the rest went on to the after party in the room at La Roca Villa!