STOKED ALONE: La Union 2016

Yes, I was in La Union and yes, I was alone.

Travelling is a secret escape route. Going out of my comfort zone ironically gives me the satisfaction that life still goes on. I was feeling low and I needed to get away from all the bad vibes I’ve been breathing.

It started with a joke. I have this habit of joking with my mom and the places I wanted to visit. I challenged her that if I give her a detailed itinerary, she should give me the permission to travel to La Union. Surprisingly, after a few hours of research and coffee, I found myself giving in to the idea of surfing and beach and successfully winning the dare.

La Union is known for its surf schools. Most of them are located at Barangay Urbiztondo, San Juan, the surfing capital of the North. All resorts offer the same prices. For surfing lessons, they offer 400 pesos per hour, inclusive of the board(200/hour) and an instructor(200/hour). You can just also rent a board without an instructor. Believe it or not, I rented a board first, played with it, and with beginner’s luck, I actually caught a wave in my first try. Afterwards, I paid for an instructor because of my lack of talent in catching waves. Haha.

On my first day, I left Pampanga late so I arrived at around 5PM in Urbiztondo. Unfortunately, the rooms for two in San Juan Surf Resort(A.K.A. surf camp) are fully booked and the only available rooms are out of my reach. I spent the next minutes looking for cheap hostels. My plan B was to check-in at The Circle Hostel but then I saw a tarpaulin on the other side of the road that screams “TRANSIENTS/ROOM FOR RENT.” So there, I got a room with a kitchen, sala, clean comfort room, and a standard sized bed with aircon for just 800 pesos. I immediately went to the beach after unpacking.

There were no particular entrance fees to the beach unlike most resorts in the Philippines. I felt free going in and out the beach through Sebay Surf Central, a resort next to the surf camp. They have a restobar that overlooks the view of the sea. Lots of people are surfing, most of them are natives. The waves only appear in the afternoon. I was just in time for the sunset. After a quick dip in the sea, I immediately tried their restobar. The food was great. Prices were reasonable. And when you order rice, they give you a heart-shaped one! The night was cold and the stars are really visible so I stayed late by the beach.

I woke up the next day to catch the sunrise, only to find out that it doesn’t rise on that side of La Union. I was supposed to go to Ma-cho temple and Tangadan Falls but fever caught up to me so I went back to my room to rest the day and waited for the sun to shine high enough so I could get my tan back(one of my goals.) I took a three-hour dip before I slept til lunch and decided to eat in San Fernando. The city is busy considering it’s Election Day. Most of the shops are closed. When I got back to San Juan, I figured I should try Coast Call, the restobar in San Juan Surf Resort. It actually offers a slightly higher service quality than the Sebay restobar and I like that it produces an aesthetic vibe. Supposedly, I’d check out its surf shop but it’s closed. 😦

After Coast Call, I rented a board for 30 minutes. I caught two waves by myself. So proud! But then, as I mentioned a while ago, I lack talent in catching waves so I had an instructor, Kuya J. After a few safety lessons about what to do when a whitewash happens, we finally went to the water. The waves are little but I managed not to fall off my board. I ended the day with a hot chocolate and left La Union. I road a Partas bus to Dau and got home by 2AM along with memories worth a lifetime. It doesn’t end here though. I will come back.

With love and for love, Yna.

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