Bolinao & Hundred Islands, Pangasinan Road Trip
That time we went to Bolinao, Pangasinan was really a disgrace in the road trip society of “anything goes”.
I had a cold, so I welcomed the first northern breeze in a hoodie.. with a major sneeze! How’s that for spreading the germs to the population of 75k?
For the ignorant (like me, pre-Bolinao trip), Bolinao is at the tip of the Pangasinan peninsula, so I could proudly claim that I have reached the northernmost point of the country, west-side.
It does have a lighthouse to support that bold claim. And beside the lighthouse is a dilapidated old bunk/house which alternates as a Mexican-horror movie prop, which brings the adequate spookiness when you have the place to yourself. Yes, we did at 6am. How safe.
Since “anything goes” was the Bolinao mantra, we did NOT book any room or hotel in advance.
I had with me an outdated blog post of someone who listed room bookings with pre-pre-pre inflation rates, so I was expecting rooms to be 300% cheaper than the actual off-peak rates. Horrible. Good thing we had cash (because there is no ATM around).
We stayed at Punta Riviera Resort because it was the only decent hotel that was available and appeared in view right when I needed to use the bathroom badly.
As previously hinted, the hotel was not cheap by my miserly standards. And so to make up for my sudden poverty, we made sure we maximized the free activities we paid for!
We played billiards and table tennis. We did not swim at the pool (though it was awesome) because it was chilly all throughout and my cold just kept on getting in the way.
Best part was the kayaking in the nearby river. There was some Brazilian feel to it, complete with bugs and getting tangled with the nearby plants. There was no crocodile sighting though, just calm birds, so we made it out of the jungle alive and with just wet feet!
Walking along the shore was an imperative activity, as we were scouting for possible hiding places in case of a zombie apocalypse. Since most hotel clients were foreigners, we believe that our speed and familiarity with the terrain would be advantageous to our survival.
We did not find anything fit, just mounds of sand and trees, so just in case, we could always run to the car and flee to Manila.
Given that my virus was spreading, laziness was the impending consequence, to explain the lack of sights and attractions visited.
Here is the best effort summary, and a shout out to the floating restaurant (Forgot the name but there’s only 1 anyway) as its grilled Sungayan fish warranted a second visit.
The Enchanted Cave was not the most enchanted as surrounding rocks have been fashioned and carved. The cave itself could house a barkada so selfies are sure to contain photobombers (living and not).
The public Patar Beach was just scenic, but there were lots of spectators. Still, it was a gorgeous photo op place, and if you don’t mind the crowd, this would be an excellent beach spot.
I mind the crowd though, so in order to create more buzz, I walked through the sand in my Merrells (hiking shoes hahaha) The sand was really hot, so yes they were perfect for making unique sand trails!
After Bolinao, virus free or not, a planned destination was HUNDRED ISLANDS!
Despite its popularity amongst my elementary classmates and how my Sibika teachers always had something cool to say about it, this was my first time to HUNDRED ISLANDS, so I did not expect to see so many boats.
Seriously, there were so many boats, it suddenly dawned to me in between taking meds, that hundred islands = necessary island hopping = save your energy. Typing that was tiring, but the real adventure was 100x more tiring but 200% fun.
Being a popular tourist destination, there isn’t anything new I can say to old-timers.
I’m pretty sure everyone has seen the view atop Marcos Island, has tried the various jumping points, danced naked somewhere and littered in every island.
Oh my goodness, there is even this Children’s Island that is literally creeping with kids. I had to take a boat to use the bathroom there, and the kids spilled like the crevices and niches, and I had to bully them since I needed my privacy.
The highlight of Hundred Islands for me was the KAYAKING, once again.
It was the only time we got to sail the ocean on our own (away from the boatmen), randomly navigate across islands and attempt to row to China. We failed in the last item and only reached about 3 islands. Maybe next time we can target 5 islands!
Despite the short trip, I have some key takeaways. I do not care if they are cliche or are common sensical, since I need to end this blog post in a semi inspirational way.
By the way, my cold had cleared by the time of the Hundred Islands kayak but it could be the sun
exposure blasted all these viruses to bits which is why my tan lasted for 4 months… and counting!
Back to the key takeaways; let’s go with the perfect square, 4:
1. It doesn’t matter how heavy your bags get, bring lots of snacks and food! I swear, Chicken Joy, cheese popcorn and Tortillos made my trip divine. Imagine the island stores selling Skyflakes at P30 and buko juice at P100. Nasty.
2. It doesn’t matter if you overuse your SPF. Underusing it may be your worst decision. I properly used my SPF65 and still became a darkling for months… what more if I ditched the SPF?! I would be hosting a new hue forever!
3. You should really try kayaking. It’s one of the few activities where you are free of the boatmen, kids, zombies and Instagramming idiots. Pure freedom!
4. One trip is never enough. They didn’t call it Hundred Islands for nothing!