It's so nice to be here again. The past few weeks we have nothing but rain. Up until this moment, we only get a few hours in a day where the sun would grace us with its presence but the rain is persistent. When the weather this weekend was great enough, we decided to go to the lowlands. Up here in the mountains, fog and rain is depressing especially when they drag on for weeks and weeks.
This is the reason why we spent our weekend down by the beach.
We planned to visit another place where it promises a beautiful waterfalls. Sometimes when we travel we play by our mood and at the same time what opportunity brings. We have to take into consideration the place and the travel like the schedule of bus. The place where the waterfalls is at least six hours from Baguio City. It would be late when we arrived where the waterfall is and we are not familiar with the place. We then decided to go San Juan and stayed at Villas Buenavistas again.
(Check out related article ULOG #28: Chasing Summer this Rainy Season)
This is the pool near the restaurant and where day swimmers can swim. There are two pools in the compound. This is where we swam during our first visit here and it is where we swam again when @bloghound and Yani came to see us the second time around.
I just love how the sun turns everything to gold. Villas Buenavistas is located in San Juan, La Union and it is two hours from Baguio City. We were so happy to feel the heat and see everything dry that we did not mind how hot it was.
This is the second pool which is beside the room we checked in. No one was checked in near the rooms where we were so we had this pool to ourselves. We wanted to swim in the sea but decided against it because the waves are strong and it was a steep drop in most parts so we just enjoyed the view.
We then called for @bloghound and Yani to join us for a swim. After tiring ourselves, we then had our dinner at Amare where Yani had fun helping make pizza. She was hesitant at first and needed a lot of coaxing before she finally gave in. In the middle of it she finally enjoyed it and finished the task. Good job, Yani!
We can also watch the crew flip, twirl and spin the dough. Those who want to help in making the pizza can do those things too if they can.
Amare La Cucina is one ride away from Villas Buenavistas. It is at La Roca Villa Resort Hotel. It is a nice place to enjoy their great tasting pizzas fresh from the brick oven. Freshly baked pizza is life!
While waiting for the pizza, I took some photos of the resort. This place had its share of great and stunning sunsets. We were not lucky that time to experience such.
I love the ambiance and how it was situated. On a good weather, you can enjoy the food and watch the sunset. It is also noticeable how they used lots of shells to decorate and accentuate the hotel's reception area.
Our mood the next day brought us to Vigan, Ilocos Sur.
Vigan is about four hours from San Juan. There are lots of buses going to Ilocos that passes by San Juan. Take buses that are bound for Vigan or Laoag or Candon. Do not take buses bound for Abra. San Juan to Vigan is around USD4.00.
Vigan, Ilocos Sur is at least four hours from San Juan, La Union (six hours from Baguio City). I have not been to this place in a long time. The first time I visited this, we also took a horse-drawn carriage we call kalesa. You can hire the kalesa and it will take you to places of attraction within the plaza and near the plaza.
We took the kalesa tour for PHP150.00 (around USD3.00) for two people and that is for one hour. These carriages are parked near Calle Crisologo. Ready your nose to be attacked by the smell of these horses though. These may look rickety any fall apart but surprisingly they are sturdy enough to carry us around town.
Here in this photo you can see different modes of transportation: kalesa, motorcycle, tricycle, etc.
For the first tour, we asked our driver to take us to Bantay Bell Tower. This is just outside of the Vigan center. This was built in 1591 and served as a watchtower and then converted into a bell tower in 1857.
This is our kalesa en route going to Bantay, exiting the town center of Vigan. Despite the slow pace of the carriage, it was a pleasant experience because it was breezy and the wind was cool. Such a desirable welcome. It was a respite from the heat.
"Bantay" means to keep watch over or to guard. That is how the tower got its name and it is also where the name of the town came from. The tower is used to watch for pirates raiding the town during the Spanish era. This is situated on top of a hill.
It is free to go to the bell tower. You just have to register at the entrance and drop any amount at the box by the registration booth for the maintenance of the place.
You can go up the bell tower and see bell still in the tower. You can also get a panoramic glimpse of Vigan and Bantay. You have to watch your step and your head when going up the tower though. The way going up is narrow and the steps are more narrower going up where the bells are. The steps to where the bells are located are made of wood.
Souvenir shops are found beside the entrance going to the bell tower. You can find here local products aside from the usual stuff like t-shirts, keychains, etc.
The church beside the bell tower is called Santuario de Nuestra Señora de Caridad, Saint Augustine Parish Church, named after the saint of the Augustinian Friars or just Bantay Church. A statue of Apo Caridad stands in front of the church and the belfry/watchtower stands at the background in one of the photos below.
The story goes that an image of Our Lady of Charity was found by fishermen floating on Bantaoay River. The image is placed in a wooden box and no one can take it except people from Bantay. The church of San Augustine became the shrine of Our Lady of Charity on January 12, 1956.
This church is the one of the oldest churches here in the Ilocos Sur. The church was damaged during the second World War. This was also the site of uprisings against the Spanish particularly led by Diego Silang in 1763. Restoration of the facade took place in 1950 mixing neo-Gothic design and pseudo-Romanesque design.
I was not able to take photos of the inside of the church because they were busy setting up something in front of the church as taking a quick peek inside it was dark anyway.
Bantay Church Bell Tower d3scr
We then got back to our kalesa and headed back to Vigan town proper for more tour. Stay tuned for more.