The ride from Vigan to Loaog City was smooth and uneventful, and when I got off the bus in the remote bus station, I was unsure of how to get to the ‘van’ that would take me to the beach community of Pugudpud. But a tricycle driver spotted me standing there looking hapless, loaded my bag into his sidecar, told me to ride behind him (duh) and we roared off to the van station.
I discovered that the term ‘van’ doesn’t mean what I thought it did, in the Philippines. “Buses” are big Greyhound-style vehicles, with reclining seats, air conditioning, curtains, some with WiFi and even bathrooms. “Vans” are the exact same thing, but without air conditioning. They are also a bit more dilapidated, but they cost about half as much and are still very cozy. They are nowhere near “chicken class” that exists in Mexico and other places, but they are certainly less posh than what the locals call “the 5-star buses”.
We arrived at the station just as a van with a sign saying “Pagudpud” was starting to pull out. The tricycle cut him off, forcing him to stop, and pointed at me and yelled “Pagudpud!!” The driver opened the door, grabbed my bag and hustled me onto the bus, in to the very last remaining seat. Perfect timing for both of us, as these vehicles will wait until they are full before they go, and he was apparently leaving reluctantly because he did not have that one last passenger.
For the ride up, my seat mate was this extremely talkative 22 year old with a selfie addiction. Never mind that I had total laryngitis from my flu and was barely functioning, she chatted nonstop about her mom, her friends, her school, her work, her phone….and Oh! Let me show you my photos! For the next half hour, I scrolled through picture after picture of her, selfies almost exclusively, with her doing the duck mouth, posing this way, then that way, head tilt, half smile, frown, serious….you name it. Of course, she insisted on taking a photo of us sitting on the bus so I went along with it. Then she asked to see my phone and took another 25 photos of us sitting on the bus. As interesting as she was, it was nice to get away from her when we arrived in Pagudpud. She kinda wore me out.
As we pulled up to the corner where we were getting off, I figured I needed to decide what beach resort I wanted to stay at. I had no idea of the lay of the land, but the Lonely Planet mentioned one particular one that had a nice vibe, bamboo awnings, and very cheap rates, so I told the tricycle driver to take me there. At that moment, it started to drizzle. Remember: I’m sick with the flu, just looking for a safe, warm and dry place to hang out for a few days to recover. But instead, I find myself riding on the back of a scooter in the cold drizzling rain, wearing shorts and a lightweight shirt, drenched to the bone going 50 mph down the road for about 20 minutes. By the time we arrived at the beach house, I was shivering and miserable, and feeling as sick as you can imagine.
Checked in, drank some water, took some aspirin, and went to bed.
About an hour later, woke up freezing! The temps had dropped precipitously, and the room had no heater. With the AC turned off, it was also so clammy that it felt like wax all over your skin, so I turned on the AC to the lowest setting (I mean the warmest setting…that’s always so unclear to me), and pulled my hammock out of my pack. I am carrying a nice cotton hammock…not the woven kind; its more like a heavy blanket with a rope loop at both ends. In this case, it WAS a blanket, so with that over me and a pair socks on my feet, I was able to sleep through the night.
But so much for my dream of a warm beach, laying in a hammock in the sun, and soaking up the rays.
The next day, I decided that I still did not feel well enough to move down the road, so I decided to stay another night. Good thing, because the following day (which is right now, as I write this), I am feeling much better and think I can finally get on with my holiday!
Meanwhile, when I awoke I was overjoyed to see that the sun had come out and the place was drying out. It was actually pretty damn pleasant, so for the entire day I just lounged around, did little strolls up and down the beach and took some photos of this amazing undiscovered surfing paradise.
It also means I had to start making some decisions about the next leg of my trip.