La Union

2:03 PM


STOKE! at La Union
Suddenly I felt like a real surfer - seeing those huge waves, learning suffering jargon, and riding a surfboard for the first time! haha of course, there's a quite number of fails before I caught my first wave; I'm not even close to a rookie! LOL But! The feeling of riding those waves is so rewarding to the soul, especially if you've been dreaming of it since the first time you saw it on TV or any media.

La Union is about 6 hours away from Manila, Philippines. Now this seems to be a long travel but you might also want to provide more allowance in time, expecting the kind of traffic the big city is known about. The best time to go there is early morning so you won't catch so much traffic. Unluckily for us we started our travel around 4pm and was able to arrive at La Union by 1am of the following day (Most credit goes to the lovely traffic! - the only thing I'm so dreadful about the city). Anyway, upon seeing the awesome view in the morning, All those hours of travel and pain in the ass was all worth it! 
For commuters, there are various options in going to La Union. You can actually take most buses going up north towards Baguio. In our case, we took the bus from Pasay bus terminal up to San Juan La Union; tell the conductor to alight you at Urbiztondo beach. It is suggested however to take the bus from Sampaloc bus terminal to avoid traffic. The fare from Manila to La Union is about 450 PHP.
Accommodations in La Union is not a problem. Hotels, Inns, and lodges are sprouting along the highway of Urbiztondo with the beach just across the road. However, if your are coming for the holidays, it is always wiser to book in advance and you might even get a discount. You can do walk-ins as well and you might even get a better deal because some accommodations there don't have online booking. Rooms would normally range from 2,000 PHP to 4,000 PHP depending on the type of accommodation you prefer.
One that caught my attention is San Juan Surf resort. It is conveniently located along the highway, a great view of the beach, and prolly near to eveything.
My favorite however is the Flotsam and Jetsam Artist Hostel! Unfortunately they're fully booked at that time but the ambiance and concept of the place screams beach/island life! Cozy place and a perfect "Tambayan". Instead of tables, they have these mats and bean bags scattered all over the area as well as hammocks. Which is a perfect way to spend an afternoon at the beach, enjoying the cool breeze and watching the sunset.
Late afternoon they have cool DJs to set the mood and at night, they even have a film-showing outdoors.
Another place that I would recommend is Surf Shack just across San Juan Surf Resort. You might find me weird but I actually like their Tuyo Pizza! Idk but I actually liked the blend of flavours and the twist of dried fish in a Pizza.
We started our surf adventure the next day and we tried to look for better offers around the area. But it seems that they have a uniform price for all beginners. Still, bargaining skills matter to have a good compromise.
But before that, we can't skip the most Important meal of the day! At first, we quite had a hard time looking for an open store that early morning until we drifted ourselves to Choka, nearby surf shack. Which is also nice and they have reasonable prices. Here you can make your own breakfast! The only problem with me with make-your-own's that it seems you like every item to be on plate!
After breakfast, we proceed to the beach to look for an instructor and some picture taking of course. The price of the surfboard rent with instructor is 400 PHP per hour.
Since it was raining the day before and the weather is a bit gloomy that morning we weren't advice to surf at the main beach. And for starters, they usually teach you at  the other side of the beach were the waves are more manageable. It will take about 20-30 minutes to get there and transfer arrangements would normally cost 800 PHP per jeep (that's a round trip price already).
The only catch is, you'll have to get the minimum of 2 hours or 800 PHP because that is the rate of instructors when you go to the other side of the beach. Now, if this is a bit off the budget, what you can actually do is split the cost with a friend. Each of you will have an hour of surfing with the same instructor. By that, the instructor will have the rate of 800 PHP and both of you and your friend will be able to enjoy surfing for 400 PHP an hour.
Anyway, once you catch a wave within a few tries, an hour of surfing is already both exhilarating and exhausting. I really enjoyed catching and riding waves but I also remember the struggle of paddling my arms against the current to get back for more waves.

To sum it all, surfing is one of the best experience in a person's lifetime. Not only you'll get to enjoy the time being with your friends but you will also get to enjoy the satisfaction of riding a wave. You'll learn how to balance, stay calm, and do the right timing on when to stand or move. Life after all is like catching a wave; each waves are like opportunities that pass us by. We won't be able to ride all of them but once we become patient, wait for the perfect time, learn from falling, stand up, and balance life... We'll have that rewarding feeling of happiness!

Mahalo La Union...


happy travels!

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