One of the first things I look for after figuring out a rough itinerary of a trip is the accommodation. While I usually use the words cheap or affordable whenever I do a search on Google, I keep in mind that I have to consider safety and comfort too. I wouldn’t want to make myself – or drag someone else along – stay in one of those horror movie-type inns or hotels.
For our Ilocos adventure, I had to first find a place for Yo and I to stay in Pagudpud, our first stop after arriving in Laoag. There were many resorts by Saud beach and Blue Lagoon, and they seemed to be splendid places to stay in. But I found them a wee bit expensive, considering only 2 people will be splitting the costs and that we were on a somehow tight budget.
After hours (or days?) of searching online, jotting down notes, texting and calling owners and reading tons of reviews and blogs online, I finally found the perfect accommodation for us. And in line with this being a trip of many firsts, where we stayed in Saud beach was no exception.
We boarded an ordinary bus to Pagudpud at around 4PM, at a terminal just behind the city hall. That particular terminal wasn’t situated on the main road, so it’s easy to walk past it. Good thing the DOT map pointed it out as a terminal specifically for Padupdud-bound buses.
We got there just in time, as the bus was almost full and leaving in a matter of minutes. It wasn’t airconditioned and unlike those in Metro Manila, this one had two seats per row. The seats were cushioned and there was ample room for our bags and feet, so there was no need for us to place our stuff on the overhead racks.
I personally didn’t mind that there was no airconditioning. The afternoon breeze felt good against my sweaty skin and the provincial air was fresh. If I were in Metro Manila, I wouldn’t even think about boarding these types of buses.
The ride took about 2 hours and it was pretty smooth. And it only cost P60 each, almost one half of the posted rates from big bus companies. Talk about savings, yes?
Yo and I spent most of the time talking about all sorts of things that we didn’t notice we were nearing our stop. I quickly sent a text to our guide Kuya Nelson, who was going to pick us up from the public market. (Fun fact, Kuya Nelson is the brother of Kuya Arnel, who was one of Chyng Reyes’ heroes during her Ilocos trip. And can I just say, kindness seems to run in the family. More on Kuya Nelson in the next post :D)
We got to the already closed market shortly after 6PM. It’s interesting to note that a lot of establishments in the smaller provincial towns/barangays close up shop really early. We waited for a few minutes before Kuya Nelson drove by with his tricycle. We hopped on and drove to Hannah Lou’s Homestay.
During the ride – and it was quite a dark drive – I started getting a bit nervous. It was both our first time to stay in this type of accommodation so we didn’t know what to expect. We weren’t even quite sure what a homestay really is. All we knew was that we were going to stay in someone’s home, a stranger’s home, with other people who we don’t know.
I admit to being scared and a bit hesitant at first, especially since I’m dragging someone else along and in effect, being sort of responsible for her safety and security as well.
But those feelings of uncertainty and fear were slowly going away as soon as we pulled over the home’s driveway. We were immediately greeted by Ate Marife and her husband, who have already been waiting for us. The home owner’s greeting was warm and welcoming, similar to that of parents welcoming their children. They had been waiting for us since I sent them a text upon arriving in Laoag.
After the quick introductions and small talk, Ate Marife then led us to our rooms. As soon as I stepped in the house, I was reminded of the houses I knew of and was surrounded with back in the province.
Picture frames, various knickknacks, stuffed animals, and posters of David Archuleta (yes, there were about two but I wasn’t able to take a photo of them ;D) decorated the home. The living room wasn’t that spacious, but it sure felt homey. We watched TV for a while with another traveler (who I wasn’t able to mingle with. Note to self: Leave my anti-social self in Manila when travelling) while Ate Marife started fixing up our room.
The room was a small one, with a bed, side table and a cute little electric fan. It was very basic, yet very very clean. There was also a trash bin and an extension cord with a lot of outlets! The mattress was comfy and the bed and pillow sheets smelled really clean. It felt really good to lay down for a while on the bed, after running around Laoag under the crazy heat.
The room looks cramped, but it’s actually okay! And the bed was very comfortable, since I slept soundly that night. It was a bit chilly too, that we didn’t even use the fan. I still had to wear my jacket because of the cold too (especially early in the morning).
There is no private toilet in the room, but there are three in the common area that we can use. What’s great in this homestay, especially to those who are particular with their bathrooms, is that there are separate toilets for boys and girls. There was one for the family’s personal use and we even used it by accident. (Oops. :P)
Anyway, after fixing our things we had initially decided to freshen up and then go to sleep since we had a long day. But when I got out of the room, I saw Ate Marife cooking dinner for us. Talk about hospitality, yes? She even joined us and shared a lot of stories about previous guests, while we devoured the delicious home-cooked meal.
She said that as someone offering homestay services, she tries her best to keep her guests happy. That’s why she cooks (even if the guests don’t tell her in advance to do so) and keeps her home neat and tidy. She was very easy to talk to and you can see that while she is trying to earn from her business, she makes sure that her guests are comfortable and happy while inside her home. She and Kuya Ruben, her husband, sometimes go out of their way just to make their guests happy.
And we were definitely comfortable and happy.
For P250/head/night, plus an additional P50 for meals – yes, Ate Marife cooked not one, but three meals for us during our stay – this homestay is definitely a great choice not just for frugal travelers like us, but for those who want to experience good old provincial hospitality.
So if you’re in Saud beach, Pagudpud and looking for a place to stay, I highly recommend Hannah Lou’s Homestay. You will definitely get so much more than what you pay for.
For reservations please contact:
All photos are the property of littlegirlgoesplaces. All taken with Lulu.