“Let’s go to the beach!” was how the conversation at Fred’s happened in December 2013. And, since all four on the table (Angge, Ros, Justine, and me) already had travel plans for the first two months of 2014, we all agreed to hold a weekend getaway to La Union on the first weekend of March. From the original four, the invitation extended to the rest of our travelling group. And, in the end, eight (8) of us pushed through with the trip: Angge, Raisa, Cecil, Peach, Ros, Chummy, Justine, and me.
We all went there in three batches. Angge, Raisa, Cecil, and Peach left Manila at 4:30 AM riding Nothing. Ros and Chummy took the bus to La Union and left at 5:30 AM. And, since Justine had several shots of drinks the night prior while I needed to sleep and rest (yes, an old folk I am), we left Manila at 11:30 AM.
We took the Partas bus to Abra, which would pass by San Juan, La Union. And, because we were really just lucky, the bus we rode on had poor airconditioning system. So, that was 8 hours of heat. Darn. And, adding to the challenge, we had to do one extra stop because the tires had to be vulcanized. Yay. Good thing I was travelling with Justine, who’s someone I enjoy having conversations with and who also has a very good playlist. So, the trip to La Union became bearable and, well, fun. :)
We arrived in La Union past 7:00 PM. After hopping off the bus, Justine called Angge just to make sure that we were on the right path. I talked to Angge and she was like, “How are you? Are you cranky?” I said, “No. Justine’s crankier than I am!” Haha! “Have you guys already had dinner?” I asked. Angge answered, “We’re waiting for you.” And, while I love walking, I asked Angge if we already had a place in mind where we would want to have dinner. The 8-hour bus ride was with poor ventilation. I was hungry. And, I was kind of hoping that we wouldn’t have to make the extra trip back to the restaurant. But, Angge, being the sweet friend that she is told me, “What about we’re waiting for you don’t you understand, woman?” Haha! Yes, I love my friends to bits.
When we got to Flotsam and Jetsam, I said a big, “Hello!!!” to my friends. I immediately looked for Peach, apologized, and asked how she’s doing. While she knew Ros from years ago (yes, Blue Onion days haha) and she’s met Raisa and Angge a couple of years back (a simple hi-hello), I’m the connection between the group and her, see. And, yes, I knew that she could manage to make friends with anyone, I kind of felt guilty that I left her with them. Well, just kind of. Haha! And, yes, you know why they were all waiting for us before we went to grab a bite? ‘Cos they had a bet on what time we would arrive. Crazies.
After settling in, we walked our way towards Sebay, where we had dinner. The food was yum (grilled porkchop, baby!) but the service sucked. And, the music was, well, not to my liking. Sorry, I’m usually not a snob when it comes to food and service but theirs was just really, uhm, almost unbearable. Or, maybe it was because someone sang “My Way” in a kind of out of tune manner? I don’t know. So, while their beer is way cheaper (Php 50.00) than in Flotsam (Php 80.00), we opted for the latter.
And, it was worth it. The vibe made it so. There was an engagement party going on while we were there. And, that group looked like they were having the time of their lives! What about us? Well, we were content with lounging on the bean bags, drinking our beer, enjoying the cool breeze of La Union, and just plain loving life. :)
Angge and Justine played the guitar and we just enjoyed some chill music, in contrast to the loud one being played by the bar. But, I don’t know, it was as if we were in our own little world. And, I didn’t care if the rest of the people in Flotsam were partying. I was just really grateful that I was in the presence of people I love and adore. In my mind, I was living the life I love. :)
One by one, people in our group went inside the kubo. And, while I took a bath (I felt stinky, man), Angge and Justine just stayed by the bean bags. Justine later on relayed to me that the other group invited us to join them. But, they declined the invitation. Angge reminded Justine, “Monica’s social stamina, remember?” Haha! She knows me so well. :P
After the awesome shower, I headed back to where they were. Angge tucked it in as soon as and Justine and I stayed up until 3:00 AM. We were talking about her parallel universe (oh, I have geeky friends, yes) and other life shares. The sky was bright and it reminded me of Nagsasa Cove, the first time I laid on the sand and watched the stars before going to sleep. :)
In the morning, we all got up to have breakfast together. And, while there’s free breakfast, I opted to pay Php 150.00 for bacon and rice. And, it was totally worth it.
Also, since it was morning, I wanted to get my caffeine fix. So, I looked for the coffee. I don’t know if I was just too lazy or plain stupid, but I asked my friends, “Do they have coffee? Where’s the coffee?” even if it was staring me right at my face. Haha! So, yes, it will add to our list of travel stories. What do I expect? :P
After breakfast, Peach, Justine, Ros, Chummy, Raisa and I headed to the beach. Peach, Justine, Ros, and Chummy took a dip while Raisa skim boarded. I wanted to get some tan and just lay on the sand.
In the last hour or so, Raisa joined me and we again had one of those convos we would always have. At that moment, I let my vulnerabilities loose and be seen by my friends. I didn’t care about how they would view me. I am sure enough that they love me for the entirety of me, regardless of what I would say. And, it felt good to be vulnerable at times. It got me present to my friends’ love and compassion. I will forever be grateful that they are in my life. :)
After taking a dip, we headed back to the hostel and I took a shower. I lost track of time and, apparently, we were supposed to check out at 11:00 AM. Good thing no other guest would be using our kubo so they let us stay for a while.
Peach, Justine, and I were leaving ahead because Peach was going to do some work when we get to Manila, Justine would be having dinner with her family, and I will be having dinner with mine and my Tito who was visiting from the US. We then bade our long good-byes and enjoyed the last few minutes that we were spending together as a group.
This trip was again one for the books. I loved the water. I loved the beach. I loved the place. I loved the company. I am grateful that I got to experience La Union with this bunch of adorable people. And, yes, I hope to return to Flotsam with them again or alone. Maybe next time my social stamina will allow me to mingle with the other guests. We’ll see. :)
Summary of expenses:
- Bus trip from Manila to San Juan, La Union (Php 450.00 for the bus; Php 50.00 for food and drinks on the road and bathroom breaks)
- Accommodations at Flotsam and Jetsam Artists Hostel (Php 650.00 for the bunk rental)
- Dinner at Sebay (Php 160.00 for grilled porkchop and one bottle of San Mig Light)
- Drinks at Flotsam (Php 300.00 for 3 bottles of San Mig Light and 1 bottle of Pale)
- Breakfast (Php 120.00 for their bacon and rice, super yum! They provide free breakfast, too, with coffee)
- Bus trip from San Juan, La Union to Manila (Php 450.00 for the bus; Php 50.00 for food and drinks on the road and bathroom breaks)
- Reserve as early as you can. Flotsam & Jetsam Hostel is becoming popular to travelers and artists who would like to experience the chill vibe of this place in La Union. You may contact them at +63.917.802.1328 to check the slots still available.
- If you can, try to gather a group of eight (8). The kubo that we stayed at could house eight (8) individuals and was supposedly open to anyone. But, because there were eight (8) of us, it felt like it was our private space.
- If someone within your group has a car, use it instead of taking the bus. The transportation expenses would turn out to be cheaper by more than half.
- Leave early and try to get to La Union by 12 noon (it took us 8 hours to get to La Union by bus). Maximize the time you can spend at Flotsam. Lounge by their bean bags. Take a dip on the beach. Enjoy the sound of the waves. Write. Draw. Listen to good music. It’s really a great place.
- While beer is cheaper in the nearby restos, the vibe in Flotsam and Jetsam Hostel makes it worth the Php 80.00 per bottle. And, since most of the guests are artists, the place also lets its guests freely use the guitar and bongos. My friends, Justine, Angge, and Raisa, know how to play the guitar so we got to enjoy music while lounging on the bean bags. :)
- Stargaze while lying on the bean bags. My friend, Justine, and I stayed up until 3:00 AM conversing and watching the stars. The sky seemed brighter in that side of the world, seriously.
- Wake up early and catch the calmer waves in front of the hostel. While the surfing area is quite a walk away, the beach side in front of the hostel was good for lounging, listening to music, having conversations, and skim boarding.
- While there’s free breakfast and coffee (yes, coffee), I suggest that you also try their bacon. Super yum! My friend, Angge, swore that “It was the best Php 150.00 I’ve ever spent for breakfast my entire life.”
- Chill, enjoy, and have a blast! Flotsam and Jetsam Artists Hostel is one place you’d have to visit when you’re in La Union. :)
Flotsam and Jetsam Artists Hostel
Address: San Juan, La Union, Philippines
Check-in time: 12:00 PM
Check-out time: 11:00 AM
Contact numbers: +63.917.802.1328
How to get there: Take the bus from Partas to La Union (Php 450.00). Ask the conductor to drop you off at Flotsam & Jetsam Hostel or at Urbiztondo Garden, which is more known to them. From Urbiztondo Garden, you just have to walk a few more steps. And, when you see the sort of number “5” signage, you’ve already found Flotsam & Jetsam Artists Hostel.
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