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Solo Trip : Dagupan, Pangasinan

I often pass by the province of Pangasinan when traveling for a hike to the Cordilleras but I never got to go around. One day, I went for a visit to have a look!

While researching for my trip, I learned that there's so much to see (and eat!)  from the infamous Hundred Islands in Alaminos, the beautiful beaches of Bolinao and its mountain trails that spending a day is ridiculous, but with my limited time and budget,  I figured, this solo trip will serve as a kickoff for numerous return trips. :)
Lingayen beach
From Solid North Terminal in Cubao, I traveled by bus to Dagupan city, some 30 minutes  away from Lingayen, the provincial capital.   This being a lazy trip, I boarded the first bus I saw with a signage marked "Lingayen", the bus' last stop. Travel time took 6 hours which I felt could have been shorter if only I rode a bus with a different route (perhaps, one that passed SCTEX or TPLEX - highways in the northern part of the island which skips some towns, shortening the travel time). 

By noon, I had checked in to Hotel Monde, a 7-room budget boutique hotel, just along AB Fernandez, a major street in Dagupan. It's  a convenient place to stay,  close to public transportation, restaurants, banks, stores and other establishments. I installed the Traveloka app and utilizing one of their frequent promos, got this a for a discounted rate of 784.38 Pesos instead of 1,400 Pesos. (Will post about my stay soon and link it here.)
My lime green room at Hotel Monde
After napping, I headed out for my first meal. Dagupan is know for its bangus (milkfish) and Matutina's Seafood House came highly recommended but being a coffee addict,  my craving for a good brew couldn't wait. With that, I walked to Caffe Angelito Coffee & Juice Bar. 

While walking to the cafe, I noticed Dagupan's pedestrian-friendly roads.  The sidewalk has enough room for people and the traffic lights are respected.  It made walking convenient and how I wish this is how it is in all parts of the country. A Dagupan-based friend has informed me that the local government is strict about enforcing rules against jaywalking -  well, that's exactly how it should be.  
Pasta from Caffee Angelito

Caffe Angelito was a good choice for a late lunch.  I had iced coffee which was strong and full of flavor and in no time, I was back to my usual perky self. The pasta was served beautifully and equally satisfying. The interiors with reminded me of a library so I decided to take out the book I had with me and ended up staying for another hour. 

From the cafe, I walked along Dagupan-Binmaley road to catch a jeep to
Tondaligan, a public  beach. Spending just 12 Pesos, the jeep's route got me all the way to entrance of the beach.
Catching the sunset at Tondaligan beach in Dagupan

The beach is massive. As the sun's heat had died down, I saw groups of families and friends just hanging out. The vibe made me feel like I was actually part of a group so even as I stood there all alone, I felt very welcome. 

The breeze was a refreshing change from the afternoon heat.  The  sight of a huge area filled with coconut trees gave out a very tropical vibe. The trees were aptly spaced from each other that you can just hang a hammock and relax! 

If you're looking for a nice hammock, I recommend a local brand that provides livelihood to home-based sewers in Laguna, Hammock Republic. This is the brainchild of a friend of mine,  James Betia AKA Journeying James. Their hammocks also serve as a neck pillow when folded and some designs have a net to protect you from insects. The design's pretty cool!  

I looked at the water and the playful waves lured me in for an afternoon wrestle.  A bit bigger than usual, it's the kind of waves that's good enough for skim boarding. I couldn't find a place to leave my stuff and making a judgement based on female intuition,  I I left my bag by the shore and covered it with a beach blanket.  I swam close to shore and occasionally watched over my stuff, a challenging feat because the waves were just coming hard towards me, I spent a lot of time jumping and going under the water. Being a water baby, I couldn't be any happier! 

The beach and the boys. This was taken at Tondaligan beach in Dagupan
I stayed in the water until sun went down, filling the sky with various colors. First, it was yellow. Accompanied with a couple of dark clouds over the horizon, the combination of colors reminded me of a fried cheese flambe. Then, came the fierce orange glow and as it disappeared from the sky, purple! After my visual dinner, I dried myself and took a jeep back to the hotel,  salty and a little wet from the beach. It had been a good day.

The next morning, I took a side trip to Lingayen. Just a few blocks from the hotel were jeeps that transported passengers to the provincial capital. It took a little over 30 minutes to get there as the jeep picked up passengers along the route. 

From the town proper, I walked towards the historic Lingayen beach.  On January 1945, General Douglas Mac Arthur and members of the US forces returned to start their mission of freeing the island of Luzon from the Japanese invaders. Nowadays, this beach with its massive shoreline is flocked by people looking for a quick break. The beach is kept clean and its fine gray sand is just as charming as those with white sand. Being a public beach, entrance is free. There's also a huge picnic area (not sure if the picnic tables are for rent though) and restrooms. 
Lingayen Beach
Other nearby places to visit include the provincial capitol (Lingayen beach is just behind it) and the Veterans memorial park. For an itinerary on Lingayen, check out this article by Mai Flores here.

After returning to Dagupan, I made a spur of the moment decision to make a quick visit to Baguio.  The City of Pines is just two hours away by public van and fare is 165 Pesos. The reason - I was missing  Ili-Lika Artist Village, an art gallery with a cluster of food stalls serving healthy meals, one of my favorite places to eat in the country. After a hefty lunch - tofu rice meal, waffles and coffee, I boarded a bus back to Manila. 

I got exactly what I wanted on this trip - some time alone, see the beach and even had enough time for some side trips. Traveling solo, despite it downsides (no one to share food with and split the bill :P)  is mostly fun for me. I enjoy having the freedom to move whenever, wherever without having to wait for anyone and change my plans as often as I want to. 

For more travel info on Dagupan, check out this very helpful post by Senyorita,  A Quick Guide to Dagupan. It contains details on how to get here, suggested places to eat and see. Thank you for your post Mica! ;) 

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