The pleasure we derive from journeys is perhaps dependent more on the mindset with which we travel than on the destination we travel to. - Alain de Botton, The Art of Travel

With the Panagbenga Flower Festival looming just around the corner, my workmates organized an outing to Pangasinan to escape the dense crowd and crawling traffic. The itinerary is much like our first Pangasinan trip but our departure time was a little earlier than the first one because we've included Tondol Beach, Anda, Pangasinan in our itinerary.

View from the top of Governor's Island The ride to Alaminos was smooth and we had a stopover in the bus station to pick up another companion. Since we already bought some packed lunch before leaving Baguio, we headed straight to Lucap Wharf to have an early departure to the national park.

Lucap Wharf has changed considerably since I last visited and I think the wide seaside park is a welcome improvement. I can already see it as a favorite sunset-viewing destination for locals and tourists alike once it is completed.

Most of the commercial islands themselves have also undergone major changes. One might argue that these developments help improve the tourist experience but when you've got towering concrete cottages covering islands in a national park that advocates ecotourism then there is clearly something wrong. The managing committee could have at least tried using sustainable materials like bamboo much like how Cuenca island is right now but I don't know the whole story so I'm not going to delve deeper into the issue.

We spent most of our time in Marcos Island where we encouraged a friend to conquer her fear of the water by doing a cliff-jump inside Imelda cave. We then frolicked at the beach and had our lunch on one of the cottages.

Our next destination was the snorkeling area but we had a bit of a miscommunication with our boat captain and ended up somewhere near Children's Island and Cuenca Island which is usually the last destinations for the island tour. We went back by detouring through a shallow pass between two neighboring islands.

Snorkeling to find Nemo
Photo courtesy of Tolits

One of our companions didn't know how to swim and wasn't used to wearing a lifevest (if styro wrapped in fabric counts as one) so we had to accompany her to the snorkel area. She thoroughly enjoyed the experience and got the hang of moving about in the water on her own by the time we went back to the boat.

As fate would have it, we ended up spending too much time in the snorkel area so we had to cancel the stopover at Cuenca Island and hurried back to the port. Within an hour we were already on our way to Tondol, Anda. We promptly arrived at sundown.

It was already dark by the time we finished settling in. We had to prepare our food quickly because we were already starving from the day's activities. The heart dinner was then followed by merry-making which lasted until the wee hours of the morning.

I no longer drink alcohol and I really needed to catch up on sleep so I left the party early and snuggled down in my hammock. Thankfully, the caretakers allowed me to set it up on our hut's veranda.

We were only allowed to spend about an hour at the beach the next morning so we tried to make the most out of it. I really liked the beach despite the tons of dried seaweed lying around the shore. I have yet to see it at its best state so I just added it to the list of places that I have to revisit in the future.

We bought cooked food and some meat for barbecue at Anda's public market and then set off for Bolinao. A quick visit to the Enchanted cave (for the first timers) and a customary visit to the lighthouse later was scheduled before we went looking for a cottage at Patar Beach.

Patar Lighthouse The sky was overcast and the tide was high when we arrived so I opted not to take a dip in the water and just helped grill the barbecue for lunch instead.

Summer hasn't officially begun but Patar has already gathered a crowd. Such a shame the weather didn't cooperate since Patar Beach is at it's finest when the tide is low and the sky is clear. Add to that a golden sunset and it would have a been another picture-perfect closure for an awesome adventure.

All in all, the trip was a great one despite us not being able to visit the waterfalls for the second time. A lot of memories were made and a lot of laughs were shared with friends.

Friends are the ones who will cheer you on as you try to conquer your fears and the ones who will make sure you that you're okay afterwards. Sadly, they are also the ones who will jokingly leave a gap in group pictures to paste your most unflattering photo because you overslept and got left behind. It comes with the package.
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