Words failed me!

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Bellagio Hills Hotel & Restaurant Lobby

Bellagio Hills: Café Buho

A short excursion to Paoay, Ilocos Norte brought my friends and I to the modern contemporary gem fronting Paoay Lake that is Bellagio Hills. After our sumptuous lunch at Vista Del Lago, we decided to indulge on pastries, cakes and other desserts. Not to forget, a quick fix of coffee to make our day. We found ourselves driving to Bellagio Hills’ CAFÉ BUHO Bistro Bar. (Buho is a Filipino term which refers to a variety of bamboo plant. I noticed a good number of bamboo plants huddled together on the western portion of the cafe.)

Café Buho boasts a magazine feature worthy interior!

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It was very unfortunate however that they only had panna cotta for dessert when we got there that day. As it was also Christmas days before, we were not aware of their holiday schedule and the exact time of availability of the desserts. This is not particular to Café Buho but a rather common occurrence in cafés, restaurants and eateries in Ilocos Norte during the holidays.

The staff were quick to suggest to choose some dishes from their menu but since we had lunch earlier on, we declined. Also, a batch of cheesecake would have been a great option but it was still being made and would take some time before they can serve it so we opted for some hot drinks that came with buttercookies which greatly complimented the bitter yet creamy taste of their house blend.

Bellagio Hills is not a place we go to often. In fact, it was my first time at the place. We sipped our coffee outside the cafe and breathing loveliness saluted our eyes. It was a sight to behold! I can vividly remember taking in the scenery before me, the cool gentle breeze caressing my skin.

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It is quite astonishing that a part of home gave me unexpected fleeting, beautiful moments of stillness and peace. I believe it is this certain feeling of enlightenment that I always find myself coming back to my hometown. Ilocos Norte will always be home.

That Other Side of the Universe

The start of this year was nothing short of amazing for my friends and I, as we got ourselves to try the leisure industry of sand boarding and 4×4 rides at the sand dunes of La Paz, Laoag City, Ilocos Norte.

Initially, we just wanted to witness the first sunset of 2015 and bask in the beauty of our hometown. Unlike sand boarding spots found in other parts of the world, La Paz Sand Dunes bore no concrete structures and alterations on its terrain as it was declared as a National Geologic Monument by the National Historical Institute.

The sand dunes of Ilocos Norte ranges from 10-30 meters high with an area of 85 square kilometers. Now, that’s a long stretch of unique desert environment!

For Php2,500.00, you can enjoy a 4×4 adventure ride (maximum of 5 persons) and an unlimited sand boarding experience in a photo-perfect scenery! Setting our foot inside the 4×4 rough riding vehicle and cruising along the ridges of the dunes and going down the steep slopes brought about a series of doubt (initially), then laughs, screams, a few curses and witty hashtag worthy remarks! After an exhilarating episode on wheels, we tried sand boarding. Some went solo, others in pairs like myself who shared the board with Raisa (special mention!) because we had to check if it was “safe” to go solo after the test slide, Ha! I tell you, sliding down the steep slope of fine sand was easy and safe. However, walking back up proved to be an obstacle. This is not for the faint hearted. So, make sure you have packed enough energy with you.

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Random Subtleties

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Yours truly learning the art of sand boarding. In jeans! Overdressed for the part. No worries, I landed well.

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Raisa and her standing stunt while going down the slope!

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The Guys. John & Mark manning up the slope.

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My mantra for the year is LIVE & LIVE WELL. I believe, I did. We did. And it doesn’t end there.

CHEERS TO ENDLESS POSSIBILITIES. HAPPY NEW YEAR!