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Thursday, January 8, 2015

Where to Stay in Laoag City: Balay da Blas Pension House


Balay da Blas showcases a bipolar architecture character by blending the antiquated era of traditional Ilocano interiors with an expansion wing that houses all modern aesthetics. Coming from an enjoyable stay at the rustic and charming Villa Angela in Vigan City, we keep up with the throwback vibe by asking the caretakers for a similar lodging evoking a similar feel. We were then pointed to this pleasant 13-room bed and breakfast right at the heart of Laoag City. 

Balay da Blas © nomadicexperiences.com
Built and operated by the Blas family, it originally functioned as a home for the family as evidenced by the carefully chosen old furniture and well maintained interiors. Overtime it has since evolved into a temporary home for travelers passing by Laoag City. 

© nomadicexperiences.com
Made to pick which wing to stay at - modern or old? we unanimously selected to sleep at the original wing, foregoing the modern amenities of the expanded part of Balay da Blas. Our room (rates here) has adequate space for the four of us - with an open air shower. As we were the only occupants in the whole floor that day, it felt like enjoying a bigger space for us because just outside our door are the cozy living room filled with old wooden furniture and square tiles adorned with stylish patterns. Maintained squeaky clean, I run my bare feet over its smooth surface and as I sat on one of the chairs made of timber, I dream of owning a house like this in the near future. 

The Teeming Antiquity of the interior © nomadicexperiences.com
A small spiral staircase leads to the upper floor where a small bar and function room good enough for intimate gathering is located. I kidded my girlfriend Monnette that this looks like a cool wedding reception area where we only invite the closest friends and family members. (or only those who could make the 12 hour road-trip to Laoag)

Outdoor dining area © nomadicexperiences.com
While the interior of the traditional wing screams of antiquated allure, the outdoor dining area yells of fresh air amid the scorching heat of the sun. The reception leads to the modern wing and the popular Saramsam Ylocano Restaurant and Bar, where we had our dinner that night (and tried out the Pinakbet Pizza), after a tiring but fulfilling day of touring the Malacanang of the North, the Marcos Mausoleum and Museum, Paoay Church and a thrilling 4x4 ride and sandboarding at La Paz Sand Dunes. 

staircase to the top floor © nomadicexperiences.com
Occupied with our day's itinerary and our appealing nook for the day, we didn't bother checking out the modern rooms, but my friend and fellow travel blogger Mai had  all of it covered on her blog post, where they in turn stayed at the newer wing of Balay da Blas. 

Saramsam Ylocano Restaurant & Bar © nomadicexperiences.com
I wished we could have stayed longer, but the call of the windmills and the stunning rock formation at Kapurpurawan rang louder the next day, so we have to pack our backpacks and leave the next morning. 

open air shower room © nomadicexperiences.com
But before leaving we had early breakfast at Saramsam and I dragged Monnette from returning to bed to a short stroll around the vicinity to check out the nearby attractions such as; Provincial Capitol, Sinking Bell Tower, St. William's Cathedral and the Tobacco Monopoly Monument.

simple rooms with old furniture © nomadicexperiences.com
Called "Champagne Luxury on a Beer Budget" to describe the kind of accommodation service it provides, and even though it was a little bit above our set budget for the trip, it was worth every penny. You can't beat getting a decent sleep and shower on an activity-filled trip. And being housed in a place manned by a friendly staff and overflowing with vintage interior definitely provides a big plus.


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