Our four hour non-aircon bus ride from Tarlac City left me a bit dazed, for we tried to keep our toddler Luna entertained the whole trip whilst seated at the rearest-of-them-all row. So I dozily agreed on the P120 rate, accompanied with indignant murmurs. We were heading to some far, far away beach during lean season, and the fare was going to cover for the 30-minute trip going there plus the driver's 30-minute trip back to Anda's center. And nope, we didn't ask for a pick up. We're indecisive like that.
The road to Tondol Beach has bumpy sections here and there, but nothing an intrepid traveler's arse can't handle. We entrusted the fate of our accommodation to the helm of our trike driver. While that sounds like some great responsibility, taking us to Star Inn was actually a no-brainer. It's the first lodge we stumbled upon. The driver didn't have to push on further.
At that time, Star Inn had no other guests and we were lucky to bunk in the only room fronting the beach. For P1,500 with aircon and enough space for five adults, it's quite a sweet deal so we took it. Except, our headcount wasn't five but two and a half for the first night and three and a half for the second night. Still, it turned out to be a wise choice because the other resort is situated near a karaoke joint which had inebriated locals belting day and night.
We crashed early the first night, just after we gobbled our room-delivered dinner. Fancy, ain't it? Mind you, there are only a few eateries on Tondol Beach, so you could imagine how surprised we were when the caretaker of our resort handed us a food delivery menu. Prior the trip, I already knew about the area's lack of establishments, but did not bother lugging a cook set for we were on another long term journey. Instead we psyched ourselves to feed on canned goodies every meal, and thankfully, that didn't happen.
Our second day started hours before dawn. Commenced by a phone call I groggily answered at half past three in the morning. A very awake Leo, on the other end of the line, asked where Star Inn is. His trike driver couldn't find it. Though I failed to give clear directions, they managed to find the place amidst the pitch-dark surroundings. I was stoked to open the gates for an old friend (Who by the way designs Pinay Travel Junkie's headers!), even if I had to pass the ferocious resident dog.
Back at our room, our day-long catch up began. Over cups of cheap instant coffee, over aimless stolls on the water, over an instant pancit canton lunch, and over an afternoon alcomix drinking sesh. He was then nursing a heartbreak, which made him crave for a spontaneous getaway in the first place. Often he ducked out when we're not engaged in a lengthy conversation. He'd reappear hours after, deep in thoughts yet with a trace of cheery aura only the sea breeze could bring forth.
The rest of that Saturday was spent strolling on the vast stretch of beach from end to end. We didn't feel like hanging out at the lodge anymore for there were rowdy weekenders who checked in next door. Tanduyong Island looked inviting from afar, but we opted to stay close to the shore since we were with the little one. We scoured the coast's sandy skirt for properties on sale. Hubby and I loved the quaint community so much that we actually envisioned ourselves living there someday.
In the distant future perhaps, when we're finally sick of this nomadic lifestyle of ours.
Trip's Nitty Gritty:
1. How to get there: There are direct buses to Anda, aircon and non aircon, from Five Star Cubao and Dagupan Bus Cubao (more or less P400). Call the stations to check the schedule. My friend Leo took the Five Star aircon bus that left 11:00PM from Cubao and arrived in Anda around 3-ish AM (via Camiling, Tarlac). If you miss the Anda-bound bus, you may hop on another bus heading to Alaminos (about P390). From Alaminos, you could take a jeep or mini bus to Anda town proper (1 hour).
From Anda, trikes can be hired from P120-150 (30 minutes). Price depends on the season, time, and number of passengers.
2. Accommodation: Erm, sorry guys but I failed to get Star Inn's contact number. You could try JCT Beach Resort 09214949248. There's a campsite available for the more outdoorsy travelers. Admission to the site is P5 per head, plus about P300 (price also depends on the season) for an open hut that can be used as dining area. As of our visit, pitching of tent is free.
3. Food: It's wise to come prepared since there ain't much food establishments around. Star Inn has a kitchen for guests' use. Across Star Inn, there's a sari-sari store manned by a lady who accepts paluto for a minimal fee. There are locals who peddle the fishermen's catch of the day early morn. Watch out for that if you're a seafood fan.
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