4×4 Ride at the Paoay Sand Dunes
The best ride in getting to and around the Paoay sand dunes is via a rugged, 4×4 vehicle. This would ensure adequate traction especially at loose spots and in going up and down the sand hills. Stay away from the tricycles or your family sedan when you can help it. The last thing you want to do in this beautiful place is getting your car out if it gets stuck along the way. The other alternative is to buy a camel to complete your Arabian desert-themed party. It is an outrageous idea but it is worth a try nonetheless.
You could just imagine how we beamed when a blue 4×4 truck fetched us at the Paoay Lake one afternoon two weeks ago. It looked like a blown-up Matchbox toy that I grew up playing, back in the days when portable electronic gadgets have not yet overtaken the world. The roar of the engine, the tire size and the elevated chassis gave us the feeling that we actually ruled the road.
Other than the presence of goats and a few shanties at the dunes, I could say that we were the only ones around that afternoon. John-john expertly drove as around the empty landscape before us. We only stopped when he dropped the sandboards we would use later on and for the occasional jump shots and mandatory FB profiles.
My friends’ ‘wows’ quickly turned to ‘roller-coaster shrieks’ as we descended in every steep hill. They were then only holding on a single metal railing for support. Had they not done so, they would been easily thrown out of the speeding truck. I actually missed that experience because I was comfortably seated at the front.
There was a time when negotiated an incline at a seemingly impossible angle. But we did not slide downhill thanks to the 4×4’s trustworthy shocks and tire grips.
Our 4×4 and sandboarding adventures in Paoay were indeed one of the highlights of Project Windmills. Before closing all our adventures that afternoon, I requested John-john to drive us by the beach. The sun was then slowly setting down and the waves from the South China Sea gently reached the shore. This scene has somehow rewarded all the jeepney, taxi, plane, bus and tricycle rides that we endured just to get to Ilocos region.
Many films have been shot at the scenic Paoay sand dunes. The growing list of protagonists include a pseudo-faith healer that groaned for redemption, a blacksmith that saved the entire human race from evil forces (that after countless remakes, sequels and prequels, any future derivative work must be abandoned in my opinion) and a Vietnam war hero that reeled from the effects of his experience.
Because I haven’t watched any of these movies, it was the last frame in Shakespeare in Love that came to my mind when I saw that beautiful sunset. Viola de Lessep was then walking on a beach after surviving a shipwreck. If given the opportunity to shoot the movie in Ilocos Norte, I will put a little twist in the Twelfth Night’s mistaken identity storyline. My heroine would see a 4×4 vehicle rushing towards her direction. She would then quickly jump at the back of the truck (without asking who the driver was in the first place). From that point onwards, she would then bravely embrace every other adventure that will unfold before her at the Paoay sand dunes.
Paoay Off-Roaders and Adventures Group (PORAG)
Gilbert de los Santos