Feeling ‘BOARD’ and ‘DUNE’ know where to go?
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Introduced in 2013 in the province of Ilocos Norte, Philippines, the 4×4 off road ride and sand boarding have become an attraction to the local and international tourists. It is being enjoyed and loved not only by the Ilocanos but more so the travelers from around the globe.
The sand dunes in Paoay and La Paz used to be one of the playgrounds of my pup back in 2009 (a Siberian Husky in a desert-like side of the country how’s that? Lol). We loved hiking up a dune and upward the peak, then we’d run back and roll down to the plains without fear. Though the place is not ideal for beach lovers, no huts or cottages compared to other beaches, I considered still a wonderful place to loosen and unwind.
Holding a managerial position with few staff, it is my joy to let them experience a perfect summer outing. It was May 2014 and summer was almost over. I didn’t want to see the rain chasing us, feeling like it’s whispering to us that we need to hurry because we only had few hours left before the rainy season. Time is of the essence and thus, it was not smart going on a long travel just to get through an annual “summer outing” So I asked my team, “How would you like to try a 4×4 ride and go sand boarding for a change?” Some were cool about it and some reacted so-so! I myself was thrilled since it would be my first time. I love diving but I don’t want to miss the opportunity of experiencing how it’s like to be in that 4×4 open type, big wheel, rugged jeep and later on ride the slopes on a piece of board.
I called up the guy who gave his business card and made our booking on the following day around 5 in the afternoon. We hired 2 off road jeeps with a capacity of 5 passengers each excluding the driver, four standing at the back and one sitting beside the driver. They had us sign a waiver indicating that it is our free will and that we understood the risk once we hop in. No insurance offered on the site also, meaning you ride at your own risk. There was a short briefing before we proceeded, one of which I remember is that you have to leave your valuables like wallet, car keys and cellular phones with them to give you peace of mind and lessen the possibility of dropping and losing them forever in the sand. Filled with excitement, we prayed that everything will go smooth! Oh well, that ride did not go smoothly as expected! That was an extreme adventure I didn’t want to miss. Our driver behind the wheel revved up the engine and started moving in 10 meters, 20…. and when we reached 30 meters away from where we started, we encountered the first slope going uphill and down. I stayed at the back standing along with 3 of my staff and the rest stayed in the other jeep. We screamed as the driver maneuvered his steering wheel to the right. The right front and rear tyre climbed the dune and stayed put for about 10 seconds. It reminded me of my side plank exercise in the gym holding that poses for a couple of seconds until i felt stiff. If your arms are not strong enough to hold on to the bars while the driver drags everyone down with a hard step on his accelerator, good luck! You might fall off and meet God soon. Lol. Just kidding. By the way, passengers don’t wear safety gears such as helmets, knee and elbow pads, or safety belts. I was only wearing a white fitted shirt, blue jeans, a pair of sneakers and a sunglass to protect my eyes from the sand. I didn’t mind the scorching sun. As we continued to break the nature’s silence with our unending screams while we cruised and climbed all the different levels of the dunes, the driver stopped and switched off his engine, pointing to the area where two other guys were standing and waiting for us with skim boards in their hands.
Board to be Wild!
It was the second part of the adventure. The sand boarding part. We were allowed to take a rest for a while and we’re asked who had the courage to go first. Exhausted in that 4×4 ride, we paused and we were still catching our breath. I couldn’t believe my eyes when the skinniest, feeble, and meekest lady of my team raised her hand saying “SIAK!” in our own native dialect (which means “ME!”) , took that brave step, and walked with her head up to the starting point – the peak of the dune. It sounded like “buwis-buhay” (“life at stake”) to me. Lol. With the guide’s instruction, she confidently sat on that skim board and slowly slid down that sandy terrain. It was a “no-sweat ride” at all. She had overcome her fears as we cheered. Two others followed sitting on that board, and three more did the same position. Then it was my turn. I was given an option to stand like I was boarding the waves of the sea. My heart was pounding faster as I slipped my foot into the sling of the board and felt the adrenaline rush as I started to ride the slope of sand. Whoa! Well, I didn’t make it to the end because I lost my balance halfway and so I had to pick up my board and go back where I began and repeat the slide. It took me three attempts before I got to the finish point. I realized it was not that easy. Focus is more important, not just balance. It is not how quick you get to the finish point but it is how thrilled you are when you’re already on that board as you go and slide down. It was such a challenging activity that these words crossed my mind, “Hmmm…I would come back here to learn it, master it, and crush it!” Lol.
We spent 2,500.00 per jeep including the sand boarding experience. The tip is not a must but if you’re happy, you can give out of joy to the friendly and accommodating drivers.
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