Friday, October 7, 2016

Circle Hostel La Union + Finally, Surfing!


It's good to be back at The Circle Hostel. I thought I wouldn't have another chance to stay in these artsy, hippie accommodations located in the country's prime surf spots (Baler, La Union, Zambales), but I guess fate does surprise you when you least expect it!

During our La Union trip, the original plan was to stay in Kahuna for 2 nights (turned 3, blogged this HERE), and then in another hotel for 2 more nights. With some kind of a movie (or TV series!) twist, we ended up being cancelled upon by our second hotel at the last minute, with no house for the next 2 to 3 nights!!


And so the teleserye's twist begins! Our group of ten was trimmed to five, as the others decided to go home already. Bus to Manila is easy to catch in La Union, you just have to step out in the main road and wait for it!

When the others boarded the Cubao bus, they were joking that we're the semi-finalists of this "competition", hehe. The Mythical Five (hehe) Mc Pol, Mike, Michael, Cha and I ended up like nomads in the streets searching for a place to stay. We decided to pass time in El Union while concocting our game plan. That's when we got a go signal from The Circle Hostel!

So off we merrily go along the friendly streets of LU! 


Circle Hostel La Union is located in Brgy. Urbiztondo, Circle Road, La Union, San Juan. It is not beach front, but still accessible and walking distance by around 200 meters away. This area is nearer our favorite karinderya and Moonleaf, along the access street from Urbiztondo Grill. When you're lost, it's easy to ask around as Circle Hostel is pretty popular in the area.




My first Circle Hostel experience was in Zambales, and true to its tagline "There are no strangers", the place will welcome you like an old friend.

Parked surf boards finally convinced me that I NEED to surf that day, painted walls, lockers, and stairs created by past guests made the place more warm and homey. You can paint your own quotes, doodles, or favorite lines to leave your mark, just ask for paint tools from their receptionist. I forgot to do this though, huhu!




To complete the hostel experience, they have a common bath with separate toilet and hot & cold shower cubicles for boys and girls. Each toilet cubicle has a bidet and roll of tissue. Two sinks are located outside the bath. It is a perfectly doable set-up, just bring a waterproof / plastic vanity kit or bag for your clean clothes.

Anyone can use these lockers for free, but make sure to bring your own padlock. I usually just leave my stuff inside my luggage on my bed before leaving, but if you have gadgets like laptop with you, then avail this to be safe.


Now here's the way to our room:

Unlike other dormitory type accommodations, Circle Hostel will surprise you with their open-air bahay kubo style rooms. I saw two huts in the area (girls and co-ed), all with countless wooden bunk beds. If you are into luxury traveling, then this is either not for you OR something for you to experience in this lifetime (bucket list level!). 

In fairness, it's not so hot during nighttime so one night was fine with me. I think I've been too accustomed to air conditioned rooms with private CR, but the adventurer side of me welcomes this experience with heart-eyes emoji. We learn a lot and gain more stories to tell when you can go from luxury to budget, right? It also awakens the story-teller in me!

Circle Hostel will also provide you with a bed sheet, pillow case, and kumot upon check-in, while a kulambo or mosquito net is already set-up on each bed. If you are forgetful like me, they also rent towels for Php 50. For the bunk bed, it will cost you just Php 550 / night, a good deal for budget travellers!



Some guests label their beds, so cute!


I have to admit that I admire these young bloggers more when I saw that they can easily adapt to any accommodation. Mike and Michael were fun to be with, they also have great 90s playlist that I enjoyed while we were lounging in Circle Hostel's common room! More on that later.


Heading out! 

Cha is also a fun travel buddy. She's a ball of energy, and always very positive under any circumstance. You'd think that she won't stay in a hostel, but Cha is actually the only one that I heard who said she can stay here for a week if given the chance! Such a cowgirl, I see my younger self in her but even braver, haha!

For the more adventurous types, another lodging option at The Circle Hostel are their hammocks which you can rent at Php 450 / night. It fully zips up so you can sleep peacefully sans mosquitos, or leave your things inside during the day.


Contemplating if I can sleep in a hammock next time, who knows!! My motto in life is to go go go for it, while you still can! Hehe.

And lastly, which I think is Circle Hostel's highlight, is their common area. In our bunk beds, there are NO SOCKETS so you really have to go to the common area to charge your gadgets. But aside from that, it is also a place to meet traveller from all over the world. They usually hangout here for the free breakfast, WIFI, or to relax at the end of the day before sleeping.


There are two swings, which we all tried because we are all kids at heart:


Take off your shoes! Here's how the common area looks like. There are hammocks and bean bags everywhere. Hi McPol! Hehehe.




Scattered everywhere are board games and books that everyone can use:





Some of the books were left by former guests, which I find cool. One time, I just ordered their house brewed coffee for Php 50, occupied around 2 bean bags, and just lie around and enjoy the carefree vibe and good company (Michael's 90s playlist playing on the background). It was a lazy afternoon, and super hot outside, so we preferred to just chill in the hostel for a while.



When late afternoon came, Cha and I went to the beachside near Flotsam, and saw new and pro surfers catching waves. MAY NAG SUSURF! I felt that FINALLY our ultimate LU agenda will happen that day! It has been months since my last surfing, so I was as good as a beginner, while it was Cha's first time. She was nervous before we started, but she ended up standing on the board a lot of times! Wasn't able to tell her, but that was also a proud moment for me like a big sister.

We surfed again the next day, which was also their last day in LU. They planned to maximize the day by going home at midnight, so there was plenty of time to surf again. I can't describe how beautiful everything was: The water, the weather, and the sun setting at a distance while my instructor and I wait for the next wave. We even saw a rainbow on their last day!



Ganito talaga yun, workout ang pag sampa palang sa board! Haha! Thank you to my instructors Kuya Elmer and King! By third day and a lot of patience from my instructors, I can easily stand on the board already.

Some sunset photos and playtime with my friends:




That night, we all went back to the common room to spend more time together before they decided to leave for Manila. I honestly felt like there's 50/50 chance that they will extend, haha! But I guess that was just early sepanx kicking in.

I remembered that they taught me how to play 1-2-3 pass. It was a hilarious game, nakakanerbyos ha! We were screaming and laughing the whole time! For the most part though, I can't even remember what we even did to waste away the night. Before I knew it, it was almost 12mn and it was time for them to go home.





I don't know how I'll even end this post to give justice to the 5 days I spent with these people. We had two opposite travel experiences from Kahuna to Circle - both extra memorable because of the people I was with. As Cha puts it, these are all going to our Core Memory, in reference to Inside Out's beautiful concept.

With schedules interfering, priorities differing, I've proven that the chance to do the same things with the same people is just .01%. Like in life, travel memories and people come and go. The next wave to catch is always different from the last one. But didn't we had all the fun that we can have at that moment?

Although with an option to go home in the middle of the trip, I'm glad that I took the risk and made it to the 5th day (Ako daw ang nag-wagi! Hahaha!). When I said goodbye to The Circle Hostel and the gang on my solo tricycle ride to my third hotel during this trip, I can only have a grateful heart that all these great things happened, but the best is (as always) yet to come.



Special thanks to Circle Hostel La Union (@thecirclehostel) and Mc Pol Cruz of www.weekendsidetrip.com for making this trip possible!

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