Sometimes on long trips, we find ourselves at the right place at the wrong time. Just very recently on this trip, I visited the Marcos Presidential Center during their lunch break. Luckily, it was not a wasted effort because I still got access to the Marcos Mausoleum which is the highlight of that tourist spot.
On this next stop, access was not an issue, the heat is. In the desert, 12 noon, full motorcycle gear!!
Paoay is not only known for the picturesque and colossal San Agustin Church but a few other tourist spots. In fact, a new popular adventure destination has been getting attention since last year. About 7 kilometers from the Paoay Church is a 100 square km long strip of nothing but sand.
So what can you do will all the vast emptiness of nothing but sand dunes? Wet sand in the beach is perfect for sunbathing or building sand castles because it is wet and compact. On the contrary, the sand here is very dry and loose. This made it perfect for sand boarding. It is basically gliding down a dune on a board. It is best to do it standing up with your feet strapped to the board but beginners can try the sitting position at first.
I was just following the sign boards and I ended up in Culili Point that starts with a steep uphill climb on that loose powdery sand. I have rode on sand on several instances but it was on a beach and for only a few meters. Dry sand is very loose and the street tires I have on just cuts into it and buries the tires even deeper. Knobby tires at least has those “teeth” for much better traction. Off-road 4X4 jeeps have wider tires that distributes its weight over a larger area.
No one was foolish enough to stay out on the blazing sun so even the jump-off point camp was.. (pun intended) deserted. I sat there on the motorcycle at the top of a hill looking at the barren land trying to talk myself out of going farther. It was very peaceful, beautiful, hot, uncomfortable, and scary.
It really would be a problem if I ride into that and later on realize that it’s too much and I get stuck but that blue sea beyond all the sand was like a guarantee that a trip to the end would be worthwhile. So, the heck with it.. Lezgow!
The once single track from the jump-off point branches out into different directions indicated only by tire tracks and some flag markers. I really have no idea where the tracks lead. I’m trying to figure it out as I go along. Finally, the hot, humid wind turned cooler and cooler. Then, the beach!
I stayed for a while at a small nipa hut by the beach as I enjoy the view and re-hydrate. I’m gonna need that when I make the return trip which is over a kilometer ride.
The return trip was both difficult and easy. It was difficult trying to remember which way I used because there’s no distinct landmarks to go by. On the other hand, I have gotten fairly used to the all the wobbling and fish-tailing that I think I have figured it out. I don’t have a picture but I was doing something like:
TIPS on how to ride a motorcycle in the sand:
1) Go (a little) faster. If an airplane doesn’t go fast enough, it would have a hard time flying because it doesn’t produce enough lift. Driving slow only gives your tires more time to sink into the sand.
2) If the rear tire of your motorcycle gets stuck, lean the motorcycle to one side then hit the throttle. Keeping the motorcycle in an upright position only makes the tire dig deeper into the sand. Leaning it helps the side wall of the tire gets more traction at the same time filling the hole.
3) Steer more with your hips. The front tire gives you little control. Shifting your weight is a more effective way to control the bike.
I may not have done any of the activities tourists get to enjoy on these sand dunes but I still had a blast! Plus, I got off cheap. A quick internet search showed that a 4×4 adventure ride costs about P1500 for 5 pax and if you include an hour of sand boarding, it is an additional P1000. It’s best to go here early morning or late afternoon. There is another site for this sand dunes adventures in Laoag which we will get to on the next stop.