Friday, January 30, 2015

Friday, January 30, 2015

Tired from our bus trip from Vigan and wanted a place to stay near the Farinas Bus Terminal in Laoag, we came looking for the Texicano Hotel.  I have read all over the net about how cheap their room rates are, but the cheap has gone more expensive in the end.  That’s the reason why most of the time I don’t go for the cheapest unless I know the place very well.  I don’t why I did that in Laoag?
A tricycle driver at the bus terminal told us Texicano isn’t far, about few meters away and it was, just a couple of minutes walk along J.P. Rizal Street not very far from the Provincial Capitol building. 
The hotel has two buildings, upon entering the compound, the newer but with more expensive rooms, is on the left with the “Texicano” emblazoned up on its side, whereas the cheap rooms are located on the old building on the right side where the equally old reception area is also located.
We were given a room on the second floor, access is through stairs and there is a hall up facing the rooms, sort of a receiving area, wooden floor with several old wooden furniture.  Looking out the balcony, there is an enclosure down below with a small pool with dirty water and a clothesline.
[Above] Hall receiving area; [Bottom-left] Enclosure below the balcony; [Bottom-right] Bathroom.

Our room has a fissured screen door covering the wooden door.  The row of room doors on the hall reminded me of an old student dormitory in an old tenement-like building in Recto Avenue (Manila) where a friend of mine used to stay. 
When we entered the room, at first glance, it isn’t that bad, I even uttered the words, but close inspection of the four corners I swiftly become aware of the scruffiness. 
The walls are oddly painted in white with polka dots in hues of blue and just beside the bed is a dirty side of the wall (see pic).  I started imagining that it’s gonna be a sleeping debacle facing that grubby wall.  The equally dirty ceiling has a remnant of a long light ballast just without the light, instead beside it is a small white bulb.  Would taking down that light ballast tough enough for one person to just leave it there without any purpose than making a mess on the already dirty ceiling? 
But the most despicable thing that caught my attention (and I’m not hard to please) was the large muck on one of the corner of the ceiling, a grime that have accumulated and dried up perhaps from rain water?  It made me very uncomfortable even though it was my sister’s bed facing that corner of the ceiling.
The empty light ballast and the muck of rainwater on the corner.
I don’t really feel good about the place so I went down and sat at the concrete bench outside along the driveway, said “good day” to the old man cleaning the driveway which gave him the “chat” gesture.  He immediately and conveniently sat beside me and started telling me stories about the place.  How he started working at the hotel when he was barely an adult, he’s more than 70 years old by the way, and that he is very much trusted by the old folks (the owner who passed away) and the present owner is the son and so many stories like celebrities who have stayed at Texicano during its heydays – FPJ, Vivian Velez and other luminaries of days gone by.
About 15 minutes had passed, on a spur-of-the-moment and since the building is ancient I asked if there are “ghost stories” about the place.  I’ve mentioned that there are stories (on the internet) from some people who have stayed at the hotel who found the old building eerie and some even have ghost stories to tell.  He did not confirm nor deny it, he just said, well maybe some ghosts have “played” with those guests.  What I found strange though is, after a while, he told me his son died few days back and a funeral wake is currently held at their house.
So why was he at the hotel working when they’re having a wake for his dead son?  I don’t know but there was something je ne sais quoi about this old but friendly man.
I bade to be excused from a long albeit amusing if somewhat odd chat with the old chap, I said I have to go up and fix things and we (my sister is up the room) will go out to wander around the city.  He left, I went upstairs.  I lied down for a while while sister was fixing her stuff when suddenly we heard something like footsteps and what seemed like ping pong balls bouncing just above our room.  Me and sister looked at each other, I said – what was that?  She went out and gazed up above the stairs leading to the floor above us and she said started waving her hand and confirmed that there are people above us.
Wandering around the city center, my thoughts are drifting around from the creepy hall on the second floor of the hotel, the person who peered twice from behind the curtain on the glass panel opposite our room (yes there was and I forgot to mention that), the uncomfortable room, the nasty wall and mucky ceiling, the bathroom that can’t be locked, and the icing on top of the cake was the strange old man.
Our cheap room at the old building part of Texicano Hotel.

I don’t know, I don’t get scared, I’ve stayed alone in really centuries old houses in all my traveling but whenever this kind of feeling occur to me – which by the way happened only for the second time in my entire traveling life – I’ve to start packing,  run and get out of there. 
We started hunting for another place and we found a really clean and nice hotel right at the center of the city – the Hotel Tiffany.
We went back to Texicano, packed our bags, gave an excuse at the reception that we have to catch a bus out of Laoag City that night.
I wondered what excuse I would tell the “old man” in case I bumped with him walking out of the driveway, when I previously told him that we will be staying for 2 nights there.  Or will I ever see him around before I leave?  Or if the chat we had really took place or otherwise?  I don’t wanna know.
And guess what? When we reached our new hotel my sister told me she did lie to me a while ago when she told me there were people above us when we heard some ping ponging balls and footsteps up on the ceiling.  No people there in fact, she just doesn’t want to scare us both.
If you’re into budget places and cannot be bothered by the condition of the rooms - it ain’t the worst, it’s just tad bad for me - stay there.

Price: P450/night for two persons on 2 single beds, fan room with ensuite bathroom.
Address:  Corner of J.P. Rizal and Hizon Street, Laoag City. Telephone: +63 (077) 772 0606

Google map location:  https://goo.gl/maps/Yin3w

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