This was one trip where i regret not bringing a bicycle…I was fortunate to attend a conference in Yogyarkta, Indonesia and on the side, i was able to take a stroll around the city on foot and on two wheels. Luckily, the hotel where i stayed (Royal Ambarrukmo Hotel. http://www.royalambarrukmo.com/) had bikes to use for free for guests (Ms. Awalia, one of the hotel staff helped me out with my route and other concerns during my stay).
Since traffic was heavy in the city, it was manageable to stroll through roads considering that vehicles were slow (had to be careful though with motorcycles and most of the streets are one-way)…from the hotel, i got to Malioboro Street, the popular tourist location where many key sites are found.
If you intend to visit Yogyakarta, you can’t miss the temples at Borobudur and Prambanan as well. I wasn’t on a bike but these massive sites will definitely give you a great workout as you walk through these structures.
Perhaps next time, i’ll bring my rig and tour Indonesia as it is definitely worth it!
Cycling may be a bit of an adjustment since vehicles move with a left hand drive orientation (it’s right hand in the Philippines).
Uber works in Yogyakarta! since Borobudur and Prambanan was about 40km away from my hotel the driver struck a deal with me to drive me on both sites and bring me back to the hotel on a lower price.
If you visit Borobudur and Prambanan, consider getting the combo ticket (about usd 40 to save 10 dollars)
Food is cheap but very spicy so dont forget when you order to say ‘gak pedas’/’tidak pedas’ or not spicy
After touring the Philippines by bike (which you can read stuff about the tour here by the way https://pedalpowerphilippines.com/2017/04/05/biketouring-the-philippines-preliminaries-and-leg-1-manila-to-matnog-sorsogon/), i decided to take a rest from long distance cycling and for three months, I’ve taken shorts trips around the metro.
Since 2012, i’ve ridden exclusively in paved roads (well, except for occasional unpaved ones in routes we’ve done) and curiosity of doing trails bit me. Since my Surly Troll was an off road touring bike by design, I had the bike reconfigured into a single speed off road rig.
Frame: Surly Troll 2013 model
Fork: Epicon 2011 model, 100mm travel
Araya TF840 rims, 32 holes, Surly Ultra New Hubs (Front), Hope Pro 2 Trails Single Speed Specific Hub (Rear), Origin 8 Spokes, WTB Race Nano Tires (26×2.1)
Truvativ Firex 1.1 with Hope 36 chainring, surly cog 18t
Stem: Ritchey 90mm, Handlebar: On One Fleegle, 25.4 clamping
So far, ive tried this rig at the Filinvest and Malipay Trails down south and handles quite well in the xc portions and the bike is stable with climbs and some jumps (not to high though!). In the future, i look forward to doing tours on the off road path and for now, this build is helping me develop a new skill set for exciting new routes in the future
The placed was packed with people and aside from descriptions of their adventures, we were treated to wonderful photos of their exploits of their trip from Canada, Alaska to the Mainland US and parts of South America.
What i found interesting is the pieces of advice i got from them such as running tubeless for tours, keeping costs at minimum, taking the lesser known routes, knowing the mother tongue of the place your heading to and anecdotes of experiences that shows a nuanced and fulfilling experience.
For those who may be experienced in doing tours locally but are still clueless on how is it like to go on two wheels in a foreign land, Dean and Dang’s experiences paves the way for most of us dreaming of going out of the confines of home on a bike.
I first visited Decathlon earlier this year when i was in Singapore. A friend told me that this superstore had a range of sports gear for different activities at friendly prices. Since ive been on the look out for small parts for touring, i wasnt disappointed with Decathlon’s inventory (got my bikestand and cage mounts here!). This month, Decathlon opened its first branch in the Philippines and didnt disappoint. Occupying a large area on the second floor of Festival Mall, Alabang, a couple of friends and i visited the branch.
True enough much like their Singapore counterparts, Decathlon Philippines had a wide variety of sports items (even horseback riding!) at friendly prices.
For the bike tourer/cycling enthusiast, the house brand called BTWIN has decently priced bikes with satisfactory specs (i predict these can even rival the budget friendly Trinx brand that’s popular in the Philippines). What appealed to me is the large inventory of small items for the bike tourer-bags, accessories such as bike stands, pump, and even cages as well as racks. In addition, the camping gear section also has budget friendly items -sleeping bags, tents and hammocks which may be expensive in some stores.
What i found also appealing is that the staff were really courteous and spent time talking to us about our gear and cycling trips. hopefully, in the years to come, the staff will maintain this to attract more customers.
While i cant say that the cycling/touring gear will be topnotch as opposed to established brands (dont look for ortliebs, revelate designs or a Surly here), Decathlon addresses the needs of those wanting to try bike touring or even bike to work at very minimal cost…so go check it out!
After 15 months and close to 6,000km of bike touring and commuting using this rig, I offer my long term review of the Surly Troll. While other riders have written similar reviews with more distance covered in varying terrain, I focus my review on the observed strengths and shortcomings in a range of purposes.
The Troll shines in three areas: versatility, comfort and cargo hauling
Dubbed as an apocalypse bike, the Surly Troll is a 26er touring bike made of Chromoly steel. The beefy build is complemented with a versatile set of dropouts that can accommodate a variety of drivetrain builds (Single Speed, Geared, Rohloff/IGH) as well as ample clearance for wide tires (as wide as 2.75). Some have even used 27.5/29 wheels for this build.
Using for touring and commuting, ive setup the troll as geared and single speed. With the capacity to accept different parts, I didn’t experience problems with using existing parts from previous bikes (when I got the frame early 2016, I simply had the parts transferred from my old Cannondale badboy-which makes this model an economically sensible purchase).
As regards comfort, the Troll allows you to ride in a relaxed position. Whether you’re cruising or tackling steep climbs, the frame geometry allows you to securely position yourself for a much more enjoyable ride. Moreover, the solid construction of the frame assures you that you’re ready to deal with a variety of terrain as the chromoly steel material can take a lot of punishment and satisfactorily flexes for more comfort. Personally, with the 26/27.5 and 29 configurations, I felt that the Troll was perfect for me as I didn’t experience toe overlap and climbs have been more manageable as opposed to using a 700c/29er bike.
Finally for cargo hauling, I believe the troll is perfect for those doing lengthy tours, bike commuting and carrying light/heavy stuff using your bike. With a lot of bottlecage, rack and fender mounts, you’re sure not run out of attachment points for your racks and others.
Overall, though I believe that any bike can be made into something to fit your purposes, the Surly Troll’s features obviously makes conversions easier to meet your expectations.
you can check out one of builds i used in a tour here
During a 37 day tour of the Philippines, one of the things that i took note of is particular pieces of gear used during the trip (check out the first entry here https://pedalpowerphilippines.com/2017/04/05/biketouring-the-philippines-preliminaries-and-leg-1-manila-to-matnog-sorsogon/). One of which is the Ortlieb bikepacking framebag (you can check the specs here https://www.ortlieb.com/en/Frame-Pack/). Ortlieb is one of the premiere companies providing quality touring bags for decades and its 100% waterproof! Similar to their panniers, the framebag uses the same fabric -PU laminated ripstop nylon-light, strong and durable.
There are a couple of features that makes the framebag an excellent piece of equipment for tours:
adjustable straps to adapt to different frame designs and uses a combination of velcro and smooth cloth protecting your frame.
The straps are robustly made-assuring you that you wont have problems making sure your framebag stays in place.
The single compartment design with internal velcro strap prevents complicated use and even bulging when loaded.
I particularly like this framebag as it fits the small Surly Troll perfectly and other similarly sloping downtube bikes in the market (i got the medium sized version)
The heavy duty zipper is not only waterproof but can be locked when closed making sure that rain will not enter the bag.
The medium size that i got can fit about 4 liters of gear. In the case of the tour, i placed all my personal stuff, gadgets, small items and even a small tab and fits perfectly.
During the tour, we experienced light to heavy rain and several boat trips and my gear remained dry throughout the trip.
Biketouring the Philippines: Leg 6 (Palawan & Final Thoughts)
In this final entry about our tour of the Philippine Islands, we focus on one set of islands-Palawan which is part of Western Luzon.
Days 29-31 (Approximately 40km total)
Heading back home to Manila from Western Visayas, three of us (Jiggs, Edan and I) took two boat trips to Coron (Iloilo to Puerto Prinsesa with a stopover to Cuyo & Puerto Prinsesa to Coron)
Scenes at Cuyo
The nice sandbar/white beach in Cuyo (perfect for kitesurfing!)
Heading to Puerto Prinsesa from Iloilo, we took the Milagrosa shipping lines (Php 1,200 for deluxe accommodations 36 hours). We also had a 6 hours stopover at Cuyo which is a small island with a great white beach and sandbar-the best thing is…it’s free!
After that stopover, we boarded the ship again to head to Puerto Prinsesa, Palawan. Good thing, I had a friend (former student) who hosted us for the day and she directed us to head to Aldo’s pension Inn which was very spacious and provided all our needs. Since we almost had a whole day, we decided to head to the crocodile farm and saw some other wildlife in the park. We were off at 8pm from Puerto Prinsesa for that 16 hour trip to Coron.
With Janet Oab of Puerto Prinsesa Palawan at Aldo’s Pension Inn
The Crocodile Farm and Conservation Center
Different stages of development
At the Provincial Capitol and a must try restaurant “Ka-Lui”
Days 32-35 (approximately 60km Total)
When we arrived, a friend who had a resthouse in Coron requested some folks from the island to pick us up and brought us to the Kubo sa Gubat (Hut in the Forest) for our accommodation. It was indeed a very nice place as we were surrounded by heavy vegetation. And for the next few days, we went to different islands and spots in Coron such as the Barracuda lake, Twin Lagoons, the public beach. Morover, we also hiked up to Mt. Tapyas (around 700 plus steps!) and spent a couple of hours at the Maquinit hotsprings which was a few kilometers away from the port.
At our friend place “kubo sa gubat” (courtesy of Sagada Loopers)
The twin lagoons
A floating restaurant
The trek to Mt. Tapyas
At the Maquinit Hotspring
We took the 430pm trip via Superferry from Coron to Manila and arrived at 730 in the morning the next day to end our tour
I believe that the Palawan leg is a good way to end the loop because very little cycling was done to cap off a lengthy tour. While there are many activities here, touring the island by bike might also be another option in the future though there are very few towns (and are far apart) in Palawan.
Coron has that “otherworldly” character. That is, it’s landscapes and bodies of water are pristinely preserved as locals are highly engaged and very much protective of their lands.
With tourism as the main industry in Palawan, expect costs of goods to be quite expensive. Therefore, it is practical to have your hosts/hotel staff cook meals for you. You can buy canned food and other meats at the public market.
Overall, I felt that after several weeks on the road, bike touring the Philippines may be much more manageable if one goes around in specific regions/islands as transfers by boat can be tiresome and inefficient. For instance, boat schedules, port locations and even destinations vary from region to region which can greatly affect the scheduling of your biketour.
In sum, I believe that biketouring the Philippines has been a worthwhile experience and something others should look forward to in the future…
Cover Photo Courtesy of Sagada Loopers
We’re grateful to several people our friends as well as fellow riders from the different places we’ve visited around the country who have offered help and assistance during our trip.
From our previous Leg in Cebu, we took ferry at Liloan Port at Santander and proceeded to Dumaguete, Negros Oriental which is part of Western Visayas…
Since we arrived early evening, we left our stuff at the Coastal Inn (980, good for 5 persons, http://www.dmgte.com/hotel/CoastalInn) after dinner at one of the local grills in the city. After that, we decided to try the popular Sansrival at the café. Perhaps due to the rich American influence, one can notice the remnants of the culture in its architecture as well as food. Contrasting it with Cebu, cuisine here appears to be sweet and fattening!
Day 23-24 (approximately 40km from port to Lazi and back)
One of our friends, Jiggs joined us for the leg in this tour and the group decided to go to Siquijor which is a few hours ride by boat (http://www.oceanjet.net/dumaguete-siquijor) from Dumaguete. Arriving early afternoon, we had photo ops in popular landmarks such as the church near the port and went to Lazi, Siquijor. Similar to Bohol, the island of Siquijor is a biker’s haven due to the adequately spaced and well paved roads, very minimal traffic and countryside feel-no malls or convenience stores!. Though the general impression is that Siquijor has that supernatural character (probably due to the mythic stories about the island), one can say that travel here makes you close to nature. When we got to Lazi, we had go through uphill climbs and decided to go to the Lazi Beach club for the night. Unfortunately, a large portion of the backroads of this island remain unpaved and I remember having difficulty as terrain was brutally harsh (rolling and unfinished). The Lazi Beach club unlike the other accommodation we’ve encountered before is quite expensive (2500 good for four!) and prices of food and other services seem to be for foreigners (quite expensive)! One consolation though is that the beach view is great and visitors are situated in a more solitary fashion as the resort is one of the few ones there on that part of Siquijor.We got back to Dumaguete early evening and treated ourselves to great food and drink.
The Church in Siquijor Town Proper and Markers
The big balete tree, fish spa and public spring
The backroads of Lazi
We were supposed to head north to Bacolod, Negros Occidental but Jun who sustained an injury earlier in his eye needed to get himself checked and sadly was strongly advised to abort the tour.
With four of us remaining, Edan and Rahnel decided to pedal from Dumaguete to Bacolod late evening while Jiggs and I took a bus to Kabankalan to continue from there. Arriving early morning at Kabankalan, Jiggs and I pedaled 90km to Bacolod. I remember that the heat was terrible early that day and that prompted us to stop several times to rest and rehydrate. But the road to Bacolod has been memorable as sugar cane plantations are everywhere leaving that sweet, sugary scent as you pass these roads. We arrived a little bit after lunch while Edan and Rahnel got to Bacolod around 10 in the evening. While waiting, Jiggs’ cousin Carla, who resides in Bacolod gave us a gastronomic welcome-treating us to cake, pizza and the popular chicken inasal (roasted chicken). We spent the night at the Regency plaza inn, Bacolod (650 for two persons, one of the cheapest in town and had the basic necessities for the bike tourer! https://www.booking.com/hotel/ph/regency-plaza-tourist-inn.html).
Not hot…terribly hot!
The food coma doesn’t stop (at Calea cakes-try the mudpie ice cream cake and roasted pork and chicken inasal at Nena’s)
Pizza Negrense at L’fisher Chalet (Courtesy of Carla and Jiggs)
before leaving for Iloilo (part of Panay Island, Western Visayas), Carla treated us to Diotay’s eatery. Compared to last night’s food, this time, seafood reigned supreme! After lunch, we took photos taken at the popular Ruins in Talisay City (http://www.choosephilippines.com/go/heritage-sites/2441/love-story-and-ruins/)-which was an old house built by a sugar baron from the city early in the 20th century-dubbed as the Taj Mahal of Negros (10km away from the Regency plaza Inn) , the rich historical tradition in architecture makes this place a must see. We ended the day by proceeding to the port and heading to Panay island.
When we got to Iloilo, a member of our bike group, Del Britanico welcomed us and brought us to the popular restaurant Tatoy’s where we had chicken and seafood and went around town and took pictures at the Molo Church and plaza. We stayed at the Highway 21 hotel (1200 good for 4 persons, https://www.facebook.com/highway21hotel/).
At Molo Town Plaza and Church
In these days, Rahnel decided that he will pedal his way up to Caticlan and head to Boracay and proceed to Batangas while the rest decided to stay put and take two ferry trips to Palawan. Rahnel went ahead and Edan, Jiggs and I went around Iloilo to see popular attractions around Iloilo. The next day, we checked out Guimaras Island, which is 15 minutes by boat (25 pesos with bike) from IloIlo. Famous for its beaches and Mangoes, the island is a great place for bikers as it has trails as well as tourist attractions. We went to the windmills and got around the island (about 40km in total) a bit and finally tasted some great delicacies made from Mangoes. We got back again early evening for the next leg of our tour.
Around Iloilo city and tasting the ever popular batchoy!
Among the different places in the Philippines which was part of the itinerary, I would say that the western Visayas has got to be the most challenging one in terms of climate as it was very hot during this time of the year. I assume that it was in the upper 20s-low 30s and humidity was just difficult to bear with.
One of the lessons I learned from other tourers abroad is that if delays are encountered, taking a bimodal route, in our case the bus ride from Dumaguete to Kabankalan is fine as some of us didn’t want to risk delaying the trip further. Personally, I felt there was a safety issue in riding late at night in the provinces as accidents are commonplace in the area.
This leg has been one of those potential areas I’d like to come back to in the future as the Negros-Panay island has a lot of things to offer in terms of tourist attractions and delicacies unique in the region. Moreover, among the different places in our loop, the food here is great.
The ferry trip from Dumaguete to Siquijor is Php 130 and Php50 for the bike. Going back though was different as we took a different carrier and they charged Php140 for the bikes! As mentioned earlier posts, it seems that sea travel to biketour the Philippines is one major challenge as costs seem to vary from area to area.
you can check the previous leg of our tour by clicking this link https://pedalpowerphilippines.wordpress.com/2017/04/18/bike-touring-the-philippines-leg-4-cebu/?frame-nonce=481f200030
On our way back home from Cagayan de Oro, Northern Mindanao, we took a boat to the Island of Cebu, which is located mid-east of the Philippines. As a center of commerce in the Visayas, it is to a certain extent modernize yet keeping the countryside charm which every biketourer clamours for. In this entry, I detail our experience in this leg of our Philippine bike tour in Cebu
Day 20 Cebu port to Argao (Approximately 68km)
We arrived early morning (about 5am) at Cebu city port taking the Cokaliong liner (Php 890 per person, economy accommodation) and proceeded to southwest to Argao. Though we initially planned to just stay at Carcar City, our ride was quite fast compared to the previous days since the terrain was straightforward. Very few climbs and weather was perfect. Though we encountered moderate traffic in the city proper, we eventually speed past the slow build-up of vehicles as we went away from the center.
The day was special as we dropped by the popular Carcar city public market. For those (un)familiar, Cebu prides itself of its native Lechon (roasted pig) and we were told that Carcar public market sells them at a cheaper price and are very fresh from the grill (Php300 per kilo). After lunch, coffee and a nap at a nearby café, we headed to Argao, Cebu and ended up staying at Looc Beach Resort.
Day 21 Argao to Oslob (approximately 52km)
Though it was hot that day, we managed to ride out early and enjoy the countryside. Heading south meant getting farther, deeper into the province where the sea and heavy patches of trees were commonplace. We spent time at the town of Boljoon which had an old church and school constructed in earlier times. Eventually we reached Oslob and stayed at a pension home.
Day 22 Oslob to Santander port (approximately 34km)
The next morning, we decided to go around town and enjoy Oslob. Though we weren’t really in to the Whaleshark offering, we wanted to go to Tumanog falls only to find out that trips there via motorcycle were a ripoff. Instead, we went around the old buildings such as the church, old town walls built during the Spanish era. In the afternoon we proceeded to Santander port to take the next boat to Dumaguete, Negros Oriental.
Rider Notes and Reflections:
I’ve biked in Cebu a few years ago and this province remains to be one of those havens for cyclists due to the many tourist spots and trails one can visit.
As far as taking boats are concerned, the Cokaliong liner remains as the best so far as the boats are “bikefriendly” (plenty of ramps, accommodating and helpful staff and very clean and spacious)
3. In terms of cuisine, you might find food in Cebu a bit salty and you would need to brace yourself for this as the food experience might be a bit awkward at first.
4. I was a little disappointed with our experience in Oslob as tours offered by the locals change in prices and are aimed at foreigners. For instance, as claimed by the caretaker of our pension home, the motorcycle ride we were supposed to take at Tumanog falls costs just 50 pesos but when we got to deal with the drivers, they claim it is Php150. Morover, though many suggested the whaleshark tour, we weren’t in favor of it as it is against sustainable tourism practice, -feeding the whalesharks-effectively disrupting their natural patterns of living.
5. I’d say, this leg of the biketour is the start of our “food coma” as cuisine is definitely memorable as with the remaining destinations of our tour going home.
6. for the previous leg in our tour, check this out https://pedalpowerphilippines.com/2017/04/14/bike-touring-the-philippines-leg-3-bohol-cagayan-de-oro/
7. The Santander port is a small and you may need to seek the help of locals who can direct you to the area. The fee for the trip from Cebu to Dumaguete is 70 Php.
Moving on to our third leg, we took the 9am ferry from Port of Bato, Leyte to Ubay, Bohol (ticket costs Php270 and Php50 for the bike)
The trip runs around 3-4 hours and I recall the sea was calm though there were light showers of rain during our trip.
We arrived before lunch at Ubay, Bohol and good thing there were several restaurants near the port.
From there, were pedaled our way to Carmen, Bohol and since it was already getting late, we decided to stay at Marbezen Inn (https://www.facebook.com/marbezen/) around 50 km away from the port
The ride to Carmen, Bohol had been a good one as roads are well paved and spacious, very light vehicular traffic is observed and climbs are well spaced out and are very manageable.
I recall, the day wasn’t really a good one as it was raining and we took off early afternoon to head to the popular Chocolate hills. Though the climb to the top of one hill to give you a view of whole landscape was short, the walk up the viewpoint was really challenging! (I just hate walking!)
As weather became unpredictable, our ride to our hosts for the day wasn’t pleasant but we managed to get to our friends late night in Dauis, Bohol (we rode about 65km).
For some weird reason, weather was good again and after late breakfast we had decided to go around Panglao since it was popular of its beaches. That part of Bohol is about 30km and we were able to do stay in one of the beaches to hangout for photo ops. A few hours later, we headed to Tagbilaran port to head to Cagayan de Oro in Northern Mindanao.
After 9 hours at sea, we arrived at Cagayan de Oro Port early morning and headed to the Good News Travelers Inn for rest (. Since we had to change our itinerary for the Mindanao leg, we decided to have a change in activity. Mark who joined us again in this part of our trip (he had to drop out in Tacloban due to work concerns) helped us get reservations for River Rafting which was a popular activity in the province. While others had different activities, I went out around the city and saw two bikeshops and a popular university in the area.
Early morning, we were picked up by the company running the River Rafting activity (Check out Kagay for this service http://www.kagaycagayandeororafting.com/) and after travelling by jeep for less than 2 hours, we were at the river rafting area.
The experience is just extremely different as the four hour rafting tour was very much different from our usual cycling adventures (take a look at the photos and video! all courtesy of Kagay rafting company)
Check this short clip!
Later in the day (and after a long rest), we pedaled our way to the port again to head to our next destination.
Rider notes and reflections:
Personally, I felt that among the different islands in our itinerary, Bohol ranks number 1 in my list due to the excellent roads/infrastructure and view/sites. Moreover, costs for accommodation and meals are cheap and at the same time (our stay at the inn costs 200 per person and meals around 70-100 per person), there seems to be a balance of nature and development as there are several sites that remain untouched by industrialization.
I wouldn’t recommend TranAsia Shipping as your transport as it isn’t bike friendly at all as you’d need to scale a couple of stairs to get your bike up! Fare costs 690 to Cagayan de Oro and extra fees for the bike. What’s funny as two sets of officers charge different rates for the bikes so it pays to ask and haggle (which makes this part of the tour an annoying exercise as there doesn’t seem to be a set rate!)
One missed opportunity was our Mindanao Leg which he had to drop due to security and safety issues (The original plan was to cycle from Surigao to Cagayan de Oro). Perhaps, an extensive tour of Mindanao is something we’d consider in the future.
Among the different lodges/inns/hotel we stayed, the Good News Travelers Inn is not only bike friendly (they let you park your bikes at the lobby with round the clock security) but you get value for your money. We stayed two days and a meal per day and paid 1750 for 5 people. Service has been prompt, the rooms are very spacious and facilities adequate.