Cycling Yogyakarta, Indonesia

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. 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.


one of the few bikeshops in Yogyakarta
the ever busy Malioboro Street
riding on two wheels with the conquer top tube bag for gadgets and small stuff



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!

Some tips:

  1. Cycling may be a bit of an adjustment since vehicles move with a left hand drive orientation (it’s right hand in the Philippines).
  2. 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.
  3. If you visit Borobudur and Prambanan, consider getting the combo ticket (about usd 40 to save 10 dollars)
  4. Food is cheap but very spicy so dont forget when you order to say ‘gak pedas’/’tidak pedas’ or not spicy

Surly Troll Single Speed Trail Build

After touring the Philippines by bike (which you can read stuff about the tour here by the way, 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.


setup courtesy of Ross Cycles
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Grimace the Troll with his pet Fleegle the Beagle!


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


Avid BB7


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

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Got Goat?
At the Filinvest Trails
lovin mud
loving all that mud!

Build, Ride, Inspire: Dean and Dang’s biketour of the Americas

In the Philippines, it’s very rare that you get to hear fellow Filipinos doing biketours outside the country. I first encountered Dean Cunanan and Dang Huervos’ adventures in (  and crazyguy on a bike ( I was really impressed with the amount of detail and generous advice given by these two in their entries and it was a fine treat to actually meet them in person in a talk organized by Lagalag Store Manila. (


IMG_3406.JPG 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.IMG_3409.JPG

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.

A visit to Decathlon Philippines

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.

They carry the Quechua brand for camping and outdoor gear

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!

the hundred peso bike pump!



A long term review of the Surly Troll

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

Review of Ortlieb bikepacking framebag

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 One of which is the Ortlieb bikepacking framebag (you can check the specs here 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:

  1. adjustable straps to adapt to different frame designs and uses a combination of velcro and smooth cloth protecting your frame.
  2. The straps are robustly made-assuring you that you wont have problems making sure your framebag stays in place.
  3. The single compartment design with internal velcro strap prevents complicated use and even bulging when loaded.
  4. 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)
  5. The heavy duty zipper is not only waterproof but can be locked  when closed making sure that rain will not enter the bag.
  6. 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.
  7. During the tour, we experienced light to heavy rain and several boat trips and my gear remained dry throughout the trip.




I got my framebag from Green Basikal in Singapore ( You can check out other online shops for this item

Bike Touring the Philippines: Leg 4 (Cebu)

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.

heading south (courtesy of Rahnel Sison)

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.

Carcar City Market
inside the market where the good stuff is!


Jun excited for this roasted delicacy!
Our accommodation for our first day in Cebu (1100 good for 4-5 persons, fan room)


Jun and Rahnel by the Sea, Argao Cebu (courtesy of Sagada Loopers)

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.

early ride out (courtesy of Sagada Loopers)
en route to Boljoon, Cebu
Boljoon Town Proper
Old school built in the 1900s


our accommodation at Oslob (1,000 Php good for 4 persons, airconditioned room)


Spanish Era Buildings in Oslob
the old town buildings


at the Oslob Museum (Courtesy of Sagada Loopers)

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.

en route to Santander (courtesy of Sagada Loopers)
S(Trolling) by the sea
off to the next island


Rider Notes and Reflections:


  1. 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.
  2. 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)
at the ship by Cokaliong Liner

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

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.


Bike touring the Philippines: Leg 3 (Bohol-Cagayan de Oro)

If you’re reading it for the first time, you might want to check out the first two parts of our Philippine Bike tour (

Day 15

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)

port of bato.JPG
loading our bikes at the pumpboat
bato pumpboat.JPG
Off to the next island

 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 ( around 50 km away from the port

from the main road heading to Carmen


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.

all smiles heading to Carmen, Bohol (courtesy of Sagada Loopers)
Fields of Bohol
our accomodation

Day 16

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!)

The troll on the hill
The long walk up the viewpoint
lush hills in full view


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).

Day 17

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.

With our good samaritans Reuben and Auring Estoque (Courtesy of Sagada Loopers)
Boholandia dreaming
Life’s a  beach (Courtesy of Sagada Loopers)
to the next island

Day 18

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.

Another day, another island
at the Good News Traveler’s Inn (
a brand new day in Cagayan de Oro, Nothern Mindanao
riding around town
at Cagayan Cyclemart

Day 19

Early morning, we were picked up by the company running the River Rafting activity (Check out Kagay for this service 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)

short orientation
rafting fun
wild rapids fun



Cool closeup shoot


all wet, all smiles

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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!)
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
Riding out photo ops with Good News Traveler’s Inn Staff and Owner


Cover Photo courtesy of Kagay

Biketouring the Philippines: Preliminaries and Leg 1 (Manila to Matnog, Sorsogon)

It’s been a long time since I updated my blog and I had good reason-I took a 37 day biketour with a couple of friends around my country, the Philippines. As someone new to touring/long distance cycling, this ride was initially planned 2 years ago when I wanted to bike all the way from Manila to Tacloban, Leyte. But through the encouragement of friends in the community, we made it into a Philippine Loop. The succeeding sections (and entries) will walk you through our experience. But first some preliminaries…

You might think that our tour was an extensive one. I’d say our tour was a rough survey of the country-being an archipelago with several islands, biketouring the Philippines may take more than 37 days. Therefore, if you’re interested in getting information aside from the stuff I’ll share, you may refer to these pages as well  by Nelo Varias and by Arthur Reblando and Jaime Perez as these were helpful when we planned our own tour.

For those wondering about how our tour was done, I’d say we (riders) had a couple of common points of understanding which you may find helpful

  1. All of us had varying experiences in long distance cycling-nothing really serious such as joining professional races and all, but we were familiar about the physical, mental and financial demands of the activity.
  2. We weren’t really focused on just merely cycling the route but also devoted time to being a tourist in our country, pedaling our way leisurely with the intent of getting a sense of place and experience what each locale had to offer-food, other activities etc.
  3. In terms of budget, we pegged the estimated expenses at Php 1,000 a day (roughly 20 USD) for food and accommodation. The accommodation were mostly inns and lodges, hotels or resorts (there are many cheap ones with varying levels of quality in service and amentifies). Prices vary from 200-500 per person. Interestingly, the expenses for food and lodging become lower as you go deeper into the provinces (except the ones that are popular among tourists). One popular option that cyclists take would be to camp or stay in government facilities such Barangay (town) halls, Police stations or even basketball courts or waiting sheds which significantly lower expenses.
  4. Striking a healthy balance between safety and adventure were common concerns. This was evident when we had to change our itinerary midway and had to drop a significant portion of our trip in Mindanao where several skirmishes between rebel government forces were reported and we were advised by friends to consider rerouting our trip. Moreover, road conditions and dealing with annoying motorists in narrow roads was experience throughout the journey.
  5. Also, boat trips from different parts of the country were also a concern given that certain ports would offer trips in limited areas. Fees range between Php70 (Cebu to Dumaguete) to 2,000++ (Coron to Manila) and bikes also incur charges (between 100-250)
  6. Timing is crucial. We scheduled this tour in late february to make sure that the areas for touring would be generally dry and manageable.


Leg 1 of our tour took 7 days-starting from Manila to Matnog, Sorgsogon (estimated distance of 600++ km)

For day 1, we all converged at KM 0 in Manila to formally start the trip and pedaled to Quezon via Luisiana (to avoid heavy traffic) and ended up in Tayabas Quezon (roughly 130km). Luckily, we were accompanied by several riders who did a send off for the group.

Convergence at KM0

early morning snack

At Pagsanjan, Laguna

accommodations for day 1 (Casitas Hotel at Tayabas, Quezon)


Day 2,

In this day we passed by the popular Atimonan bypass road or commonly known as the “bituka ng Manok” (chicken’s intestines) which had several stretches of zigzag roads. We ended up at Villa Paraiso ( Caluag Quezon (estimated at 100km)

Segment of the Bituka ng Manok, Atimonan Quezon

our bikes before the climb

Along the abandoned port in Gumaca Quezon (Courtesy of Sagada Loopers)

posing by the shores of Lopez Quezon (courtesy of Sagada Loopers)

with the whole gang at the Quezon National Park, Atimonan (L-R Buboy Perez, Jun Ureta, Rahnel Sison, Ayla Ellis and Mark Lester Braga)
Day 3 was tough as we entered Camarines Sur and rode through the tough Quirino Highway going to Bicol. Though it was generally hot the whole day, we ended up at Del Gallego, Camarinus Sur (estimated at 80km).

Entering Bicolandia

A nice afternoon chat over cool refreshments

Accommodations for day 3 (

Day 4

This one turned out much better as we encountered cloudy weather with a bit of rain and made our ride through the rolling terrain of the Quirino highway less miserable. Though road construction has been a major obstacle due to several bumpy sections, we managed to get to San Fernando, Camarines Sur (estimated at 90km) and stayed at Tomoyuki inn before heading to Naga City (

nice restaurant along the road that serves spring chicken

Day 5

Though we wanted to head to Legazpi, Albay  to see the popular Mayon Volcano, headwind and heat were major obstacles and had to take a significant number of breaks to regain our energy. We managed to visit the Cathedral in Naga City and decided to stay for the night at Camalig, Albay (Estimated at 95km). We stayed at the Kapistahan lodge ( where we got to see a good view of the volcano early morning of the next day

Basilica Minore, Naga City

A bit late and cant see the volcano

Day 6

We spent time at the Cagsawa Ruins in Albay where the old church tower and the full view of the volcano was in sight. After a couple of hours we headed to Sorsogon where a couple of friends were eagerly waiting for us to arrive. I recall the trip from Bicol to Sorsogon  (estimated 105km) was a challenge as rolling terrain and certain sections of climbs were encountered coupled with dry spells of heat. Good thing our good Samaritans from Irosin, Sorsogon met us to bring us to a nice hot spring resort in the area.

Entrance to the Cagsawa Ruins

With the whole group (Courtesy of Sagada Loopers)

The old church tower

Hot Spring Galore in Sorsogon (Courtesy of Sagada Loopers)


Day 7

For last day in Luzon for our loop, our good Samaritans Cyrk and Natalie of Irosin Sorsogon brought us to Bulusan lake-a popular site in the area. We were given a walking tour by the park staff and had lunch and coffee with our friends. Late afternoon we proceeded to the port of Matnog to take the Boat going to Eastern Visayas (estimated 25km).

Stunning view of Bulusan Lake, Sorsogon

the walking tour

Visiting the Cold Spring

Our wonderul good samratians (L-R: Cyrk Lim, Natalie Gestre and Buboy Perez)

my mentees’ hometown

Finally leaving Luzon
Cover Photo courtesy of Sagada Loopers


Dream, Build, Inspire: Tree in Lodge, Singapore

One of the problems if you intend to do touring in different countries is places to stay. In my recent trip to Singapore, I wanted to stay at a place which I’d learn some things about my hobby but at the same time, learn something about the culture as well.

I got in touch with Sk Lah from the Tree in Lodge mid 2016 since they were also selling items on bike touring (check out and I was able to check their place as well.

Sk getting the Conquer Saddlebag made in the Philippines (

Early this year, since I had a month long stay in Singapore, I decided to check in their hostel and gained several insights and experiences.

For starters, the hostel is a few minutes walk from Outram station MRT and is near to several hawker centers as well as grocery stores. The hostel has several rooms for sharing. In my case, I stayed with three other people who were staying longterm and had no problems with getting along with everyone in the place.

with roommates having fun on boardgames

With free breakfast, wifi and information needed to get around the country, the hostel is the perfect place for the authentic Singaporean experience as they give recommendations as to where to go and what to try.

For the bike tourer, SK and other staff are knowledgeable about routes in Southeast Asia as they have hosted many tourers from the US and Europe. Aside from recommendations on itinerary and all, their stories about their own bike touring adventures have been inspiring. For instance, Sk and his friends did cycling trips from Finland to Singapore, Taiwan and other parts of SEA. In fact, their stories have prompted me to plan for future cycling trips in the region as well since the costs can be very minimal but the experience is all well worth it.


some bikes of tourer checked in at the hostel
Dinner at Tiong Bahru with guests and staff
A quick ride with Yew at Faber’s peak
with Yong, another member of the hostel staff

While many believe that staying in Singapore can be very costly, the experience with the Tree in Lodge ( will make you think otherwise. Best of all, it is one of those much needed places in other countries that can open interactions with other bike tourers from different parts of the world.

A parting gift from the Philippines