Bike Touring the Philippines Leg 6: Palawan and Final Thoughts

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)

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the bunks at Milagrosa

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

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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)

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the chapel at the hill

Barracuda Lake

The twin lagoons

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A floating restaurant

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Kingfisher Park

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The trek to Mt. Tapyas

At the Maquinit Hotspring

 

Day 36-37

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

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Final thoughts

 

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.

Also, we’re thankful to Sorsogon (esp. Natalie Grace Gestre & Cyrk Ryan Lim), Cebu (Hillboy Honoridez), Iloilo (Del Britanico & Harvey Dhash), Leyte (Junnie & Glenda Cadiente), Bacolod (Carla Alcantara & Yvonne Velasco), Palawan (Prixie Tan-Cruz & Janet Oab).

Myles Jamito of Mount Anywhere and Sam and Anthony Lau of Ross bikeshop for their continued support.

Bike Touring the Philippines-Leg 5 (Western Visayas)

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…

Day 22

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!

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Good evening Dumaguete
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accommodation at Dumaguete
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Sweet Sansrival
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June enjoying his slice
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Silliman University Entrance

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strolling along the boulevard

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.

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Unloading at Siquijor

The Church in Siquijor Town Proper and Markers

The big balete tree, fish spa and public spring

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one of the cottages at the Lazi Beach club
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a Lazi morning

The backroads of Lazi

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back in Dumaguete
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The every tasty roasted pork belly

Day 24-25

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!

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With Jiggs’ cousin Carla from Bacolod City

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)

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at the Capitol
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bikes fit fine at the Regency Plaza Inn and Hotel

 

Day 26

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.

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A short reunion with my former graduate student Dr. Yvonne Pedria Velasco of Carlos Hilado Memorial State College

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Strolling the Ruins

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Negros by day, Panay by night

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/).

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With our host from Iloilo, Del Britanico

At Molo Town Plaza and Church

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A must try in Iloilo-chicken and seafood are great
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we took a room that’s good for four superior room and extra ben (1100 per night)

Day 27-28

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!

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The belfry in Jaro 
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Jaro Cathedral

 

An Earth hour ride meeting at Robinson’s Jaro and a visit at the Value Bikeshop in Iloilo (https://www.facebook.com/thevalueshopbikeshop/?hc_ref=SEARCH)

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approaching Guimaras Island Port

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Windmills of Guimaras Island

Mango Heaven

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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

Cover pic courtesy of Sagada Loopers

Featured Build: Anton’s Fat Fixie

Seriously, I don’t like fixies

They’re dangerous, difficult to use, and for some, it’s viewed as reckless cycling.

Don’t get me wrong though- I respect Fixed riders because we share the same passion as some of us have-But riding Fixed isn’t really for me.

While many see fixies as a lifestyle, some push their rigs to the limit…

Anton is one of them. Meeting him before in a long distance ride at the Sierra Madre Route in Rizal, I found him quite odd that he used single speed. But when I joined the group that he was part of (Surly FFFinas) I was even more surprised he had different bikes that are set up in unique ways but all shared a common characteristic-either fixed or single speed, and fat.

Anton is obviously one of those strong riders out there but very professional. Don’t let the beard strike fear in you! He’s one of the most humble and kindest out there and his knowledge  and skill with the bike will obviously make you believe that anything is possible.

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Still good vibes after the Magnetic Hill Climb at University of the Philippines, Los Banos and the notorious ‘Sungay’ Climb, Talisay, Batangas

Good thing I had a chance to chat with him about that Fat Fixie of his

 

PV: So what’s the story behind the bike?

A: this i got second hand.. Not my idea- wish it was.. Tristan (a friend) built this frankenstein!! The only thing i did was give it life..

 

PV: hmmmm, I’m curious since we both ride Surlys it appears to me that the Fat Fixie isn’t one, so what is it?

A: It’s a Scott Boulder mtb size 24 steel frame converted into a fixed gear. The rear end was ‘katay’ (cut up and reassembled) by a local frame builder Mr. Avelino Maldea (the legendary Filipino framebuilder) to fit those 3.0 tires on  50mm rims on the rear & 85mm rims up front.. Placed a bmx handlebar to make it like a bmx i used to ride when i was a kid.

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Fixed, fat and BMX handlebar!

PV: Wow, I’ve recently had an interest in Single Speed and would like to setup my own ride with those cool BMX bars- a tribute to that reckless youth in me, but what’s strikes me curious is why ride fixed?

A: After riding roadbikes for 10yrs & riding Ss for about 8years(not as long as others, a little longer than some) I kinda got bored riding free wheeled bicycles.. That’s why I liked this (fixed gear) build so much it gave cycling a new life…

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After the ‘2 kilometer pain’ segment in Reverse Palace in the Sky

PV: I see, I even rode with you at Reverse Palace in the Sky down South, Magnetic Hill +Sungay  and Another Sierra Madre ride at the East (all at least 120km) and you used this with relative ease…so tell, me what’s the most difficult ride you’ve had then?

A: . I don’t have one in mind, But i have a difficult time waking up early for rides. Basically that’s the hard part.

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always having a good selfie with the buddies of Surly FFF-inas

PV: hahahahaha! Well, it’s a testament to your skill and strength that I think any ride is a welcome challenge for you. To end, What advice can you give tourers?

A: For me getting a good bike fit is a must.. Spending hours on a wrong fitted bike is the last thing you want & hydrate 3 days before a tour/long ride. Bow!

 

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Anton’s 1×1 (on top) with the basket

Perhaps one of the things, I appreciate in his builds is that clean look that everyone yearns for. I personally pack heavy and would like a lot of stuff on my rigs but perhaps someday, I’ll setup mine like this one. Just don’t get me riding fixed though (as I am clumsy as ever)

 

 

 

Bike Adventure: Manila to Vigan, Ilocos Sur

The heritage site of Vigan represents the blending of cultures (Asian-European) that is worth visiting among the different places north of the Philippines. The classic architecture as well as unique food and cultural experiences offered in the city should be part of the tourist’s long bucketlist.

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Classic Calle Crisologo

Last December 2015, we had a chance to visit the city as we were heading to Pagudpud, Ilocos Norte. Though I had enjoyed Vigan a few hours, I missed the opportunity to get to the know city more and with that in mind, several friends and I decided to head out to this wonderful city for a multiday tour.

Day 1 (Manila to Urdaneta, Pangasinan, approximately 200km)

8 of us converged at the Valenzuela town center as we took the national highway route (the most common one if you intend to go north). Our target for the day was Urdaneta, Pangasinan-roughly around 200km from my place (Las Pinas City)…

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Her first time to do a multiday tour and she has to have that arch collection!

We rode out early and had breakfast at the lugawan near the arch of Bulacan…

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Lugaw and other sides at Bulacan

Moving on, we got past Bulacan and Pampanga with relative ease given that the heat wasnt too much and traffic was fine…Unfortunately, one had to back out somewhere in Angeles due to an emergency…

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Pampanga

Of course, one of the dreaded stretches of this route Tarlac City-this is my third time to pass here and the heat and lengthy flat sections just made us want to end our trip immediately.

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the ever ‘exciting’ entrance of Tarlac city (you gotta love the heat and lengthy stretches of flat roads urgh!) (c) Rahnel Sison

Moving on, we arrived at Urdaneta Pangasinan around 8ish-and spent the night in M’s motel (700 per night good for 2 people-the place was ok since youre just after a shower and decent sleep)

Day 2 (Urdaneta to Taguiden, Ilocos Sur, approximately 140km)

To start our day, our fellow cyclist from our local bike group invited us for breakfast at his place at Pozzorubio, Pangasinan…Aside from exchanging stories and enjoying food, we also  talked about different builds and potential tours in the future…we left a little bit before lunch time…

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our host picking us up at Pozzorubio

 

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breakfast at our host’s house
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ride out for day 2

Though we got past different towns easily, it became a bit difficult at La Union (Bacnotan-Sudipen) as the roads became narrower and by nightfall, several buses and trucks were out-good thing, we reached Taguiden, Ilocos Sur in one piece and checked in at Edibel inn (the place is just plain terrible-no light in the bathroom, plenty of mosquitoes and weak airconditioning!)

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The entrance to La Union
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Agoo, Pangasinan
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the Church at Agoo

Day 3 (Taguiden, Ilocos Sur-Vigan, Approximately 90km)

Some of our friends rode early but I and another ride cyclist rode out late as we waited for another biker who needed to make up for lost distance from yesterday’s target…the exciting thing about this day is that not only did we reach our destination but also had fun checking out the wonderful seaside sites, and other structures before the city of Vigan…

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60km away from Vigan
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Located at Candon City, You should try their papaitan and caldereta-highly recommended!
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taking a rest at a police station in Santiago Ilocos Sur
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Loving the seaside

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A few Kilometers more before Vigan
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Finally Reaching Bantay Church, Ilocos Sur
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The Entrance to the Heritage City of Vigan
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Vigan Catherdral
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classic architecture 
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Along Calle Crisologo
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must try-Longganisa from Vigan!
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Native Delicacies, Okoy and Empanada
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a must try restaurant!
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Bagnet from Cafe Leona is a winner!
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Photo Op with the former Governor of Ilocos Sur
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gotta love the horses

Rider Notes:

 

  1. Though some groups who earlier toured Vigan claim that you can reach the place in two days, it is sensible to schedule it with an additional day to address concerns about delays in the trip. Again, based on personal preference, I’d rather spread my effort out equally in a number of days rather than burn ourselves out just for the sake of reaching the place in the shortest time possible. Having an additional day allows you to adjust your itinerary (our day 2 target was Candon City but ended up 20km short-which was fine since we only needed to travel a shorter distance for the third day).

 

  1. One of the new things we’ve experienced here is that we were invited by bikers based in certain areas-such as the case in Pozzorubio. In cases like these, it is nice to accept invitations as this helps widen your network of friends along the way. Of course, it would be rude and disrespectful to simply eat and run-so hang out a bit, tell stories and plan bigger trips with them! Too bad we weren’t able to meet bikers from Agoo who also wanted to see us-perhaps next time.

 

  1. There are several transient houses in Vigan which charge really low rates (in our case, 500 with breakfast-very nice place and highly recommended!)
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transient house where we stayed-very roomy and clean! they serve breakfast too!

 

 

  1. If you want to get home by Bus, take the Partas Bus line. This is my second time to ride their buses and the trip was pleasant and quite fast-consider leaving early evening since traffic is lighter. Also, leaving late evening allows you to tour the place. In this case, we  enjoyed moving around Vigan, taking pictures and choosing the best restaurants in town
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The Large Partas Buses can accommodate the storage of your bikes going home

5. Budget is key in this trip. Though it is sensible to allot 300-500 for your lodging be prepared to shell out as much as 700 at La Union (if you intend to stay for a night) as decent places here seem to charge a bit higher-again, based on preference, I’d rather spend a little bit more for decent sleep rather than save up a few hundred pesos and deny myself of comfortable rest.

 

3 before 40, community and the greater purpose

This post is personal…I recently celebrated my birthday and such irony that I had to celebrate it in a flight back to the Philippines. While heading back to the country, I missed another opportunity to be with a local group of surly bikers, Surly FFF-inas (no thanks for that delay!)

While I heard really good feedback about these meetings, this one is special, it isn’t the swap meet part, the eating or even funny stories and jokes members tell-but it was paying tribute to one of our members Chris.

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such a brave guy riding a brompton in a surly bikers meeting!

I personally don’t know him but many members would speak well of him-being mild mannered, a person who constantly refreshes his builds and actively rides with other members of the group….

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with some members and admins of the group

At present though, he battles cancer…and while I have no idea how he feels right now-it is a condition that is very familiar to me

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the fine ladies of FFFinas

Though I was just a witness to the event over facebook, I felt a great sense of happiness in Chris and other members who sold parts and solicited support-one kind biker, Wins Cabalinan even donated a Specialized AWOL for Chris’ treatment…

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Sir Wins and His Prized Specialized AWOL

So while I was a sore loser who celebrated my hatchday on a plane and had to see those smiling faces and wonderful food and congregation of bikers, this is where cycling and community shines at its finest-rallying support for people we barely know-as what bike tourers will say, pedalling distances brings back your faith in humanity

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not everyone won the raffle items but hey, it’s all smile and cheer 🙂

And for those of you who get to read this, here’s Chris’ story and perhaps a way for you to help -everyone knows cancer sucks and a little effort if combined together can definitely make the greatest of changes you can ever imagine

(photos courtesy of Surly FFFinas Members)

https://www.youcaring.com/christian-santos-657677