Bicycle touring the Philippines: Manila to Tayug (Pangasinan)

Jeff flew from Denver to Clark (Angeles) for about six weeks of bicycle touring in the Philippines. Even though I arrived in the Philippines about three weeks before he did, I ended up scrambling a bit to meet him in time. I put off buying my Cebu-Manila ticket till I had my passport back from immigration (for a visa extension), and then the two sailings I was hoping for were sold out. “I have space on the 45-hour trip via Nasipit on Mindanao,” the ticket seller offered. Sure.

It was probably the most comfortable ferry trip (out of about 13) I took in the Philippines

Bye-bye, Cebu.

IMG_20240109_172250 by bryandkeith on flickr

Morning in Nasipit:

IMG_20240110_090434 by bryandkeith on flickr

and the next afternoon in Manila.

IMG_20240111_141431 by bryandkeith on flickr

The first thing I visited in Manila was the UNESCO-listed San Agustin Church in Intramuros.

IMG_20240111_154325 by bryandkeith on flickr
IMG_20240111_154509 by bryandkeith on flickr

Nearby is the Cathedral of Manila.

IMG_20240111_155711 by bryandkeith on flickr

With the Catholicism and Spanish colonial legacy, the Philippines often felt more like Mexico than its SE Asian neighbors.

Visiting Intramuros, the historic center of Manila, was less interesting than I expected, perhaps because it was so completely leveled during WW2.

IMG_20240111_154638 by bryandkeith on flickr

A bit further on was Fort Santiago with nice views across the river.

IMG_20240111_161348 by bryandkeith on flickr
IMG_20240111_161850 by bryandkeith on flickr

Other things to visit in Manila could be the murals in the Lagusnilad Underpass,

IMG_20240111_170056 by bryandkeith on flickr

the Golden Mosque,

IMG_20240211_075954 by bryandkeith on flickr
IMG_20240211_074939 by bryandkeith on flickr

Rizal Park,

IMG_20240211_082843 by bryandkeith on flickr
IMG_20240211_084356 by bryandkeith on flickr

and perhaps the monument to Miguel Lopez de Legazpi and Andres de Urdaneta:

Miguel Lopez de Legazpi and Andres de Urdaneta by bryandkeith on flickr

In 1493 Charles Mann makes the argument that those two (Legazpi and Urdaneta) started globalization with the Acapulco-Manila galleon trade.

I sort of hurried my way north because although Jeff had just arrived, he sent a message saying he’d had enough of Angeles and was ready to go.

Riding out of the center of Manila and into pleasant agriculture areas was surprisingly quick and easy.

IMG_20240112_072124 by bryandkeith on flickr
IMG_20240112_102724 by bryandkeith on flickr
IMG_20240112_125754 by bryandkeith on flickr
Mount Arayat

I spent the night in San Fernando Pampanga and rolled into the busy center of Angeles the next morning.

IMG_20240113_083801 by bryandkeith on flickr

Jeff’s hotel was full, and his single room was tiny so I checked into a nearby hotel on Fields Avenue. Neither in Cebu or Manila did a find any nice pedestrian areas so I was excited to see “walking street” as I was walking to Jeff’s hotel. Hahaha, “walking” as in prostitution. The road was literally lined with young women, and I got plenty of attention. Turns out that Angeles (nearby Clark used to be a major US air base) and specifically Fields Avenue is the center of sex tourism in the Philippines.

After Jeff and I finished dinner at an Indian restaurant, an Australian guy explained, unsolicited, how it worked.

IMG_20240113_191109 by bryandkeith on flickr

You meet a woman at a bar and pay special high prices for drinks for her at that bar. There you negotiate with her for the evening. If you go with her to other bars, you are sure to say that she’s your girlfriend so you get regular drink prices, not the special high ones. The Australian didn’t explain where you go for the sex. We didn’t ask.

The highlight in Angeles was discovering marang (Artocarpus odoratissimus). Super tasty.

IMG_20240113_174456 by bryandkeith on flickr
WhatsApp%20Image%202024-01-18%20at%2013.54.17 by bryandkeith on flickr

We pedaled out of Angeles the next morning and had two longish distance days on rather flat roads to get to the edge of the mountains.

WhatsApp%20Image%202024-01-18%20at%2013.50.23_v3 by bryandkeith on flickr
IMG_20240115_103426 by bryandkeith on flickr
IMG_20240114_110758 by bryandkeith on flickr
IMG_20240114_111333 by bryandkeith on flickr
IMG_20240115_101016 by bryandkeith on flickr

Near Cristo Rey is the Capas National Shrine where the Bantan Death March ended. Grim war stories. 30,000 people died here.

IMG_20240114_091439 by bryandkeith on flickr
IMG_20240114_091958 by bryandkeith on flickr

We were still figuring out the food situation in the Philippines. Here’s a noodle soup place in Cristo Rey,

IMG_20240114_100800 by bryandkeith on flickr

fried noodles for breakfast in Ramos,

IMG_20240115_074724 by bryandkeith on flickr

grilled chicken in Tayug:

IMG_20240115_133835 by bryandkeith on flickr

You can’t really go wrong with halo halo.

halo halo by bryandkeith on flickr
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4 Responses to Bicycle touring the Philippines: Manila to Tayug (Pangasinan)

  1. Curt says:

    What bike were you riding on this trip? It doesn’t look like your “usual”

    • Bryan Keith says:

      Maybe it looks different because I don’t have the front racks or the front bags on. We didn’t camp at all in the Philippines. That’s my only touring bike — the one I put together after the elephant took care of my last one.

  2. Jennie Werner says:

    Brings back fun memories of my two years in Philippines 1993-1995!

  3. Mike Painter says:

    Nice as always!

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