February 10, 2014 by melcogger
We stayed at a cosy and comfortable guesthouse in Calapan on the island of Mindoro, our cheapest accomodation by far at 440 pesos (R110). We woke up early on Friday morning to make our way towards the port town of Roxas (pronounced Rohas). According to google maps and the road signs, Roxas was 128km away. We decided that this was too far to cycle and settled on cycling to Pinamalayan, a small town 62km away. After a quick haircut we were on our way.
The scenery took a sharp change. Island life is so different from the hustle and bustle of the main land. For the first time we began to see open spaces of plantations and rice fields and long winding roads surrounded by palm trees. The pace of life is much slower and we passed wagons being pulled by oxes and pigs being transported in cages on tricycles. We passed through small villages as the locals stared at us wide eyed, jaws open. The locals would curiously and excitedly say “hey you! where are you going?”. Motorcycles slowed down to have a short chat with us while we cycled, telling us our speed and that our destination was too far by bicycle. There was only one road hugging the coastline the whole way so there was no chance of getting lost.
We stopped at a small thatched cafe for some breakfast about 20km into our cycle. We had traditional native cake called bibingka for 10 pesos (R2) and some ginger tea. Bibingka is similar to a crumpet, it’s soft and fluffy, made with rice flour and cooked on a traditional stove with banana leaves.
By 11am we had reached Pinamalayan. We decided to keep cycling until lunch and we stopped in the town of Gloria at a restaurant along the way. By then Jonty and I began to bicker about whether his odometer was correct. I knew that google maps couldn’t be wrong and neither could the road signs. By now, the road signs indicated that we were 50km outside of Roxas. That meant that we had cycled 78km. But Jonty’s odometer indicated that we had only cycled 50km. We were buggered and decided to have a long rest until the sun was not directly above us. We were so tired by this time that Jonty lay on the floor of the restaurant to nap while I fell asleep at the table. The owners didn’t seem to mind and were more curious of us than anything else. After feeling slightly more rejuvenated, we replenished our water supply and continued south.
We resolved to cycle as far as we could to see how far we could get. It was time to push ourselves further since 60km per day was not getting us very far. Jonty was still convinced that his odometer was correct and that the Filipinos had over reached the distance on the road signs.
We took lots of breaks along the way for various snacks: sprite, sparkle (fizzy soft drink); cookies, chips, crackers, bananas, grapes and apples. There is never any need to carry food with us, because as soon as we feel hungry, we pull over and there is someone selling some kind of snack or meal. By the time we were 30km outside of Roxas we were determined to continue on until we reached the port.
We arrived at 17h30. That was a whopping 11 hours of cycling 128km. Whoop whoop! Although the route was fairly flat with only one long steep climb, we were overwhelmed by what we had achieved. Neither of us have ever cycled that far.
We took a 4 hour ferry from Roxas to Caticlan to head towards some much needed beach time.
From Caticlan we took a 15 minute speed boat to Boracay. We paid an extra P20 (R5) each for our biycles which were swiftly loaded on top of the speedboat.
We had booked at a Trafalgar cottages the night before, but on arrival we found out that they had given our booking away. In a fit of rage we simultaneously lashed out at this poor woman who blamed her boss, and gave endless excuses for why she had given our booking away. We demanded that she find us similar accommodation which she swiftly did at a neighboring guest house. We are usually level headed and calm but when we feel like we have been unjustly treated we flip out. We were upgraded to a large air conditioned family room with tv and two bathrooms and five beds all to ourselves. In the end justice prevailed.
We have been craving the beach since we landed in the Philippines and have had to work dam hard to get here. We will be spending the next 6 days in idyllic Boracay, one of the most famous beach stop overs in the Philippines.
Just as an aside, we have had a number of opportunities to take air conditioned rooms for as little as P100 (R25) more and we have jumped at them. However, it presented us with a slight predicament. With it on, it’s too cold to sleep and we have to wear all our clothes, which isn’t much considering the climate in the Philippines. But without it on, we suffer from insane heat and mosquitoes… Inevitably, we leave it on when we go to sleep and have to get up in the middle of the night to turn it off. But it takes a while to realize what’s going on when you are half asleep and struggling to survive in arctic conditions.