By Herb Kavet
The Philippines are delightful. The people are amongst the most friendly of the 40 countries I’ve biked through. Even the dogs are polite. Not one even barked at our group.
Other trips I’ve been on featured the exotic – Golden temples shimmering in the sun, black water buffalo lumbering through fields, women in colourful saris balance baskets of fruit or cement blocks on their heads, children swarming to the road to either cheer you on or throw rocks at you…
This trip was all about delights. We met in Cebu and were off to Bohol the next day by boat. Then it was all about terraced rice fields and languid rivers, hot and cold and soda springs, volcanoes and black sand beaches.
Amidst all this gorgeous scenery, English is spoken almost everywhere. Filipinos are quick to laugh and rarely hassle you even though a lot of them live on less than $1 a day. But food is plentiful, and no one seems to go hungry. And no one appeared to be making fun of us in our helmets or spandex bike outfits.
We island-hopped, enjoying the uniqueness and delights of the neighbouring shores. Lush and verdant interiors and brilliant blue seas and white sands filled our views as we cycled by.
The hotels were air conditioned and clean. And wifi service was widely available. Restaurant menus were in English, and the food can be familiar if you don’t feel like being adventurous. One popular snack we skipped is a fertilized chicken or duck egg eaten in various stages of development.
We were surprised by how few bugs bothered us. Maybe it was the season. More likely our stinking bike clothes kept them away.
Weather is tropical and biking hills in 100-degree temperatures can be tiring. Luckily, we had a support vehicle available for the entire trip if anyone needed a rest. But, motorists were polite, and this is crucial when you are on a bicycle.
We rode conventional mountain bikes. And we seemed to be surrounded by some of the most unconventional motorcycles. Where elsewhere a motorcycle is transportation for one or two, they turned them into buses or taxis by lashing on sidecars and all sort of structures. Seven of us rode in one to a restaurant one evening. A family of three flagged it down on the way and somehow crammed inside. Don’t ask me how.
For all the heat, there were plenty of opportunities to cool off, either with a quick snorkel in the sea or a relaxing swim in one of the hotel pools.
Although this may not have been the most exotic of trips for me, the exuberant, fun loving and easygoing Filipinos made me feel welcome and the tropical scenery, white and black sand beaches, magnificent sunsets and soaring jungle hills more than made up for it. A total and delightful adventure.
If you want to embark on an adventure in the Philippines join SpiceRoads Island Hopping the Philippines.
Herb Kavet of Wayland is the author of “Die Young … as late as possible.”
More related articles: