Bike Packing: First Half

I finished half of Metro Manila from Feb. 8-13. The first two days I over extended myself covering a lot of ground quickly; the next few days were better paced. Aside from the first night at SOGO motel, I stayed with family and friends. It has been difficult to keep up with navigating, taking photos, and keeping up with the experience. The documentation aspect is challenging and I feel like I'm not able to capture as much as I want to. This trip is supposed to be an ocular of sorts, so I know I can return to those places which need more time and further research. 

My main observations so far: 

  • everyone is biking! everywhere I go people are biking to work, school, market, for recreation, for exercise, for fun. the demand is there. 
  • pollution sucks. the roads might be fine, not too much traffic, but it takes just one truck, jeepney, or tricycle to come by and spew exhaust all over the place to completely ruin everything. 
  • the barangay is key. so many decisions about planning space are made at the very local barangay level. we need to be working more closely with these 1,706 neighborhoods and not just at the Mayoral, City Hall level. 
  • outside of the CBDs density quickly drops and there are underutilized lands, especially on the waterfronts which can be potential new areas of growth 
  • there are many assets in Metro Manila- from the talented people (guys making low rider bikes in Las Pinas) to the unique landscapes (Manggahan Floodway, Coloong fish ponds) to the untapped potential (water culture) which need to be better connected and considered as a network of places at the Metro Manila level. 

I start the next half of my journey Feb. 16-Feb. 21. 

 Geotagged photos from the first half of my journey. 

Geotagged photos from the first half of my journey. 

From Day 1:

While young couples check into a motel for the Sunday night 3 hour special, I check in alone for the full 12 with my bike. It's typical of the Philippines that no one bats an eye about unmarried couples checking in with membership cards but everyone is worried about the single, foreign older woman staying there alone. 

I got distracted on my first day and didn't start looking for a place to stay until 5:30pm. I had to backtrack a bit towards Monumento where I thought Id have more options. I tried small alleys around the circle looking for lady bed spacer dorms. I found a few but they wouldn't admit me for only on night. A helpful neighborhood guy knocked on a few doors of people he knew had rooms to rent but it was Sunday and everyone was out. Other people looked at me bizarrely when i asked for only one night and asked if I would be alone, which I later realized was because of the nature of the hotels in the area.

I ended up surveying hotels around Monumento. Note: promo deals are Mon-Thurs only, so avail of the 295-400 peso deals during the week but be prepared to spend 620-800 for a full night the rest of the week. Unless you are one of the many couples checking in with me Sunday night for the 2-3 hour specials.  

I stayed at a SOGO. It was clean, had hot water, wifi, and TV. I negotiated a discount because I had a bike (?)...I think just ask for a discount nicely and they might grant it. They also have membership cards for regulars.

It's good that I had a folding bikebecause they would have made me lock it in the garage otherwise . 

Near an LRT stop and at the cross roads for jeep and bus routes Monumento has several hotels including Astrotel, SOGO, Nice Hotel, Chill Hotel, and some others. They are all in similar price range. I find it interesting that there weren't more bed spacer places or dormitories. It doesn't seem to be a hub for students and transient workers despite it's prime location. Apparently it's more popular for one-nighters. 

 

 Chill Hotel cross promotes with the KTV Disco next door called Soul Mate.  

Chill Hotel cross promotes with the KTV Disco next door called Soul Mate.  

 Soul Mate KTV bar co-located with a motel that offers 2-3 hour specials. This pairing is common across Manila. Many offer free snacks and bottles of water to keep things energized. This is where we should be stocking condoms.  

Soul Mate KTV bar co-located with a motel that offers 2-3 hour specials. This pairing is common across Manila. Many offer free snacks and bottles of water to keep things energized. This is where we should be stocking condoms.  

 My room at the SOGO for 620 pesos/night.  

My room at the SOGO for 620 pesos/night.  

 I think it's going to be a busy Valentines Day for the Monumento area hotels  

I think it's going to be a busy Valentines Day for the Monumento area hotels  

 I stayed two nights in QC at my family house in Project 3. I wanted the photo with me and my Uncle outside the house where my Lolo used to sit and tell stories. Lolo was a doctor and the house served also as his office. My Uncle recently restored this area in front of the house and welcomes people to hang out and spend time. Imagine if every private home offered a public space like this...streets would automatically be friendly environments for pedestrians. Areas such as Maginhawa especially could benefit from such a design. 

I stayed two nights in QC at my family house in Project 3. I wanted the photo with me and my Uncle outside the house where my Lolo used to sit and tell stories. Lolo was a doctor and the house served also as his office. My Uncle recently restored this area in front of the house and welcomes people to hang out and spend time. Imagine if every private home offered a public space like this...streets would automatically be friendly environments for pedestrians. Areas such as Maginhawa especially could benefit from such a design. 

 Thank you Marikina City for my room at the Marikina Hotel! Nice, clean place to stay the night in the center of town. I'm always a fan of towel animals. 

Thank you Marikina City for my room at the Marikina Hotel! Nice, clean place to stay the night in the center of town. I'm always a fan of towel animals. 

 A few things that are making more journey more comfortable: Doppleganger Hub PH gloves, a front light, and an iphone mount for navigating and easy access to the phone for taking pictures. 

A few things that are making more journey more comfortable: Doppleganger Hub PH gloves, a front light, and an iphone mount for navigating and easy access to the phone for taking pictures. 

 The gloves also come with lights on them for extra safe night riding. 

The gloves also come with lights on them for extra safe night riding. 

 Needed a bit of TLC when a screw came loose. I stopped into a car mechanic shop and the guy fixed it right up, no charge. 

Needed a bit of TLC when a screw came loose. I stopped into a car mechanic shop and the guy fixed it right up, no charge. 

 Eating on the road has been challenging. Carinderias or fast food chains are the usual choices. Tayo (soy bean) with syrup and tapioca balls is one breakfast I know I can count on. I even found this vendor in the back roads of Valenzuela City in an alley of factories. 

Eating on the road has been challenging. Carinderias or fast food chains are the usual choices. Tayo (soy bean) with syrup and tapioca balls is one breakfast I know I can count on. I even found this vendor in the back roads of Valenzuela City in an alley of factories. 

 Buko is another staple. The coconut gives at least 4 glasses of water and the meat is a hardy snack. This vendor, Francis, wears a shirt with the Reduce, Reuse, Recycle logo. The coconut shell itself is already a natural packaging and it makes me cringe when I see the vendors using plastic bags and cups to serve the water and meat. 

Buko is another staple. The coconut gives at least 4 glasses of water and the meat is a hardy snack. This vendor, Francis, wears a shirt with the Reduce, Reuse, Recycle logo. The coconut shell itself is already a natural packaging and it makes me cringe when I see the vendors using plastic bags and cups to serve the water and meat.