Philippine Adventure - Day 5 Day 5 map

Saturday 9/9, Kalibo to Passi

76 miles

"A marriage proposal"

It took me quite a while to find my way out of Kalibo. I spent the better part of an hour riding around the city in the rain through huge herds of "tricycles" (motorcycles with sidecars). I finally got pointed in the right direction and headed out of town around 9 AM. I had wanted to get an early start to give myself time to find a place to stay tonight. Kalibo to Iloilo city is a two-day journey by bicycle and the guidebook doesn't list any hotels in any of the towns halfway in between.

Field with small sign in middle advertising an agricultural product and dense trees in background The weather was noticeably cooler today. Or perhaps the humidity was lower. In any case I found I could ride harder and stop less often without overheating. Also perhaps I am getting more acclimated to the heat. Since the roads were nearly all paved, I made good time.

I did have to put up with a lot of smokey air. This must be the season to burn the waste left over from harvesting rice since they seemed to be doing that everywhere.

The first town out of Kalibo was Banga. There was a big banner across the road proudly proclaiming that they had won the regional "Clean and Green" award for towns their size. These awards are a big deal in the Philippines. I later read an article about Banga's triumph in the Iloilo newspaper.

Town plaza with tree shadows My plan was to take the main road east toward Roxas City, but turn off south through Mumbasao and continue south on a secondary road to Dumalag where I could pick up the main road from Roxas City to Iloilo. To make a long story short, I ended up up on a secondary north/south road that parallels the main road about 20 km or so to the east.

No problem, I'll just press on to Passi and spend the night there. On the map, it looks like a good-sized city that should have a hotel. Plus Uncle Dave and Aunt Hazel's housekeeper Sueda has family there and often visits, so I can call on the cell phone for advice on a place to stay.

The odometer read almost 70 miles as I pulled into the city around 4:30. I "called home," but it turns out that Sueda is away right now visiting her family in Passi! Unless I happen to spot her on the street somewhere, that source of information is out.

Country road with 4-wheeled motorcycle-like vehicle Uncle Dave suggested I ask at the Municipal Building. They probably have a tourist office there. So I asked two policemen on the corner where is the Municipal Building? Blank stares. City Hall? Government offices? They had no idea what I was talking about.

So I asked if they knew of a hotel in town. After some confabulation, they told me there was one just 200 meters down this side street. I walked the bike down the street to be sure I didn't miss it, but after half a mile or so it was obvious there was nothing there that looked remotely like a hotel. But on the way back I spotted a half-falling- down sign on the side of a building advertising the Kawilihan Resort. I asked a passerby for directions, but couldn't understand her reply.

I headed off in the direction she had pointed and wandered around the city for awhile without finding anything, but eventually I did see a sign pointing to City Hall. However after following it for a few blocks and climbing a big hill I remembered I had seen a sign pointing to city hall a couple of miles out of town on the way in, so it must be pretty far away. And going down the other side of the hill means I would have to climb back up on the way back.

So I retraced my steps back downtown and found a motorized "tricycle" driver who agreed to lead me to the Kawilihan Resort. I followed him for a long way. Soon we were heading out of town on the same road that I had come in on. "Tricycles" don't go very fast, but still faster than I have been riding, especially up the hills, so it was a pretty strenuous 4 mile ride.

The resort was a few hundred meters off on a gravel side road. There was a snack stand out front so I asked the lady if I could get a room for the night. "We have no rooms here!" she said. The "resort" has a swimming pool, party area, snack bar and conference rooms, but no overnight facilities.

It's now a half hour before sunset, I'm several miles from town (with a couple hills on the way), I've already done over 70 miles today, and I still have no clue where I'm going to spend the night. Well, that's what adventure cycling is all about - sometimes things don't quite go as planned.

Municipal building in Passi On the ride back toward town, I again saw the city hall sign, so I turned off and soon found the building. No cars in the parking lot - not a good sign. One of the doors was left unlocked and ajar so I went in and yelled "Hello?" several times but all I heard were the my own echoes reverberating in the empty halls.

On the way out I noticed the main police station just down the road. A couple of officers out front suggested I continue down the road several kilometers and when I get to the bottom of the big hill look for the "Casa Dorillo." They can help me there.

It turned out to be the same hill I had climbed earlier looking for city hall. The sign said "Casa Dorillo Training Center." I pushed open the big iron gate and wheeled my bike into the courtyard. I asked the manager if she knew of a hotel in town. "Do you just need to spend the night?" she replied. She showed me to a room in the basement that had three wooden beds and a table. She laid out a couple thin matresses and found some sheets and a pillow.

The bathroom down the hall had no working plumbing (you pour a bucket of water into the toilet to flush) but there was a plastic water pipe coming in through the window. She was nice enough to run me a bucket of water and give me a big ladle to pour water over myself for my "shower." No problem -- I can get clean this way. Just think of it as camping. The price was right, 150 pesos ($3.37) for the night.

The lady who lives next door happened to be visiting her friend the manager and was fascinated by this huge (6 foot 7 inch) American who arrived on a bicycle. She asked me where was my wife? I told her I'm just an old bachelor. She said she had always wanted an American husband and did I want to get married? (No tour is complete without a proposal of marriage!) She said her cousin in Chicago had offered to find her an American husband, but she said she was holding out for Michael Jordan. I told her she wouldn't want him -- too tall.

By the time I had "showered" and changed, four neighborhood youths (maybe 18-20 years old), who use the place as a hangout to socialize and watch TV, had arrived. One of them had a jeep so they offered to drive me to a local restaurant so I could get some supper. They had already eaten, but it gave them a chance to practice their English and talk about the differences between the Philippines and America.

I had a huge plate of pancit which I couldn't finish. (The restaurant thought the order was for all five of us.) They insisted on taking the leftovers home to feed to the pigs since it is bad luck to leave food to throw away. (Because so many people don't have enough to eat.)

They all spoke good English so we had a long conversation. One of them was a computer technician and another had recently graduated from university with a degree in electrical and communications engineering but couldn't find a job. I told them that in America people in that field are in great demand. If only there were a way to (1) get a work visa and (2) pay the air fare to get to America.

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