Monthly Archives: August 2009

Day tours in and around Angeles City #4

Up the Mountain and back again.


“Gooday mate” shouted accross the bar and the bell ringing like there was no tomorrow. Yep Les ‘the fuck monkey’ was back in town.

Now I hadn’t seen Les for quite a while so after he ran riot in the bar reacquainting himself with anyone and everyone, we settled down for a quiet little session. He was on his fifth Jack Daniels and coke when he looks at me and says “when are we going for a ride mate”?

Now I know Les is a motorbike enthusiast and can ride like a demon so I cautiously responded “how about on Monday or Tuesday my days off”. Sounds good to me replied Les “I will go to nice bike and rent a Honda Steed so we can do a fucking thunder ride mate”. A thunder ride as the name implies means going fast, in fact it means going fast the entire time with no let up for traffic, caribous, or stray dogs who wander across the road like they own it.

At this point I had a quiet little chuckle to myself because I knew full well the Honda Steeds were all rented out and I couldn’t imagine Les doing a thunder ride on a little 125. Wrong again, Martin.

Come Tuesday I am round at Shaggers place when we get a text from Les let’s go boys it’s time for a ride. We meet up at Nice Bike and sure enough there’s Les and his mate Peter on the massive 125’s.

This is a sight for sore eyes and I was just about to laugh when Les turns to me and says “try to keep up mate”. Ok that was enough the gauntlet had been thrown down and who was I not to respond.


Les and Pete on their massive 125 rice burners.

We started off crossing over Macarthur Highway (a major achievement in itself) and heading down Mountain View road towards city hall. We were just negotiating some traffic when I felt the back of my bike wobbling. I glance in the rear view mirror and sure enough there’s Les giving my rear tire a little nudge.
Enough was enough so I pulled on the throttle and with a roar left Les eating my dust. We proceed along Mountain View road past city hall and come to a roundabout. Here we veered left following signs to Magalang.

We get through the town of Magalang with Les up to his usual antics the whole time. At one stage Shagger was minding his own business riding along at a sedate pace when Les goes flying past him on the massive 125. No problem for the Shagger man he was going slowly letting No Nose Ronalie take pictures but he was a bit perturbed when 5 minutes later he sees Les riding back towards him on the wrong side of the dirt road with every nut and bolt of the 125 shaking as he hits the pot holes. Turns out Les had lost his cap and was a bit worried about his bald scalp getting sun burnt. This procedure happen no less than 4 times and I am sure the local motorists were wondering what the heck was wrong with this crazy foreigner riding on the wrong side of the road, chrome dome shining in the sun and dirt flying everywhere.

We get to the end of the Magalang road only to find Les has a flat tire and wouldn’t you know it 20 yards away is a vulcanizing shop. Some people have all the luck.


Now was time for a little rest stop while the guy fixed the tire ably assisted by Les.


Les lending a helping hand.


Ronalie used her rest time wisely. Here she is trying to find her nose with the help of Shaggers bikes mirror.

15 minutes later all tires fixed for a mere 100 peso we were ready to hit the road again. With me in the lead our convoy headed out towards Mount Arayat. Along the way there is a little traffic but nothing to cause any prolonged delays.


Many small front yard businesses in the provincial areas.

We travelled about 20 minutes along the road then took a left turn following the sign posting to the town of Arayat.

Once you hit this road things get decidedly rural and it is like being in another world. Along the way we stopped at a local church so I could pray for my safety whilst riding with Les.


Could do with a bell like this in Neros.


Mount Arayat dominates the surrounding countryside.

The town of Arayat is a small rural sort of place but it is a distinct worry when a group of school girls call out hello daddy and the local cops are having a quick snack 30 feet away. Needless to say I did not acknowledge their calls.

After the town of Arayat we turned left again heading towards the actual mountain. Some weeks previously we had been told by the owner of Bar Hopping bar about some rock pools in the Mount Arayat National park and I was now on a mission to find them.

We pulled over in the town of Arayat and asked directions. This caused quite a stir for Ronalie who was the object of much attention being the only Filipina in a group of four foreigners. Once she had gotten the directions she hid behind Shaggers bike so the prying eyes of the locals would leave her alone.

We had a short conference on the roadside in Arayat and decided we were going to try and find these elusive rock pools.


The big conference in downtown Arayat.

Back on the bikes and Shagger asks me “Martin do you know where your going?”, to which I replied “not really but I have to find those rock pools”.

We travelled about ten kilometers then there was a sign saying Mount Arayat National Park next left. Ok now I knew I was on the right track and the rock pools were getting closer by the minute.

Taking a turn to the left we then stopped for Peter to cool down a bit and take in some refreshments. He had just come from the Australian summer but even that couldn’t prepare him for the humidity of the Philippines.

We literally descended upon a little eatery where cool drinks and foot long hot dogs were consumed. The lady running the store thought all her Christmases had come at once being visited by foreign celebrities, whilst other locals just gaped at us in awe.


The little eatery wasn’t quite ready for a horde of hungry foreigners

The infamous foot longs now renamed as the Thotoy Dog.

At one stage I asked Shagger why do some Filipinos just stand around and look at you with vacant eyes, mouth wide open. He replied “because they are waiting for a miracle, everyone knows that”.

Some of the locals checked us out as we devoured the foot longs.

Well after an answer like that I decided it was time to hit the road again so saying our goodbyes we roared away heading towards the mountain. After about 5 minutes ride we arrived at the Mount Arayat National Park.

Out here it is like another world and as we rode through the local township it seemed like the entire towns inhabitants had lined the street to gawk at these strange foreigners and cheer us on.


A very basic existence in some of the poorer rural areas.

Heading through the town we then took a right turn and it was then the going got a little rough. Normally I am the slowest rider so the boys put me up front and I don’t get left behind but I noticed when we hit the dirt road I was all of a sudden at the tail end wallowing in the other riders dust.


Once again here I am swallowing dust.

The dirt road is a gradual incline and gets a little rough in places but basically it is easy to negotiate and good fun to travel on. We travelled upwards with Mount Arayat looming up ahead when suddenly we came to a sort of hideaway retreat from which came the sound of a religious sermon and people singing.


Very clean and well maintained compound.

After the compound the road carries on to virtually the top of Mount Arayat.

I was curious to have a look but then thought the better of it as stories of weird Filipino religious cults came floating into my head.

This was an interesting place and even included a number of tree houses.


Some members of our species came down from the trees whilst others have climbed back up them.

Now I was in a dilemma. I still hadn’t found the illusive rock pools but it was getting late and darkness would soon be upon us. Weighing up my options I decided a ride back in darkness along a dirt road in the middle of nowhere was not really my idea of fun, so as a result the rock pools would just have to wait until another day.

The ride coming back was seemingly faster than the ride coming out and there are some great stretches of deserted road where you can get some serious speed happening.

With the sun sinking low on the horizon I was looking forward to a cold shower and a little tumble with the missus.

We negotiated our way through traffic and made it back to our respective homes and hotel safe and sound. Mr’s mjibbo had just arrived back from Manila and was not particularly impressed with her grubby man covered in dust and grime from the road, so it was time for a quick shower and then off to Stargate to party with BeauBrummel on his last night as manager.

The trip to Mount Arayat National park is really worthwhile and would make the perfect day trip for anyone wishing to get out and see little of the countryside as well as meeting the locals and seeing how they live. Pack some food and refreshments as the various food outlets along the way are primitive to say the least.

Day tours in and around Angeles City #3

Angeles City and the Philippines

Day tours in and around Angeles City.


I was just getting ready for an early afternoon appointment with the owner of the Orange Lion Hotel when I get a Yahoo message from Shagger

Shagger: What’s happening?
Mjibbo: Just getting ready to go Orange Lion for meeting with the owner.
Shagger: Sounds like a good place to have late breakfast and I’m bloody hungry
Mjibbo: Sure why not
Shagger: After that lets go for a ride
Mjibbo: Well I really wanted to do a few bar reports
Shagger: Well I just thought it might be a good idea to go for a ride because I have to go down to the Ponderosa Hotel anyway which is on the way and then we can go from there.
Mjibbo: Why do I have the feeling we are not going to do any bar reports?
Shagger: See you at my place 20 minutes not Filipino time ok.

With this I hurried up into the shower, pushed SWMBO (She Who Must Be Obeyed) to get ready which is a major achievement in itself, and headed towards Shaggers place.

First stop the Orange Lion hotel where we sat outside enjoying a delicious breakfast which people with an ordinary lifestyle would call lunch.

Angeles City and the Philippines

Cross over MaCarthur Highway and head down Mountainview Road towards City Hall. Along the way we stopped to view the construction of the new Ayala Mall. Judging by the amount of space utilized this will be a huge mall substantially bigger than SM on Clark.

Angeles City and the Philippines

Through the roundabout and veer right following signs to Magalang.

Angeles City and the Philippines

On the road to Magalang.

Angeles City and the Philippines

As you head towards Magalang you pass La Terazza housing development which seems to be conspicously absent of any houses being developed.

Angeles City and the Philippines

No nose Ronalie and Shagger enjoying the ride. Our respective girls are getting really good at snapping photos from the back of the bike.

Angeles City and the Philippines

The outskirts of Magalang.

Angeles City and the Philippines

The thriving little town of Magalang. Here agricultural produce tends to dominate. These are bags of feed for the financially important pigs.

Angeles City and the Philippines

Go through Magalang and when you reach an intersection turn right. You will go over a series of little bridges and then things begin to get decidedly rural.

Angeles City and the Philippines

Here Mount Arayat dominates the landscape.

Angeles City and the Philippines

Angeles City and the Philippines

Corn fields grow adjacent to the rice fields.

Angeles City and the Philippines

We travelled along towards Mount Arayat but since I had already done a report on the trip to Arayat I decided we should take a right turn and head out to an undefined place just to see what happened. Next thing you know we were literally in the middle of the rice fields.

Angeles City and the Philippines

Past the local cemetery which none to surprisingly seemed to be the best kept plot of land in the surrounding area.

Angeles City and the Philippines

Another turn to the left and there we were in the middle of nowhere. literally in the middle of nowhere. However this didn’t seem to phase Ronalie who thought this may be a good chance for a little exploration and prove that she was right at home in the province.

Angeles City and the Philippines

And even a game of hide and seek.

Angeles City and the Philippines

In fact she was right at home amongst the rice fields and was last seen sprinting through them heading towards Mount Arayat.

Angeles City and the Philippines

Some of the locals were looking on and didn’t seem particuarly impressed.

Angeles City and the Philippines

White men on big bikes and a crazy Filipina running through the rice fields was all a bit much for some of the locals. Still life goes on and this man had to feed his animals no matter what strange things were going on in the neighbourhood. I asked swmbo why he was carrying grass on his head, she gave me her best disdainful look and said “Mahal you cant feed the Carabao rice”.

Angeles City and the Philippines

Here’s another one of the locals with freshly killed nights supper in his hands. We did notice the chicken looked particuarly srcawny and just hoped it wasn’t meant to feed an entire family.

Angeles City and the Philippines

One more gaze at the rural surroundings the majestic Mount Apo and the gathering grey, rain laden clouds and we decided it was time to head back.

Angeles City and the Philippines

Angeles City and the Philippines

On the way back there was a little more traffic but nothing to really worry about. In fact you don’t really hit major conjestion until you hit MacArthur Highway.

Angeles City and the Philippines

Angeles City and the Philippines

Not all vechiles can be expected to maintain a steady speed and this includes the local garbage collector.

Angeles City and the Philippines

Back to the roundabout and turn right following signs to Clark.

Angeles City and the Philippines

This will take you along Mountainview Road where there is a lot of rural produce vendors. Their prices are significantly cheaper than Fields or in the malls.

Angeles City and the Philippines

Continue heading straight and in no time at all you are back in good old Barangay Balibago the home of happy mongerers.

Angeles City and the Philippines

Angeles City; The Golfing Experience



So what can you do in Angeles during the day? There has to be more to Angeles than just bar hopping and drinking?

These are the type of comments I hear nearly everyday so I thought I would supply an answer. Here is one alternative to endless bar hopping and drinking, yes you guessed it, a game of good old golf.

Wether you play golf or not this is a truly fun activity and there are of course unique aspects to playing golf in the Philippines.

Since we were heading out to the base we decided to meet at the Clarkton Hotel a well known landmark.


We were planning to play on the base at the 9 hole Airforce golf course so it was up to the Friendship gate then left and follow the road up to the next set of traffic lights. At the traffic lights turn right and follow the road then its the first turn on your left. Follow this road through the airforce compound and you arrive at the golf course.

This is only a nine hole golf course and it has certainly seen better days however for part time golfers who are more like slash and hack merchants such as myself and Shagger it is the perfect venue.

They have a small club house where people meet prior to teeing off.

They have clubs and balls for rent and at very decent prices.

Initially we were told there were no golf clubs and no golf buggies but after 15 minutes the golf clubs miracuosly appeared and we were good to go.

They also have golf buggies for rent or at least they used to and as you can see by the picture their golf buggies have seen better days.

Perhaps the most fun thing about playing golf in the Philippines is that there is always a nice looking caddy ready to accompany you around the course.

It’s a bit hard to play golf without golf balls so we called over one of the local vendors and bought a dozen balls for 100 peso. Obviously at this price these are not new balls but there is a bunch of guys who hang around the golf course and everyday you can see them searching through the undergrowth and water traps finding balls to resell.

First to tee off was Shagger and I have to say he looked a bit tentative as he lined up the ball with his 3 wood. Seeing how uncomfy he was I asked have you ever played golf before and he replied what I do doesn’t rate as playing golf.

Shagger took 2 swings at the ball but eventually connected and then it was time for a stroll down the fairway with no nose Ronalie negotiating the bumps in her high heels whilst trying to take photographs.

After a while no nose got tired of following us around and decided to try her luck on the green. With putter firmly in hand, Shagger carrying the high heels and a little advice from the caddy she lined up the ball like a true professional.

Now Bodo lives in PNG and actually plays golf quite a bit. I think his handicap is 13 and I can’t figure out why he wants to play with hackers like myself and Shagger apart from a genuine love of the game.

As you can see from the pictures the course was brown and dry. When we commented on the lack of watering my caddy looked at me somewhat disdainfully and replied “Mr. Martin this is not a golf course this is a desert”.

Funnily enough after we mentioned the watering it began to drizzle and Bodo was found underneath the umbrella with his caddy.

The course runs adjacent to the old army barracks which are still very much in use for housing the current generation of Philippine soldiers.

The course has a number of obstacles including large ditches which are spanned by wooden bridges. These bridges proved a bit of a problem for Ronalie in her high heels.

There are still remnants of the American troop days but of course many of the facilities created by them have gone to ruin through lack of maintenance.

The course has several areas of roughage and the way Shagger and I played we seemed to be spending more time in the rough than on the fairway. In fact I thought Shagger was more like an intrepid explorer than a golfer.

Half way through it was time for a drink at the local canteen. This having to walk around the golf course was thirsty work.

Bodo didn’t bring his golf gloves so he had to make do with tissue paper borrowed form the canteen.

At times Shagger resembelded a true professional and he is now waiting a call from Tiger Woods inviting him to join the professional circuit.

By the time we reached the last fairway we were about ready for a nice cold drink and a sit down in the clubhouse.

Finally after what seemed like an eternity we hit the club house and relaxed with some nice cold drinks.

Having been dragged around the course in her high heels Ronalie was seriously unimpressed and had no hesitation in expressing her feelings to the men folk.

The caddys lined up for a final photo shoot and it was all smiles as they waved us goodbye.

To hire the clubs, buy the balls, pay the course fees and tip the caddy it cost us about 1500 peso each which is a very decent price for an entertaining nine holes.

If you are a golf enthusiast or if you are just looking for something different playing 9 holes here makes a refreshing break from the regular routine of bar hopping and drinking.

The caddys are actually quite good players themselves and will always offer advice and helpful hints as you play the course.

This is a fun day and a refreshing break from the normal mongering routine.