Post Crossing Philippines and Enthusiast Eyeball

Manila Central Post Office compound, Manila Philippines

It was a bright sunny day on November 23, 2011 when a small group of  post card and stamp collectors met at the main lobby of the Manila Central Post Office more popularly called Lawton, Post Office .

P.O. Boxes 

The author arrived past 8:00 am then followed -by Mr. Jonathan Blaza a postcard , stamp , coin  collector . Aside from these collections , he also had other hobbies like orchid growing ,  breeding African love birds , scorpions and spiders. He was soon followed by Ms. Julie Flores , Mr. Jong Esteban Caytiles and Mr. Edge Azurin who was the last to arrived . He seems to be lost in the chaotic streets of Manila.

L-R Mr. Jong Caytilles , Lawrence Chan , Mrs. Elenita San Diego -Manager Postage and Philatelic Department , Mr. Jonathan Blaza and Ms. Julie Flores

The small group was also welcomed by Postage and Philatelic Department -manager Mrs. Elenita San Diego.

One of the first agenda of the meet was the short lecture to be conducted by the marketing and administration personnel of the post office,  After a brief question and answer portion. the group led by Ms. Annadel Bangalisan who toured the group in the post office operations.

L-R Mr. Edge Azurin , Mr. Jonathan Blaza , Ms. Olive Valderama Operation Officer , Ms. Julie Flores and Mr. Jong Caytiles

section where letters are sorted 

According to the group discussion , some of the unusual packages and letters that were received by the post office were pornographic materials, semen samples, drugs , illegal weapons, firearms and even marijuana .  The most recent was the anthrax  scare  in January 7, 2009 were about a dozen postal employees were said to be expose on the substance . The package contained a powdery substance, which according to our resource person , said follows a trend of 70-plus hoaxes sent to several US post offices and missions.  Most of the items were confiscated by the post office.

boxes of business class letters ready to be sorted and delivered

registered mail service by the Philpost from a well-known insurance company 

A short lecture by Ms. Olive Valderama was conducted . Mostly on the operations of the post office . The small group also went to the section for  sorting of letters and registered business  mail

Grendizer TV anime and manga character by Mr. Go Nagai

This life-sized statute was initially shipped to France, Its total mail cost which included air- freights  and custom duties  reached well over 14,000 pesos ! However the recipient in France did not accept the package and was returned back to the country.

Dead Mail Section

Dead Mail Office / Section   A letter or package becomes “dead” when neither its sender nor its recipient can be identified, most often because the delivery address is incorrect or absent and the return address is also incorrect or absent. Morie the sender address the letter to Mr. Philip Dari- this postcard unfortunately never made it to the recipient ( maybe without stamps )

The dead mail office in which undelivered letters and parcels could be found (In the Philippines,  it would take at least 3 times for these items to be delivered by postal employees to the recipient before they end-up in this office .  )

United States Postal Service adopted the more politically correct name “mail recovery center” to refer to what had been gloomily known as the dead letter office. Besides giving a positive outlook  to the concept of a dead letter office by focusing on the mail that is actually recoverable, the other change in the name – a shift from “letter” to “mail” – since the US postal service also included parcels.

bust of batman

These are some of the reasons ‘why” the letters or parcels may not be able to reach their owners.

a.) Insufficient address  – Senders use an incorrect recipient address and omit a return address / change of address without proper notification to the postal workers or to the community.

b.) In-legible handwriting- sometimes ink smeared beyond recognition is the culprit .

c.) Fictitious name and Fictitious address . Some of the recipient would put Bugs Bunny, Santa Clause, Count Dracula etc….

d.) Refusal to accept by the recipient of the letters / parcel

e.) Items are mistakenly dropped into mail boxes with other mail.

f.)  Illegal items like drugs

space rocket made from wood

   Before these items are properly auctioned -off to interested buyers. This usually takes several months . Then , the small group went to the small air conditioned eatery at the back of the post office to eat the lunch. Some of the group started arranging their giveaways and postcards items for swapping .

                                                          PEDCO eatery  is one of the few canteens located within the post office compound

This so called eyeball / meet-up or swap meet was organized by some members of the Post Crossing Philippines and Post Crossing Enthusiast face book members  .   Unlike regular meetings of other societies and clubs , most of the interactions made was by internet and Facebook ,  swapping with fellow postcard collectors. Most of the physical activities are intermittent since most of the members are busy and out of town.

postcards from the dead mail section of the post office

Postcard Collecting or Deltiology is considered as one of the  popular hobbies in the country . It caters to travelers , students , diplomats, post card and  stamp collectors but due to changing times, postcard collecting is  slowly confined to a small community  and sometimes few vintage pre-war postcards  items would also be  sold in some collecting group like Filipinas Stamp Collectors’ Club , Bayanihan Collectors’ Club or Philippine Numismatic and Antiquarian Society during their monthly meeting.

giveaway for the attendees

Postcards and stamps  compliment  each other. Both tell a story , both are used as a form of communication. while postcards serves as an open type of letter  and stamps are also used as a  proof of delivery rendered  by the post office. Some may say that  due to the internet age , just like snail mail, post card swapping and collecting is slowly dying . But , this eyeball meet may prove the skeptics wrong . At around  past 1:00 pm members of the group started arriving at the postal museum and library .

The 20 plus members of the group were very friendly and some came from as far as Cagayan de Oro City, Baguio, Laguna and United States of America .

Ms. Ruby Ricafrente is the founder of the group

A blogger , post card , key chain and fridge magnet collector. She hails from the city of golden friendship Cagayan de Oro City.

Ms. Jenny Dominguez is from Baguio City and took time to attend the swap meet and eyeball

She usually makes and design her own postcards using cute comic characters like Hello Kitty . She also collects vintage postcards

for those interested in swapping with her . Contact Information: P.O. Box 728 Baguio City 2600 Philippines

Mr. Ceferino Francisco III nickname:  Von Francisco loves to collect ” Map Postcards” , stamps  and pen pals for those interested in swapping items with him :

Contact Address: Block . 148 Lot 10 Central Bicutan , Taguig City , 1633

Ms. Arlene Colado is From Iligan City

for those interested in swapping with Her Ms. Arlene Collado c/o Ms. Ester Vergon (Iligan Post Office 9200 Iligan City ) She is also a blogger.

Ms. Hazel Holbrook

Address:11203 Water Oak Drive 3605 80th Avenue SE Flint Texas

75762 Jamestown , North Dakota 58401

For those interested in swapping with her, She collects banknotes, stamps,  fridge magnets, postcards and even small glasses

    She gave away interesting magnets from North Dakota , small glasses and postcards from North Dakota . She has a sunny disposition in life and her warm smile kept everyone happy.

Ms. Gennie Corbito or ( Ms. Gene)

Ms. Gene is interested in postcards and old Manila  Contact information: 158 O. De Guzman Street IVC , Marikina City 1802

Ms. Ria R. Romero C/O MTCC BR I. Naga City Camarines Sur 4400

Ms. Ria collects stamps, postcards  and coins. She also customizes postcards and had a blog about postcards.

Mrs. Christine Yao Amador with her daughter is from Laguna . She started to collect postcard more than 10 year ago upon joining the group,  she again restarted the passion to collect postcards .

Mrs. Willa Castro- Stock is from Malabon 

For those who wanted to swap with her. Address: #3 White Lily Street, Araneta Village , Malabon City 1474

      She collects postcards , maximum card and a postcard blogger .

Mr .Edge Azurin

Mr. Edge Azurin is a registered nurse and collects postcards and stamps.

For those interested in swapping with him.

Contact Details: #3 Orkidia Ext. Street. Pembo Fort Bonifacio, Makati City

members of the group pose for a souvenir shot

It  was past 4:00PM when the group ordered a simple snacks which consists of pancit palabok  and soft drinks at the nearby eatery.

pancit palabok ordered from PEDCO eatery

There were mini- raffles , postcard swapping and a lot of chit chat with fellow collectors.  The group then quickly send their postcards in order to beat the 5:00pm closing time. The original plans of touring Intramuros particularly Fort Santiago ,  San Agustin Church and Museum was shoved off due to time constraint . I missed -out a few personalities during the eyeball since everyone is quite busy and press for more time.

At past 6:00pm, the small pack decided to have an impromptu food trip in Binondo. The group walk towards  Quintin Paredes ( Rosario) street  then proceeded to Eng Bee Tin bakery and several more restaurants within the vicinity.

Mr. Von Francisco and Jonathan Blaza taking picture of the dishes 

The group then ordered one of the in-house specialty of SuZhou Dimsum .  According to Ms. Doris Chua the manager of the restaurant, Su Zhou is located in Jiangsu province  is known not only for their food but also beautiful women in China. She  also told the group that their Mabini branch is open 24 hours and also accepts orders and catering services.

sour sauteed shredded potato

These pale-looking, spaghetti-like thin strips are shreds from a potato . The potatoes are blanched  then sauteed in hot peanut oil , sliced green and red bell pepper, vinegar, spring onion leaves and  fresh chillies.

Oyster omelette best accompanied  by banana ketchup 

The group then ordered oyster cake or oyster omelette . The dish consists of an omelette with a filling primarily composed of small  oyster ( talaba ) starch (typically potato ) is mixed into the egg batter and spring onions , giving the resulting egg wrap a thicker consistency. vegetable oil  is often used to fry the omelette. Depending on regional variation, a savory sauce may then be poured on top of the omelette for added taste.

Contact Information:

Address: 807 Sabino Padilla  (Gandara)  Street, Sta. Cruz , Manila

Telephone: 309-73-02 / 733-0530

Store operations: 11:00am to past 10:00pm ( variable)

Ambos Mundos Restaurant at night

The group then proceeded to Salazar Bakery for another round of  sampling of their products.  We walk towards the Sta. Cruz area and went to one of Manila’s famous restaurant landmarks Los Ambos Mundos and  Sun Wah Restaurant.

list of menus listed in blackboard- reminiscence of 19th century Manila

Ambos Mundos was first opened in the late 19th century,  Some say that it dates back to 1888 while some old-time residents of Manila say the restaurant was opened sometime in 1890’s  which was originally located at Estero Cegado

Calle Cegado – from the Spanish word estero cegado meaning a ” closed -up estuary ”  . 

The estero was gradually filled up with soil and  rock and was renamed- Calle Cegado . The street is located in between   present day Isetann Quiapo and SM City- Quiapo near Plaza Goiti ( now Plaza Lacson)  and specializes in Filipino- Spanish cuisine. There were two other restaurants  located in Ermita and Carriedo looked after by the three sister of  Mang Domeng the great grand father of  Mr. Gaudinez. Over time,  they had to closed the two because of personal reasons and changes in business interests.

According to one of the staff, they were forcibly moved from Calle Cegado for a planned light railway transit station. Their new restaurant closed when the family immigrated to  Winnepeg, Canada in 1993 and reopened in 1997 when Mr. Gaudinez retuned .

signage

The origin of the word which means “both worlds”, is considered one of the oldest still existing restaurants in Manila. It is owned by Mr. Greg Gaudinez, a Spanish mestizo and his wife Mrs. Kathy Leung- Gaudinez who is of Filipino- Chinese  descent. According to the staff of the restaurant , the original Ambos did not served Paella moreso and asado rolls  but the closest  Chinese cuisine that Ambos served then, was pancit (bihon or canton).

group picture

As the fourth generation successor of the family business, Greg decided to move Ambos Mundos  from its original location to a new one along Florentino Torres  Street where it would be made more visible to the curious passers-by . The location of the new restaurant is near Claro M. Recto Avenue and about 5  minutes walking distance from  LRT line 1 ( Doroteo Jose station ) and about 8 to 10 minutes walking distance from LRT line 2 ( Recto- Isetann station).

Among this restaurant long list of celebrity clientele includes Dolphy, Chiquito ,German Moreno, Philip Salvador, Alona Alegre, Pacquito Diaz, Rene Saguisag among others.

Address:750- 752 Florentino Torres St., Sta. Cruz , Manila 1003 ,Philippines

Phone Number (+63 2) 734-1160 / (+632 ) 734-41-08
 Sun Wah Restaurant was opened in 1955 which specializes in Filipino- Chinese ( Cantonese)  dishes . The dining set-up is similar to that of Ambos Mundos, with an open air at the ground floor and a larger air-conditioned second floor. What sets it apart from Ambos  Mundos is the menagerie you will encounter on your way to the second floor.  You can  order same meal that both Ambos and Wah Sun restaurant offers . The air conditioned room is also ideal for many occasions.

pot-belied pigs greeted visitors to the restaurant

The group noticed  two pot bellied pigs at the entrance of  the restaurant. These pigs serves as an unofficial ambassador of goodwill  to all customers and passers-by . They also serves as good luck  for the restaurant. Living nearby at Tomas Mapua street in the early 1990’s . I remember that those pigs were not yet part the the restaurant and maybe acquired in the late 1990’s . The author  inquisitively  asked one of the restaurant staff  on what food do these pigs eat ? one of the staff told me that these pigs are well-taken cared for by the owners and they are not given table scraps . 

Arawana fish on display

Tourist Attraction:  is not only well known for their foods but also for their added  exotic animal  display.

Mr. Jonathan Blaza pose with WWF stamps ( Photo credit : Ms. Julie Flores)

Exotics animals like  python, saltwater  crocodile, fishes like eels, freshwater fishes,  carps, African lovebird , budgerigars , skink , pet dogs  among others in  their restaurant.

entrance to Sun Wah restaurant with two security guards

Tragic Story: According to the restaurant manager ,  the old restaurant ( made from wood) got burned  to the ground after a gas tank leaked from a nearby company sometime in 1993 . Four of their cooks got third degree burns and were hospitalized for a month. The family decided to rebuild the restaurant within just a month after the fire.

going upstairs with  vintage flamenco dancers poster

After the tragic incident , The restaurant status was change into a family corporation and the old name was changed from Sun Wah Panciteria to Wah Sun Cantonese Restaurant  before returning back to its original name .  Later, Mr. Benjamin Leung daughter Kathy married Mr. Greg Gaudinez, a fourth generation owner of  Ambos Mundos.  Since then, Ambos was transferred from Quiapo  and rebuilt in front of Sun Wah.  Then in the year 2000,  Mr.  Benjamin Leung was shot dead by a thief in front of the restaurant.  According to some eyewitness account , the thief might be surveying the locality  . Things dramatically changed for the restaurant.

pork asado with sweet sauce

Despite the tragedy, life went on inside the restaurant and the five siblings teamed up to run the place that has become their father’s legacy. What is notable is both of the restaurant had survived  despite tragedies like the last world war ,  fire and the death of its owner/founder.

pork asado with pickle relish- one of the restaurant specialties

fried rice with shrimps and pork

The group also ordered their fried rice served in a medium sized bowl. The serving looks deceiving small  but all 6 of us were able to eat .  For budget travelers, it is wise to pool in money before ordering the food . The food of both restaurant (taste) ,  ambiance ,  history and experience is a must for all . After more than 12 hours of tour, food trip, historical trivia, eyeball , raffles and games, the small group  parted ways at around past 9:00pm.

Address :747 Florentino Torres St. Sta. Cruz, Manila ( just beside the Ambos Mundos)

Telephone # (+ 632)733-67-09 , 733-67-18, 734-1160 Telefax (+632) 734-4101

Store operates : from 8:00am to 11:00pm both restaurants ( everyday ) except Maundy Thursday and Good Friday

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Binondo Food Wok Tour

dragon dance beside Binondo Basilica

The oldest and most important festival in China is the Spring Festival. Better known as the Chinese New Year, it is a time for celebration for millions of Chinese all over the world. The Spring Festival celebrates the Earth coming to life and the beginning of plowing and planting.

fruits strung in wire with  red ribbons and red envelope

The Chinese use a calendar which places the festival on the first lunar day of the first lunar month.

Thus, the date of the Spring Festival changes each year. The new year in the 12-year cycle Chinese calendar is the Year of the Metal Tiger, beginning February 14, 2010.

Chinese seller of various curio stuffs in Ongpin street

Last February 15, 2010 (monday)  a day after the Chinese New Year, the group composed of Mr. George Yao , Ms. Neptune Pittman, Ms. Marilois  Estrella  , Ms. Gloria Razon, Ms. Virgie Neo, Ms. Catherine King, Ms.Leslie Kennedy ,Ms. Lina Gueco , Mr. Ray Ong and myself braced ourselves into a day of food tripping , shopping , culture and history hopping in one of the oldest Chinatown in the world.

The group immediately went into a buying spree at the Carvajal    wet and dry street market .

The planned trip was a last minute preparation, initiated by PHS dynamic lakwatsa committee head Tita Glo Razon .

We met at the PHS office at the Manila Seedling Bank Foundation at around 10:00 a.m. and as time passed by. The group finally agreed to meet at Carvajal Street near the famed Binondo church (Basilica Minore de San Lorenzo Ruiz).

The group went to find fresh produce like seaweeds, fruits, fresh flowers, vegetables, Chinese dried goods, etc…

dried Hemerocallis sp. or Day lilies

The flowers of some species are edible and are used in  Chinese and Asian  cuisine. They are sold (fresh or dried). This particular dried flower is popularly sold as ” bulaklak ng saging ”  and is used in various cuisine from Pata Tim, soup , adobo.

To the right is a wide alley of mixed shops, drugstores, jewelery shops and restaurants, but by the end is a lowly hidden shop by the name of Diao Eng Chay. It has never transferred to another building since its establishment almost 50 years ago.

Then the group went to the famous Diao Eng Chay – Chinese Deli or popularly known as DEC , the store is located at 845 to 847 Salazar Street , Binondo , Manila among its top favorite are its hopia, huat ke, heart shaped tikoy among others.

tikoy in various shapes , sizes and prices

Before , going to another convenient store, some of the tour members saw Ms. Vangie Go wearing red dress and buying some pasalubong at the nearby Shin Ton Yon store.

Shin Ton Yon store located at 825 brgy .296 Salazar Street , Binondo – this store is known for its deep friend spring rolls, lumpiang shanghai, nori squid balls,  pork asado, pork, chicken and beef floss .

New Victory Trading Store , this store is located in 754 Ongpin street and is known for  Wedding or Ting Hun items,  lucky charms, Feng Shui items,  mahjong sets, vases, trophy, glass items etc..

Suzhou Dimsum Restaurant

We walked towards Sabino Padilla Street ( formerly known as Gandara) and went to Suzhou Dimsum Restaurant . The restaurant is located at 807 Sabino Padilla street in Binondo and with the help of our gracious host Mr. Ray Ong ordered about a dozen of the restaurant specialty .

group enjoying a hearty lunch

Some of the notable dishes served  were the steamed beef with garlic, potato salad,tofu with century egg,  oyster cake, mustard fried rice, fried tomato rice ,  pancit guisado ,pancit bihon , sweet and sour mushroom soup , sauteed chicken gizzard and their service tea .

After the sumptuous lunch, the tour pack went to nearby fried siopao store in Ongpin while some of the members bought several packs of dimsums as pasalubongs.

the group also went to a nearby tofu factory

Eng Ho Bakery is located 628 to 630 Teodora Alonzo Street , Sta. Cruz Binondo , Manila and is famous for its chiffon cake, steam cake, mocha star cake, huat que, hopia and its mango flavored tikoy. Most of the group went into buying  spree after some brief introduction on the specialty of this store.

heart- shaped mango flavored- tikoy

steam cake

huat que

Marland Cake and Pastries is located at the corner of Soler street and Teodora Alonzo street  sells other popular Filipino – Chinese delicacies such as hopia, ang pao. Compared to other bakeries around Chinatown, This bakery is still not that popular compared to nearby Eng Ho bakery, however this store had some loyal clientele tucked into its name.

Marland Cakes & Pastries

a short tour in the nearby Arranque market , some members of the tour group went into panic buying  of different array of dried Chinese foods, fruits, vegetables, lotus leaves, Chinese chorizo, Taiwan squash seeds , Ho ti etc…

members of the tour group went inside a Filipino- Chinese convenient store

dried jelly fish on sale at the Arranque market

various array of meat balls, fish balls, crab sticks, kikiam, squid balls

Mr. Ray Ong holding a meat ball made to resemble a cartoon character

pet shop tour

The group went to various stores and bought several items, which included a visit to the nearby pet stalls at the corner of Claro M. Recto Avenue and Teodora Alonzo street.

Lion dance marked the first working day of the Chinese lunar New Year

New Eastern Garden Restaurant located along Ongpin street is famous of their fresh lumpia and other home cooked Filipino- Chinese cuisine. This restaurant was established in 1950. The restaurant is near the Maxim Tea House  & Restaurant

signage of New Eastern Garden Restaurant

Salazar Bakeshop– the  shop smells Chinese food all over, with it offering a variant of Chinese delicacies; from hopia, chiffon cake , tikoy , pastries and  botchi.

mungbean  with salted egg another specialty of the bakeshop

The wide range of choices for the different Hopia flavours made the decision a little difficult: Which to buy? Even Hopia Mungo are classified into Black Mongo, Black Mongo Bean, Mongo with cheese,Lotus Cream Hopia ,  Mongo with salted egg, Hopia pineapple, White Lotus ( Lao Po Pia)  and pure Mongo. But the simpler the better right?

Tikoy rolls – one of the specialties of Salazar Bakery

This bakeshop is known for its various tikoy rolls and moon cake. This bakery had a tradition of over 60 years and rivals that of Eng Bee Tin, Holland, Diao Eng Chay , Eng Ho , Chuan Kee , Monte Land etc…

different types of hopia – Holland bakery

Two blocks away from Salazar Street is the E.T. Yuchengco Street ( formerly known as Calle Nueva ) an empty alley which bans all transportation from entering. Situated along the street are towering condominiums and offices, far from the old two-storey stores that dominate Chinatown. Peeping through the modern buildings is an old big sign which says: Holland Hopia. It would probably take a while to figure out which store the sign is referring to, it being a tiny almost unrecognizable bakeshop.

This bakery is known for its hopia baboy, diced hopia , hopia buko pandan- macapuno  , hopia pu tao ko and is one of the main rival of the famous Eng Bee Tin bakery .

Group photo : L- R Tita Gloria Razon, Ms. Neptune Pittman, Ms. Lina Gueco, Ms. Marilois Estrella and Ms. Virgie Neo

Eng Bee Tin Bakery

The store is located at 628 Ongpin street coner E.T. Yuchengco street , Binondo , Manila and had 4 branches in Metro Manila. Eng Bee Tin products are also exported in a number of countries around the world.

Born in 1912, Mr. Chua Chiu Hong established Eng Bee Tin in a simple stall in the heart of Ongpin, Manila. The stall became well known for its traditional Chinese delicacies, such as hopia, tikoy and glutinous balls.

During the 1970s, Eng Bee Tin stood cloistered in a sea of similar businesses. Its popularity began to wane and its products were getting harder to sell in a competitive environment.

More than a decade passed, and there appeared to be no end to the downtrend. The stall’s hopia proved unpopular due to its consistency. Creditors, suppliers and friends were turning a cold shoulder, wary of doing business with a seemingly doomed enterprise. The business needed a miracle to survive the 1980s.

It came in the form of Mr. Gerry Chua.As the eldest among the current generation of Chua siblings at the time, it fell upon Gerry to take the reins of the business at the young age of 21. He was armed only with a sincere wish to help his father by affecting a turnaround on the family business.

The store currently have 8 branches .

La Ressureccion Chocolate- located 618 Ongpin street , Binondo , Manila

This chocolate factory is considered as one of the oldest existing chocolate factory in the country .  The store is located near the Eng Bee Tin Bakery store while the original Hispanic style building in which the store once stood in place is now a vacant lot waiting for the next building !

Chocolate  tablea products

Manila’s Chinatown, like China-towns elsewhere in the world, has colorful parades that wind around the district, capped with the Lantern Festival on the night of the first full moon which marks the end of the Chinese New Year holiday period. Good-luck items for sale abound, together with other items that have become synonymous with Chinese New Year celebration. Eating noodles is traditional and is believed to ensure long life.

People born in the Year of the Tiger are said to be intelligent, alert, courageous, honest, lucky, intense, lively, and engaging. Colorful and unpredictable, their energy and love for life are stimulating.

They are optimists who always bounce back for new and fresh challenges. Known for their ability in influencing others and swaying crowds, those born in the Year of the Tiger love life and want to live it to the fullest.

It would be a great year if people could take in the good characteristics of the Tiger who pursues life with unyielding energy. With a tiger mind for this Year of the Metal Tiger, our actions could bear fruit and make it easier for us to achieve our goals for the year 2010.

Happy Chinese New Year to one and all!

Kung Hei Fat Choi, Gong Xi Fa Chai , Kiong Hee Huat Chay !!!!!

2010 is the Year of the Tiger,
which is also known by its formal name of Geng Yin. 2010 is Year 4707 in the Chinese Calendar.

Note: The author occasionally on special request may do a Binondo Food Wok Tour