Motor Homes Feature: See What's Inside Alexander Gonzales' DIY Camper, the Hyundai County Mini Bus | Motourismo

By Arabelle Jimenez

The Gonzales family motor home at Treasure Mountain Campsite in Tanay, Rizal.

Adventure comes in many forms, and the great outdoors always gives us that pull to take that road trip. We love to discover other places, and experience the joy of being one with nature. But this time, our motoring escapades will bring us right in the comfort of our own "homes". How is that possible? 

A converted vehicle to travel in style and comfort is the solution.  Motor homes are actually not a new way of travelling, as these are specially seen in Europe and North America. It is good to see that motor-campers, over-landing, and van-life tribes have cropped up in the Philippines lately, partly due to the pandemic's restrictive tourism industry. 

Thanks to adventurous Filipinos, local tourism has picked-up, and more people get to enjoy the beauty of our country, which is a very good thing (see related article here). Motourismo is always on the look-out for adventurous men and women, who not only love the outdoors and road trips, but who are also innovative, and inspiring. Taking care of the environment comes in character with their kind, which is reassuring. We are happy to share their stories. 

Motor home owner Alexander Gonzales, Treasure Mountain owner Atty. Salvador and business partner Vanjo enjoying the sea of clouds.

Alexander Gonzales was born and raised in the province of Bulacan, and studied in Manila. 2021 is his golden year, turning 50 years old this April. Alexander is married to Mitz, with whom he has two kids, and presently living in Pasig City. He is also a part owner of an automotive work shop. Since he was a child, he enjoyed the outdoor life, adventure and travel. His passion is to build and design anything he fancies. He also has his own camper trailer, and engages in 4X4 adventure.

1. Please describe your vehicle. 

Our bus is a Hyundai County Mini Bus, it’s a local unit, 1999 model. 

2. What is your motor home equipped with? 

Our bus is equipped with the following: 

∙ LED TV with TV box & a hard drive with movies 

∙ A personal refrigerator 

∙ A small electric fan 

∙ A 1-HP Air Conditioner 

∙ It has a dining table 

∙ A Bunk bed that can be converted into a sofa or couch 

A small master's room at the end part of the bus with an accordion door for privacy. 

It has drawers & cabinets for utensils/ glass wares, cooking stuffs, storage for some other  things needed for overlanding/ camping trips. 

∙ A double burner gas stove (small LPG tank fitted & positioned under the stove cabinet) 

∙ Kitchen sinks with grease trap so the discharged is free from oil & sediments 

∙ A mini comfort room (C.R.) with portable toilet/ ( 20 Liter capacity) accordion door for privacy ∙ CR is fitted with faucet and bidet 

∙ The water supply comes from a roof mounted large water tank 

There are two sets of lighting, the stock original standard ceiling lights of the vehicle and another set if we are using the 220V or GenSet power source. 

For power, we use a 2000-watt silent-type gasoline generator, which mounted at the back. We designed a pull-out ledge where the gen set is mounted, so it can be exposed outside to discharge its emission. The back door/tailgate serves as the cover of the gen set in case of rain. 

There is also an option for the power source to be connect to a nearby power outlet, via a long cable that can be converted or plugged to any 220V outlet, like when you are parked near a house.  

3. Why did you convert your bus to a camper? What inspired you? 

Our Hyundai County was used as a rental, but since it was already an old model, customers prefer a newer unit. Instead of selling it, we decided to transform it into a motor home/ RV. I am very much into outdoor activities, road trips, camping, off roading, and getting to different places. 

It all started when we made our first loop traveling the northern part of Luzon. Our family used a small SUV/crossover vehicle. Since hotels and resorts were hard to find in these far-flung places, we only parked and slept in gas stations. This inspired me to build our own camper on wheels. 

4. What places have you been to with it? 

To name a few, we go to Treasure Mountain in Tanay, due to its nice cold weather, sea of clouds, and most importantly, the place is safe and secured. We have a special spot there. 

We have been to Tiaong Quezon, enjoyed the farm living, which, by the way is owned by a relative. We park under the trees to enjoy nature, listening to birds chirping. We have also been to Pundaquit Zambales, for a family outing, and there was no need to rent expensive rooms. We just pay for parking and resort dues to camp on their grounds. 

5. What are the pros and cons of owning a motor home? 

The Pros 

∙ Enjoy traveling like you’re in the comfort of your own home

∙ No worries about bedrooms, and toilet availability 

∙ Less expenses during travels, no need to rent rooms 

∙ You can cook your own food anytime, anywhere 

∙ The fun and comfort of sleeping and dining in camping trips

∙ Park it & camp it, no need to assemble and disassemble camping materials like tents, tables and other camping stuff. I simply unfold its attached awning tent for shade. Since it’s like a home, you’re  not worried of bugs, and crawling insects

∙ It is an instant adventure trip anytime anywhere with the family

The Cons 

∙ Limited places that you can camp - some campsite do not allow this big type of vehicle 

∙ The parking - due to its size, there are places or campsites with limited or small parking spaces 

∙ Narrow roads - sometimes it’s difficult to pass through small roads, and maneuvering is also a problem 

∙ Road restrictions - there are roads and highways that do not allow large/long vehicles to pass, so you  need to find an alternative route, which could be a longer way 

∙ The cost of owning one - it is not that cheap, even a second hand cost more than an average van, and making it as a camper is an additional cost

∙ Maintaining it - since it’s a big unit the cost of maintenance is also high 

∙ Where to keep it - you have to have ample parking if you own one. 

6. How did you build your motor home? 

When we finally decided to build one, I looked at some designs available in our friendly, ever reliable Google. I used to check out set –ups that would be compatible with our mini bus. Then I also did many sketches. 

My wife gave some ideas regarding the design of its mini kitchen. Since we do have a car repair shop. It was an advantage because we already have our own welder and fabricator. My cousin, who’s one of our  shop supervisors modified some of my sketches, and turned it into more functional, and space-saving set- ups. 

7. What’s your advice to our readers? 

If you are dreaming to own one, but with a limited budget, you can start with a small project van. It is very easy to build since you need only simple, and basic camper van necessities like a small folding or  detachable table. The original seats can be used and be repositioned as a folding bed for space saving purposes.

For toilets, you can always bring with you a shower tent enclosure where you can use a portable toilet, and where you can also take a bath. Remember to do your best, and be resourceful to achieve that dream. 

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