May 20, 2011
Destination: Puerto Galera
When people say Puerto Galera, they also meant to include Sabang and White Beach, both of which are different albeit smaller towns.
Me and a good friend, Len, went there for a weekend.This is my first trip to this popular municipality in Oriental Mindoro Island. This fact usually surprises my friends who know how much I love to travel since Puerto Galera is pretty accessible from Metro Manila. It took 4 hours to get there from my home. We didn’t make any plans. And we sent only 1 sms to each other the night before, meet up in Batangas pier at 10am. Got that. I’m good to go. ;)
I had 10pm-6am shift at the hospital so as soon as i got home, I had to finish packing, grab a bite or two then head out. Instead of joining my friend in Buendia, I headed to Alabang because I do not want to backtrack. In Alabang, there’s one big terminal for buses and jeepneys. Just ask around for a bus heading to Batangas Pier, don’t forget to ask for the (one-stop) express bus, fare is 137php. Travel time is about an hour and a half. I’ve been to other ports and piers in the country and it was either small, unorganized or looked old that was why I was pleasantly surprised to see that it’s a big, well maintained, organized place. I got to the pier first so to while away the time (and since I was hungry too), I went to a small store and got some chips. When Len got there, we proceeded inside to get our tickets.
There are 3 main destination for Puerto Galera: White Beach, the most popular choice; Calapan, the capital city of Oriental Mindoro; and Sabang, a diving destination. She asked me where I wanted to go, I said, anywhere. To help me choose, she quoted room prices. A typical room in White beach would cost anywhere between 1000-1500php while it’s around 600-800php in Sabang. Sabang won. hehehe Tickets for Sabang is 230php/pax and then you have to pay for terminal fee (30php), conservation fee (30php) and environmental fee (50php). Once inside, there weren’t that many passengers (it’s a Friday and it was almost lunchtime). We were told outside that our boat’s about to leave so finding the doors closed wasn’t gonna deter us since we saw our shipping line’s boat was already filled with passengers. We got the attention of one of the guys working there and he let us out then they escorted us to our boat. We could have been left behind if we just sat there (since they weren’t giving last call or whatever)! The boat set sail after we settled in. Travel time was about an hour.
Even if it was my first trip there, that wasn’t the case for Len so she was sort of my guide. We stayed at Red Coast. Owned and managed by an expat and his wife, George and Helen, we got a beachfront fan room with kitchen for 650php/night. If we’d opt to use the aircon, then it will cost us 800php/night. It’s not perfect but it will do and come on, it’s cheap. And we have yet to haggle at that. ;)
After some unpacking, we walked around the area. We went to La Laguna Beach, some 15-20minutes walk from our place. On the way there, the view brought to mind Santorini since the hostels/ hotels built on the mountainside were whitewashed too. It was a bit crowded in Sabang so La Laguna was a welcome sight. We had our late lunch at Kaye ‘n’ Em’s. We had chicken curry with rice and mango shake (360php). Mmmm! We stayed here for an hour or two. We went back “home” to get some rest, I have yet to sleep on a bed for two days now (tsk tsk tsk). After Manila’s sweltering heat, Puerto Galera’s sunny but not hot weather felt so good! :D
Finally getting some sleep (even if it was only for a couple of hours), I’m ready to go out now. That is after I wake my friend up too. ;) I wanted to check out the scene at White Beach. To get there one has to either ride a tricycle, a motorbike or a jeep (last option available only during daytime). When we got to the main rode, we were swarmed by guys offering their services for us. It would have been alright but there was this one very pushy guy. We told him to back off coz we’ll think about their offer. But he followed us around even when we left the main road. That was why we took another’s offer even if it were for the same price (150php for 2pax, one way). Then he got upset about it and wanted to quarrel with us as to why we chose another over him since he offered first and they’re the same price. We told him our reason and left. Many locals doing business there were too pushy. Didn’t want it to ruin our night. It took around 20 minutes for us to get to White Beach. Our driver, Kuya Oliver, gave us his number (0928 5963113) so we can send him an sms if we want to go back home.
After dinner where we drowned ourselves off a gallon of iced tea (we were thirsty haha), we tried to walk off the calories. White Beach was very different from Sabang. First off, there’s an actual beach (a long shore line anyways) hehe There were more people too (local tourists mostly) and the craziness that goes with it. I enjoyed watching the fire dancers. There were live bands too and a comedy show. If you want some dancing, you’ll be hard pressed to find one though. It felt like White Beach is for hanging out with a number of your buddies, the people that were there were almost always in at least a group of 4. We planned to go swimming that night but didn’t have the heart to actually do it. Didn’t want to get wet then get cold. I laid my sarong down on the sand and we lay there for a while until Kuya Oliver got there to fetch us. :)