Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Puerto Galera: the Pearl of Mindoro

Puerto Galera, MINDORO ORIENTAL
Date: JAN 19-21, 2013

Puerto Galera – one of the prime destinations in the Philippines. Many tourists prefer Puerto Galera to be their vacation destination because of its proximity to Manila. It's my first time to ride a boat going to another island aside from Luzon, and I am very excited about it, even though I am a little bit scared because of how dangerous the seas can be. But in the end, everything's worth it because this place is truly enjoyable.

DAY 1

I am so excited to leave for Mindoro after our busy Friday shift. For over twenty years, I never had the chance to leave the island of Luzon - but today, everything will change. I really prepared for this trip, and luckily, two of my office mates will be going along with me - Anna and Larra.

I brought in so many snacks, purchased from a grocery store yesterday. I also made this special tuna spread and decided to store it in our pantry's fridge. Too bad, I forgot to get it back and someone already took it out, so we just headed to Cubao to ride the bus.

It's already 12:15 PM, and our fourth companion is already waiting for us at the bus station - Kim, and he is Anna's boyfriend. We rode the bus (ALPS) and then waited for a few minutes before it leaves. We paid P175 for a single ticket to Batangas Port, and it took us two hours to reach the port.


Good morning Puerto Galera!
We managed to reach the port by 2:30 PM, and purchased the boat tickets going to Puerto Galera. From what I read online, no more boats would sail past 5 PM, so we have to hurry before it gets dark. There are many people inside the port that will offer you boat tickets, so you must be a keen observant to get the best deal. I chose the boat Golden Hawk, and we only paid P500 for a round trip ticket. When we managed to get our tickets, we paid for an extra environmental fee and stayed inside the waiting area, until the announcer stated that the boat's going to leave soon and we would have to go.

The boat is fairly huge - 100 people might fit inside, and the seat is similar to a jeep. Then there's the captain's seat at the center, and then a couple of life vests situated on the racks. We waited for a few minutes before the boat leaves, and then it started to become a little bit shaky. The boat crew then closed down the window panes with plastic covers, and I am a little bit disappointed because I won't have the chance to check out the view - but I understood why they did it once we managed to get to the middle of the sea.

The seawater smells awful, and our boat is being pounded by huge waves. Suddenly, our boat stopped, and my mind started to think about how to survive a shipwreck or how it feels to drown. Good thing that the waves subsided and we managed to continue our journey to Mindoro.

It took us an hour to reach the port of Sabang, and according to the captain, it'll be too dangerous if we will continue our journey to White Beach. It was 4:00 PM, and free jeepneys are waiting for us and they stated that they will be dropping us off to White Beach. It was already 4:15 PM when we finally reached the shores of White Beach, and the first thing that we did is to head off to our hotel and rest for a while.


Puerto Galera coastline
Few people were in the beach, mainly because January is not a "peak" month - but there are plenty of establishments to choose from. We decided to eat at this restaurant called "Foodtrip sa Galera", and I ordered tapsilog on the menu - and it was very good! Aside from the fact that they serve delicious meals, unlimited rice is also available 24/7, that's why this place is highly recommended.


Fire dancers performing
After eating our dinner, we stood up and watched these fire dancers performing along the shore. Larra and I approached one of the fire dancers and we took a snapshot for free. I also noticed that every restaurant has their own performer, probably because they would want to draw more customers in. After watching the performances, Anna and Larra decided to swim for a couple of minutes before returning back to the hotel to sleep. That's how my first day in Puerto Galera ended.





DAY 2


Breakfast time
This is my second day here in the island and the first thing that I noticed when I woke up in the morning was the towering mountain ranges that is being covered in thick fog, similar to Baguio. It was very cold when we decided to go down to eat our breakfast, and it also rained a little. We went back to Foodtrip sa Galera because their food is addicting. I even bought 3 pieces of puto from a local and made it as my dessert.

After we finished our breakfast, we headed back to the hotel to change our outfit and decided to swim. The water’s cold, but the sun’s warm light is slowly shining upon us. I also made sand castles and buried myself in the sand.

The water in Puerto Galera’s shore is a little bit rocky, but when you manage to go further into the sea, it transforms into fine sand. The water is not that salty too, but the waves are still high.


Swimming time
Late lunch at El Kap's
After swimming for hours, we decided to go back to our hotel to change our clothes and then we went back to the beachfront to start sightseeing. We took some photos from the far side of the cove too, and decided to eat lunch after a few minutes.

Because we would like to try something else, we checked out other establishment along the coast, and we found this eatery on the far side of the beach, called El Kap’s. I tried their beefsteak, and it does taste good! After eating our lunch, we went back to our business of swimming along the coast and then spending our nights along the beachfront watching the performers doing their fire dance routine.

DAY 3

Today will be my final day here in the island. We woke up early in the morning to pack our bags, and decided to check out. We also went down to the souvenir shop and bought “pasalubong” for our officemates and friends. And then, we looked for our boat’s booth along the coast and waited for the service to pick us up.

We traveled for a few minutes on land and transferred into the boat when we reached the port of Sabang. It was only 9:00 AM, but we waited for an hour and a half before the boat finally left. It was already 10:30 AM, and I noticed that the sea was very calm. As a result, we reached the port of Batangas in 55 minutes.

It was already 11:25 AM, and we went to the central terminal to ride the bus back to Manila. The journey lasted for three hours, and another 30 minutes for me to get back home. I was so tired that day, but the adventure was PRICELESS.

Total Expenses (as of January 2013):



Check out our photos:



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HOW TO GET THERE: WHITE BEACH PUERTO GALERA

COMMUTE:
1. Ride buses going to Batangas Port (we took ALPS from Araneta Center Bus Station in Cubao). Fare is P175, and travel time is about 2 hours.
2. At the Port of Batangas, purchase roundtrip tickets to Puerto Galera, at P500/person. According to the seller, you could use the return ticket anytime you wish. We chose Minolo Shipping Lines.
3. Pay for the port fee and environmental fee (total of P80), and you’re ready to go! Travel time at sea is about 45 minutes (if the weather is good) to 1.5 hours.
4. Boats usually go directly to White Beach if the weather is fine. However, if the waves are too high, you would be dropped off at Sabang Port, and from there, you will be transferred to an L300 van going to White Beach. It’s FREE.

ACHIEVEMENTS:
1. New Region: MIMAROPA (Region IV-B)
2. New Province:
15th Province out of 81
3. New Island: Mindoro
4. First Time Boat Ride

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