Puerto Galera

Trip Start Mar 17, 2010
Trip End Ongoing

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Where I stayed

Flag of Philippines  , Mindoro,
Monday, April 19, 2010

Life in the Philippines is a constant cat and mouse game with touts and vendors. The best thing about guide books is that they give you an idea what things should be worth but our book is seven years old so we never know how accurate it is, especially considering it gives a lot of prices in US dollars and given the changes to their economy the past 18 months it is difficult to judge its accuracy.

To get to Puerto Galera you need to get the bus to Batangas in southern Luzon. Once our taxi arrived at the bus stop the car was immediately surrounded by men trying to take our bags. Our driver wouldn't open the boot until we were out of the car and in the confusion I forgot to pay him. When I realised and went back he ripped me off 10pesos (25cents). Our bags were taken and put on a bus and the man asked for a tip, 15more pesos gone. He told us the bus would be 300pesos for the two of us to Batangas, but when I paid with a 500, I only got 20 pesos back. After questioning the driver he laughed and gave me another 113 (?) pesos change. Another 67 pesos gone. The bus eventually made it to Batangas at 2:40pm and the next boat was 2:45, otherwise we’d have to wait until 5pm for the last boat. All of a sudden a couple of Filipino guys were running around for us taking us to the ticket counters to get our boat ticket, marine park pass etc, how much of which we needed I’m not sure. In the madness I realised that hadn’t given me any of my change, 460 pesos. After some arguing and concerns we were going to miss the boat we gave them a 60peso tip and in fairness we couldn’t have done it without them.

The boat to Puerto Galera is a big 'bangca’, a large wooden catamaran. We decided to spend the first night at Sabang beach because we had heard this is the best place for diving and snorkelling. Sabang looks and feels like an old Spanish port. Immediately though we were struck by the amount of old western men, usually fat ones with tattoos, escorting young Filipino women. The accommodation to us was not great value for money either, but we ended up settling on a place that came with its own kitchen, fridge, cable tv and aircon. Unfortunately the beach wasn’t great and we couldn’t swim, but we found some great street stalls to eat at.

As comfortable as our room was we decided, despite the cost, we wanted to go to white beach where we would be able to swim and relax on the beach. Now I say cost and I should point out at this moment that we have decided to extend our original holiday from the original plan of the end of June to the end of July, so an extra month’s holiday is requiring some sacrificing now.

At White Beach we found much more accommodation and a much nicer beach. I was blown away by how clear the water is, like diving into a swimming pool. With the saving in mind we decided to just relax for the next four or five days and not do too much. We looked into diving and couldn’t believe how cheap it was, A$20 for a reef dive just off the beach. Unfortunately in the end we put it off for too long and missed out on getting to do it. The food at white beach was actually pretty bad. You really got what you paid for, in that it was very difficult to find something good cheap. One thing I was eager to try was Halo Halo. Everywhere advertised it and the photos of it looked delicious so I decided to experiment. It turns out it is the strangest concoction I have ever seen; jelly, creamed corn, milk, red kidney and soy beans as well as some kind of paste, disgusting!

Being back on the beach gave us the urge to get fit again. It’s funny how walking around half-naked all day makes you think about how you look *cough*, I mean you’re health. There was a great hill which separated White Beach from Aninuan beach so we ran that each morning and went passed a little bakery for breakfast. The rest of the days were spent eating bananas/mangoes and drinking fruit shakes. We thought we’d never get sick of it…but we did. After reading about other parts of the Philippines we were really disappointed that we were only going to get to see a small part of it and after figuring out how to get around we decided our best chance at seeing more was to go Boracay and fly out from there. So we fled, leaving behind the massage lady, the sunglass guy, the dvd man and the pearl seller, all of whom were convinced that we were going to buy from them on Friday.

So we set off at 5:45am, not knowing what type of day we were in for…
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