Poor man’s Boracay. That’s what Puerto Galera is called, said my friend. So since Boracay is three whole months away, Chu and I thought we’d get a sneak peek by hitching along with Gay and her cousins in their Puerto Galera outing.
Early Saturday morning, the three of us rode a bus to Alabang, where we were meeting Gay’s cousins. Turns out there was just one cousin, whom she introduced to us as Rick. The rest of her cousins weren’t going. Instead Rick had invited his officemates.
Gay was thankful she had us with her, then, otherwise she would have been the one who would be O.P. (out of place). And to think we were worried that we’d be intruding on a family reunion! Haha! From Alabang we rode a bus to Batangas pier, where we rode a ferry to the Puerto Galera white beach.
We reached the beach past noontime, so it was scorching hot by then. The sight amazed me. White sand, blue seas and skies, green mountains, boats, people clad in bikinis and shorts, stalls selling souvenirs and beach gear. Summer paradise.
I was so excited to hit the beach, but then first things first, we must attend to our parched throats and growling stomachs.
Rick’s officemates fetched us at the shore and led us to where they were staying. We had grilled fish and pork for lunch. Later on they told us the bad news – we won’t fit into the house where they were staying.
So we walked around and looked for a place to stay. Luckily we found an available room in White Beach resort. It was airconditioned with two queen-size beds, cable TV, and a hot shower.
After changing into our beach wear and slathering on sunblock, we three hit the sand and had a pictorial with Chu’s digicam.
It took us the rest of the afternoon to walk across half the island, so it was late already when we decided we were ready to go snorkeling.
So after buying some grilled hotdogs, we boarded the boat that brought us across the sea to the snorkeling point. When we jumped into the water, we were disappointed because the corals were so deep down and there was few fish. There was better snorkeling in Batangas, and the best would still be in Bohol. Oh well. At least we can practice swimming in the deep water with our life jackets strapped on.
We headed back to shore and lay down on the sand. Then I decided to have a massage on the sand when one of the many massagers approached to ask if I wanted one. Massages are always blissful, but there’s something about having it on the sand. Wow.
After that Gay hit the water with her cousin while Chu and I went through all the stalls and looked for the perfect souvenir shirt. The stalls were scattered all over the entire length of the island so it took us half the night to go through them all.
When we realized we hadn’t eaten dinner yet, we headed back to our room and changed into dry clothes before heading back out for dinner at one of the bars. Gay joined us as we tried the island specialty — chicken and pork kebabs, grilled talong with bagoong, and shakes.
Rick came over just in time to join us in downing shots of Mindoro’s Sling — the specialty drink of Mindoro. It’s like Ginpom only not as strong, and gin is not in it. Chu and I both agreed that it wasn’t stong, but Gay wore a look of disgust on her face each time she downed a shot, following each one with a chaser of water. In the end we finished the entire pitcher, and decided to hit the sand after paying the bill.
There were plenty of people dancing on the beach, so we joined them for a bit before heading back to our room to use the CR, telling Rick we’d join him and his pals afterwards. But when we got to our room we were so tired and the sling was beginning to have its effect that we were all dead to the world the moment we hit the bed.
The next morning I woke up to Chu’s voice saying we didn’t come to Gale to sleep. Now here’s a switch! Chu waking up early! Gay and I changed back into our beach wear and were out the door with Chu. But before that we realized we were pretty low on cash. Turns out there were no ATMs here.
So we pooled all our cash together and started budgeting. We figured we could still afford the banana boat, so off we went. The minimum number of people to pay for in one banana boat ride was four, but there were only three of us, so Chu the haggle king managed to convince the guy to let us go for P100 less.
After signing waivers, we strapped on our colorful life vests and waded into the water once again. We clambered aboard the banana boat (which is more of a banana-shaped lifesaver), held on to the ropes infront of our seats, and were pulled along behind the speedboat into the middle of the sea. My heart was thumping wildly but it was fun!
Actually I was the one who recommended this, having tried it before in Subic. Halfway through, our banana boat flipped. We let go of the ropes as instructed, and I felt myself bumping against Gay.
At least it was just Gay I bumped into. Chu ended up bumping against a jellyfish. But it was not a poisonous one, so we clambered aboard the speedboat and from there went back on the banana. We flipped over a second time before we were headed for shore.
When we got back to the room Rick was already awake, so he went with us to buy our ferry tickets for Batangas pier. Then the four of us walked towards the left of the island, as instructed by my friend Richard who had been there before.
On the way there we passed an ice crumble vendor and bought some. We also took some pictures infront of Mindorinne, the most expensive resort there, for sure.
Finally we reached the rocks jutting out of the water, at the leftmost part of the island.
We walked across them and ended up at another resort, where the sand was grainier and there were fewer people. We decided to take a dip there, since it looked so serene.
After shedding our paraphernalia on the shore, we waded into the water. I practiced my swimming strokes and thrust out into the ocean until Rick warned me not to go too far because it easily got deep there. At that I stopped and stood up, but to my consternation, I could not longer feel the sea floor! It did get deep fast around here! I would have been able to make it back to the shallow part on my own but I panicked, so Rick had to pull me.
After a few minutes of wallowing in the water we decided to head back because the sun was high in the sky already. After a long trek back to our room we all showered and changed. We counted out our cash and figured we could afford lunch if all four of us shared one fish. So poor us, making do with a single tilapia. Luckily we realized our loose change could afford us some grilled eggplant and a hotdog each.
After eating we checked out and headed for the port. There was a moment when we thought we wouldn’t be able to fit into the ferry and wouldn’t be able to go home, but thankfully we were able to. By then we had absolutely no money left and we hoped against hope that there was ATM in Batangas pier. There was. But since it was Bancnet only Chu was able to withdraw.
At that moment I suddenly felt what I hadn’t felt in a long time. The feeling that I couldn’t buy anything unless it was approved by someone else. As we bought water and chichirya both Gay and I wanted so many other different things but somehow it didn’t cross our mind that we could actually borrow money from Chu, so we didn’t buy them. Gay and I started calling Chu our daddy.
We ate dinner at a carinderia so that we wouldn’t experience what happened in our Pagsanjan trip when we got so hungry in the bus ride home we wanted to eat our clothes. Then we were shocked when we got billed because the food was very expensive, twice what you’e expect from a cheap-looking carinderia with ordinary food like that one. Anyhow we paid up and boarded a bus to Buendia.
As usual we slept all the way home. A good thing we woke up just before reaching our place, though. And a good thing I was able to note where we were supposed to go down because it was not our normal way and therefore unfamiliar.
At the end of the day we had some fries and desserts at McDo before trudging home. Until now we haven’t accounted for how much we owe each other due to the pooling of funds thing that happened, but more or less here’s the budget for Puerto Galera:
Bus to Batangas Pier from Makati (roundtrip) –> 300 each
Ferry from Batangas Pier to Puerto Galera (roundtrip) –> 340 each
Room (can fit probably upto 6 persons) –> 4,500
Snorkeling boat with gear –> 600
Banana boat –> 150 per person, minimum of 4 persons
Mindoro’s Sling (by pitcher) –> 300
Kebab (with rice & coleslaw) –> 100 each
Massage on the sand –> 200
Souvenir T-shirt –> 100 each
And of course, don’t forget to account for your food and other extra costs you may incur. Still, I do believe it’s cheaper than Bora. Poor Man’s Boracay indeed.