Destination Puerto Galera
I came back to the Philippines after 2 weeks in Denmark, my girlfriend didn't know I was coming back, so she was in for a big surprise, she was not home when I got there, so I locked myself into our apartment, and waited. I knew she would be there within long, because we were supposed to chat online at about that time. She came home after about 20 minutes, and was very surprised and happy to see me.
I had planned for us to go to Puerto Galera for 5 days, and I had booked the penthouse suite in Hotel Tropicana at Sabang Beach, I have been in Puerto Galera 2 years ago, in White Beach, and I rally thought staying at Sabang Beach would more or less suck, because the beach there are dirty and not worth using. But small Lalaguna and Big Lalaguna beaches are within walking distance of Sabang Beach, and both beaches are much better than Sabang.
I had gotten the penthouse suite for 2070 pesos a night, which was a very good deal, compared to the first prices I saw on the Internet. I had arranged the transportation to Batangas with my usual driver, who had agreed to take us there for 2500 peso, I think that is a bit under the regular price, but it was low season, and I guess he reckoned he wouldn't get any other rides that day. Off we went to Batangas, stopped in one of the plazas on the toll way to fill up on McD. And to get my girlfriend some bonamine, she gets carsick if she doesn't take her bonamine.
We got to Batangas pier, and as usual, it was total chaos, the hawkers there will try to get you on their private bancas to Puerto Galera, so even if you arrive at 11AM, they will probably tell you that there are no more boats to Puerto Galera that day. I proceeded past them, and into the ticketing area, which is also a confusing and very noisy place. I looked around, looking for the ticket agent selling tickets for a real boat, my girlfriend doesn't like to sail in the bancas, I saw that the ticket in the left side of the room had pictures of a big boat, so I went over there and bought two tickets, I found the tickets a bit on the expensive side, but didn't think much about it, I just wanted to leave the ticketing area.
When you go into the waiting area, your ticket will be checked, and if you haven't done so already, you will be asked to buy a 20 pesos boarding pass. We got the boarding passes, and were finally let into the waiting area; we sat down and relaxed for a bit, until we were called to the gate for boarding. I was pleased to see the boat when we got out, a big sea kat, after waiting in line there to board for 5-10 minutes.. I started thinking. And I was in doubt I got the right tickets, I had tickets going to Calapan, the guy in the ticket booth had just smiled and said yes, when I asked him if it was to Puerto Galera, but knowing the Filipinos, you will also know that if someone smiles and says yes, it does not necessarily mean yes. So I started asking around the people next to me, if this boat was going to Puerto Galera, and finally a young guy next to us, explained to me, that I could go to Puerto Galera with this boat, BUT, I would have to ride a jeepney from Calapan, and when I asked him for how long, he just smiled and said: "I don't know".
I had about 1 minute to decide what to do, and I decided to go back and see if I could get on another boat in stead. When I got back in to the terminal, I was approached by some of the security guards, they quickly sorted it out, and they came back with my money from the ticket, and told me to go buy a new ticket, to Puerto Galera this time. I got my new ticket and we now had to wait for another hour or so on the next ferry to Puerto Galera.
We arrived in Puerto Galera at around 5-6pm; there are about 6 km. From Puerto Galera to Sabang beach, so we needed to find out how to get there, that in itself wasn't difficult, because there were a dozen or so trike drivers yelling at us, for us to let them take us to Sabang, going rate right at the dock was 300 peso at the time. We wandered off towards the main road, and asked a trike driver there in stead, and he agreed to take us to Sabang for 150 pesos. Still an expensive 6km. But I didn't want any more hassle, and I couldn't be bothered arguing over a few more pesos.
Finally we got to the Tropicana, and we were greeted by the owner Paul, a very friendly person and. His wife Ellen has made most of the wall decorations in cross-stitches; it must have taken her forever hehe. We went upstairs to our room, and were marvelled by the fantastic view here. I was however disappointed that the "private patio, with hammock", was a public patio with hammock, just placed right outside the windows of the penthouse suite, so we had to keep the curtains closed all the time we were in the room, kind of defeats the purpose of getting a penthouse suite, I wanted it because of the privacy and the view.
The room itself was beautiful, the bathroom was all in marble, and it had a large bathtub and two showers, the main room had two king size beds, the promised 27" TV, was degraded to a regular 14", the big one just broke down, oh well, we didn't go there to watch TV anyway. All in all a very stylish and very big room.
We quickly ordered some food from room service, as we were very hungry after the long trip, hadn't had anything since the burgers at McDo in the morning. The food at the Tropicana is very good; they have a good mix of Filipino and European dishes.
After the meal, we changed to the swimwear, and got ready for a night dip in the pool, they have a great pool here. In the pool area, we met our neighbours, a nice guy from Norway, and his likewise nice filipina wife, so we had a few beers with them and talked about what Sabang had to offer. We talked about renting a boat, and going on a boat ride one of the next days. We had a good time and time flew, and the fatigue from the trip caught up with us, so we went off for the day.
I didn't feel well the next day, so we stayed in and around the hotel, wit ha few dips in the pool, and a quick trip down to the market street, Sabang has a long street, with small souvenir shops, restaurants and bars, very nice area for a walk, and the hassle level is surprisingly low. A whole day went on, where we just relaxed and enjoyed being in Puerto Galera.
The next morning we went out on the boat trip with our new found friends, we paid the boatman around 1000 pesos for the whole day. We started out going to into Puerto Galera town, to the market in there, to buy some fish, prawns and vegetables, then on to the boatman's village to get pots and pans and some cooked rice for our picnic. We sailed around for almost an hour just enjoying the beautiful view from the seaside, and then we found a deserted beach, where we was swimming and lazing in the sun. after an hour or two, we went back in the boat for some more sailing, the water around Mindoro's north coast is so clear and blue, its unbelievable. We found another deserted beach, where we stopped, and after another short swim, we started to prepare the barbeque, we had a big tuna, a bag of swordfish, a bag of king prawns and an icebox full of beer and sodas, nothing beats a picnic on the beach like that, we really had a good time. And all too soon, it was time to go back to Sabang. I can really recommend going on a boat trip if you go to Sabang / Puerto Galera, there are so many beautiful deserted beaches everywhere.
Next day, we walked to small Lalaguna and big Lalaguna, the two neighbouring beaches, it was a very nice walk, some on the beach, and some on paths over the cliffs, the two Lalaguna's are much better beaches than Sabang, they are bot a lot cleaner, and more quiet, they have lots of small hotels and restaurants, we stopped into a small restaurant / diving shop for our lunch there, great food and nice people. It was defiantely worth the walk.
Later that night we decided to go out and check out the local bars, we went down towards the the small street parallel with the beach, with all the bars. When we got down to the corner, we ran into a huge crowd of people, a bit too silent to be a party crowd, so we wanted to check out what it was all about. There had just been a fight between some filipino's, and right there in the middle of the street, was a dead guy, shot in the heart. pretty shocking to see. We figured it wasnt that smart just to hang around a site like that, so we went through the crowd, and down to a bar called Sabang Disco, we had a couple of drinks, and watched the dancers dance on a dancefloor in the middle of the bar, in this bar, the dancers was grouped in groups of 3, and they had to dance for 3 songs each time it was their turn to dance. My girlfriend wanted to talk to one of the girls, so she asked the bartender if she could buy one of the dancers a drink, and was told she had to wait until the dancer finished her turn, I found this a bit odd, if someone wants to buy a lady a drink.. get her down ASAP, and get someone else on stage, they had quite a few girls just sitting waiting for their turn on the stage. finally the dancer finished her round of dances, and came down, and we had a bit of small talk. We left just a few drinks later.
After Sabang Disco, we went to Sunset disco, we had to pass the dead guy again, the crowd was gone, but he was still laying around, this was more than half an hour after first time we walked past him, nobody had tried to cover him up or anything. Arriving at Sunset Disco a few moments later, finding a smokefilled room, with only two dancers, they had a good crowd of costumers though, and free popcorn :-) we decided to have one drink here, and then move on to the next bar.
We got outside, and finally the police had arrived, and they were taking reports from people, they were all heavily armed. they took a lot of pictures, before they picked up the body and carried him away.
Next bar is Philippines Village Disco, my absolute favorite in Sabang, it had much more spirit than the two other bars, the girls were a lot more rowdy in here as well, really the best show in Sabang, they had a lot more girls than the other bars too, some pretty good looking ones :-) we stayed in this bar the rest of the evening, and had a great time.
The next day, we moved to another room, we got room 21, the panoramic suite, its a round room on the top of the hotel, the hotel is made to look like a pirate fortress, and this was the top tower, the view from there was absolutely breathtaking, and there was a private lawn in front of the room, and another lawn on the roof of the tower, only accesible from inside the room, very cool. I was so happy about this room, and regretted not getting it from the start. it was a lot more private than the pent house suite. a lot smaller though, but who cares, you could lay in the bed, and look out the window and see the lagoon. absolutely gorgeous.
The lawn outside was put to good use that night, we went to the market with the hotel cook, and bought a tuna fish and a bag of king prawns. The cook took it back to the kitchen,cleaned it, and came up to us with a BBQ. I really came to like BBQ'ed Tuna on this trip :-) he cooked for us, and afterwards, we had some beers, well more than some.. actually a few too many. I had a great night, drinking and talking to the cook all night, a very friendly and talkative person.
I spend all the next day in bed, and a short trip in the hotel pool, I was so hung over from all the beers the night before, I just couldnt move without everything in my body hurt. ouch !!. and to make it worse, the hotel was doing some construction work, and it was exactly that day they chose to work with a jack hammer all day :-( truly a day wasted in this nice paradise.
Our last day, we start packing our backs, and getting ready to departure, paid the bills, and got a jeepney to make a special ride to Puerto Galera, 150 pesos. There was a lot of vendors in Puerto Galera, they all tried to sell necklaceces and bracelets, some in stone and some in pearls. One of them sat down at the table in the cafe we were sitting in waiting for the ferry, and showed us his merchendise. I ended up buyng a set og a bracelet, a necklace and two earrings, supposedly in real pearls, but I doubt it hehe, the whole set was only 500 pesos, so not that big a deal.
The ferry finally arrives, and we get ready to board. there are 6-7 kids running around on the outside of the ferry, and swimming around in the water around the ferry, they wanted us to throw coins in the water, so they could dive for them, I reached in the bottom of my bag, and found a good handfull coins which we threw in the water to them. It was like feeding time in a shark bassin. the kids was having a great time, competing who could get the most coins, and we passed the last few minutes before departure.