Category Archives: Travel

When Pinoys come home…

…it’s more fun in the Philippines!

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“With millions of Filipinos living abroad, practically in almost every country and territory around the world, we felt that our people are the best tourism ambassadors for the country. By crowdsourcing video of family vacations, getaway trips with friends or even having fun in their hometown, we find a rich source of real stories and experiences that we can share with the rest of the world, enticing them to come to the Philippines,” said Rizza Maniego-Eala, Group Head for International Business of Globe Telecom.

DSC_0040DOT Asec. Domingo Ramon Enerio III delivered DOT’s report of #itsmorefuninthephilippines campaign and future plans

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I am so privileged to be invited at the press launch of the partnership of Globe and DOT, as well as their new program Pinoy Homecoming. It’s a wonderful campaign, really, because aside from driving foreigners to go to the Philippines (which we all know helps our economy), the new DOT program aims to encourage Filipinos in other countries to come home and once again visit their roots, and possibly stay in the country.

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And also, in honor of their efforts and help by means of foreign exchange remittances, Pinoy abroad are to be given special privileges and benefits courtesy of DOT partner merchants. I find it as a straightforward to campaign to bring Filipino families together once again (not that there is something really wrong with being away, I strongly believe in that.) Filipinos get a taste of this partnership, too! Globe is partnering with Manila International Airport Authority for free Wi-Fi service at all terminals of the NAIA, including the domestic terminal.

DSC_0044Asec Enerio III and Globe’s Maniego-Eala signs partnership contract.

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“We at Globe are happy to be one of the catalysts of the country’s tourism industry,” Maniego-Eala adds,” As we help spur more tourist arrivals, we are committed to enabling them to have the best experience as they travel through our telecommunications services–whether they roam using the Globe network with their foreign SIM, or if they choose to use a Globe prepaid SIM and during their stay. As we are in the thick of a massive $700-M network modernization program, we assure the DOT that our top tourist destinations in the country are prioritized in the roll-out of the new Globe network.”

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Tourism-wise, holding the press conference at Ilustrado restaurant at Intramuros, which is actually a tourist favorite too, is a nice choice. I love it there! Will try the Sampaguita ice cream next time. Thank you Globe and DOT for a pleasant luncheon and afternoon!

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iTravelerAsia: Informed and Independent Travel

What if you can enjoy travel like a CEO but spend lesser than it should be? Join iTravelerAsia now and expect to get the most out of your trips!

iTraveler Asia is an exclusive online travel club that features the best resorts and hotels in Asia. These resorts and hotels have been handpicked by our pool of travel experts and curators. iTravelerAsia members get exclusive rates with our partner properties.

I can’t wait for the website to go on full throttle! I’m planning my backpacking trip for 2013, and maybe it won’t need to be super thrift since iTravelerAsia will be around!

iTravelerAsia
http://itravelerasia.com
concierge@itravelerasia.com

CONTEST ALERT: Globe Telecom x It’s More Fun in the Philippines!

Love making your own #itsmorefuninthephilippines memes? Submit it to fb.me/globeph to get a chance to win a Nokia Lumia 610 WEEKLY!

More after the jump…  Continue reading

Shoot with the Probe Team

Day 1

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These are the behind-the-scenes of the shoot I did with Probe last week. We were to reenact the accounts of Wachi participation in the war with Japan during World War II. It wasn’t a role I was really gunning for, for all you know I’d better be behind the camera. But I didn’t pass for the opportunity (maybe the last one I’ll get) to act in front of a camera.

I can’t hide though that I enjoyed watching the production set up instead of acting. Haha! Anyway, again I want to thank Probe for this experience and for the wonderful stay at BAE (pictures after the jump)!

BTS Photos by Dessa Jimenez

Continue reading

Go on a trip with PHL360!

PHL360° is a 16-episode fusion of reality TV and travel show circling around the stories of eight indie travelers embarking on a trip around the Philippines. This is an entertaining and informative project for gung-ho and bold travelers who share the same passion and advocacies as independent travelers. Eight different kinds of travelers doing four extraordinary trips in four different destinations in the country (north, south, east and west).

Eight folks will be grouped into four. Say, a surfer is partnered with mountaineer or party-traveler meets camper. Each duo travels to a place both not suited to their personalities with a mission of “how they will make the trip extra meaningful.” We will see what happens after the weekender trip and some surprise twists along the way. It is a reality/documentary show so everything will be recorded from pre-travel to post trip. Each show runs for 15 minutes, airing every Tuesday and Saturday.

***

Just as I was finished with my Puerto Galera series, and recovering from my expenses, and paying off debts, and now have a whole lot like a travel plan thereafter; I came across a friend who introduced me to this somewhat between a dream and a life plan. PHL360 is as ambitious as it gets, but I must admit that this looks like a lot of promise. I’ll definitely be glued to my laptop every Tuesday and Saturday because I know somebody out there is living my dream.

Not that it frustrates me, but I am rather challenged and inspired as early as now… and it hasn’t even started yet! My dream in a webisode, I think, I better start saving now, before I succumb!

This will keep me up all night… you know, thinking about travel and… that lifestyle I wish I get to live. I wish the best, and may the odds be ever in your favor, Team PHL360!

Itchy feet,
J

Day Trip to Sabang Village

When I first knew we’re going to Puerto Galera (well, that is, a day before haha!) I instantly researched about the area. Apparently, all the places that I liked were compartmentalized in the Sabang Village. It’s just a tricycle ride away from where we’re staying, so we didn’t hesitate to visit before going back to Manila.

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Sabang Village has three beaches: Sabang beach with the best diving spots in Galera; Big Lalaguna beach with the best swimming area, and the Small Lalaguna beach which we didn’t get to see. There are many boats afloat already to bring you from Sabang beach to the other beaches, but actually you can just walk in the beach side and reach it.

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DSC_0687Capt’n Gregg’s

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DSC_0690Tamarind

DSC_0691Atlantis Resort

DSC_0692Hemingway’s Bistrot

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Most of the establishments, aside from the diving spots, are closed in the day. Most open at around afternoon and night time. I’d like to try Hemingway’s Bistrot and Capt’n Gregg’s when I get back. I tried finding Marti’s also – that bar and backpacking inn that I eye to stay at the next time I will be here.

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Beyond this point is the Big Lalaguna beach. We really did walked all the way from Sabang beach. We were running low in funds already, haha!

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And finally. Big Lalaguna beach!!! Lovely sand and waters, only that the seabed is rocky. Nonetheless, I love how clean this place is! There are inns in the beach side as well, if you plan to stay around this quiet side of Puerto Galera.

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If your finding for a cheap drink around the area, you could just buy off a bottle of beer, in this case my favorite San Mig Apple, in the nearby sari-sari stores. Heineken was even available, but I hadn’t asked how much. Prices here beat those in White Beach definitely!

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This is the last sight of beach that I will have for this trip. I am really hesitant to go back to Manila, but as for us working class, work ensued the next day. I can’t wait to be back soon, I guess. I wanna try diving and snorkeling, and maybe visit the Mangyan settlement nearby. There are plenty of things to do at Puerto Galera, and we haven’t done half of the checklist yet!

There you go, more reasons to go back to the beautiful island of Puerto Galera!

***

I can hear the waves of the ocean in my sleep. I wish I wake up again with the sea breeze in my face. 

White Beach, Puerto Galera

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If you’re not staying at White Beach, like we did, you may have to ride a tricycle from Muelle Pier. The ride costs P25 for each person. It’s a good 15 to 20-minute ride and while riding towards the beach, you can notice that some are on their way back already. I say this as if it’s an important thing to remember, because I just saw some hunks riding motorbikes in their trunks only. My sightseeing started in the road, I thought.

DSC_0581We’ve been informed

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We dropped by around after lunch, and the skies were clear and the waves were tame. This isn’t exactly the best beach in Puerto Galera for me, since we’ve also seen Sabang and Big Lalaguna, but there are more stuff to do at White Beach.

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So what can keep you busy at White Beach? Take a stroll at the beach, build a sand castle, hire a motor boat, island hop, ride a banana boat, go parasailing, get yourself inked, have a massage in the middle of the beach, drink to your liver’s content, eat to your hearts’ satisfaction or shop for beach wear and other souvenirs. If all else fail you can always go people-watch sightseeing if you know what I mean *wink*

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This is not the finest sand in the country, though I’m glad it’s a bit cleaner than other beaches. There are some sharp stones in the sea bed, so watch out for your hands and feet.

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DSC_0602I love the clouds

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There are no entrance fees to White Beach, so even if you’re staying at other resorts, you are always free to go and join the party here.

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TESDA-accredited (yepp, I asked!) masseuses, clad in green uniform with their mats and oils, roam around and offer massage services at the beach side. According to my research, most resorts don’t allow massage services in private rooms, so it’s done in the beach side instead. I was too shy to have a full body massage in public, so I asked only for hard back massage. If you’re like me whose body is more familiar with men’s hands (stop what you are thinking, lolz) don’t bother asking for masseurs, because there are none around the island. Even for the reputation Puerto Galera has earned. WIT!

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I love sunsets! So after the massage, we stopped a while to wait for the sunset. It was lovely seeing it with my friends, and maybe next time, with a boyfriend, haha! This meant two things though: swimming is over, and the party is on!

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We had dinner at Basilico Bar and Lodge. Usual grilled meat (kebabs, barbeque chicken, and liempo) costs P120 a stick, and grilled seafood costs P250. I had to credit this blog ’cause we’ve been warned of somewhat unreasonably priced food and restaurants and were able to avoid disappointment.

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We have no complains for what we ordered, aside from the kebab meat which was a bit tough. We love the liempo too much though to consider it for breakfast. Rice was generous, and we were such happy eaters.

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DSC_0639Trying to get a decent photo of the floating bar, but this is all I’ve got

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One of the highlights of a night spent in White Beach is to watch the fire dancers. You’ll know it’s a Puerto Galera special when you hear the collective gasps from the anticipating audience. The usual set up is a record player and speaker, a torch of fire, and the blazing poi. The fire dancer swooshes and swings the flaming poi with such energy and grace and one could just wonder how the dancer stays burn-free, what with the daring and fast dance steps with the poi on fire. It is a spectacular show, and entertainment runs throughout the night at White Beach courtesy of these very talented performers!

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When at Puerto Galera, you have to try their signature cocktail, the Mindoro Sling. It is made of several fruit juices, rum and gin; and the usual price for a pitcher is P300 and above. We were really determined to make the most out of what measly budget we have (we limited ourselves to spend P1500 only for that visit to White Beach) so we roamed around in search of the cheapest Sling in town.

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Fortunately, we were lucky to bump into Andy, who owns Pina Colada Bar. We were trying accomplish this little mission of ours and he just spotted us, he was wearing this shirt with their bar menu printed on it, and suddenly asked us to try his newly opened bar.

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He kept on telling us about their low-priced drinks, but we were really starstruck, instead of budget-concerned, so we didn’t care anymore and went to Pina Colada Bar. We came to know then that they just opened last Holy Week and Andy was doing the advertising for the bar, roaming around White Beach to spread the word about his venture.

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What surprises people when they get to the bar is how their drinks are incredibly affordable in comparison to other bars!!! I won’t get too skeptical and underestimate their sly concoctions, if you were you; because you will need to nurse a hangover the next day if you would!

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DSC_0663Vendors selling penoy, chicharon, peanuts, fish crackers and other pulutan roams the bars too

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So we stayed, seized a table and ordered a pitcher of Mindoro Sling Next Gen (P180) which is Sling with tequila. After five generous shots, this is the redness that you could make out of me! Hahaha! I swear I could turn into a tomato while this drink leaves one wobbly for hours!

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And here is Andy and look how good-looking he is! That will explain the dreamy eyes on our faces in this photo, though he’s not just that, you know. He’s really smart and fun to talk to. After doing his usual rounds, he sat with us and we began talking about his travels, Galera experiences, Europe, and his job as a computer programmer. It was a long night, but the night was just like a breeze while talking with him. Make sure you drop by Pina Colada Bar and say hi to him when you meet him at White Beach!

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We really wanna stay and enjoy the party at White Beach some more, but we found ourselves back at the hotel before ten, because the tricycles usually ask for a steep price if it’s already late. For the ride back to our hotel, we paid around P90 per person, and that’s after haggling already. At the hotel, we planned for a night swim at the pool but after the Mindoro Sling, all we can think of was warm shower,  the boys of Puerto Galera (lol!) and the amazing day we had at White Beach!

Blue Crystal Beach Resort and Palangan Beach

DSC_0531I need this hammock in my life

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So we continue with my Puerto Galera trip last Holy Week. This isn’t the hotel that was in our itinerary, but I think this is better than the one we officially planned. I won’t mention the place anymore, but we were totally mistaken. We even have an inside joke, Gullible’s Travels, because the one who booked that other hotel didn’t even ask for amenities, and nearby establishments. And we were so quick to believe that we didn’t even cross-check. It was an almost flop, but thanks to the powers of internet, things were reversed in no time, in an expense of an unnecessary boat ride, and we were really so glad we chose this place.

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We stayed only for a night at Blue Crystal Beach Resort at Palangan Beach, one of the smaller, and lesser known beaches in Puerto Galera. We only planned to stay there, and go around the island, but the place really proves to be magnetic… if it weren’t for our determination to see the popular beaches, we couldn’t have moved our asses and just stayed here. You will have it linger in you, this place.

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So, Blue Crystal is at the uphill side of Puerto Galera. You have to drop off at Muelle Pier and ride a tricycle to Palangan. Once you see the Grecian-inspired architecture, you may hail the driver to stop. Pay no more than P100, as we were advised. I’ve been told that some drivers really abuse the tourists, which is really bad. You have to do your research to avoid this.

DSC_0525THIS WE HAVEN’T TRIED. But they have an excellent cook, really, so it must be a treat!

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We were too excited to look around, and look what we’ve found, a very serene beach side… We actually have it to ourselves.

DSC_0511Neighbors! Humiling ka na sa langit na sana may afam dyan, lolz

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There are around 16 rooms in this resort, and a night’s worth of stay includes an air-conditioned room, breakfast, hot and cold shower, unlimited use of internet, unlimited use of pool, that amazing beach side, and a happy crew at your service. They also offer inland and island tours for around P2,400 for three people, you do the math, or just ask at the concierge to avail of this. Other activities like diving and snorkeling are also offered, but I can’t remember how much :P

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DSC_0533Bring your vball and you can play here, just watch it for the beach

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The dining hall is at the third floor and this greets you in the morning literally. What a good view to wake up for! The place is so windy also, I can just have the perfect time with a cup of joe in one hand and a book in another! Or the perfect view/atmosphere/food to nurse a Mindoro Sling hangover!

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Kiddie pancake set. This must have been the whole box of  pancake mix, it’s so big.

Filipino breakfast set

Complains regarding hotels are usually about the free breakfast. Either there were little servings, or the food’s bad at all. We were lucky enough because we didn’t even have to worry about it. Breakfast was scrumptious and generous. You can choose from American, Filipino, Continental, or Kiddie breakfast sets and have your choice of coffee, chilled fruit juice or fresh fruit.

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DSC_0520I’m not usually iffy with bathrooms, so yeah, this works. All I need is hot shower and I’m a happy camper

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I haven’t even started with the room! It’s spacious enough and because we were three in the group, they had to add an additional bed for me. There’s no additional charge with that. I haven’t mentioned also, that a room costs — are you ready?! — PhP 900/guest/night and that includes all the amenities that I’ve discussed earlier. It’s just P300 above the backpacker’s inn I was trying to locate at Sabang! I don’t know about you, but this… is a treat already!

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The place has an impeccable environment, we did an impromptu mini-photo shoot around the area, and I just love the sun, the backdrop that is the mountains and the oceans, and my models! I’m a happy photographer :)

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DSC_0536I dare not show my upper body, this is only a trial, hahahaha, errrr

DSC_0537ANSAVE NG POSE?!

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DSC_0542This one’s my favorite. Model: The Jen Aquino

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DSC_0549Friendship forever!

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DSC_0570We were trying to get Sheng to do a flip-hair photo. But this what we’ve got! Haha!

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DSC_0577Trying out a Mangyan headband. I love the colors!

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Swimming in the beach is fun, but the waves were kinda strong those days that we stayed. It was a bit rocky, and you have to kinda walk to the other side for the sandy part of the beach. Nevertheless, I love how clean the waters at this side of Galera is. White Beach has already been abused, and this one is really your little secret hideaway from all the party and noise of the popular beaches.

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DSC_0516Special thanks to Ms. Roselyn who really took care of us!

When we were there, we were so determined to see the other beaches, so we rented tricycles to get us to them. Standard pricing is P300, but we haggled up until P250. I should note also that although I’ve been telling that stories of rip offs are rampant, there will always be honest people in this side of the planet. We didn’t notice that we paid P50 more unintentionally, and the driver was too glad to return it to us. Say hi to Albrex for us who brought and fetched us throughout the island, if you’re staying there!

Blue Crystal Beach Resort
Palangan Beach, Puerto Galera, Oriental Mindoro
www.bluecrystalbeachresort.com

bluecrystal@cc9.ne.jp
+63 43 287 3144
+63 915 223 6067

Getting to and Going Around Puerto Galera

So I’ve been nursing a Puerto Galera hangover… It wasn’t easy though – I’ve been thinking about the beach all day. Gone are the days that I have all summer to plan getaways and stuff. Oh well, adulthood, haha!

DSC_0442Load up before going to this trip, it’ll take a good 3 – 4 hours of travel before to get there.

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But nonetheless, I am oh so ready to share to you all my vacation getaway! We’re starting with how to get there —

DSC_0445JAC Liner Terminal at Buendia, Makati

If you’re coming from Manila, like me, you’ll need to ride a bus to Batangas Pier. Bus lines going to Batangas are stationed at Cubao (just behind Ali Mall) and Buendia (very near Gil Puyat LRT 1 station) terminals. From NAIA, you can ride a cab to bring you to the nearest bus station, which is in Buendia. (Or fly directly to San Jose Airport at Mindoro.) The bus ride will take a good 2 – 3 hours, depending on traffic.

DSC_0446Plenty of stores where you can buy food at the stations

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Ours (from Buendia) took only an hour, and the bus wasn’t going so fast. There was no traffic, and if the bus was on a hurry, we could’ve make it for a little above 45 minutes.

DSC_0450Entering SLEX

DSC_0453Bring a book to read, it’s a long ride

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At the Batangas Pier, there will be several terminals for you to go to, but you’re gunning for Terminal III.

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Cross the street from the bus depot, and follow the signs. Well, mostly, follow the people shouting Puerto Galera!

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DSC_0462That’s not your ship, lolz

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At the terminal, expect to pay three times – your boat ride ticket (you may opt for one way P250, or round trip P450,) environmental fee (P50) and terminal fee (P30) At this point, I got really frustrated because everyone was shouting and I don’t understand why are they doing that. Also, everyone’s assisting you, and I was happy to be assisted.

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Don’t be surprised though if they ask force you to tip. I gave P20 because that was my only spare change, and the man started murmuring. I wanted to tell him but never got to, Hey, I didn’t ask for assistance in the first place! This is a bad habit and I think this must be resolved. They should inform people before they assist especially if they’re gonna force to tip! Well, I can always opt not to give, if I were in a bad mood, or if I get irritated because everyone is really shouting which frankly nobody appreciates it.

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Anyway, back to that boat ride. There’s a waiting area inside the terminal should you arrive early. But boats leave in an hourly basis for Puerto Galera, and you should find yourself in the boat in no time.

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This time, the boat crew were not shouting and were kind.  But when we asked for the boat inside the waiting area, everybody was shouting again. LIKE REALLY? I can hear them even from mountains away. Why is there a need to shout, by the way?

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Anyway, enough of that. There were no more shouting thereafter. Inside the boat. If you’re sea sick, or motion sick, take your meds one hour before the trip. Otherwise, try to sleep. It will be a bit of a bumpy ride, but you’ll manage. Stay on the left side of the boat. I don’t know, but I noticed that the waves were stronger in the other side of the boat, and you could get wet.

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Life jackets are available on the top shelf of the boat. They’re not required to be on you the whole trip, you just have to know where to get them. However on our trip back, they gave us our jackets. I guessed they must’ve overloaded the boat, and it scared the shit out of me.

DSC_0482Share the seas with yachts

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After a good hour to an hour and a half, you’ll arrive in Puerto Galera. There are three docks they can drop you off. You can opt to be dropped off directly at White Beach, near the city proper at Muelle Pier, or if you’re a couple of groups headed to, at Talipanan Beach. If you’re headed for some other beaches, your best option is at Muelle Pier where a tricycle station is located.

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We were dropped off at Muelle Pier because we’re headed for Palangan Beach. Muelle is also home to a lot of shops, restaurants and a bank. Withdraw your money here if necessary because it’s the only ATM near the beaches. You can also skip buying souvenirs in the beaches because it’s cheaper in Muelle *wink*

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We had a quick lunch at Hangout Bar there and planned our day trip. Again, nothing fancy, but food is a bit pricey. If you’re not that hungry, you can skip this. One thing you should probably do when you eat here is to ask the owner for tips around the island. It’s a good counter for the pricey food, I think!

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Jeepneys and tricycles are the main transportation around the island. If you’re the patient one, you can wait for a jeepney which will cost you P10 to get from one place to another, according to locals. Otherwise, tricycles will charge you P25 per person to get from, for example, Muelle to White Beach. We paid P100 for our tricycle to bring us at Blue Crystal Beach Resort at Palangan Beach. And oh, you can also ask boats to take you from beach to beach (and also diving spots), but it’ll cost more than a hundred per ride.

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We saw some private vehicles around the area, maybe it belongs to those who went to the island via RORO, but I think a motorcycle rental service is also available. You just have to ask around.

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On your way back to Manila, if you bought a round trip ticket earlier, you may just pay the terminal fee (P10) and wait for your boat ride. The last boat rides are scheduled at around 3:30pm – 4:00pm, sometimes 5pm, depending on the influx of passengers. On peak seasons, be sure to be at the boat station at least two to three hours before the last ride to assure availability. Avoid the last trip at all costs.

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There are many boats parked at the pier that you can rent if you want a private ride to and from Puerto Galera. Ride will cost more, but if you miss the last ride, you’ll definitely have to opt for these… or stay a little longer in the island, whichever is more affordable, lolz.

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Total fare without beach transfers: PhP 982.00

167 – Bus to Batangas
450 – Round trip boat ride
50 – Environmental fee
30 – Terminal fee (Batangas)
100 – Tricycle to Palangan
10 – Terminal  fee (Muelle)
175 – Bus to Cubao

I’ll discuss our expenses for the beach transfers in the succeeding posts. Meanwhile, I wanna ask if you have been to Puerto Galera. Share here your experiences or tips! I wanna know where to get a cheap jeep ride in Puerto Galera!!!

UP NEXT: Blue Crystal Beach Resort in the quiet and secluded Palangan Beach!

Back in MNL!

Doesn’t the cerulean lure you into wanting to stay a bit longer? I can’t believe I’m in Manila already. Well after that traumatic boat ride to mainland, I’m happy to be on the ground, but I really wanted to stay at Puerto Galera some more. Work ensues tomorrow, and I can’t afford to be distracted anyway, so I’ll manage for a while. I will need to visit an island in a month’s time, I guess!

Crazy for islands,
J

P.S. Something in the past made me forget how it feels good to be in an adventure. I think I’ve regained my drift. Watch out for my Puerto Galera series!