Author Topic: Puerto Galera  (Read 2224 times)

Offline scames

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Puerto Galera
« on: January 14, 2009, 10:14:23 PM »
 
My latest excursion here was to Puerto Galera in Mindoro Oriental. A great place, at least I loved it and will return.

Puerto Galera is spanish for Port of the Galleons, it was a safe harbor used by Spanish Galleons during their colonial rule.  The port is totally protected on all sides with hills coming down to the water line of the deep water U-shaped bay and two or three large islands off shore that protect the entrance to the North from weather coming from Verde Passage that separates Mindoro Island from Luzon.  It is only a 1 hour and 15 minute ferry ride from the port of Batangas on Luzon to the pier in Puerto Galera.  It is a completely different experience here from what I have seen elsewhere in the Philippines.  The town is small and not nearly as crowded as other cities I have been in. Also, the port is very busy with banca and pump boats tied up or pulled up on the beach.  The natural harbor is popular with world wandering yachting set and there are large sail boats moored off shore from Australia, United States, France and several other countries. 
 
Except for right at the pier,the shores of the bay are forested with trees coming down to the waters edge and coconut palms swaying in the cool ocean breeze.  Most of the time I was there the weather was great, overcast but not raining and the temperature is in the mid 70s F and gentle breeze blows most of the time, it was cool enough not to use my air conditioner last night and I slept very comfortably. My room is in a small dive resort just at the end of the pier called Badladz Resort, I had to carry my bag about 100 feet from ferry boat to my room.  My room was 990 pesos a night with a view of the harbor and right outside has a veranda with great view of the entire harbor and boats at anchor and along the shore. 
 
At breakfast my first day, I sat in the open restaurant 20 feet from the waters edge watching two White-collared Kingfishers in a tree diving down and coming up with small crabs.  It was a great chance to watch them smash the crabs against the tree to kill them then swallow them down. 
 
Many expats call it home here and I met some that run one of the dive shops. Farther down the coast in the other direction is White Beach where the white sand makes it the best place for spending time relaxing in the sun.  There are also Waterfalls and hiking areas inland so I was in middle of a great place with lots of things to keep me busy.  I saw a small apartment advertised for 4,500 pesos plus electricity a month five minutes from the pier, I could adjust to that.

Puerto Galera is really just a collection of small villages along the shores of several small bays.  Where I stayed is the most protected harbor and the quietest of the bunch.  It really didn\'t consist of more than a couple of dozen buildings built along the waterfront and the national road which is just 100 feet up  from the harbor.  My hotel was a short walk down from the pier and on the other wide of the pier was the string of small shops, restaurants and bars.  I had lots of choices for meals.  My hotels restaurant served Mexican Food and it was pretty good.  Several little sari-sari shops and kiosks sold Filipino food from little pots on the counter, a couple places sold pizza and pasta and there was one French restaurant and bakery.  I tried to eat in a different place each day and must say all of the food was good.  I liked the breakfast at my hotel best but for lunch and dinner it would be hard to beat \"Le Bistro d\' Agathe\", the french restaurant run by an expat Frenchman named Patrice.  A very nice fellow, we spoke several times.  He has only been there for 7 months and loves it. 
 
Every morning a small yellow boat would head out from the harbor to the yachts moored in the harbor.  They moor at buoys run by the Puerto Galera Yacht Club.  Part of the fee includes a free shuttle back and forth from the dock to the boats.  One retired couple I saw several times lived on a boat with their golden retriever \"Windy\" and most mornings and evenings I would see them in one restaurant or another having breakfast or dinner.  Everyone along waterfront seemed to know Windy and they were always greeted with smiles and hellos when they came ashore. Talking to an expat from England, it seems most of the boats in the harbor are more or less permanent residents there and only get under way for the Yacht Club regattas once or twice a year. 
 
All day long the big pump boats come and go with passengers between Puerto Galera and Batangas.  As they arrive the touts and tricycle drivers more or less mob the new arrivals looking for business. It took some control to not get rude with the repeated questions about where was I going every time I stepped out of th hotel and did I need a tricycle, at least after the second day they stopped following and pestering me after I told them \"No Thank You\". 
 
The weather really cooled off while I was there.  It was overcast and windy most of the time and except for the first day I didn\'t turn on the A/C in my room and seldom used the fan.  But as I would wander around in t-shirt and shorts the locals would be wearing jackets and I saw a couple in Parkas in the evening.  Below 75°F they seemed to freeze up.
 
One of my excursions was to the village of Sabang where most of the divers and other party animals head when they get off the boat.  It is a 100 Peso ride by tricycle during the day and 200 at night.  What a terrible place that is.  The place has one bad road in and out. It ends at the beach and off either side are a couple of small alleys that meander along with shops, restaurants, bars, discos and hotels shoulder to shoulder and a few small side alleys both inland and towards the sand.  I had a couple of drinks, a massage at a spa and dinner then a couple of more drinks and called it good.  Even with the smaller crowds because of the cool weather, it was a crowded and miserable place.  If I was 20 something and a diver who loved to party, it may have been great, but I am too boring for that.
 
Sunday was spent relaxing, walking around town looking at the few souvenir shops and eating.  When not doing that I watched the delayed NFL playoff games on  TV; a good life I could get used to.  I mentioned earlier an apartment I saw for about $100/month plus electricity.  I learned a little more about it.  The couple who run the dive shop live next to it in the same compound.  It is two minutes walk from the harbor, surrounded by a cement wall with locking gate for security and quite nice for a studio apartment.  Just right for  a single guy...now that is a thought.
 
My next excursion was to Tamaraw waterfalls about 15 kilometers out of town.  After a short tricycle ride to the starting point for the Jeepneys to the Capital of Calapan, I boarded a half full jeepney and waited until it was filled within an inch of popping the bald tires.  The first couple of kilometers was good paved road then we got to the road construction stretch.  They are working on the road to shorten the drive to Calapan but until it is finished it is like driving the worst logging road you can imagine.  The road is narrow with only one way traffic in places,  usually at sharp/blind corners and that is where you meet the on coming truck every time.  In places the mud was more like soup and you could not see the tracks of the jeepney after it drove through, I am amazed we didn\'t sink out of sight in places.  But we never did get stuck and except having to back up to let oncoming traffic pass at narrow spots it was slow but steady progress.  Finally we got passed the construction and were soon at the falls where I got out. 
 
The guide book said it was quiet there on weekdays, and that is an understatement.  For the first hour I was there I was the only person in the picnic area.  It was nice to be able to quietly look for my birds but the rain started and came down pretty hard for awhile. That kept the smart birds under cover and I only had one good sighting and that was a bird I have seen many times.  Later a large family showed up for a picnic and they set about setting out containers of food, cutting up fresh fruit and grilling some meat on the BBQ.  As I was leaving, I noticed one man from that group who had wandered across the face of the falls to some semi secluded picnic tables, if didn\'t know better I would have sworn he was rolling a joint off by himself, but I am sure that couldn\'t have been the case.

As I waited for a Puerto Galera bound Jeepney I did make one good bird sighting, a Philippine Falconet was perched on a limb high up a tree along the highway. After about a 20 minute wait I was headed back to my haven next to the harbor.
 
One other excursion was to White Beach.  A 100 Peso trike ride took me to the small village and down a narrow side street to a dead end where I got out and walked down an alley to narrow for a tricycle. After several twists and turns I came out on a wide sandy beach with very nice concrete sidewalk raised off the beach and lined with nice beach bars, restaurants and shops.  This was the polar opposite of Sabang and caters to families and people who just want to relax on the sand.  I checked out a couple places to stay and they were very good.  One nice place was little cottages with two large beds, bathroom and kitchen for 800 pesos a night.  No A/C but did have a fan.  The cabins surrounded a large open space with hammocks strung between palm trees over grass and sand about 40 feet from the beach.  The only down side was they didn\'t offer any discount for long stays but at 800 pesos a night  I could stay there a long time. Another resort with rooms in a two story building with fenced compound, A/C, and kitchens was 1000 pesos a night but did offer discounts for long stays, that would be a good option too.
 
The one thing I really noticed was how deserted it was.  There were very few tourist and everywhere there were vacant room signs.  The cool weather has really hurt the business there.
 
Well that is pretty much the story of my trip to Mindoro Oriental.  I just may go back soon and take a trip to the other side of the island, Mindoro Occidental.  It is even more isolated than where I was and I heard wonderful things about it.
 
My trip home was the only exciting part of the journey.  It rained early this morning but by 10 AM when I checked out of the hotel the rain had stopped and the harbor was calm.  As the boat pulled out at 10:15 and we got out of the protection of the bay, we hit very rough water in the channel.  The boat would power through the waves as best it could with one of the deck hands stationed on the bow passing hand signals to the helmsman in the back.  As he saw a large wave coming he would wave to slow down and as it passed another handwave to speed up again until the next big wave.  In this way we would surge and slow down for about an hour until we got into the Lee of Luzon and the water smoothed down and we sped up for the last 30 minutes to Batangas.  Only a few of the 30 or so passengers got sick and I really felt sorry for the little kids, especially one family with 4 kids who seemed to be 5 years old and younger.  But even with the rough water, the boat seemed very safe, it just bounced a lot.
 
Once in Batangas it was a simple matter to catch a bus bound for Manila that let me off where I could catch the first of two jeepneys to take me back home in Los Banos.  Less than 4 hours from leaving my hotel I was back in my room on Lopez Avenue.  A long nap, dinner and now I can start planning my next trip, it just may be back to Mindoro, I will keep you posted.

 Enjoy the Journey
Scames
Scames
Enjoy the Journey

Offline Gray Wolf

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Re: Puerto Galera
« Reply #1 on: January 15, 2009, 12:38:31 AM »
Great Post!  Do you have any digital images you can add?  If not, you should consider taking some digital images of a few of the high points next trip.  They can be easily inserted to coincide with your story line.  It would make a great photo essay!

Excellent read!
Louisville, KY USA - Bagong Silang, Caloocan City, PH

Offline scames

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Re: Puerto Galera
« Reply #2 on: January 15, 2009, 12:53:12 AM »
Thank you Gray Wolf, 

I do have digital pictures and include them with my email trip reports to friends but am still learning the ropes here.  I tried adding them on my first post and the files were to large, I tried reducing them here, it may take me awhile to get find the best size for my posts but will try. Anyway, here are a few.

Thanks again for likeing my trip report.

Enjoy the Journey
Scames

[attachment deleted by admin]
Scames
Enjoy the Journey

Offline coutts00

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Re: Puerto Galera
« Reply #3 on: January 15, 2009, 12:37:37 PM »
Scames,

Do a quick search on the forum regarding the use of Photobucket, there is a wealth of info, you can upload large files and link to them.

Wayne
Wayne  ;D ;D

Offline Gray Wolf

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Re: Puerto Galera
« Reply #4 on: January 16, 2009, 08:25:36 AM »
Thank you Gray Wolf, 

I do have digital pictures and include them with my email trip reports to friends but am still learning the ropes here.  I tried adding them on my first post and the files were to large, I tried reducing them here, it may take me awhile to get find the best size for my posts but will try. Anyway, here are a few.

Thanks again for likeing my trip report.

Enjoy the Journey
Scames


Scames,

This link will take you directly to the section on How to Add Photos:

http://livinginthephilippines.com/forum/index.php/topic,206.msg2581.html#msg2581

Read Grizzi\'s post then two replies after that I add some examples.

Using the technique we discuss there, you can add your photos to your photo essays is the order of your story line.  It\'s really easy and if you use PhotoBucket they automatically rescale your images for you. 

Good Luck!  Looking forward to the next chapter! 
Louisville, KY USA - Bagong Silang, Caloocan City, PH

Offline coutts00

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Re: Puerto Galera
« Reply #5 on: January 16, 2009, 12:44:10 PM »
Sorry for not giving you the link, but my brain is in 3 diff locations at the moment.

Wayne
Wayne  ;D ;D

Offline samatm

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Re: Puerto Galera
« Reply #6 on: February 15, 2010, 12:11:22 PM »
nIce Post about Puerto Galera.   PG is special to my Asawa and myself as I proposed marriage to her there 12 years ago.   Is Millers Corner still there?      PG gets grilled a lot for uncontrolled development.  I hope that has changed some.