Beach Trip: Now with Real Sun!
I’ve had bad luck with summer outings before. For the longest time it seemed like I was doomed to never set foot on a sunny beach again, but last weekend the weather gods finally decided to cut me some slack and gave me two full days of fun in the sun.
I traveled to Puerto Galera, a popular beach destination in the Philippines, with seven of my college friends. It was easily the best vacation I’ve been on in quite a while. The synopsis: We lounged on the beach, swam in the clear sea,
got drunk on bonded over a pitcher of Mindoro Sling, hiked through a mountain, took a dip in a waterfall, and went parasailing! If you want the whole tale and the boat load of pictures that come with it, keep reading
On Saturday we reached White Beach, Puerto Galera right before lunchtime after traveling by bus from Manila then by ferry from the Batangas Pier. White Beach was much too busy for our taste, so we immediately took a tricycle to Talipanan Beach, which I read on an online article was the least crowded of Puerto Galera’s three main beaches. Boy, was that article right! There were only about a dozen other tourists at Talipanan — we had virtually the entire beach to ourselves.
We were all on a tight budget, so we had to be very smart about how we spent what little money we had. We rented a modest cottage at the Mountain Beach Resort that had its own kitchen and was only several meters away from the beach front. We got it for a steal (Php 500 or about $10 per person for a two-day stay) after playing the “fresh out of college and broke” card while negotiating with the resort owner. To save even more money we cooked (well, Ivy cooked, and the rest of us just washed dishes) our own food and ate our meals picnic-style on the beach.
The weather was perfect, so Chrissa, Tiyaw, Pots, and I stayed at the beach, while the others napped in the cottage after Saturday’s lunch. I can’t describe how much I enjoyed sitting by the shore, doing nothing but bury our feet in the sand and take occasional photos. Manny, Ivy, and Phin finally joined us for a swim later in the afternoon.
While lounging on the beach we met Kuya Ariel, a tour-guide-slash-souvenir-vendor, who offered to help organize our activities for the next day. He did an awesome job! We promised to plug him all over the Internet, so here’s his cellphone number in case you’re ever in need of a Puerto Galera tour guide: 0916-4700451.
The clear, starry night was the perfect backdrop for some alcohol-induced bonding, so we headed to the little bar right outside our cottage after dinner. The bartenders convinced us to forgo beer for Puerto Galera’s signature cocktail, the Mindoro Sling. Thanks to a pitcher of that stuff, several bags of chips, and a rousing game of I Never, we learned a lot of things about each other that we didn’t know before Tiyaw (the maroon guy in the picture) and I took the most shots during the game, so we were the most inebriated of the group.
Notice the normal color of my face before the Mindoro Sling and see how much I resembled a tomato after. I can’t really blame the Mindoro Sling, though, because I’ve always reacted that way to alcohol. It doesn’t matter whether it’s one puny shot of Tequila or five big glasses of vodka tonic, I always turn bright red after drinking. That was why I purposely wore a red shirt — to match. What can I say? I like looking put-together even when I’m drunk.
Despite my tipsiness I was lucid enough to be thankful for two things that night: 1) that our budget allowed for only one pitcher of Mindoro Sling, as I ended up being merely sleepy drunk and not shit-faced-puking-in-the-bushes drunk; and 2) that our cottage was only a few meters away from the bar, as it was easier for me to sway my way (with a little help from Pots) to bed.
Kuya Ariel picked us up early Sunday morning to take us to a secluded waterfall near Talipanan Beach (I can’t remember the exact name of the waterfall). Word of advice: Should a tour guide ever tell you on your Puerto Galera trip that the trek to the waterfall is short and easy enough to tackle in swim wear and flip-flops, do not believe him. It may be a walk in the park for natives like him, but for the inexperienced the hike is neither short nor easy, and flip-flops are most certainly not the best choice of footwear for it. I’d prove it with pictures of the trail except I don’t have any, as I was too busy clambering up boulders, clinging to roots sticking out of the mountainside, scaling nearly 90-degree inclines and generally just trying not to die. I actually panicked for a while there, because I seriously doubted my ability to survive the return trip. With encouragement from my friends I trekked on despite my anxiety and made it safely to our destination.
I have to say it was all worth it in the end. The waterfall was small but pretty, and we found that a dip in its cool waters was the perfect way to recharge after the challenging hike. We stayed for well over an hour, and by the time we started hiking back I was so relaxed that I found the return trip a whole lot easier.
As fun as the visit to the waterfall was, the best part of my weekend came later that afternoon when Chrissa, Kathy, Pots and I went parasailing! I’ve mentioned many times on this site that I enjoy activities involving heights and harnesses, so I was completely gung-ho about the whole thing. Initially I was slightly disappointed when the operator told us that we would be flying in pairs. I later realized that it was for the best, because it was nice to have someone to share the excitement with during the 15-minute flight. See those little black specks in the photos below? That’s Kathy and I squealing in exhilaration.
It was beyond awesome! At one point the operator dipped us into the water then hoisted us right back up, leaving us wet from the waist down and even more excited. We tried asking for another dip by shouting “Isa pa! Isa pa! (One more! One more!)” and pointing frantically to the water — it didn’t work Nevertheless, being so high up in the air with the wind whipping around me and nothing but the sea below… it’s definitely an experience I’ll never forget. Now I really can’t wait to bungee jump!
We left the island at 5 p.m., catching the ferry just as it was about to leave. It was after 10 p.m. when I finally reached my house and was sound asleep not too long after, tired but happy. It really was a great trip. I even got enough sunlight to turn a shade darker — I’m no longer ghost-colored. Woohoo! The only thing that could have made the trip better was if Tin and Nas had been there, too. But it’s OK. There will be many next times for sure