Diving diary in Puerto Galera, 2019: day1, to the town

Puerto Galera



Haneda airport, Check in

I came back home after working all day. finished packing, took a shower and relaxed for a while, then headed to Haneda airport. I arrived there at 12 in the morning. My flight was a Philippine airline flight to Manila. I still had enough time until the departure, which was at 2 am, when I got to the airport at midnight. You can catch the flight even if you do overtime. The check in counter had already opened when I got there, but the queue was short, because the plane had a narrow body.

In this trip, I had bidden for upgrade at the lowest price after I bought the most reasonable economy class ticket in the airline official web site as usual, and I got a business class seat successfully. It is not a really long from Tokyo to Manila, therefore, it is not so important for me to have a business class flight in daytime, but it is much better to take a suitable-for-a-nap seat when you take a night flight and go diving on the day you arrive. Besides, it is somehow uplifting to travel in a business class.

At a check-in counter, I submitted my passport and put my check-in baggage on the belt. While I was waiting for my boarding pass, I stared at the seat map of the flight on the counter, and I realized that the shape of the business class seat was different from the previous one. The previous one was straight along the aisle, but the new one was longer, slightly oblique against the aisle. I supposed that it meant seats were changed from a normal reclining seat to a full flat seat, and that got me in a good mood because I had not expected it.

There was not only good thing, though. The ground staff told me to have her weigh my carry-on baggage. My carry-on bag contained a camera, four lenses, lithium batteries and a housing for underwater photography. It was 10 kg. The regulation said that the allowance was 7 kg and personal belongings. I was afraid that if I have to put my photo equipment in check-in baggage, there is no guarantee for safety on my equipment, but the staff simply said, “Be careful,next time”, so I was relieved. Finally I received my boarding pass and baggage tags.


After completing the check-in, I headed directly to the ANA lounge, I had beer, curry and rice and ramen noodle. Moreove, I was thing of having dinner in the flight. I hadn’t had supper before in the lounge, and I wasn’t going to be able to have breakfast after the landing due to tight schedule, so I thought it would compensate. There were only two flights left at the time I got to the lounge, and so small number of passengers in the lounge were there that it was quite comfortable. I did a small work, and the departure time came before long.

Philippine airline PR423

No sooner did I get on the plane than I realized that the seat was a full flat type. I supposed that I was going to be able to sleep well. I was in a so good mood that I sent a message saying I was going and some photos to some friends of mine. The plane was a Airbus 321-271N, which was quite new series of Airbus fleet according to a data I looked into after this trip. The safety information pamphlet seemed to be for an old type of Airbus 321, and I wondered if it was OK or not. The plane took off a little bit behind the schedule. I didn’t took any alcohol drinks that might make my sleep light. I quickly had dinner including ice cream as a dessert, and made my seat flat and took a good three-hour sleep out of the 5-hour flight. I could have slept more if I had skipped the dinner, but I have not been able to decide it yet, because I was a kind of penny-pincher.

From Manila to Puerto Galera

Landed at Ninoy Aquino International airport at 6:20 am. My plane was a small one and arrived early morning, so the lines to the immigration were almost empty. Baggage claim was also quick and I was able to get out of the terminal soon. After that, I dropped by the exchange, for the hotel I was going to stay at didn’t accept credit cards. The destination of this trip was Puerto Galera, Mindoro Island. A two-hour drive heading straight to south from Manila brings you to a port town named Batangas. Puerto Galera is located on the opposite shore across the strait. The town has been famous as a beach resort for a long time. I had had the hotel arrange a van to Batangas. I got on the van and headed to Batangas. There is a straight highway between Manila and Batangas, and the drive was quite smooth and comfortable. I laid myself on a three-seater and took a nap again until I got to Batangas port.

It was at 8:30 am that we arrived at the port. The van driver took me to the ferry terminal. “There are lots of people who talk to you or want you to have them bring your baggage, but you don’t want to respond to them”, He advised. In spite his advise, I didn’t have to care the people because it was just the departure time for the ferry and I have to run to make it. When I received a ticket from the driver at the terminal, a terminal staff approached me. He took me to a counter to pay the terminal fee. I paid 30 pesos. The departure time had already passed, and he said, “You are the last passenger and you should hurry up. I help you bring your baggage.” So I inavertently hand him one of my bags. It was a moment when my number was up. No sooner did I have him bring the bag than another staff snatch the other bag from me and brought it to the ferry. It was only 30 meters, I inevitably have to give them a tip, of course, both of them. I took two 20-peso notes out of my wallet to intend to hand 20 pesos each of them, but they said, “We want 100.” I didn’t want to have any trouble at the beginning of my trip, and there was no significant difference between 40 and 200 pesos for me, so my priority was to keep my feeling good by not having an argument about the price . I quickly handed them 100 each and jumped on the ferry. By the way, the ferry fare was 300 pesos.

At 10:30, the ferry arrived at Puerto Galera port. A very small and simple port. The arrival gate was separated into two lines, one for the residents, the other for visitors, and visitors had to pay 50 pesos. It seemed to be environment fee or something. I easily found the staff of the hotel I reserved, The Orient pearl resort. The 50 pesos was included in a transfer fee I paid to the hotel. A tricycle was waiting for me outside the gate. Tricycle is a vehicle that consists of motorcycle and a cage which attaches to the side of the motorcycle. The cage has only one wheel. This was my first time to ride a tricycle. The cage was filled with me and my baggage. The floor of the cage was lower than I expected and I felt kind of strange. We got to the hotel in less than one minute. You can walk from the port to the hotel in three minutes if you don’t have heavy baggage.

The oriental pearl resort

After all the journey, I checked in at the hotel. I met Koto san, the owner of the hotel at the counter. She asked me if I wanted to go diving in the morning today. I need time to prepare my photo equipment, so I decided to go diving in the afternoon. Although I decided to go in the afternoon, it is good for divers to be able to go diving in the morning on the arrival day if they leave Japan with a night flight. But it is in case if you choose to arrange a private van. You would reach Puerto Galera at 2 pm if you get on a public bus from Manila to Batangas.

I had reserved a room named “new deluxe room”, The most important reason to choose was that the room was on the ground floor. My baggage was quite heavy with equipment for diving and photography, and I had to bring my heavy camera between the hotel and the port everyday. The room was simple, but wide and comfortable. It was not gorgeous as a luxury resort, but the required elements for relaxing in a laid back tropical island are moderately compact facilities, a not-too-sophisticated atmosphere and friendly staff. The most important thing is you-can-laze-around atmosphere when you come back to the hotel in the evening after diving all day. If you stay at a luxury hotel, you might have to care about your clothes or appearance, and that is sometimes a little bothering and tiring. The hospitality of the owner and staff is also needed. The orient pearl resort was perfect in that respect. You can stay comfortably a month or two, as long as you want to.

I assembled the camera equipment and had lunch. After that, I was going to go diving in the afternoon at last.