Saturday, February 19, 2011

Sabang, Puerto Galera

It's with apprehension and fear that I walk the plank, not off the boat but instead onto it. The drawbridge connecting the pier at Batangas, to the public ferry, is nothing more than a ladder splayed on its side. Balancing both a backpack and laptop carrybag, I dread each step, but thankfully make it on board without submerging myself.

I'm greeted in Sabang by the usual throng of touts hoping to gain a hotel commission or sell a shabby shark tooth necklace. Instead I look for my own lodging and find a quaint but clean room on the waterfront for 900 PHP. More than I was planning to spend, but seeing as I caught the last ferry of the day - I have only myself to blame.

During the day, Sabang is all about scuba diving and snorkeling, with other watersports on offer such as jet skis and island hopping. At night the town comes alive with naughty nightlife. Clubs and bars are abundant, with lots of go-go girls - all glitter and grins. Hobbling after them with lust in their eyes are older gentlemen, desperately trying to reclaim their youth and former glories.

Once you've passed the city limits of Manila, everything slows down. The pace of life in Sabang is incredibly laid back, and while city dwellers may complain about a lack of activities, this is the tropics - embrace it! Just don't expect an ATM. Kick back with a good book or beer on your balcony. No matter where you are in Sabang, you're never too far from the beach. The weather is warm all year round, so it's always a good time to swim.

You can hire a motorbike for next to nothing, like 500 PHP for a full day's riding. The laws are a little lax out here too, so don't expect having no license to stop you in your tracks. There are many sights nearby that are worth exploring too, such as nearby White Beach and many splendid waterfalls.

Snorkelling is superb, with crystal clear waters meaning visibility is uninterrupted in every direction. I float alongside shimmering shoals of fish that show no fear while I remain still. The fish display the sort of colors that put the neon signs in Las Vegas to shame. I spy an eel squirming out of an underground crevice, a pulsating green from tip to tail. Some of the other marine life present include; hawksbill turtles, reef sharks, pygmy seahorses and unfortunately - lots of jellyfish. Their sting is just irritating though, leaving behind nothing but a momentary itch.

Hire some gear (don't forget fins) and you're able to do some serious exploration! Caught adrift in an ocean current for several hours is more fun than it sounds. I found myself living out a Robinson Crusoe fantasy. A small but sufficient beach, without another person in sight! Instinctively, although not hungry in the least, I began my search for coconuts, finding only debris and tin containers rusted beyond recognition along the way. I resigned myself to a little sunbaking instead. The unmistakable call of the wild welcomes me back to reality, with a monkey's screech attempting to outdo a parrot's squawk.

This is the life =) 

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