We visited White Beach twice during our 6 day stay in Puerto Galera. Once as part of a land tour package organised by our hotel and secondly we went back of our own volition as we decided a full day on the beach eating barbeque and seafood and drinking cold beers would be a wonderful way to finish our holiday. We were not mistaken.
We arrived after another exciting "tricycle" ride over the island from the Cyrstal Beach Resort where were staying. It was scorching hot and the sun was relentless in its attack on our already overcooked skin so we took shelter at a bar half way along the beach. It hadn't taken long for the hawkers to introduce themselves and their wares and to illicit promises from us that after our lunch we would indeed buy their beads, coral necklaces, pearls, massages etc etc from them. There was much competition amongst the hawkers as it was the rainy season and we were one of only a few groups of tourists on the large beach strip. Many of the beach bars and restaurants were closed for the season, but regardless of the risk of rain and thunder there we were, sunburnt to a crisp from our deliciosly hot sunny afternoons spent snorkelling and swimming and boating and hiking ( and lets not forget ziplining) around the town. And the local vendors were delighted to see us.
Sadly for the hawkers I only had 3000 pesos left and absolutely no access to any more. (no access because the balance on my bank account said 0 and my tendancy to travel on a shoestring regardless of how risky and limiting that can be has not yet been curbed. If flights are booked I will travel) So after my deliscious lunch of barbequed Black Fish ( I declined the rainbow coloured option, it just looked a bit too pretty and a bit too poisonous to me. ) and whilst swilling my favourite cold low carb pilsner ; San Miguel Light, I invested in the local economy as fairly and as frugally as I could. The lovely Fortuna was a 60 year old local who had been giving beach massages for many years and had 6 children to her name and although the touch of her rough hands on my blistering back meant a foot massage was the only option, it was without doubt the best foot massage I have ever had! Not a chance of the tickles with Fortuna's firm grip on my soul! Her friends also got sales, and 2000 pesos later and my hair was in corn braids complete with colourful cotton ends, I had a new set of red coral beads that included a necklace, bracelet and ear rings ( a planned gift for a friend who was giving me a free bed later that summer ) and a gorgeous turquoise set for myself. My glasses even got a make-over when I realised one of the pink ladies hanging around wasn't making any money off me so I agreed to her offer to plat some cotton and tie it on to my shades so as I "wouldnt lose them now ma'am"
I had hoped to purchase another light easy breezy Phillipines Summer dress as a momento but alas that meant moving as there were no mobile dress hawkers this day. So the people who came to us were the ones that got the sale. So my the time I stood up to go looking around, the only peso I had left were for propping up another local beach bar for dinner and evening drinks. They are very skilled sales people these hawkers, learning your name very quickly to create a familial relationship feel, finding out where you are from so they can connect with what we both know about our home country ( NZ? aaah All Blacks!!!) and of course they play on your heartstrings these hawkers, with tales of needing lunch and being the one you spoke to first so therefore the one most deserving of the sale.
I had called the bluff of two hawkers on our first day in the township of Puerto Galera itself. Two particularly insistent sellers were relentlessly harrassing my daughter's boyfriend, offering him pot 5 times and shark tooth necklaces. His resolve was weakening and we were all a little tired of the constant pressure, that hadn't stopped when we sat down at an out door booth to try some local food for lunch. When the most pushy of the two said " please sir, its for our lunch" the Oliver Twisty begging made me both angry and concerned at the same time. I butted in with a stroppy order;" have some lunch then if that's what you want. " I waved my hand aggressively at the menu above our heads and said "order something" Part of me had expected them to be insulted, or embarrassd, but the other part of me, the part that doesn't want to see hungry people go hungry, that part was rewarded. The lads ordered quickly , just some rice and a few slices of local beef, but not as quickly as they inhaled the lunch. The hustle was over. They took on a whole different demeanour, a relaxed demeanour like someone who can finally just be himself, and we all enjoyed our lunch in peace. They insisted on giving us free ear rings "from their heart" and after lunch headed off. I might add, the cost of feeding 5 of us, including the two hustlers, and drinks that included fresh mango shakes, was 300 peso. That equates to approximately $15 NZD. Total. Its easy to be generous when you a highroller!
So our day on White Beach quickly turned into a delightful evening. I selected the second bar out of at least 30 other options because it was small and cheap with plastic chairs and tables right on the sand, because it had local food options and cheaper San Mig than the others, but mainly because they were playing some music from a little stereo behind the counter. When I placed my order I explained that I chose this bar because they were playing music, and could they possibly turn it up? You can understand my surprise and wonder at the world when I turned back from taking my seat outside to see the staff dragging out to face the sea not one, but five large speakers, and proceeded to play the music out of those. When my daughter and her beau arrived back I was bursting to tell my tale.
Turns out the bar was called the Jam Bar and the speakers and amps were more than likely going to come out with or without me. A realisation I didn't make till much later that evening as I was singing along with a couple of local jammers my own live-karaoke-on-the-beach version of U2's With or Without You. Amongst others. A fantastic evening that included a spectacular sunset swim, making new friends and helping one young English lad with his life dilemma he introduced himself with, and singing and dancing at the Jam Bar, White Beach, Puerto Galera, Phillipines. A magic night to celebrate the Summer Solstice, a full moon and a fabulous holiday with my daughter and her boyfriend. Magical even.
This review is the subjective opinion of a TravelPod member and not of TravelPod.com.