Bohol: Natural Wonders

I fell in love with Bohol the first time I went there over a year ago – lots of old churches, deserted beach and clear blue-green waters…it’s one place that I will keep coming back for more. This means I also know that three days is barely enough to cover all we wanted to see and do. Being the organized freak I am, I made sure our three-day vacation was well planned, with every hour maximized – we got on the first flight to Bohol (530am) and by 7am that same day, we were on the road. The goal was to finish the tour by 2PM, in time for our check-in at the resort.
Since the Chocolate Hills is the farthest destination on our itinerary, we headed there first. I think most tours start off with this and just work their way back into the center of the province. The hills are located in the town of Carmen, more than 40 miles from Tagbilaran, and you have to shell out around Php 50 for the entrance fees. The drive took us a bit over an hour (with no traffic, mind you! Imagine how long it would have taken us if we were in Manila) and since all of us didn’t have enough sleep the night before (serves us right for being ambitious and taking the first flight to Bohol), we all conked out before Manong even left the parking lot. I was awake but blank-eyed – you get the picture; I don’t really sleep even during long drives as I have this weird belief that I can prevent accidents from happening if I stay awake. Probably a behaviour carried over from my childhood since my papa often falls asleep while driving and I’m the one who usually keeps him awake.
Owing to our early start, the observation deck was still deserted – indeed, we were among the firsts; two guys beat us to it, but they left before we even reached the summit so we had the entire place to ourselves for picture taking. 😀
I know that we all read on the history of the Chocolate Hills back in grade school and high school, but as a refresher and for non-Pinoy readers of this blog, the Chocolate Hills are a group of 1,776 conical limestone formations covered in green grass. They turn to brown during the dry seasons and look like chocolate kisses, hence the name.

The requisite couple shot 🙂

Manong was kind enough to give the tarsiers insects to munch on
Before lunch, we also paid a visit to another of Bohol’s famous attractions – the tarsier, the smallest primate, which can now be found only in Southeast Asia. It looks like a cross between a mouse and a monkey to me, caught in the headlights of an oncoming car. It is an endangered species and again, I must commend Boholanos for their efforts in providing a natural habitat for these animals.
Do note though that tarsiers are averse to bright lights so turn off the flash on your cameras or you will risk hurting their eyes.

As a bonus, we also got to see flying lemurs, which I think are even more unique than the tarsiers in that the Philippine flying lemur is endemic to our country, and principally found in the Bohol and Mindanao regions. While the name might seem descriptive enough, it does not actually fly and is not even a lemur. Confusing no?
 
We saw lemurs too!

Anyway, as we were just across the river from the starting point of the river cruise and we were all seriously famished since we all have not had any decent meal since dinner the day before, the most logical next stop would be – what else but lunch?   And not just lunch, but buffet lunch on board one of the cottages/boats cruising the emerald green river.
Now, while it is buffet, don’t expect spectacular food as what you’ll get are typical carinderia offering. But the scenery and the experience of cruising along the Loboc River is well worth the Php400 per head fee. 
From top left: view of Loboc Church from across the river; locals’ folk dancing; Busay falls at the end of the river cruise; our boat

Back when I was a kid, I used to swim in rivers and streams in Bulacan which had crystal clear waters (as opposed to Loboc’s emerald waters) – in fact, the water was so clear you can see all the way to the bottom if you were perched on one of the tree by the bank. Sadly, the stream has since dried up and the river is now a polluted wasteland. I hope the Loboc river doesn’t suffer the same fate.
I can never get enough of this view. How I wish the Pasig River looked like this!

Our souvenir shot, for Php150. Sorry it’s blurry – I just snapped it using my phone, too tamad to scan. hahaha.

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