Chocolate Hills, tarsiers and turtles

Previous part: Canyoneering and swimming with sharks

The first day we decided for classic Bohol activities – to visit tarsiers and Chocolate Hills. Lucas rented a scooter at his accommodation in Panglao island, picked me up at the stench of dried fishes on the bridge between the islands and we could go.

Non chocolate Hills

The route to Carmen, where the most famous view deck is, leads through inland full of rice fields, wandering cattle and waving children. We also passed through the Man Made Forest where deciduous mahogany trees were planted by people. For us Europeans, therefore, quite boring. So, why Chocolate Hills? During the dry season the crops of this conical hills turn into brown and that’s why they are called chocolate hills. During my visit they were green as much possible, of course. To their formation there are several legends. The best one is about a giant carabao who ate all the crops in the village. The villagers then prepared a spoiled food for him which he also ate, and because he was sick of it, he defecated everywhere and his feces formed this hills. So maybe the chocolate color has another origin.

The Hills got on the UNESCO World Heritage List. Earthquake in October 2013 had destroyed some hills and others reportedly became more flattened. According to our visit of view deck in Carmen, which was dug up, it seems that some consequences are repaired till today. Another view deck is located in nearby Sagbayan which we also decided to visit. In Sagbayan there are not so many hills to see but it worth for a visit. Additionally, there is a butterfly sanctuary and if you are lucky (or if you help to your luck), they will sit on you.

Suicide tarsiers

In Loboc we stopped for a pizza and as usually in my presence they forgot about our order so we got the pizza after people who came after us. As a result we couldn’t visit local Busay waterfalls on Loay river. Because we needed to get to the Philippine Tarsier Sanctuary which closes at four o’clock. Just before closing time there were almost no people. It is a place where the foundation for protecting Philippine tarsiers works so you will learn lots of interesting information and you walk with a guide in the forest.

Tarsier earned its name because of its long tarsus bones and they are listed as near threatened species. They are nocturnal animals and during the day you wouldn’t say they become deadly monchhichi during the night. They jump in trees and hunt insects, spiders or small reptiles. Due to their size they would easily fit into your palm. But it’s forbidden to touch them, take pictures with flash, make noise and move with the branches from which they are looking at you with their big eyes when they don’t sleep. They get stressed easily and they tend to commit suicide by hitting their heads against obstacles.

After visiting tarsiers we headed back to Panglao to enjoy evening beach. But the ride became complicated by punctured tire. Nearby there were some men doing some business next to disassembled car so we asked them if they can help us. Within half an hour the tire was repaired and it cots us like less than 1 euro. And we could continue to Dumaluan beach which was recommended by Jayson to us. The beach is paid and definitely beautiful. Much better than Alona beach which is the most tourist part in Panglao island.

Street cruise sellers

For the last day in Bohol I moved from Tagbilaran to Panglao to Lucas’s place. The plan for the day was snorkeling with turtles so we headed to Alona beach to get some information where to go. We were advised to rent a boat and go to Pamilacan island or Balicasag island. The boat should cost about 1000 pesos plus equipment and enter fees to the islands. So we became street sellers because we wanted to find somebody to join us and split the costs. After half an hour of forcing people to join us we didn’t find anybody so we tried another tactic – find the boat and haggle about the price. And this was easier. First I haggled it down to 1000 pesos, including the equipment and enter fees and then Lucas decreased it on the boat before departure again.

We decided for Balicasag island with coral reefs and turtles and, moreover, on the way back we could stop at the island which has at least three different names. We reached Balicasag in about half an hour. There they provided us snorkeling equipment and assigned us a guide with smaller boat. When we were haggling about the price back at Alona beach, they “forgot” to mention that if we want to go to a place with a sea turtles, we have to pay another fee. Well, there was no other choice… This time the boat was with paddles and we would perhaps overturned in waves without our help. After arrival to that secret spot I started to grumble myself why I had gone for snorkeling again when I was so bad at it a few days back in Moalboal.

While the tarsiers were smaller than I expected, the turtles have been larger. And faster. I was expecting that we will look for turtles for a long time but we have seen a lot of them right after arrival and without any effort. After this we have moved farther away where a coral reef is located. It was great experience to swim just above corals and suddenly find myself on the edge of the cliff and not see the bottom. And somehow I became good at snorkeling and it was much easier and more comfortable than swimming.

After snorkeling, we moved to the Pontod island. Or Virgin island. Or Isola di Francesco. There is a long sandbar which is under the water during high tide. Otherwise, it is well maintained and beautiful island and probably Christian. There is Jesus on the boat next to the beach and if you want to refresh yourself or have some snack, you can get it for a donation which is up to you. Our extended stay on this island caused a problem to one of our guides who was already supposed to be at his other job.

Since our last meal that day was a late breakfast, we went for a dinner to Dumaluan beach. I think I don’t need to write what happened with my dinner. Maybe I should rename my site to Lucas, of course, got his meal so I was shortening my waiting by watching dogs who were empting trash bins and tried to eat everything with taste (like oily paper) and by watching a couple at the next table who had hair in their meal (which they ordered after me) which caused laugh to the waitress. And it also entertained me. So before I finished my dinner it was already dark and we didn’t want to go for swimming. We moved to a bar next to our accommodation for one beer (so three). But we had to finish the evening early because next morning I had to go to the port on Tagbilaran and cruise back to Cebu and then to the airport.

Next time you will learn where I flew next, how I met true indigenous and how to climb a palm tree. #spoileralert: It’s not easy to climb a palm tree.

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