Published: September 20th 2008September 4th 2008
Supercat Ferry in Bohol
The large & the small. A view of our supercat ferry after it docked in Bohol. Beside it is the small pump boat used by the locals to manouver through the island
No! They are not made out of Chocolate.....But they do look like Hershey's Kisses!! According to the internet Bohol is located Southeast of Cebu and is the 10th largest island in the Philippines (This is a big deal considering that there are over 7000 islands in the Philippines). The island is famous for its fabulous white sandy beaches and resorts, scuba diving, numerous historic places, river cruising, Sandugo Festival, Philippine Tarsier (considered to be the worlds smallest primate) and indigenous to the island and lastly, the Chocolate Hills.
Given my limited time we decided on a day trip visit to Bohol & caught the early morning 'supercat' ferry ride to the island. The ride to the island should only take approx 1.5 hours but this is Filipino time! - The 'supercat' ride really should be be dubbed the 'slowcat' ride because the journey took approx 1 hour longer than usual.
I chose to travel to the Philippines in the middle of the rainy season - what the locals call their ‘cooler’ months when the temperature can drop to a very bone chilling 29 degrees. When the ferry docked we selected our ‘tour guide & driver’ from
A view of the world from my car window. We were driving through the man made forest when the heavens opened up and drenched us with rain
the many people who line the ferry port offering their services to make our way to our first stop - The Chocolate Hills (approx 1 hour) drive from the ferry port.
On the way there - the heavens opened up and bucketed down, filling the roads with rivers of water - essentially reducing us to a crawl. It was at that point that our guide informed us that it was the first time it had rained that month……Is it me? Nevertheless - my chant of ‘it will stop, it will stop’ soon worked - and by the time we reached our destination - we once again had bright blue sky, stiflingly humid heat and 30+ degrees of blistering sunshine. Out came the sunscreen for me - to cover up my already badly burned back & arms (from Boracay not Bohol). The Chocolate Hills
The Chocolate Hills are considered to be one of the Philippine’s natural wonders. There are 1268 individual hills that make up the ’Chocolate hills”. From the distance they all look uniform in shape & size, almost like giant tennis balls sticking out of the ground (without the stripe and much darker - of course!). It
The Chocolate Hills
A view of some of the 1268 Chocolate Hills
gets its name because during the end of the dry season, the grass that grows on the hills dies and turns chocolate brown making it look like giant hershey's kisses have been dotted all over the landscape. Sadly, my pictures will only show you green tennis ball looking things because it is still the wet season.
Our tour guide took us to the main viewing area - which is really one of the largest hills with steps carved out of it to look at the others. At the checkpoint - it is always a good idea to purchase a bag or two of the freshly made banana chips from the women tapping at your window. The ones we had were still warm from the oven, both soft & crunchy in all the right places and so very sweet (there’s nothing like Philippine bananas). In case you are wondering - They taste nothing like the banana chips from the health food stores or those things you sometimes find in the fruit & nut mix…Yuck!
Something to note here - Nothing is more refreshing after a long walk up & down a hill in the heat that an ice cold
Known locally as 'Mawmag' is an endangered tarsier spicies found in the southeastern part of the Philippines.
‘buko juice’ (In case you don’t know - The juice of the young coconut is clear & looks like water. It doesn’t look like coconut milk.). So I made a very swift detour to the ladies selling ice-creams (mango, of course!) for my cup of fresh buko juice - with buko bits…….mmmmm. The very big & the very small
A trip to Bohol must always include a visit with its tiniest creature…The Tarsier
. It is the worlds smallest primate and can sit in the palm of your hand when fully grown. We stopped at a Tarsier viewing area on the way back to the ferry and managed to get a very up close & personal look at a mother Tarsier nursing her baby. In this enclosure, these tiny creatures sit in trees no more that 2 meters high. There are no screens separating them from the public, so you could practically reach out and touch them without any problems. The picture on the left is one of them sleeping. Further down are some more pictures of them - Look at their eyes. They are fixed to their skull and cant move. Instead they can rotate their heads to 180
A very big yawn
The worlds largest python in captivity with the worlds largest yawn.
degrees. Nice One!
After visiting the Tarsiers, we made a slight detour (on recommendation from our tour driver) to see a python. The sign by the road leading to the enclosure said it was the biggest & longest python in captivity. I would think so - given that this thing was over 7 metres long & twice the size of my thigh (And that is saying a lot - for those of you who have actually seen my thighs!!!). I managed to get a shot of it as it did what could only be described as a very very large yawn. Not surprisingly - this thing feeds on a whole live goat for dinner. Lomboc River
For lunch we made a stop at the Lomboc River. This is another must do when you are in Bohol. The river is lined with floating restaurant boats that usually serve an all you can eat buffet lunch for about ($3) each. The one we were on - had a guitar playing crooner, singing a whole assortment of Filipino folk songs & the odd Elvis Presley. Along the river, which is lined with hundreds of palm trees, are children swinging from ropes
Crossing the bamboo bridge
A rickety bridge made entirely out of bamboo & financed by AUSAID.
and swimming in the water. On some occasions - they would swim up to the boat to use it as a diving board back into the water.
Lastly - what would be a cruise without a live band smack bang in the middle of the river? The floating restaurant eventually docked with a floating platform filled with singers & dancers from various villages (or 'barangay') They would sing, dance and try to teach you how to do the 'Tinikling' (where two people hit bamboo poles together in rhythm - and you have to jump between the poles in tune or get your ankle crushed between the bamboo). For the record - my sister is good at it! Me - well I sucked!!
There are more photos below