Harassing Dolphins, Tarsiers, and Nemo, Involuntarily!

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March 6th 2011
Published: March 6th 2011
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the poor little creature
Sometimes when faced with big problems and major decisions to make, its nice to take a breather. Get away from it all to postpone the inevitable and think. So I went away to Bohol. Supposedly to think and meditate on the things that I'm going to lose and how to start all over again, but I was too busy to do that! But somehow its all clear now. Now I know what to do.

We were picked up by the driver that we prearranged in Manila. Our plane arrived shortly after noon so we proceeded straight to the tour. We only planned to see three sites on day 1. Loboc river, Chocolate Hills and Tarsiers. The tour usually includes the hanging bridge, the oldest church in Bohol, the biggest Python in Bohol and some kind of a monument but we were not interested in those things. A church is a church and statues are statues for all we care!

Our car passed by the church anyway on our way to Loboc but we didn't stop to take a look. It did look old. Twas built in the 1500's and the houses around it looked ancient too. We also passed
Chocolate hillsChocolate hillsChocolate hills

theres said to be more than a thousand of them. But a few years ago trees have been planted on many of these wonders so they no longer look like these alien looking mounds.
by the place they call "Man-made Forest" which was pretty cool. Very tall trees that I don't normally see in the Philippines.

First stop, Loboc River Cruise! It wasn't all that. It was more like a raft rather than a boat which would have been fine if the buffet was great. But the buffet lunch was sadly disappointing! I only liked the fresh fruits which I could get anytime in Manila. The singer on the boat somehow ruined the scenic beauty of the river for me. The singers sang pop and rock songs that are completely unrelated to the Boholano or even the Philippine culture. In one of the boats the tourists were dancing to the Korean pop song "Nobody But You". You can generally get away with a bad performance as long as you sing something that people have never heard before. That way the tourists would think that that's just the way their songs are sung rather than "this man is a terrible singer! I wish he can just pass the mike to me 'coz I can do a much better job!" Seriously, they should either hire better singers or just play good CD's. Bossa Nova or
Virgin IslandVirgin IslandVirgin Island

with its impossibly long sand bar
Country Music would be excellent alternatives. The raft stopped by a place where people sing and dance. I know foreigners appreciate that, because thats something they've never seen before. But being local tourists, we totally ignored them. And even when we did we still noticed that they were not good! Their performance fails in comparison to the cultural show in Villa Escudero. And seriously, there are LOTS of good singers in the Philippines. Why aren't there any in Bohol? Even in Alona beach where the nightlife happens we went out Saturday night and NONE of the bands were good. They were seriously seriously bad! If theres someone here who's got the power to change that or let the authorities know that they've got the worst bands in the entire country please help! Its hard enough to compete with the river cruise in Bangkok 'coz they got excellent food and a fancy yacht. Lets make up for it by having great entertainment because we sure as hell can provide that better than the rest of South East Asia!

Next was the Chocolate hills in the town of Carmen. They were every bit as beautiful as I thought they would be.
Loboc River CruiseLoboc River CruiseLoboc River Cruise

Would have been peaceful if not for the "entertainment" onboard
Although they're not chocolate at the moment 'coz it rains quite often. It would be difficult to get there without a hired vehicle. Public transportation is rare in Bohol apart from its city. We got our town car for only 2,000 pesos ($45) to see the three sites and take us to Panglao Island where we would be staying.

Last stop was the Tarsier Sanctuary. I specifically instructed our driver to take us to the sanctuary and not to the various houses whose owners managed to capture Tarsiers in the wild, put them in a cage, and then charge people to see them. Unfortunately, because we started our tour late, we didn't make it to the sanctuary. They close at 5. Instead we visited a private "menagerie" where the doe eyed beauties were constantly being harassed by stupid tourists! Tarsiers normally have a lifespan of 20 years but only one year in captivity. But I really wanted to see them so I did what I didn't want to do and felt horrible for it. One of the tourists snapped pictures five inches away from the poor creatures face WITH FLASH! So I told her off. My sister saw another

They were way too quick. I feel lucky that I even managed to get a picture of them.
tourist throwing bits of tissue on a Tarsier to wake it up! I would have smacked her right then and there if I saw her doing that! Another tourist was touching it. The owners should at least put them in a cage (a really big one with trees and stuff) to protect them from all the MORONS in the world! We left ASAP after taking photos (I didn't use flash) feeling guilty for visiting a place that abused endangered species.

We then proceeded to Panglao Island to find a place to stay. It was harder than we thought because we didn't go to Alona beach where there are numerous inns and hotels to choose from. We went instead to the section where the most expensive resorts were. But we didn't stay in those high-end resorts but on the cheap resorts beside luxurious Escaya resort. I will never forget the name of that resort. WHITE and GREEN. DO NOT in ANY CASE stay there when youre in Bohol. It was VERY expensive for the amenities and the bad service that they were offering. We paid P2300 for an aircon cottage without television or hot shower. When I used the shower I thought my face got salty because I walked along the beach and the salt in the humidity must have been absorbed by my skin. But NO! It wasn't my skin. It was the water coming out of the shower. Their tap water was salty! I felt absolutely disgusted. I felt sticky even after showering! We resolved to find another place to stay for the next day after the tour.

Our boatman picked us up promptly at 6:00 AM. We headed first to where the Dolphins hunt for food in the morning. When we got there, there were about 17 boats there waiting for the Dolphins to appear. I was expecting that they would jump and do airflips like the dolphins in Ocean World in Hong Kong. I only saw their back and fins briefly whenever they surface. Thats because the stupid boatmen drove them away! I thought they would stop near where the dolphins were when they found them, but NO! They went straight towards the dolphins! I was later informed that sometimes the dolphins get injured when they get run over by the boats! So we left early, feeling guilty again. Its absolutely horrible what they do to their natural treasures here. Unlike in Donsol where the whalesharks are treated with awe and respect.

Then we went to Balicasag Island for snorkeling and I found Nemo! We paid P400 each for the entrance, boat, masks, shoes etc. Twas fun. Like being in an aquarium with lots of different kinds of fishes. The island in itself, apart from the coral reef teeming with fish was not remarkable. It has some residents, and quite dirty at some parts.

Virgin Island, our last stop was a much more charming little Island. It has a long C shape sandbar, and cleaner than Balicasag. I found some thrash and a pair of shoes. Lots of touts selling sea urchins. We didn't try them of course. But my sister did buy pearls from one of the vendors. Authentic (but low quality) pearl earrings for 300 Pesos.

After that we sailed back to Panglao. Our boatman couldn't take us to our side of the island because the waves were too big. He took us to another side farther than Alona where he had two motorbikes waiting to take us to White and Green. We checked out as soon as we got there and rode the motorbikes again to take us to Alona beach. There were lots of cheaper and better quality inns there at a much lower price. For 1600 Pesos (37$) we had a room with aircon, cable TV AND a shower with fresh non salty water! Alona beach has that bohemian feel. Alfresco diners, stores, dive shops and resorts line the beach. It had a remarkable character. Like a cheaper version of Boracay but a little fancier than Puerto Galera. The nightlife was disappointing because of the terrible bands. Food was expensive (P220 without drinks). We walked about 100 meters away from the beach and found a restaurant there called Alona Hidden Dream where the food wasn't good but for only half the price of what was being offered at the beach front.

Bohol has a lot to offer. If only they could teach their people how to respect nature (particularly the animals), stop littering, and hire better musicians.

Additional photos below
Photos: 18, Displayed: 18


Dolphin HuntersDolphin Hunters
Dolphin Hunters

I can imagine how intimidating this must be for the dolphins

10th March 2011

agree on many points
Hi Harold. Was nodding while reading your blog. I completely agree on many of the issues you raised. Poor tarsiers! And yes , the riverboat cruise could do with simpler,but tastier food. I have always complained that Bohol does not have many good eateries. But simple grilled food with fresh vegetables could have done a better job. And yes, folk songs would have been ideal to add local color esp for the tourists. Hey, i love your chocolate hills photos. Can i borrow a couple for my old blog on bohol? I am not happy with my snapshots. I can use your photos here so my readers can be led to your blog too. Is that ok?

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