Date: April 26th 2011
Woke up early today (expect the next few days to all begin with that line). I left Sugbutel at around 5am as I planned to catch the very first ferry going to Bohol. I took a taxi to Pier 1 where Oceanjet‘s terminal was. I bought a return ticket to Tagbilaran (Bohol’s capital city) which cost ₱825 ($19/€13).
These were air-conditioned seating
The ferry left the pier just past 6am
I stepped out to get a better view of the waters
I went back to my seat and tried to catch up on lost sleep, all the while trying to ignore Step Up 3D that was playing as part of our ‘pirated in-ferry entertainment’.
The journey to Tagbilaran takes nearly 2 and 1/2 hours, which is exactly why I made it a point to catch the first ferry — I wanted an early start to my day.
Arrived at 8:30am
As soon as I disembarked, there were several agents offering tours of all the sights on Bohol island. They cost more or less the same as they did back in Cebu, so I walked on. Just outside the Dao ferry terminal, were tricycle taxis who approached me as well. They had laminated sheets showing me the same sights and told me they would take me to each attraction and then drop me back to the terminal by evening. They quoted ₱1200 at first but I bargained, and eventually agreed for ₱1000 ($23/€16) — which I felt was a bit more reasonable.
I was more keen to take a tricycle taxi than a minivan full of tourists for my own selfish reasons. One, open window means I can take photographs a lot clearer than behind the usual tinted windows of a tourist van. Two, being the only customer, I could ask the driver to stop wherever I wanted.
We set off
First the driver took me to a church
Took one photo and told the driver to move on. I've seen enough churches on this trip.
I was happy to see the sea
Bohol island is the 10th largest island in the Philippines
I tried my best to get the shots without too many obstructions or blurry plants that usually appear in photographs while travelling.
My Danny Trejo look-alike tricycle driver
You get off the main highway and take a left at this junction
Besides the Chocolate Hills, high up on my list of things to see were the tarsiers
We were about to enter the 'man-made forest'
It suddenly got dark and chilly
The ‘man-made’ forest is called so because decades ago, Bohol residents meticulously planted mahogany trees along a two-kilometre stretch.
Which grew into this
As the tour vans sped past, I asked my driver to stop on the side so I could take a proper photo
We were 'out of the woods'
Passed through many small villages
We had been driving for nearly an hour
... the hills were in sight!
I wondered how much further we had to go
Carmen is the town where the Chocolate Hills are located
The viewpoint is atop of the hill on the left
Up the hill we went
I paid the entrance fee of ₱50 ($1.15/€0.83) to go up to the observation point on the top of the hill.
My nightmares from last week return: stairs!
Even halfway up the stairs, I couldn't help but take a look at what I came all this way for
And there are over 1700 of these hills all around!
Once you get to the top...
How many of you even knew such a place existed? I didn't know about it until I began researching for this trip.
Undoubtedly one of the most amusing natural wonders I have ever seen!
Chocolate Hills were just nicknamed such because of their resemblance to bon-bon chocolates. Other names include “God’s tears” or “God’s droppings”.
Man, they really love doing corny poses out here! :)
Back to the hills
Panorama comprised of 12 shots
I took shots of all the hills around me
Panorama comprised of 10 shots
Panorama comprised of 8 shots
Panorama comprised of 11 shots
Decided to swap lenses and take the final few shots
Being summer in Philippines, the hills weren't as green
Wow, someone is buried here
You could really see clouds move over these hills
I felt I had taken enough photos, so I went back down.
Panorama comprised of 11 shots
This is the only hotel and restaurant on this hill, in case you fancy staying right here
I had an overpriced boku juice (coconut water) and then went back to my tricycle driver.
We left the Chocolate Hills
Waking up really early just to catch a ferry, coming all this way — it was well worth it. The Chocolate Hills are undoubtedly a ‘must-see’ in Philippines.
Though, it only occurred to me on the way back that I should have taken a video from the top. Sucks.
Entered the man-made forest again
Stopped to get some clear shots again
Nature's way of keeping sunlight out, making it very cool inside
The next sight on the tour was a hanging bridge in a locality called Sevilla.
Entry was ₱10
It's as the name suggests
But it's made of bamboo
There are some souvenir stalls set up by locals at this end
I made a quick return
If you don't like wobbly bridges, you might want to wait until an elderly person finishes crossing
I walked back to my tricycle driver and we left the hanging bridge
We got back to the main highway
Next up, lunch cruise on the Loboc river
There are many companies offering the lunch cruise, I just picked one after seeing their buffet menu for today. Cost ₱400 ($9/€6)
Even though I wasn't fond of Filipino cuisine, I had to eat something
We set off
The boats are actually maneuvered by this little guy who just pushes it along the river
The cruise includes stopping by these platforms
These platforms hold young locals who entertain tourists with musical performances
After ‘docking’ the boat alongside the platform, the locals began.
They were really good with their singing and playing!
They danced for us too
I really liked this performance and I felt like recording video, but decided against it
Putting up a video of their performance here would kind of take away their livelihood
It may be as touristy as it gets, but I still liked it. I left a ₱100 note in the tip box on the platform.
We applauded and left
There's a lifeguard for Loboc river too... though I don't know how effective one man can be, seated here
I sat and enjoyed the rest of the river cruise
While having dessert of course
Reminded me of Kerala's backwaters
Village boys playing in the river
After one and half hours of cruising, we were back
I headed back to my trike
We moved on to our final attraction of the tour and one I was very keen on seeing in person -- the tarsier
I was expecting to go Bohol's largest tarsier conservatory but instead, the driver took me here
When researching, I read that there were many unauthorized or illegal venues where one can see tarsiers, many who just capture tarsiers from the wild and profit from it. So I told the driver to take me to the Philippine Tarsier and Wildlife Sanctuary in Corella, but he told me that I might not have the time for that as it is very far and beyond Tagbilaran City.
Oh well, one sign this place was legit was that there were no entrance fees.
These guys hanging around are sloths
These are the tarsiers
Since it was the afternoon, they were in the middle of taking a nap. But seeing them with the eyes fully open is what sets this primate apart from the rest.
They're about the size of your hand
This centre had around ten of these interesting animals
Few of them finally woke up. Now I know where the idea for Dobby from the Harry Potter movies drew inspiration from.
What tarsiers are fed
15 minutes among tarsiers, and we were done
We rode back to Tagbilaran city
But I asked the driver to stop when we passed by the sea again
Panorama comprised of 10 shots
Not all of Bohol's shorelines look like this. The island does have stretches of white sandy beaches, but just not on this side.
Baclayon Roman Catholic church
The driver dropped me back to Tagbilaran City, near the church, where I paid him the agreed upon ₱1000 for the tour (plus a ₱50 tip). I still had nearly 2 hours before I had to catch my ferry back to Cebu.
I was near the Church of Tagbilaran, so...
I decided to check it out
I left the church and walked towards a Wild West-themed cafe and bakery right beside the church. They had a banner outside advertising their ‘famous’ mango pies. Looked and sounded delicious, so being the foodie I am, I ventured in.
The cafe mostly serves locals its fix of Americana, with the menu mostly comprising burgers, steaks and other Tex-Mex fare. Prices are reasonable and they were still serving customers main course meals despite being 3:30pm. What I found most interesting was — some of the waitresses were deaf. There were books on display on how to communicate in sign language, but for me, my order was simple. I pointed to the mango pie sign on my table and simply indicated ‘one,’ with a smile.
Costing just ₱35, it was alright. The mango filling wasn't as sweet as I thought it would be. I don't know if the type of mangoes commonly found in these parts are of a tangier variety, considering us Indians are used to much sweeter ones back home.
I sat for a while to cool off, drank ice cold water and then when I felt like walking, left the cafe.
I decided to check out the mall scene
This is Bohol Quality Mall
Hmm, that’s it really. Tagbilaran is no Cebu. The SMs and Ayalas are yet to set foot on Bohol.
Don't expect anything fancy in Bohol. It's the simple life here.
Guess there are a few Indians in Philippines
I decided to walk back to the ferry terminal
The priest jokes practically write themselves
I got my ticket checked and waited in the departures hall for my 6pm ferry. When you buy a return ticket from Cebu itself, it entitles you a spot in a ferry returning at any time. I was done with Bohol as far as I was concerned, so I decided to catch the early ferry.
The sunset at 6:15pm
Just noticed there was an open-air compartment above mine which cost much lesser. Should have just take this one as I really didn't need air-conditioning when there's sea breeze.
I went back to my seat and instantly dozed off, despite how freezing it was inside my cabin. I guess I was really tired and the early wake up was getting to me. Still, I felt satisfied knowing that I saw everything I wanted to see in Bohol. Even though my tricycle tour (eventually) was not that much cheaper than a van tour, I’m still happy I opted for it because I had the freedom to stop the driver whenever I felt like taking photographs.
I was back in Cebu past 8pm and I headed back to Sugbutel first, so I could dump my bag. Then I went to SM City for dinner.
By 9pm, everybody was shutting shop
Fortunately, a McDonalds was still open (though they were cleaning up) and I managed to get the last remaining burgers on order.
I headed back to my room, took a nice shower, backed-up my photos — nearly 600 of them (out of which I only used 188 in this post). Bohol was well worth the trouble and I can highly recommend a day spent on the island for anyone visiting Philippines.
Previous posts in this series:
Philippines 2011: Day 9 – Cebu: Fort San Pedro, Basilica of Santo Niño, Taoist Temple
Philippines 2011: Day 8 – Manila tour: Rizal Park, Intramuros, Manila Cathedral, China Town
Philippines 2011: Day 7 – Leaving Angeles City for Manila, Mall of Asia
Philippines 2011: Day 6 – Good Friday in San Fernando, San Pedro Cutud Lenten Rites
Philippines 2011: Leaving Sagada for Baguio, and arriving in Angeles city (Days 4 & 5)
Philippines 2011: Day 3 – Sagada’s Lumiang burial cave, Sumaguing cave, Hanging Coffins of Echo valley
Philippines 2011: Day 3 – Banaue town; heading to Sagada via Bontoc
Philippines 2011: Day 2 – Banaue rice terraces; trekking to Batad village
Philippines 2011: Day 1 — Manila American Cemetery and Memorial, Fort Bonifacio
Philippines 2011: Flying over South China Sea for the first time
Other posts in this series:
Philippines 2011: Day 11 – Arriving in Puerto Princesa, Palawan
Philippines 2011: Day 12 – Puerto Princesa Underground River tour, Palawan
Philippines 2011: Day 13 – Puerto Princesa to El Nido by bus
Philippines 2011: Day 14 – El Nido island hopping tour A and sunset at Las Cabanas beach, Palawan
Philippines 2011: Back to Manila, shopping, and my final thoughts about the country (Last post)
Tags: beach, bohol, cebu, chocolate hills, churches, ferry, oceanjet, philippines, pier, port, tagbilaran, tarsiers, tour, trike