The Chocolate Hills
The Amorita Resort, where we stayed while we were in Bohol, provides its own tours and guides for its guests. Me and my family — mom, sister, bro-in-law and her kids — signed up and got a guide named Cathy and a tour van to take us around. Our first stop: the Chocolate Hills.
Bohol, with its combination of rolling hilly terrain and being an island sheltered by large islands or island groups, would be a great place to hold an Ironman triathlon. It’s got all the challenges for the athletes and for the spectators, it provides a lot of breathtaking views.
The Chocolate Hills set Bohol apart from just about anyplace else on Earth. They’re naturally-occurring cone- and dome-shaped hills formed by the erosion of the island’s mostly-limestone geography. They get their name from the colour they get during the Philippines’ dry season (October to May), when the sun dries their vegetation to a chocolate brown.
We’re currently a month into the wet season, so our tour guide said that right now, they’re more like the Pistachio Hills.
Between the hills are lush green valleys, like the one pictured above. To get a better view, we were taken to an observation point atop the highest hill in the valley. The staircase below took us up to the top:
From there, we got a commanding view of the surrounding hills:
Here’s a shot taken from where all those other tourists were posing for photos:
Here’s the obligatory self-portrait:
After a little looking around, it was time to head back down to the road where the van was waiting:
Before heading to our next destination, I took one last photo from road level. There was a great view of some of the hills and a lot of the surrounding greenery:
Tarsiers are weird little creatures — they’re the smallest of all the primates. They’re found only on a number of Southeast Asian islands, including Borneo, Sulawesi, Sumatra and in the Philippines, where they live on the island of Bohol.
They’re tiny little monkeys with big eyes (each eye is about equal to the size of their brain). The eyes are a product of evolution and their being nocturnal. They prefer to stay in forests with small branches, as they climb only those things that they can wrap their fingers around.
They don’t move much during the day, which made it possible to get some pictures of them at their sanctuary. Of the four tarsiers we managed to see, only one was awake, but he was positioned in such a way that it was only possible to get backlit photos of him.
Loboc River Cruise
After the tarsier sanctuary, our next destination was the Loboc River, a slow-moving river and tourist attraction. There are as many as a dozen riverboats taking tourists up and down the river, many of which are floating restaurants. In addition to being part of our tour, it was also our lunch spot.
These boats — basically platforms mounted on two large outrigger boats and pushed by a small tug — carry about fifty passengers, not including the crew and serving staff.
Lunch is served from a buffet and is made up of classic Filipino comfort food: chicken and pork adobo, shrimp, pinakbet (a stew of vegetables including bitter melon, okra, string beans and eggplant), philippine barbecue (grilled pork kebabs), fried chicken and all sorts of tropical fruit.
This was my view from where I ate:
Once again, the obligatory self-portrait:
The boat travels about an hour upriver while the passengers eat, after which it reaches this point and turns around:
On the way back, we made a stop at this floating platform to catch a performance by a chorus of two dozen women, each one playing a ukelele, all performing pop songs that anyone from North America (or steeped in its culture) would recognize:
When we arrived, they were playing The Everly Brothers’ classic, Bye Bye Love. We hopped off the boat and onto the platform, caught a few more numbers and then continued downriver:
Seeing our boat, a number of stray dogs gathered nearby on the shore:
They’re used to getting scraps thrown to them from tourists on the boats, so they all sat at attention, waiting for their lunch. After a while, about eight or nine dogs had gathered, some scrapping with each other for the best spot on the riverbank:
Next: More beach bummin’