While staying at Coco farms hostel in Bohol, I wanted to rent a motorbike and tour the island, but then I found that the hostel itself was offering a Bohol tour, to see the chocolate hills, the tarsiers, and other sights around the island. And while I usually hate going on tours, the hostel folks seemed like great people, and so I rounded up some folks, signed up for the tour, and we were off to explore Bohol!
First, we stopped by the blood compact statue, where the Spanish made an alliance with the Bohol leaders. Apparently, this is done by mixing blood from both parties in wine, and then drinking the wine? From a culinary perspective, that does not sound delicious. Great views though, somebody built a hotel & pool right next to the blood compact statue.
Next, we visited Baclayon church, one of the oldest stone Catholic churches in the area. It didn’t seem particularly special, though there was a museum showing off artifacts and church equipment used in the past. The church was somewhat damaged by a recent earthquake, though!
As we continued the tour, we would see a lot of evidence of destruction from the earthquake:
Next, we dropped by a knife maker! On the side of the road, some people were manually hammering out knives! Yes, it was a tourist trap, but an awesome one, so I had to get myself a souvenir knife.
We also dropped by a mini zoo of sorts, where we could touch and play with giant pythons:
The mini zoo also had tiger cats, and hoot owls:
Next, we stopped by a major tourist attraction – a lunch buffet on the Lubuc river – which is actually quite beautiful.
The lunch buffet cruise is a massive tourist trap though – you sit on a boat, eat unremarkable food, listen to live music, and gently float down the river. Even when it started raining, the you could just sit, relax, and enjoy the scenery.
During the ride we stopped by a platform, and got a performance from a bunch of Filipino kids. It was a whole song and dance performance, of both traditional songs and songs like the Everly Brother’s Bye Bye Love. I’m not sure how I feel about this. On one hand, it was a very nice performance. On the other hand, child labor and all that. Is this so different from kids being pulled out of school to sell bracelets to tourists?
Finally, for the best part of the tour, we stopped to get a view of the Chocolate Hills!
The chocolate are these weird geological phenomenon, with thousands of cone-like hills dotting the landscape of Bohol. And it’s really weird, that this is unique to Bohol – geologists are still rather unsure how these hills were formed. During the fall, when the leaves start turning, the trees turn chocolate brown – hence, the Chocolate Hills. Fortunately, a hill has been built into the hill, allowing tourists a great view of the hills.
The term man-made forest seems like an oxymoron, but it’s actually quite accurate – this forest is apparently completely man-made. A couple decades ago, deforestation was a major concern in Bohol, and so the government mandated that folks would have to plant trees before major life events (graduation, getting married, etc). Decades later, you’ve got a man-made forest!
And finally, we visited the tarsiers – these tiny monkeys with huge eyes. Combined with their usual nocturnal habits, tarsiers can be extremely hard to spot in the wild, but they are supposedly guaranteed to be seen at the tarsier sanctuary in Bohol. Walking through the forest, I kept my eyes peeled, to try and find the tarsiers. Nothing. But then, I stumble upon these tariser ‘houses’. Holding the tarsiers for the benefit of tourists. Oh.
Of course, tarsier souvenirs. Those eyes are actually quite frightening.
After an entire day of touring, feeling all sweaty, we went swimming in the (Loboc?) river. I’m told that as I swum around, a coconut fell into the river where I had been swimming five seconds earlier. Yikes.
And finally, to finish off a great Bohol tour, a great sunset.