The fourth and last Blog about the Philippines is meant to be a colorful storybook into a world of macrocosm with marvelous creatures like the Tarsier, sea tortoises, butterflies and seductive sounding places such as Chocolate Hills and Balicasang Island. So please do not expect (this time) a meticulous blog based on intense investigation and rhetorical diligence.
The island of Bohol offers a really good infrastructure and can easily be reached from Cebu. There are view companies you can choose from if you are taking a speed ferry from Cebu to Tagbilaran (Bohol) and the sailing times are around two hours. Schedule Oceanjet from Cebu to Tagbilaran
You will find Bohol always busy with tourists but the good news are, that because of the diverse and widely spread interests, it is pretty good divided up all over Bohol. As usual, I rented a motorbike and on my way to get my dives signed up for tomorrow, I just enjoyed the airflow and the lightness of the lifestyle I was living in this moment. Another reason why it feels effortless here is probably a result from fewer restrictions in general and of course, it feels great when you are able to drive your motorbike in shorts with flip-flops (and like many… without a helmet)!
I am all set for the dives tomorrow which I booked with Bohol Fun Divers and we will leave at 08:30 for Balicasang Island. But now I am on my way to ‘Chocolate Hills’ – what a great name for a destination (more about the Chocolate Hill later on in the blog). On the way, there are a number of places I like to stop, like a butterfly farm and the Tarsier Wildlife Sanctuary. And if you see one Tarsier you just fall in love with them, they are so sweet and cute… incredible.
The Tarsier is very shy and for as little disturbance as possible you are just allowed to go with a guide into the forest, besides that the also know where to find them. Because of their size, you probably would miss them anyway. A Tarsier is a carnivorous animal, it feeds 100 % on meat – SURPRISE! So the actually are the only primates who absolutely eat NO PLANTS at all! The main threat for the Tarsier population (as most of the times) comes from humans and our greed in terms of extending our habitat. Besides that, there is the hunt, illegal trading and keeping them as pets !!!
I continue with the motorbike till I reach Loboc a lush green valley with a wide river by the same name. The river meanders through the whole valley till it finally flows into the ocean. There are lots of tours offered on the floating restaurants so you can enjoy traditional Philippine food while cruising up or downstream the Loboc River.
In Loboc, like many other places at the Philippines, you will see that churches are getting refurbished. There are hundreds of desolate churches and even more believers in Christianity. Colonial rule is the cause for that and till today about 95 % of the Philippine population are Christians.
It is hot… and even whilst driving the motorbike I have to sweet. The humidity is high and a protection of the sun is always needed but slowly I am getting closer to the Chocolate Hills. The seductive name Chocolate Hills has nothing in common with chocolate but more than this unusual geological formation of grassy hills getting brown at dry season. Sorry… the story is not spectacular, but seeing the hills is!
Of course, you can always expect lots of tourist at Chocolate Hills but the area, in general, is big enough to find possibilities to avoid the crowd and still enjoy the spectacular sight. For two days in a row, I tried to fly the drone but there was no chance. Afterwards I actually have to be thankful for it because the wind was so strong that I was not even tempted to give it a try. There are still lots of talks and theories about the origin of the hills but till today the geologist is not agreeing on one of them. What the hill !!!
On my way back to Panglao I stopped at the butterfly farm and usually I am not such a big fan of macro photography but as I saw those beautiful and colorful butterflies I totally dove into this kind of photography. The Bohol Butterfly Garden is defiantly worthwhile a visit and the only interference is that the put a huge net over the trees to keep them there. I prefer it way more to see them in their natural habitat but I did go there anyway. For you to decide.
It was already dark for a while when I finally reached my accommodation and I was so tired, no wonder after driving on the motorbike about 150 km criss-cross at Bohol Island. Moreover… I had to get up early tomorrow. Why? Diving was the intention and my hopes were big (actually they were huge) to encounter some sea turtles.
Bohol Fun Divers was recommended by some friends of me and so I booked my package there and was surprised how professional they were. Owned by a German and run by locals I really liked the place… the prices were good, the stuff very well organized and helpful. We had a fun boat ride and a real easy atmosphere. Here you can find some of the Dive Spots – Bohol. The diving itself was good, the water wasn’t always clear but the cliff and drift dives were excellent. Best, of course, was, that we did encounter (at all three dives) some turtles !!! Just loved it and with respect and keeping distance to them, the turtles tolerated us watching hem feeding. The underwater world seems to be intact and Bohol has lots to offer for nature lovers, photographers and…. Balicasang Island, where I was diving, is a 40-minute boat ride from the island of Panglao. I know it is a bit confusing with all the islands but when you are there it is real easy.
The dive spots around Balicasang Island are rich in diversity and you can see swarms of Jackfish and Barracudas. Sea sneaks and of course my favourite, the turtles. As mentioned there are way more places for diving and other great dive spots at Bohol and yes there were also a lot of divers but that’s the way it is and instead of complaining we could start thinking about on how we handle this in the future.
In total, I did spend exactly one month at the Philippine islands and I was a colorful foray into the wonders of the world. I am still amazed by the nature in general and the Philippines with over 7000 islands are one of those magnificent examples of how extraordinary and creative evolution is. I meet a lot of local people by traveling by myself who have been very open, helpful, joyful and thankful. And being thankful, for having almost nothing, makes me even be more respectful and careful about how I tread others and nature.
Philippines, February 2017