Thursday, March 29, 2012

Travel Thursdays: Bohol Adventure Tour

Welcome to part 3 of the trip that only lasted three weeks but will take a million years to recount... You can find our Philippines vacation part 1 here and part 2 over here

After a couple days of relaxation on Alona Beach, we were ready for a little adventure, so we booked ourself a driver (that sounds so bourgeois to say and felt just as ridiculous, but it's just what you do there!) to take us around the main island of Bohol (Alona Beach is actually on a small neighboring island, Panglao and consists primarily of resorts, restaurants, and not much else).

We had only planned on seeing a few sights - the Chocolate Hills, the tarsier habitat, and maybe the Loboc river, but our driver had other plans. Other very, very fast-moving plans...

The Blood Compact Monument, where the first pact of friendship (or rather, non-hostility) between the Spanish and Philppinos on the island. And some random people, because we didn't feel the need to photograph ourselves in front of it.

The day turned out to be less of a slow-tour-around-the-island kind of day and more of a this-must-be-what-it's-like-to-travel-on-an-Asian-tourbus kind of day. Sans all the fun other tourists with cameras a million times fancier than ours, though. Our driver sped along through the narrow roads, honking at every other vehicle in sight (though we soon found out that honking is just a crucial part of driving in the Philippines), passing them at full speed, and then swerving and screeching to a stop while yelling "Blood compact monument! There!" (pointing) "You get out. Take pictures!" And so take pictures we did.

The not-so-chocolately Chocolate Hills. Apparently, this is the problem with the rainy season. The hills are green and the weather is fabulously uninviting.

The Chocolate Hills were an interesting experience as well. It started when our driver dropped us off at the top of one of the hills that had been turned into a viewing platform where then two valet guys wrote down his license plate number and told us, when we were done taking pictures, to give them the number and they would call our driver up for us. The whole spiel was oddly similar to being dropped off on a summer camp field trip. We then wandered up the platform as it started raining (thankfully, we were used to this by now on the island and had our rain jackets with - they were not packed in vain!), fighting our way up the crowded steps full of picture-crazy teenagers and semi-bored little kids, only to reach the top and find that 1) the hills were not brown and chocolatey but green and grassy since it was still rainy season, and 2) the fog was rolling in with a vengeance.

Nonetheless, it was a pretty breathtaking sight and one of the stranger landscapes I've seen in my day. And we did manage to get some great pictures despite the fact that the will of skies was against us.

My handy dandy little waterproof video camera, which really did make me feel like a Japanese tourist when I busted it out and narrated such things as "and here we are driving down a street..."

The manmade forest. Another of those short and sweet "Get out! Take picture!" stops.

After stopping for about 2.5 seconds and 3 pictures at the manmade forest before speeding along to our next mystery destination, I was left wondering exactly which men actually "built" this forest... I did no Googling during our trip so I just found out today that this massive mahogany tree forest was actually planted in the 1960s as part of a nationwide reforestation program by the Philippine government. Can those trees grow quickly or what?!

Next we got to the most adorable part of our journey:

Each of these cuddly little fellows is only about 3 inches tall! Just look how human-like those hands are. And those ridiculous giant eyes!

These little fellows are tarsiers! The most adorable wee primates I ever did see, hanging out (and mostly sleeping as they're not really daylight-loving creatures) in their own little huts in the tarsier habitat where they're given a happy home and a chance to beat extinction. They may have been my main reason for wanting to visit Bohol.

This teenage tourist had no shame in kicking the banjo player out of his spot and stealing his banjo and hat to pose for a picture.

And finally, the most entertaining and surprising part of our day trip: a real live jungle cruise on the Loboc river! It was so freakishly similar to the Disneyland one that I almost expected to hear cheesy comments from a guide a while floating past elephants and lions and alligators and headhunters. Almost. (I may have shouted this to Micha multiple times while he not-so-subtley tried to shush my enthusiasm.)

Instead we got a buffet and a terrific-ly terribe singer, whom I was lucky enough to sit right next to; meaning I had to constantly struggle to surpress fits of laughter as he belted  out off-key country and soft rock songs at the top of his lungs. (Note his adorable mohawked, guitar-playing sidekick, though. That kid could at least somewhat sing.)

We also got to see a totally spontaneous traditional dance party...

...a silly excuse for an impressive waterfall...

 ...and this adorable kid, the most Jungle Cruise-like sighting of the afternoon.

Micha likes to advertise his company on his person in foreign countries, apparently.

The last stop before we were dropped back off at our beach was the Baclayon church, one of the oldest stone churches in the Philippines. And while the church has definitely been up-kept to some degree and modernized with speakers and fans, preventing mold didn't seem to be a big concern to anyone. Those churchgoers must have lungs of steal.

We returned to our resort that night tired and happy campers and to our surprise, even made some friends to travel with to our next destination: Siquijor, otherwise known by us as the ultimate paradise and the absolute best part of our trip! Coming soon!

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