Saturday 6 December 2014

Bohol, Philippines I: Around Loboc and Chocolate Hills

Goodbye Cebu and Hello Bohol! :)

We had lunch while cruising down Loboc River. I especially love the salad because of the ube bits. See the bowl with purple stuff? That's ube, purple yam which is not purple potatoes nor purple sweet potatoes (which I thought it was). And it's ubiquitous in Filipino desserts! Ube ice cream, ube rice cakes topped with grated coconut, ube with halo halo (Filipino dessert with mixtures of shaved ice and evaporated milk to which are added various boiled sweet beans, jello and fruits), and many more. Yummmm. Apparently the colour purple also symbolizes prosperity because it's the colour of 100 peso bill.

We made two stops along the way, first at a waterfall and then another at a floating platform where locals sang with ukeleles and danced. They danced the bamboo stick dance at an amazingly fast pace and invited us to join in, at a much slower speed of course. It was a really joyous atmosphere, channelling a rather Hawaiian feel.

Then we headed to the Tarsier Conservation Area to see the tarsiers. Philippine tarsier measures only about 85 to 160 millimetres in height, making it one of the smallest primates.Compare it to the surrounding leaves, it is around the size of two or three leaves. You will easily miss it if you don't peel your eyes wide open!

Their huge eyes are actually fixed in their skulls so they cannot turn in their sockets but a special adaptation in the neck allows the tarsiers to rotate their heads 180 degrees. These huge eyes allow the nocturnal animal to have excellent vision at night. When we visited them in the day, some of the tarsiers had their eyes closed. We were told not to take photographs with flash because it would damage their eyesight.

Besides using urine to mark their territory, urine is also used in the mating process. When they are ready to mate, female tarsiers will urinate on the tree branch for males to smell. If he likes it, they will mate and only one offspring is produced after each mating process.

P.S. don't you think this creature looks awfully like Master Yoda of Star Wars?

Finally we arrived at one of the most famous attractions in Bohol, the Chocolate Hills! We had to climb up a flight of stairs to get this view of the chocolate hills and we were all amazed by the seemingly endless hills. There are 214 steps to the top where a bell used to be (it fell during the Bohol earthquake) and couples would climb up to ring it. 214 because... February 14th is Valentine's Day.

Approximately 1,268 to 1,776 individual mounds spread over an area of more than 50 square kilometers. These dome-shaped hills are actually made of limestones covered in grass. The grass turns chocolatey brown during dry season (May, June), hence giving the place its name.

There's a legend behind the formation of Chocolate Hills. There was once a giant named Arogo who was extremely powerful and youthful. Arogo fell in love with Aloya, who was a simple mortal. Arogo kidnapped her and locked her in a tower but Aloya died. Her death caused Arogo much pain and misery, and in his sorrow he could not stop crying. When his tears dried, the Chocolate Hills were formed.

Next up was a ride on the ATV (All Terrain Vehicle) around the chocolate hills. I was really looking forward to it. I started off alright but suddenly I lost control over the bumps on the road and was driving towards the bush beside the road. I immediately pressed down on the brakes but my ATV refused to restart. Thankfully the staff drove along with us, so I had to signal for help. I think after the traumatic fall off the mountain in New Zealand where I broke my arm, whenever I feel slightly out of control, I stop. There was some trouble with my ATV too because after it stopped, it couldn't restart. Finally after about 2/3 fixes (meaning I stopped by the edge of the road 2/3 times), it could finally go and stop normally.

Knowing that my ATV worked okay, I relaxed and the ride was much more enjoyable. I was lagging behind the group and Smith and YM decided to follow me so that I would be safe. So touched :') The scenery along the way was gorgeous, especially because the sun was setting gracefully behind the chocolate hills. I wish I had captured it but I didn't bring my camera along.

As night fell, we dragged our tired bodies to Bluewater Panglao Beach Resort where we were staying for two nights but one look and we were all jolted awake. It was aaaaamazingly beautiful!! We couldn't stop exclaiming at how stunning this place was. My goodness. TWO queen sized beds in one room, Jaslin was like "I can't decide which bed to sleep in!" LOL. Thank you omy and Philippines Tourism Board for this. :') I... might never want to stay in backpackers again... HAHA.

This trip was made possible by the lovely people from Philippines Tourism Promotions Board, SilkAir, and Singapore Blog Awards 2014.

1 comment:

  1. ATV Philippines is slowly becoming a pastime or hobby of the locals. Nonetheless, riding an ATV is one of the newest ways of exploring a place of interest as the activity becomes more tourism-driven.

    Just want to ask how much is the rent of the ATV per hour? Thanks! :)