We decided to add Bohol during our last few days in Cebu. We heard the countryside tour was worth the 3 hour ferry ride from Cebu. The tour would include the Chocolate Hills (not real chocolate), the Tarsier Sanctuary, and a few other stops.
We have done private tours and group tours throughout this entire trip, but at this point in our adventure, we were ready to go at our own speed and not wait or be hurried up by others. Thankfully our hotel arranged our entire tour for us, a private one! 😉
The Countryside Tour
I had no idea what a tarsier was until this trip. We were walking through the sanctuary and I was a bit fearful. I didn’t realize they were so small! I thought I was going to stumble upon an adult monkey sized animal with big eyes and weird looking fingers. To much surprise, tarsiers are the size of your hand (maybe a little bigger), and they like to hide in trees – away from people! If you aren’t familiar with what a tarsier is, you aren’t alone. They can only be found in Bohol, Sulawesi, Borneo, Sumatra, and smaller surrounding islands. A very rare primate that is NOT a monkey. It’s complicated! You can read more about tarsier’s here.
We spent about 30-45 minutes looking at the tarsier’s and about 15 minutes taking the cheesiest pictures – compliments of the staff having the creative eye! 😉
Manmade Mahogany Forrest
While on our way to the next stop, we drove through the manmade mahogany forrest. It was beautiful! All of the trees were planted by the government many years ago. The trees are tall, lush, and growing everywhere you look.
The Chocolate Hills
Don’t be fooled! These are not giant hills of chocolate. Instead, they are grass-covered limestone that turn brown during the dry season (hence the name – I guess?). There are an estimated 1,268 to 1,776 hills in 20 sq. miles. It looks like they go on forever! Some of the largest hills are around 390ft. They are massive! And if it weren’t foggy, the pictures would’ve turned out better.
The Butterfly Conservation Center
Nothing will compare to the Seattle Science Center’s Butterfly Exhibit. However, this stop was one of my favorites during the countryside tour. Our exhibit guide was hilarious! I was getting an elementary lesson refresher and laughing the entire time. His ability to capture the magical moments was impressive, too! The rain and fog prevented us from seeing A LOT of butterflies, but the ones we saw were…. dead. It sounds so horrible, but when you learn how long a butterflies life actually is and the supposed amount of butterflies they have there, it didn’t come as a huge surprise.
The Hanging Bridge
The Hanging Bridge, or as I like to call it, The Hanging Bridge [of terror] is exactly what the name is. It’s a bamboo bridge hanging a million feet in the air over a swamp river. Okay, okay… a tiny bit of exaggeration, but this bridge was terrifying! Once you walk to the other side, you have to turn back around. You need to strategically place your feet on the bamboo and it bounces with every step. To say I handled it well would be a complete lie. I kept yelling, “GET ME OFF THIS THING!”
The Blood Compact Statue
The statue is also known as “Sandugo.” It is a friendship treaty between the Spanish explorer Miguel Lopez de Legazpi and Datu Sikatuna, the chieftain of Bohol made on March 16, 1565.
From one traveler to the other – PLEASE respect the country/culture/history/religion in which you are visiting. While we waited to take our picture, there was a man sitting on top of the statue pretending to ‘cheers’ and ‘joke around’ with the characters in the statue. Think about someone doing that to something important in your own country – it’s completely unacceptable and should not be tolerated.
Baclayon Church and Museum
Unfortunately, I do not have any pictures from this stop. We decided to save our money to tour through the famous churches in Manila as this church was under serious reconstruction due to the earthquake a few years earlier. Regardless, the history and pride in religion in the Philippines is VERY strong.
River Boat Lunch Cruise
This stop actually occurs halfway through the tour. Almost exactly at noon. I decided to save it for last because it deserves the full story.
After leaving Costabella, we were striking out on good food. It got to the point where we ate dried mangoes, pringles, and chips ahoy for lunch and dinner. You probably would too if you thought your order of nachos would be more than stale doritos and 3 black olives. Anyway, the river boat cruise is a buffet lunch where you sit with other people at huge tables. While you’re eating, the boat is floating down the river and live music hums in your ear. It sounds so wonderful until you’re on the boat and it starts to pull away.
This stop was the most expensive ‘entrance’ fee and we had low expectations just based on the “nachos” we had the day before. Once we got on the boat and were shown our table, we made our way to the buffet. Everything looked great and the first bite was awful. My mom and I just looked at each other, laughed, looked around, laughed, heard the guitar plug in, laughed, listened to the people at our table chew their food (my biggest pet peeve EVER!!!!), laughed/cried, and it continued for about 5 minutes.
Once I felt the engine start, I looked at my mom with the look and without an explanation she jumped out of her seat and yelled, “BOUNCE! I’M OUT!” and proceeded to jump off the boat and back on the dock. I tried holding back the tears from laughter but my tomato red face gave away my emotions! I grabbed our backpack, explained to about 150 people that my mom is scared of boats and we ran away.
Thankfully we got our money back and continued running. Eventually a lady came over to us and asked if we were on the cruise and ate the food and why we left. I had to make up a BS story on how my mom doesn’t like boats and she didn’t realize the boat left the dock and we thought we would just sit there on the water. Obviously my story made NO sense! Everyone knows the boat goes down the river – so how did WE not know?! Either way, she was convinced with my story and my moms amazing acting.
We ran a littler further and waited for our driver. This was by far the funniest part of the trip. The only picture I have of the river boat lunch cruise is after we left and it’s to remember the quick thoughts of, “BOUNCE! I’M OUT!”