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Bohol - Chocolate Hills, Tarsiers, and River Cruise Lunch


View South East Asia Grand Tour 2023 on Grete Howard's travel map.

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The breakfast buffet here at Bohol Beach Club is absolutely amazing, and I enjoy some lovely fresh whole wheat bread with bacon, followed by muesli and yogurt; while David has Koko Krunch to start, and egg, bacon, toast, potato wedges, and a banana for seconds. That’ll set us up for the day!

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I love the way the cutlery on the table is wrapped

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The bread is absolutely delicious

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Lots of different breads to choose from

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Sticky cakes

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Philippino dishes

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Cereals

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Bacon and potato

The weather today is very hot and sticky, and while we are waiting for the guide and driver in the open-air lobby, the receptionist fetches a fan for me to cool down. Such a kind gesture.

Blood Compact Monument

This bronze composition was created to honour the first international treaty between the Philippines and Spain. It celebrates the event that took place here in Taglibaran in 1565 when a pact was signed between Filipinos and the invading Spanish. The two warriors cut their wrists, dripped blood into a cup, and drank their mingled blood as a peace treaty.

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The life-sized monument

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Panglao Island behind, which is where our hotel is situated

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A poster for selfies

Kalamay

Many vendors mingle with tourists here, selling a popular sweet delicacy called Kalamay (or Calamay), made of coconut milk, brown sugar, and ground glutinous rice.

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Church of Immaculate Conception, Baclayon

Founded in 1596 as a bamboo structure, it became the oldest Christian settlement in Bohol (and one of the oldest in the Philippines) upon the completion of the current building in 1727 at the hands of 200 slave labourers. They took coral stone from the sea, cut them into square blocks, and piled them onto each other. Bamboo was used to move and lift the stones into position, and the white of a million eggs to cement them together.

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It has been heavily renovated since, and sustained major damage during the 2013 earthquake, with the portico and bell tower collapsing.

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The Baclayon Church was declared a National Cultural Treasure by the National Museum of the Philippines in 2010.

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The Tarsier Sanctuary

The park is an eco-tourism destination where visitors can see and visit the smallest primates that are mostly found in Southeast Asia — tarsiers.

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The main part of the sanctuary, where the small primates are found, is set back from the road, and the path is surrounded by many gorgeous flowers.

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We first enter the visitor’s complex, to register and look at the small exhibition.

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The skelton of a tarsier

The Philippine Tarsier Foundation established the sanctuary to protect these endangered species while also promoting eco-friendly tourism. While over 100 of these territorial primates hang out in the immediate vicinity of the centre, only eight are in the viewing area. We are allocated a guide, who leads us to them via a short jungle trail. We see four of them in total, but they are mostly hidden within the foliage of the bamboo where they live, thus making photography very difficult.

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The tiny saucer-eyed tarsier can fit in the palm of your hand yet it can leap 5m, rotate its head almost 360 degrees, and move its ears in the direction of sound. Its huge imploring eyes are 150 times as big as a human eye in relation to its body size. They are delicate, emotionally sensitive, and easily stressed, and have been known to commit suicide by banging their heads against tree trunks.

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So as not to stress the little fellahs out, no flash photography is permitted, and it is very dark where they are hiding, so the ISO is almost through the roof – this is the best that I can do.

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Chocolate Hills

We move on to see one of the most well-known sites of Bohol. This unusual geological formation gets its name from the grass covering the hills turning brown in the dry season, reminiscent of chocolate truffles.

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These cone-shaped hills are unfortunately not made of real chocolate, but grass-covered limestone. The karst hills vary in size from 30 to 50 metres (98 to 164ft) high with the largest being 120 metres (390ft) in height.

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Steps lead up to a viewing area

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Drone shot

There are thought to be somewhere in the region of 1500 hills spread over an area of 50 km².


A security guard polices the selfie area so that others don’t crowd you when you are having your photo taken, and also that no one hogs the spot for any length of time. He also works out a first-come, first-serve system, and berates someone trying to jump in front of us. The system works very well. He'll even take your photo for you.

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Lunch Cruise

While this entire Grand Tour of South East Asia was booked on a private basis, I didn’t expect that to include chartering an entire floating restaurant for just the two of us. It is a totally surreal experience, with a 46-seat restaurant, captain and crew, and even a live band. With just David and me.

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This is the type of boat we have

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Many seats have been moved and removed, with a huge table set up for us

As we cruise down the Loboc River, we pass small settlements and virgin rain forests. There isn’t a great deal to see, but then we are mostly occupied with eating.

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Collared Kingfisher

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At a small landing, a group of artists perform a folk dance for us.

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While we may be the only two passengers, there is enough food to serve a large number of people. I hope the crew gets to share the leftovers.

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Curry

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Fried Chicken

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Chicken Satay and Mixed Noodles

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Fish

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Lechon

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Prawns

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Chicken Satay

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A selection of desserts (Banana, Watermelon, Halo Halo, Cake)

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Desserts (Kusinta, Suman, Banana

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Desserts (Coffee Flavoured Halo Halo + Cake)

We return to base and make our way back to the hotel, stopping to look at a place that produces recycled knives made from leaf springs. A worker can make 5-10 blades a day, and he will then send the knife off to someone else to fit a handle.

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We’ve been so lucky with the weather today, it rained while we were driving between the Tarsier Sanctuary and the Chocolate Hills, and again between the hills and the boat, when we had a really heavy downpour. More rain between the boat and the hotel, but it is dry as we walk from reception to the room. Soon after we reach the room, the rain starts again.

Dinner

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On my recommendation, David has the hot dog this evening

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Whereas I order sausage and mash

Entertainment

The two-piece band performing this evening is way too loud, to the point that I am unable to hear what David is saying unless I lean right across the table. A proper conversation is impossible. We are obviously not the only ones feeling that way, as I notice the area of the restaurant furthest away from the stage is full whereas the tables nearest the band are empty. For the first song, there is enthusiastic clapping, the second song receives some clapping, for the third a few people clap, and for the fourth – nothing! David claims "he sounds like he's been kicked in the balls".



After dinner, we drink cocktails while watching lightning out at sea again.

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Black Russian

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White Russian

When the laundry has not arrived by 22:00, David goes to reception to enquire (we are leaving here tomorrow morning, and would really like to have our clothes with us). The laundry is returned while he is gone – typical.

Thank you Undiscovered Destinations for arranging this amazing private tour

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Posted by Grete Howard 11:48 Archived in Philippines Tagged church philippines bohol chocolate_hills laundry kingfisher loboc tarsier taglibaran selfie drone undiscovered_destinations drone_photography dronography bohol_beach_club blood_compact_monument panglao_island kalamay calamay baclayon_church tarsier_sanctuary lunch_cruise

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Comments

What a day! I love the pictures of the tarsiers, they are just so beautiful and might I add, the food on the boat looks delicious as well!

by Ils1976

Thank you, Ils, they are seriously cute ♥ The lunch cruise was an experience I won't forget in a hurry.

by Grete Howard

Ever since I saw tarsiers on a Martin Clunes travel programme recently I have wanted to see them - the main reason for the Philippines jumping up our wishlist! They look so cute 😃

by ToonSarah

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