After a few days in the water, it was time to get back on our feet. From Cebu Ferry Port Pier 1, we took the Oceanjet Ferry to Tagbilaran. Normally it costs 600 pesos each, but we upgraded ourselves to Business Class and paid 800 peses each. For those 200 pesos extra (about €4), Business Class was definately worth it. There’s more space, the seats are more comfortable and they show you a movie during the ferry ride. The ferry ride took exactly 2 hours. Right after you get off the ferry, tricycles and taxi’s will be trying to catch your attention to bring you to your accomodation. We took a taxi for 500 pesos, which is 100 pesos cheaper than the usual rate.
We checked in 30 minutes later at the Bohol Beach Club, Bohol’s first ever resort. We rented a car for the next day (including a driver) for 2500 pesos and he would show us around the island for the whole day.
Our drivers name was Gerald. Like all the other drivers we had Gerald was shy but very kind and would give us information about the sights we were passing. We needed somes groceries too and he would stop wherever we wanted. Gerald took us to the most visited places on the island: The Tarsier Sanctuary, The Chocolate Hills, The Hanging Bridges, The Loboc River Cruise, The Baclayon Church and the Blood Compact Monument. He asked us if we wanted to do anything else, but we thought this would be enough for the day.
First, he brought us to the Tarsier Sanctuary. Tarsiers are the cutest little monkeys on earth with huge eyes. They could fit in the palm of your hand. Tarsiers are super sensitive and are even known to commit suicide by bumping their heads to trees and breaking their skull if they feel stressed. Once you enter the sanctuary (entrance fee of 60 pesos each) you walk through a small rainforest where you can see the Tarsiers sleeping or hanging in trees. Tarsiers are nocturnal, which means that they will most probably be sleeping during your visit. It’s very important not to disturb the tarsiers during your visit, so that means you have to whisper while there and that there is absolutely no touching allowed. I was happy that almost all the visitors set the right example when we were there. My favourite tarsier was the second one who reminded me of Gollum from Lord of the Rings. I could hear him say ‘my precious’ while holding onto his tree. He really looks like a content little fellow.
We drove to the Chocolate Hills next and Gerald recommended that we tour them with an ATV. With a guide, we rented a buggy for two people instead of riding a quad each. This cost us 1800 pesos, since we chose the longest route taking 1 hour in total. Riding through the Chocolate Hills was a great experience: lots of families actually live at the feet of the hills and since the roads aren’t paved, Mark was able to play around with the buggy.
Our next stop was the Chocolate Hills Viewpoint, where we had a breathtaking view of the hills from above. There are more than 2000 hills and it is not clear how they were formed. The name ‘Chocolate’ derives from their brown color and the fact that their shape resembles those of Hersheys Kisses.
Before having lunch, Gerald brought us to the Hanging Bridge. This bridge consists of 2 smaller bridges made out of bamboo, connecting two barangays. The bridge was damaged during the 2013 earthquake, but as you can see it is now fixed. It’s fun to cross the bridge and have your picture taken 🙂 a lot of the tourists don’t even want to cross the bridge because it’s bouncy.
We went to Loboc after about 20 minutes for some lunch. There are a few mobile restaurants that offer lunch along the Loboc river. It wasn’t high on our wishlist, but we felt like this supported the local people and the food was cheaper than having lunch af the resort. There are places along the river where you can find the locals swimming and jumping off trees into the water. You also make one stop where you can see a few locals dancing the traditional Filipino dance called ‘Tinikling’. They invite you to join them and try the dance, which is a lot of fun 🙂
After lunch we still had two stops to go: the Baclayon Church and The Blood Compact Monument. The Baclayon Church is the oldest Church in Bohol, but unfortunately it was severely damaged during the earthquake in 2013. We couldn’t go in, since it was being restored. The Blood Compact Monument is a depiction of the first treaty that the Filipino’s signed with Miguel Lopez de Legazpi, the Spanish explorer who ‘discovered’ The Philippines. The monument is also known as ‘Sandugo’, meaning ‘one blood’ in Visayan, a dialect spoken in Bohol.
I had lots of fun exploring the island with our ‘private’ driver and would definately recommend to do this while in Bohol. It’s also a lot cheaper than taking a tour.