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Monday, August 1, 2011

Bohol: Chocolate Kisses and Yoda

Day 4: Bohol

We started quite early at 6:00 a.m. with our day tour where the van fetched us directly from our hotel in Panglao. We had the van for ourselves (two pax) which we booked for 1900 pesos, so we are quite flexible as how long we would like to stay at one place.

Our first destination was the town of Carmen where the famous "Chocolate Hills" are located. It took us around 1.5 hours to reach the place. We travelled with an air-conditioned van that went through the green and beautiful landscape. Upon entering the area, we then had to pay first some 60 pesos per person before proceeding to the parking area. There are ca. 214 steps to reach the view-deck where unfortunately the view was hampered by a chain-link fence so there is only one good spot left where you can get a good photo of the hills.
The Chocolate Hills are an unusual geological formation in Bohol province, Philippines.[1] According to the latest accurate survey done, there are 1,776 hills spread over an area of more than 50 square kilometres (20 sq mi). They are covered in green grass that turns brown during the dry season, hence the name.

The Chocolate Hills are a famous tourist attraction of Bohol. They are featured in the provincial flag and seal to symbolize the abundance of natural attractions in the province.[2] They are in the Philippine Tourism Authority's list of tourist destinations in the Philippines;[3] they have been declared the country's third National Geological Monument and proposed for inclusion in the UNESCO World Heritage List.[3]


Not far away then was our next stop, the butterfly garden in Bilar. There was also not much going on still. We were given a guided tour with some information about the butterflies and many photo opportunities in the garden with lots of many beautiful butterflies. After taking lots of picture, I had a snack of "turon" (a banana sprinkled with sugar and wrapped in rice paper then fried) at their nice little cafe.


Then we went to check the "man-made forest" in Bilar but were just there very brief to take some photos of the reforested mahogany trees. It was quite cool inside the forest since there is not much sun penetrating its thick foliage.


We went next to the "Hanging Bridge" hanging over Loboc river. I was curious enough to see this "attraction" but I had a feeling that this was another marketing ploy. On the other side of the bridge are vendors selling souvenir items and delicacies like peanut kisses. Not so bad. There is the Loboc River Cruise in a floating restaurant but we let it off our list. We heard that it's touristy and the food wasn't really much my companion's concern. Our driver told us that we can actually rent a boat and ride out up to the sea.


Our next stop was to the tarsier enclosure in Corella. It was very impressive to see these tiny tarsiers in thier natural environment. We were alone with the guide who led us through a rather large wooded enclosure and knows where exactly these little yoda's are hiding. What was lacking is probably the information about tarsiers and everything about it. That could still be expanded. But if you're in Bohol, you definitely should go to Corella.


Next was the Blood Compact Monument, right at the seaside  with the view of Panglao island. The monument was erected in commemoration to the blood compact done as a pact of friendship by the spanish explorer, Miguel Lopez de Legazpi and Datu Sikatuna of Bohol.


The last stop was at the somewhat run-down but still impressive Baclayon Church. It is the oldest church in Bohol and one of the oldest in the Philippines. The church is made of corals and said to have used millions of egg whites to cement the corals together.


Back in Panglao, we went after a short rest again to the beach for swimming and eating, and later dipped in the pool.

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