Sunday, November 20, 2016

Bohol Part 2: Touring and Tarsiers!

We decided that we would book a car to take us on a tour of Bohol sites. Apparently when you come to Bohol, the most popular tour is called the Countryside Tour. Everyone offers this tour. EVERYONE. And it is the same all over. You see sites like the Chocolate Hills and Tarsiers (which we wanted to see), but also things like a very large python, a hanging bridge, a church that you just can drive by on the main road to town, a man made forest (which means that people planted the trees, and you have to drive through it to see the chocolate hills anyway), a famous stone, etc. This sounded somewhat like a waste of time/money for us, so we asked to have a custom tour to go see the chocolate hills, the tarsiers and to go to a somewhat remote waterfall (Mag-aso Falls). Apparently (according to our hotel and driver) we are crazy as we didn't want to see other things like the large snake. Crazy. 

Anyway! Our driver was Jose, and he was a funny guy. He was always cracking jokes and telling us interesting stories. He also used to work at the one tarsier sanctuary so was very knowledgable about tarsiers. 

First stop: Bohol Tarsier Sanctuary. There are 2 main Tarsier places on Bohol - Bohol Sanctuary and Philippine Sanctuary (at Corella). We wanted to go to the latter, which is not included on the countryside tour (another reason for making the custom tour), as it seems less staged/more authentic and actually a place where the money goes to tarsier conservation. However, Jose convinced us to go to the Bohol one as well because we could "see more tarsiers" and he used to work there. So ok! It was only $2 entry fee so we decided to do it, plus my whole reason for coming to Bohol was for the tarsiers!! Basically you wander around a path and look at the tarsiers that have been placed in key areas for you to take pictures of and observe. Jose knew lots of tidbits about Tarsiers, and also knew all the staff so he entertained us by introducing us to Tarsier mothers and fathers (apparently it is a good joke to say someone is related to the Tarsiers??) as we went. In case you didn't know, Tarsiers are the world's smallest primate. They are nocturnal and quite boring as they are sleepy during the day and basically just want you to be quiet and leave them alone. But adorable! They have feet like a tree frog, rats tails, and these giant eyes that are stationary in their heads even though they can turn their heads 180 degrees. They are on the decline (classified as an endangered species) due to deforestation, house cats and the pet trade. We later on ALSO went to the sanctuary at Corella, which seemed a little more into the information and actual conservation of the tarsiers, and not just a means for tourist money, PLUS they had a guide that assisted us in our (ok my) quest for a tarsier selfie, so I have to say I preferred it. Jose (again) though we were crazy for going to BOTH Tarsier places, but it was totally worth it! 

After we had our tour of Tarsiers, we headed to the Chocolate Hills. This is a big tourist destination, but really, who knows why. They are a bunch (over 1200) of cool looking uniform shaped hills, that in the dry season, are brown, hence the "chocolate". As it was just the end of rainy season, the hills were NOT chocolate. Also we couldn't really find out any information on why the hills are so uniform in shape. Our driver told us a kids story about giants throwing stones at each other and that's why they are there.

                                         Supposedly Yoda is modelled after a Tarsier. 

                                             I call him Voldemort

Steve was very excited to see the hills, and in his excitement, thought that an ATV tour through them sounded great. We thought at least that we would get to go on a private path and see things not everyone gets to see (the main thing is to pay to drive to the lookout and take pictures from above). So, we paid (too much) for a half hour ATV tour. This tour took us down a public road! To see 2 hills that we could have just had our driver take us to. Fuckers. We were very annoyed. AND on this public road, we were made to stop and pay an "entrance fee" by some dude whose house probably happens to be on that road. Also as it was the end of the rainy season, there were muddy patches and puddles on the road, and of course we ended up covered. I had forgotten that whatever you drive through on a quad splatters up at you (its been awhile since I've quadded, and I was probably preoccupied thinking how sweet I looked in my pretty pink helmet), and drove through a lovely pile of water buffalo feces immediately after getting on my quad. That shit was allllll over me. We definitely did not get our money's worth, except for the fact that our guide thought he was our personal photographer and made us pose for many many pictures along the way! I would say that besides laughing my ass off at the poses our driver made us do, the highlight was getting to wade in a cute little creek to wash off all that water buffalo crap. We also got super annoyed because after the ATV tour, we then drove to the lookout to take some pictures, and were told we had to pay again. Since we already paid, I showed them my "Ticket" and was told nope, too bad, you have to pay again. This is where I said fuck it, I'm not paying another fee to take some damn pictures from the top of a hills, and told the driver to leave.

Last stop (despite the driver's best attempts to get us to stop at multitudes of shitty tourist attractions) was Mag-aso Falls. We climbed down some stairs (197 to be exact) to a lovely water fall basin. I had a delightful swim while Steve had a panic attack about people stealing our stuff and stayed on the sidelines. It was still lovely though, and super refreshing after the sweaty climb down. The only thing missing was beers!

And just in case you're not completely tired of Tarsiers yet: 




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