Monday, March 23, 2015

CNY 2015: Countryside tour, Philippines

There were a few touristy sites we wanted to check out on Bohol Island. I had done a lot of reading about all the tour options and decided that there were only a few that I thought would be interesting for us. (This was partially because I was worried that it would be a really long day for Baby O.) I had also read about hiring a driver/car for the day to take you where ever you wanted to go.
After breakfast one morning we headed towards the beach and found someone to drive us around to only the places we wanted to go. There were plenty of people (with laminated pictures of where they would take you) trying to get you to choose them to be your driver. We had to do a little bit of negotiating because we also needed to stop at the ferry terminal in Tagbilaran City to pay for our ferry tickets, but we agreed on a price and we were off.
Our first stop was Chocolate Hills. The Chocolate Hills are a geological formation (cone-shaped mounds of grass-covered limestone) that are covered in green grass that turns brown in the dry season, hence the name. There are approximately 1,200 hills in a 20 square mile area (50 square kilometers). Getting from Alona Beach out to Chocolate Hills took about an hour and a half (thankfully Baby O slept for most of that). It was an interesting ride, it was similar to 'the road to Hana' in Hawaii. This road was just as small, but it was lined with small houses and stores for most of the ride, also our driver was weaving around motorcycles, kids/adults walking on the side of the road, animals, constructions and of course other cars. It was not quite dry season when we visited, so the hills weren't as 'chocolaty' as they get later in the season.
Our next stop was the Philippine Trasier Conservation Area to see on the smallest members of the primate family. These guys are tiny! I knew they were small, but they were much smaller than I was expecting them to be. The Philippine Trasier can be from 3 to 6 inches in height and weigh 2 to 6.5 ounces, making them about the size of a human fist. They have large round eyes with sockets that cannot move, because of this they are able to turn their heads 180 degrees.

The conservation area that we visited had a fenced in area with little 'huts' set up along a path for the tarsier's to sleep in. Not all of the huts had tarsier's in them, but we were able to see four that day.
Next we stopped at Baclayon Church or The Church of Our Lady of the Immaculate Concepcion. This church was built just after the first Spanish missionaries arrived in Baclayon in 1595. It is one of the oldest churches in the Philippines. It is recorded that the current building was completed in 1727. The sign we saw said it is one of the best preserved Jesuit-built churches in the region. On October 15, 2013 a 7.2 magnitude earthquake damaged the bell tower. Many of the other Catholic churches on Bohol were also damaged (and some completely destroyed) by the earthquake. Unfortunately  we were unable to go into the church as they had just started their lunch break.
Our last stop of the tour was The Blood Compact Monument, and honestly it was not worth it at all. I thought there was going to be some information about what the monument was for, but there was just a statue, and a guy trying to sell us key chains/hats/selfie sticks/etc. I did some reading when we got back because I wanted to know why this monument is important. The Blood Compact Monument is there to commemorate the 'sandugo' (which means one-blood) between Spanish explorer Miguel Lopez de Legazpi and Datu Sikatuna the chieftain of Bohol. On March 16, 1565 the sandugo was preformed to seal their friendship.
Overall it was a great tour, we probably could have done a couple of other stops since Baby O was doing great. But we were happy with what we choose to do. We even made it back to the hotel for Baby O to nap before heading to the beach for a beer and then dinner.



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