We’ve been really lucky to have many friends come visit us in Philippines, mainly for the diving and relaxing in the sun, but also we find ourselves on our Island neighbour of Bohol. As I mentioned before in a previous blog, there are many activities and pristine locations to visit. And so we set off with friends Max and Elena to find some waterfalls, hills, and tiny primates.
Running 2 hours behind schedule we got on the bikes and headed on our 1 hour drive to begin the day. We actually made it 100meters before we came across a small puppy running in the middle of the main road, around its neck was an old rope it had managed to detach from whatever it was tied to, covered in mud and looking scared as it dodged cars we pulled over. Max and I knew that Elena and Heini would not be happy until we got the puppy to a safer place, and after an unsuccessful search of the area for the owners we called May at the animal shelter who agreed to take it in until a home could be found. So a not so quick detour to visit the shelter and we were off… again.
A man made a forrest
The drive to the Chocolate hills is a great opportunity to take in some wonderful views and the man made forrest was no exception. We entered the forrest driving slow as it seemed that every tourist want to get selfies of themselves and must stand in the middle of the main road to take them. This behaviour seems to be the norm around Panglao and Bohol as soon a tourists step into the road the loose all ability to hear vehicle horns or the screams and shouts from both bike riders and cars heading up to the hills, I wonder how countries like Korea handle the many casualties they must have due to this habit.
After a quick photo opportunity ourselves we go back on the bikes and headed slowly around the “tourist speed bumps” onwards.
Eating some chocolate on the chocolate hills
Turning uphill we wound our way up and around a hill to our viewpoint, wondering why the guys at the road had yelled at us, we pulled in we learned there is indeed an entrance to the hills and this comes with a small fee, hence the yelling and waving. When we reached the top we were able to pay the entrance fee in the park office no problems.
Shockingly there is nobody selling chocolate here, a small restaurant that looks in need of organising, serving basic buffet local dishes and of course instant noodles if you need your daily MSG fix. But more shockingly – no “Chocolate Hills” branded overpriced chocolate bars I’d expect from a tourist attraction.
With not much else to see around the entrance we headed to the steps that take you to the top of the viewpoint, one tip is to not head up when the many tour busses arrive as you will undoubtably have to hustle, push and wait to get your photo with the chocolate hills in the background. Eventually we got our pictures and enjoyed the view, though due to the huge amount of rain, the chocolate hills were no longer chocolate coloured but green. First world problems.
Also on the same road, its hard to miss any of these attractions, is the Tasius sanctuary. Well organised with a breading area – no entry, and a large walk through viewing area. Plenty of staff available to point out these little weirdos as they nap under the leaf shelters constructed by the staff. Naturaly nocturnal they are usually spotted at dawn or dusk and have high pitched call, which if you have ever worked on loud engines, your never gonna hear it!!
Zipping over the river
On the way back from the hills we had one more stop, I’d heard there was a zip line over the river and was 100% committed to throwing myself at the mercy of gravity and cheap harnesses! “Embrace the things you fear”, this kind of statement sometimes is easier to say than do. For me its easy to speak and commit without thinking the whole idea through, its my gift, unfortunately Heini isn’t blessed with the ability to jump in head first. But for the zip lining she had no choice. Strapped into a harness and swinging from 8 thin metal wires 100meters above the jungle wasn’t really her idea of a fun day out.
As the four of us waited for our turn to be flung over the 200meter gap in the jungle and river, tears and nerves started to build as the wait gave us all time to hear the screams of others on their journey over the gorge! Heini and I opted to go first and were strapped in legs up and head forward facing the crevice and, what I hoped would be an amazing view. All to sudden we were off screaming and hanging at the mercy of the 8 thin looking metal lines. I was slightly ahead of Heini as we slid down 2 parallel lines towards the unsuitably small local guy positioned on the far side to stop us with open arms… Not so convinced I glanced right and saw Heini picking up speed and overtaking me, at least she would “test” our stopping guy.
I reminded myself to look down and enjoy the view and the river below, simultaneously remembering that I’m fucking scared of heights!! How did this slip my mind, I bit my lip to stop the scream of sheer terror and fixed my eyes straight ahead never again tempted to look down. All this time heading head forward and legs higher to give you that “comfortable position”, if your a nutter who enjoys hanging almost upside down! Once on the other side we changed lines and headed back on the return “Zip”, this was not so bad and I found myself yelling FUCK FUCK FUCK FUCK, as I slid into the warm arms of my Filipino saviour “Catch man”. He’s saved my dignity and I hoped none had heard my screams!
A great day trip I can recommend Bohol for a couple of days exploring, and if your man enough – do the Zip-lining too. Just ensure your bike has good trees when renting as Max’s bike went through 2 punchers and a new tube during the day! life lessons ey.