Monday, March 9, 2015

Tarsiers, Chocolate Mountains and Loboc River

The Island of Bohol, Philippines is increasingly becoming a popular tourist destination.  It is likely that most visitors to this small island will want to see the Tarsier Sanctuary, the Chocolate Mountains, and take a lunch cruise on the Loboc River.  And that is exactly what Bob and I did on Saturday, February 21, 2015.

Tarsiers are tiny fist-sized primates with huge eyes, and elongated tarsus (feet) bones, finger and toes.  These nocturnal carnivores are found only in southeast Asia.  This endangered species is being successfully protected through the conservation efforts of a large semi-wild sanctuary in Loboc,  Bohol.  For a small fee, visitors are given the opportunity to observe these interesting creatures up close, although under strict guidelines.  Tarsiers are sometimes referred to as monkeys, but are really much more like lemurs.  I want to say they are cute little animals, but there is something about them that is also a bit haunting and alien looking.  See what you think . . .

Our next stop was at the "Chocolate Mountains" of Bohol.  This amazing landscape is dotted with 1,700 nearly symmetrical conical shaped hills, which resemble chocolate drop candy when the vegetation on them turns brown during the dry season.  These limestone karsts were likely formed during tectonic processes and shaped over years by rain, surface waters and erosion.  Slightly reminiscent of the karst shaped environment of Guilin, China, ( see here) this scene offered a softer, more polished look. While I lingered atop the viewing platform to soak in the magnificent site, take a look at where I found Bob.

This particular viewing area was quite the tourist park, with a bicycle zip-line, ropes course, butterfly zoo, and other attractions; all of which we felt we could live without.  Just outside the entrance, we stopped to take some photos of a couple of solitary chocolate drop hills and wonder at the unique vegetation growth covering them.  Another hill was destroyed in the earthquake of October, 2013.  And not far down the road was another cemetery which I couldn't resist photographing as well.

The road back to Loboc curves through a 2-mile stretch of dense cool forest which looks oddly out of place.  It is a man-made forest of mahogany trees imported from Indonesia which students planted about 50 years ago in a government effort to minimize erosion and create a refreshing retreat from the island heat.  The result is quite lovely with the artistic growth of tree roots meandering over the hillsides, contrasted by straight and uniform trunks stretching toward the sky.

Stopping at the beautiful Loboc River, we waited in turn for about an hour in order to enjoy a leisurely lunch cruise. Like the other sites we had visited this day, it was another "tourist trap" which is doing well at strengthening the predominantly tourism-based economy.  It was actually nice to sample a variety of Filipino cuisine and experience a bit of their culture through music.  The turquoise water and lush tropical greenery created desirable river front property.  Although we didn't spot the home of our dreams, we saw some adorable "neighbors".  


That brought our touring to an end for the day, and we were happy to have seen several of heaven's wonders on this unique little island in the Philippines.  The following morning, we attended church in Tagbilaran, the main city and ferry port.  We found that there are numerous LDS chapels on all of the islands, and it was nice to attend church with such genuinely loving and kind saints!  Most of the speakers were able to translate their words into English - a feat that impressed and touched us.  In fact, one of the most endearing attributes we found among Filipinos, is their love of God and the unabashedly way they display their faith and show their Christianity.  The two LDS chapels we saw in Tagbilaran were finely constructed and very attractive and strong - just like their small congregations.  We hope to see more men join the faithful women and children in worship as time passes here.

As we awaited our ferry, we snacked on a famous Bohol confectionery made of peanuts and egg whites.  What an appropriate sweet reminder of the chocolate hills and our memorable experiences here in Bohol.

 We departed content with our adventures, and looking forward to the next three days of relaxation at a posh resort on Mactan Island.

1 comment:

  1. Oh my goodness! You just visit one beautiful place after another. It is a good thing you are blogging, or you might not be able to keep all these trips straight. My parents served a mission in the Philippines in a very remote small town. She always talks about how impressed she was with their strong faith and desire to serve the Lord. She was very humbled by these dedicated people.