And we can confirm: Bohol has it all...
On Friday night, we took a brutal overnight flight from Singapore via Manila to Tagbilaran (Bohol's capital), but the sight of the azure blue waters around Bohol during our approach to the airport instantly compensated for all that. We forgot about being tired, and started making plans for the next few days.
On arrival, we took a local tricycle to Alona Beach on Panglao island, which is connected to Bohol by two bridges. At Alona beach, we found a nice hotel... as well as two little cats (but more about them later).
The second day we went for a dive trip to Balicasag island, which is one of the Philippines' top dive sites, and one of the best in the world. And it certainly lived up to its reputation... On the first dive, we bumped into the largest school of barracudas we've ever seen (and we've seen quite some things by now)! There was also a huge variety of soft corals, with many types we have never seen before (the Philippines has the highest density of coral species in the world). Balicasag has six dive spots, and we've seen three during the first dive, slowly drifting along with the current.
The second dive was a wall dive along the island's northern shore, and we again slowly drifted along two dive sites. One of the highlights was a large school of jack fish, which was circling in the clear, sun-lit waters. We also saw a huge stonefish, and countless other fish (Moorish idol, parrot fish, trigger fish, sweet lips, and many others...)
We've spent the afternoon on the beach, with massages, some drinks and a nice dinner. Great!
On Monday we went for a tour in Bohol's inlands. The first stop was at a Dr Egos, a local vet, to find out what would be the fate of the two sick baby cats we've found. They suffered from bad diarrhea and dehydration, and they would probably have died in a matter of days without proper care. We asked the vet if they could still be saved, and we could do with them afterwards. Luckily, he believed that a few injections and some good care would fix them up in a couple of days, and he even knew some people that were interested in adopting kittens. We sincerely hope they'll pull through and find good new owners!
Later, after a brief stops at some of Bohol's 400-year old churches, we arrived at one of the most recognizable sights of the Philippines: the famous Chocolate Hills. This is a group of 1,268 hills of 40-120m high, covered in grass and bushes, and reaching as far as the eye can see (the vegetation turns brown in autumn, giving the hills their name). They used to be coral reefs, which were gradually lifted up and eroded to its current shape. The views were fantastic - it looked like a scene from the Lord of the Rings!
After a quick lunch by the river side, we went on to the Tarsier Sanctuary. The tarsier is a small, very cute animal, with huge eyes (bigger than its brain or stomach!). It's related to the lemur and the slow loris, and is an endangered species due to habitat destruction and pet trade. It fits in the palm of your hand, can rotate its head 360 degrees, and can jump up to five meters to catch bugs for breakfast. It's an adorable little animal, and the sanctuary takes good care of them. Unfortunately, there are many shops and restaurants around Loboc that show tarsiers in cages. This is a horrible practice, as the tarsiers often die quickly from boredom and malnutrition. But the owners don't worry - they just catch a fresh one to show to the tourists...
The afternoon program was the same as before - swimming, sunbathing, massage, drinks and dinner on the beach... with a bit more sunbathing on Tuesday morning.
One thing is for sure: we'll go back to Bohol one day... for many more days!
For more pictures, click here.