Friday

Planning our travels through the Philippines turned out to be a lot more difficult than I had thought it would be. With over 7000 islands, and each promising something unique and better than the last, it proved an impossible task to narrow the choices down enough to accommodate a 12 day schedule. Eventually we settled on four nights in Malapascua, four in Bohol, and four on Palawan (which honestly is a place deserving of 12 nights by itself). Everyone raved about Bohol. Between the beach, the zip-lining, the Chocolate hills, the Loboc river with its own assortment of activities, it seemed there would be something for anyone. A friend recommended a little place out in the middle of the jungle that she said had been a blast. So I planned a couple nights there, and since Fletch had to have internet for his Wednesday night work, we had decided to stay on Alona beach for the first couple of nights.

Friday was the day we were set to head into the Jungle, but since we were enjoying the company of our Dutch friends and having good fun, we decided to prolong the journey inland and spend one last day exploring the Alona Beach area with them.

After a leisurely breakfast, Fletch and I packed up our bags and deposited them in Ian and Suzanne’s room for the day, then checked out. On our way across the street to rent bikes, we caught a glimpse of the elderly gentleman we had bumped into the previous night. He had been all smiles and stumbling about with a ladyboy hooker on his arm. He had been trying to find his room, room #1. Ian had eagerly jumped right in and guided him in the correct direction while the rest of us laughed ourselves silly. Santa Claus and a ladyboy wearing fake, nerdy, schoolgirl glasses. That one I hadn’t seen before. We had to wonder if the old man realized that she wasn’t actually a she. He was jovial either way. This morning his face didn’t give away any indication as to whether or not he had enjoyed his night.

The bikes we got were similar to Clicks, and cost 500 pesos for eight hours. We probably could have bargained them down but the price seemed fair. Fletch was still at the front desk checking out so I took the bike for a quick spin around the lot to test it out. It was so much fun to be back on a scooter again! I’ve missed scooters.

We went into the colorful little city of Tagbilaran first to get tickets for Ian and Suzanne’s ferry trip back to Cebu. They hadn’t realized there was an airport in Tagbilaran, and already booked flights to Manila from Cebu.

Tricycle in the city. 

Then we headed towards the Tarsier Sanctuary. Bohol has two places where you can go see the world’s tiniest primates. One is a sanctuary, that basically just puts a massive fence around their natural habitat. The other place cages up the little tarsiers and lets you hold them, which depresses the poor critters and leads them to commit suicide. Tarsiers are one of the few animals known to commit suicide, which they do by bashing their heads against their cages. Please don’t support those kinds of places.

On the dirt road leading up to the sanctuary, there were countless signs asking visitors to please remain quiet, and so the place had a very tranquil atmosphere surrounding it. We paid the 100 peso per person entrance fee, and then quietly followed a girl through a large gate. She expertly led us along a narrow path through thick trees, knowing exactly where each little tarsier was located. The first one took me completely by surprise; it was even tinier than I had imagined! It could have easily fit in the palm of my small hand. With massive eyes, it looked at us quizzically. Well-defined, pin-sized fingers and toes wrapped themselves securely around the tree branch. What a cutie. I couldn’t take my eyes away. 

Just look at his little toes!

This is his sexy face.

Peek-a-boo!

Too cute. 

Our guide led us along the path, weaving through trees as we went, to several more spots where she pointed out the little, knobby-toed primates. Ten minutes later our tour was over, and we were left in a little museum area where a couple of tarsier sculls and some information posters were housed.

Fun facts about the tarsier:
  • They are nocturnal animals and should not be disturbed at day time.
  • They commit suicide during captivity due to trauma from touching, noise, and light. 
  • They have one of the slowest fetal growth rates of any mammal, taking 6 months to reach a birth weight of 23 grams. 
  • They are solitary and territorial animals. 
  • Tarsier eyes are 150 times bigger than humans relative to body size. 
  • The tarsier can rotate its head 180 degrees. 
  • The tarsier can jump up to 5 meters, and uses its on tail for balance. 
  • A single tarsier needs at least a hectare of space per individual. 
  • They don’t belong in cages. 

As we drove back into town we started looking for one of the Buzz Cafe’s locations that we had remembered seeing there. Then decided to find an atm first. Finding an atm proved to be an easy enough task. The difficulty was finding one that worked. When several atms in a row all failed to produce any money, Ian and Suzanne started walking into banks in hopes of exchanging their euros. I would have thought that the euro was one of the world’s most traveled with currencies, but for some reason many of the exchange places only offered to exchange US dollars. So our search took a little while, during which we stopped at a stand on the side of the road for some freshly roasted, hot, slated peanuts.

When Suzanne and Ian accomplished their goal, we decided to skip the Buzz Cafe location we had been looking for and just go straight to the main source, the Bee Farm. It was supposed to be a cool place to see.

Navigating on the iPhone from the back of Fletch’s bike, I finally got us to the correct dirt road, and we drove into a charming little farm area. Greenhouses of every herb and vegetable imaginable surrounded us. Before too long we came to the small row of processing and manufacturing rooms, and then the store front, and beyond the space where the bikes were allowed, we found the rest of the facilities.


Bohol Bee Farm Pool

Herb Garden

The Bee Farm proved to be a charming little hillside area, and the four of us were all a little disappointed that we had not stayed there, but we enjoyed the time we had and made our way from the restaurant situated on the edge of a cliff, down a winding staircase, to a little deck area at the base where a lounge area, bar, and the dive shop were all basking in the sun. We ordered a round of drinks, beers for everyone else and a cinnamon mango rum concussion for me, and sat down on a little bench to soak in the view. We could see the island where we had been diving the day previous, and listened with amusement as snorkelers jumped off the dock with concern. A rather large man was expressing his hope to the rest of his group that the swells in the water weren’t big enough to cover their snorkels. 

Sign Post

Dive Shop

When the drinks were empty, we wound our way back up the wooden staircase to the restaurant, and sat overlooking the ocean for lunch. Just as before, they brought us out a round of complimentary squash bread with mango and herb spreads. They also brought us a plate of cassava chips with homemade green salsa. Both were gone within seconds, and sent us running to the store looking for the packaged versions a little later. We each ordered our own plate of lumpia, and received three each of the fresh spring roll like creations, drizzled with a sweet, delicious peanut butter sauce. I had to use every last lettuce leaf that had been laid down for presentation to soak up every little bit of the delightful taste.

For a main course I ordered a fish taco. It arrived in a cassava shell, shaped like a cornucopia. The blue marlin was perfectly cooked and juicy and the slaws and salsas that accompanied it were enough to make me question if I should order another despite how full I was. I didn’t. But it was on my mind.

We leisurely toured around the shop, buying up another assortment of muffins and spreads, before making our way back to the bikes and beginning the ride back to the main part of Alona Beach where we were staying. We made a few wrong turns, which at one point looked like it may have lead to a nice point on the map, but the road dead ended where a couple of kids were playing on a giant mound of dirt. We pulled out the iPhones to right our way, then managed to get the bikes back right on time, and say our goodbyes to our new friends before making our way into the jungle.

Travel Tips:
  • We rented bikes across the street from Alona Beach for 500 pesos each for 8 hours. We didn’t haggle the price, and so probably could have gotten them lower, but at the same time the guy didn’t even glance at the bikes when we returned them. Always take plenty of pictures before driving away with a bike. Lots of places like to charge for scratches at the end of the day. 
  • If you want to see the tarsiers, go to the Philippine Tarsier Sanctuary as opposed to the Loboc sanctuary. The Philippine Tarsier Sanctuary does its best to let the primates live in a habitat that is as close to their natural one as possible. They also limit visitor numbers and ban flash photography. The same cannot be said for the Loboc “sanctuary.” The entry fee is 100 pesos per person. 
  • Travel with plenty of Philippine pesos or USD as atms are not stocked that frequently and currency exchange offices on Bohol tend to only switch US money. 
  • The Bee Farm is definitely worth a visit with its relaxed, farm-like atmosphere, beautiful views, delicious restaurant, and shop carrying all of their products. Apparently tours start every hour or so, but we didn’t make one.