PHILIPPINES: Our memorable one-week stay in Bohol (Itineraries and Reviews) ❤ – Day 2

The Countryside Tour is probably the most famous itinerary when in Bohol. There is a set of tours one can choose from —  Island-hopping? Firefly watching? City Tours? And then, there’s the Countryside tour which covers most of the must-see attractions on the island. Ten sights in total, 7-8 hours of pure Bohol experience! Here’s Day 2 of our Bohol escapade 😉

Chocolate Hills in Bohol

We booked all our tours, including airport and seaport transportation service, with WOW Bohol Travel and Tours. I was in contact with three tour agencies, but Wow Bohol was the easiest to deal with. We spent PHP 10,090.00 for everything, all tours were private.

Kuya Jed was our tourguide/driver for the Countryside Tour. He picked us up from Scent of Green Papaya Resort on time, and off we went to our first stop. So, what are the inclusion of the Countryside Tour? Are all “attractions” worthy to be on the list?

Attraction #1. The Philippine Tarsier and Wildlife Sanctuary in Corella. We really appreciate that Kuya Jed tried to make our tour hassle-free and far from the crowd, as much as possible. So he drove as first and foremost to the tarsier sanctuary. The place was very quiet, and the staff were all busy doing their regular routine of keeping the santuary clean and green. The tarsiers are extremely shy and solitary primates! They do not like too much attentions, so we had to make the tour swift! We saw about five tarsiers, with help from one of the caretakers.

The Philippine Tarsier and Wildlife Sanctuary
The Philippine Tarsier and Wildlife Sanctuary

These cute mammals are endemic to Southeast Asia, with sightings on a few islands in the Philippines. Its name was derived from its elongated “tarsus” or ankle bone. The Philippine tarsier belongs to the genus Carlito, after the conservationist Carlito Pizarras.

Philippine Tarsier
Philippine tarsier
Philippine Tarsier

Attraction #2. The Bohol Man-made Forest in Bilar and Loboc. This man-made forest is the product of consistent effort by the local government of Bohol. Towering mahogany trees cover the 2-km stretch of road passing through the towns of Bilar and Loboc. It is possible to hike through the forest, getting up close and personal with the nature and wildlife. But for visitors doing the Countryside tour, only a quick stop for photo-taking is manageable. And oh, have I mentioned that it’s the only man-made forest in the Philippines? It might be very common for other countries to have man-made forests, but in PH, it’s apparently not. 😉

Carl & Maerose in Bohol
Bilar Man-made forest

Attraction #3. The Chocolate Hills in Carmen. These amazing geographical formation is a must-see in Bohol! You cannot say you had been on the island without seeing the hills. They’re called that way because in summer, too much heat causes the hills to appear brown, like.. mounds of chocolates. According to Wikipedia, there are at least 1,260 hills scattered across an area of more than 50 km2.

The steps to the viewing deck

A description of the Chocolate Hills can be found on the viewing deck: “The unique land form known as the Chocolate Holls of Bohol was formed ages ago by the uplift of coral deposits and the action of rain water and erosion.”

Carl & Maerose in Bohol
Chocolate Hills
Chocolate Hills
Chocolate Hills
Chocolate Hills, viewing deck
Chocolate Hills, opposite end

Attraction #4. The Bamboo Hanging Bridge in Sevilla. After visiting the Chocolate Hills in Carmen, we drove back towards the city and stopped over the bamboo hanging bridge in Sevilla. The bridge was originally made of just bamboo and ropes. But after it became a popular stop for tourists, the management strengthened the bridge with steel cables to ensure safety and stability. It was raining when we reached the bridge, so it was a bit slippery to cross. Nevertheless, we enjoyed the bit of thrill! The bridge spans 40 meters across the Sipatan River.

The bamboo hanging bridge
The bamboo hanging bridge
The bamboo hanging bridge

Attraction #5. Loboc River Cruise and Floating Restaurant. This is probably Carl’s favorite part of the trip. The cruise along the Loboc River aboard a floating restaurant was very relaxing, and amusing at the same time! Yes, it rained hard while we were cruising, but the food was good, the nature chill, and the live music on board was appealing! We stopped once to watch a cultural performance by the locals, and we also had fun watching kids jump off from the trees to the river! They did like the attention, too, being cheered up and applauded by the tourists passing by.

Loboc River cruise
Loboc River cruise
Loboc River cruise
Loboc River cruise
Loboc River cruise
Loboc River cruise
Loboc River cruise
Loboc River cruise
Loboc River cruise
Loboc River cruise
Loboc River cruise
Loboc River cruise
Loboc River cruise
Loboc River cruise

Attraction #6 & 7. The Xzootic Animal Park and Butterfly Garden in Loboc. Seriously, this is not an attraction! We didn’t like the place very much. We even wondered why it was on the tour’s itinerary. It needed a LOT of improvement, a LOT to fix, from the handling of the animals to cleanliness. They advertise the zoo by offering “python watching” and calling it home to the “biggest python in captivity”. We were excited to see the “biggest python”, but to our disappointment, the said python DIED in 2013 of an unknown cause. Yes, it’s DEAD, and what you can see in the zoo is its stuffed body displayed at the entrance.

The zoo also have a number of exotic animals kept in small steel cages, with nothing else but the cemented floor! The tourguide at the zoo forced us to go in the cage and pose with an albino python, despite our insistence that we didn’t want too. The civet cat was swimming in its poop. The macaque monkeys and the rest of the exotic animals in the small enclosures just looked upset and sad. Then, he took us to the butterfly garden, where he caught buterflies, holding them in their fragile wings, not just once but thrice! Butterflies are nice to look at, but they shouldn’t be touched, so as to avoid scraping off the scales on their wings.

And interestingly, the zoo boasted of air-conditioned toilets! Wtf, seriously? hahaha (sorry)

The largest python in captivity, DEAD.
A lone crocodile in a small cage with little water
Snakes in small steel cages
The poor civet cat
A catterpillar
Caterpillar
Caterpillar
An old box with butterfly pupa

Butterfly garden
Butterfly garden

The Countryside tour can survive without the Xzootic Zoo, imho. Or the management can fix the zoo, make it a real zoo, not just a set of enclosures seemingly exploiting animals by presenting them to tourists. We had been to many zoos and I know what  I’m talking about. You’d also probably read the same reviews online, but not on their facebook page. Their fb page is mostly superficial. Okay, I’d stop grunting now…

Attraction #8. The Baclayon Church and Museum. As of 2017, the Baclayon Church (La Purisima Concepcion de la Virgen Maria Parish Church), founded by the Jesuits in 1596, was still under renovation after it suffered major damage during the 7.2 magnitude earthquake in Bohol in 2013. And because of that, we were not able to see the interior nor visit the museum. All I can say is that, just like other old churches in the country, Baclayon was originally made out of coral stones.

The Baclayon Church, one fo the oldest churches in the Philippines
A monument in front of the Baclayon Church

Attraction #9. The Aproniana Souvenir Shop. Souvenirs are usually bought at the end of the tour, but since the shop was on the way before the last attraction, Kuya Jed dropped us there first. The shop was big and has a nice collection of souvenir shirts, summer clothes and bikinis, gift items, and delicacies. They also have the exotic chichaworm (crispy edible worms cultured and fed with organic foods, like fruits and vegetables).

At Aproniana Gift Shop
At Aproniana Gift Shop

Attraction #10. The Blood Compact/Sanduguan Site. This one is for history buffs. The shrine is a memorial symbolizing the friendship between the Filipinos and the Spaniards. In ancient times, friendships and negotiations were sealed by doing the sanduguan, where both parties draw blood from their arms and mix it with wine, and then they drink from both cups. History has it that the Spaniard, Miguel Lopez de Legazpi, and his crew reached Bohol in 1565. The locals of Bohol accepted them and the leaders, Legazpi and Datu Sikatuna, did the blood compact as a sign of peaceful friendship.

Just me at the Blood Compact Site
Blood Compact Site

There you have it! The 10 attractions included in the Countryside Tour. 🙂 We finished the tour at around 2pm. the advantage of having the trip private was that, we could ask the driver to drop by a convenience store before bringing us back to the hotel.

Later that day, I had mega-rashes all over my body. The allergy was so irritating and uncomfortable that we decided to go to the Poblacion Health Center on the third day. In addition to the rashes, I had puffy eyes when I woke up in the morning. The challenging part was finding the needed cream and antihistamine — we had to go all the way to Tagbilaran City to buy them from the drug store. We didn’t do much on the third day, we just relaxed and took it easy. The second day was overloaded with Bohol Countryside experience! Besides, we needed energy for our next activity!

This is all for now. Until the next entry! ❤

#spreadlove

Chocolate Hills

Overview of our Bohol itinerary:

  • Day 1 – Arrival
  • Day 2 – Countryside Tour
  • Day 3 – Medical Center, allergy-problems
  • Day 4 – Island Hopping
  • Day 5 – Alona Beach
  • Day 6 – Panglao Tour, Birthday celebration
  • Day 7 – Swimming at the resort
  • Day 8 – Tagbilaran port
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