The Adventures of The Roving Route #9
It's nice to finally be back to island life! Yes, we know that the entirety of the Philippines is just a series of islands, but there is something "mainland-ish" about a million-person city. Just a short 2-hour ferry ride from Cebu City is the island of Bohol and its neighboring Panglao Island. These two islands are where we have spent the past week (and will spend a bit of next week).
As we are just a short distance from a major tourist hub, it's no surprise to see the numerous resorts that dot the shoreline. Our time was split between the local streets of downtown Tagbilaran City and a peaceful apartment not far from the beach on Panglao. Apart from the pristine beaches, they are famous for the Chocolate Hills and the Philippine Tarsiers. While both of us can only hope there is a spot in the world that is actually a hill made of chocolate, we had to settle for the second-best option. Formed by eroding limestone over millennia, what you see today is hundreds of small hills that magically pop out of the surrounding landscape. During the dry season, the once lush hilltops die leaving a dark brown colour that resembles a Hershey's Kiss! Though the dry season is still months away, the brown color has already started to show through making us ever hungry for chocolate!
To get up to the Chocolate Hills, public transportation takes a long time so we opted to hire a private tricycle- the Filipino version of a taxi. Often brightly painted and always repping at least one quote from the bible, we took off towards the Chocolate Hills.
On our way, we stopped off at the less known (but ethically better) of the two Tarsier Sanctuaries on the island. Tarsiers are one of the smallest primates in the world and have the largest eye to body ratio of any mammal! It is truly impossible for you to understand how small they actually are until you see them! Hidden among the many trees of the partially enclosed areas were these fist-sized primates waiting for night to come so they could feast. Along with our guide and numerous spotters we were able to find about a half dozen of them. They are actually so small that many were using simple leaves as their primary shade for the day! Like many other strange animals, they have more unique abilities then you could imagine. They can rotate their heads all the way around, move their massive eyes independently, jump over 10 feet, and even have the largest gestation period for birth weight (6 months for 27 grams!). Severe loss of habitat and the pet industry has reduced the entire population down to just a few thousand so it is sanctuaries like these that are so important to keep them alive!
Finally came the time to experience what makes the Philippines world-famous - the beaches! Heading across the bridge to Panglao, the blue color of the water cannot be explained without seeing it for yourself. Even the blue waters surrounding Sicily (our previous bluest waters) are trumped by the aquamarine and turquoise we see here. The water is also unbelievably clear! Swimming out to the sandbars is a surreal experience as it almost feels and looks as if you are floating over the sandy bottom.
As a nice reprieve to the pork and rice that have become our staple here, we found a cute Thai place just up the street. After a nice feast, we wondered home to stumble across the owner of our guesthouse hosting a birthday party. We were invited in instantly but turned down the offer until we noticed the entire pig sitting on the table. As the local delicacy, we unbuckled our pants and took on the challenge of a second dinner. Along with crab, shrimp, conch, and finally some veggies, the company was perfect. The small kids were as cute as could be and the hospitality is unmatched. Anyone who says Canadians are the nicest clearly has never been to the Philippines!
We have always thought that Kenora had nice sunsets, but once again Canada has been shown up by this small island. The sunset we viewed on the busy main drag was one of the best we have ever seen and kept changing over time. Over an hour-long, the ever-changing red, orange, and purple sky was the perfect ending to our week!
We plan to stay at this cute apartment on Panglao Island for a few more days and then continue our adventures into the lush waterfall filled area in the south of Cebu Island. The next time we talk Jacki will be a whole year older and celebrating her champagne birthday!
Cheers from Panglao, The Roving Route