After flying from Boracay to Cebu (and pay more taxes and other fees to get out), we took a fast ferry to Bohol, one of the main island of the Visayas.
We arrived in Tagbilaran, Bohol’s capital, which is a big noisy commercial city with no other interest than being one of the only places to rent bikes on the island. We rented a couple of bikes for 2 days, and went on to explore the island.
Bohol is mainly known for its majestic chocolate hills. Those iconic grassy hillocks are 1268 almost identical hills, ranging from 40m to 120m, and result from the uplifting of ancient coral-reef deposits and erosion episodes. We had a funny drive through amazing sceneries and small villages in the mountains for an hour before reaching the hills.
One the way, we stopped at the Tarsier sanctuary, where we could observe those very small and crazy looking primate. With eyes 150 bigger than human in comparison of body-size relation, it is one of the world’s smallest primate and unfortunately an endangered species.
Our next stop was the Danao adventure park. Filipinos are not very good at giving directions (they just wave the direction but will not tell you when to turn, so we had to keep asking for Danao at every crossroad), we ended up driving for almost 2 hours on a dirt road in very poor condition in the middle of the mountains, with some very steep slopes to tackle.
The drive was far from being easy, but the scenery rewarding
Danao was a bit of a deception: almost all of the thrill-seeking activities we wanted to do were closed (such as a 75m free-fall: how cool does that sound?!). We comforted ourselves with a 500m-long zip-line crossing a canyon, and the view was truly beautiful.
As there was no point in staying longer in Danao, we took the road to get closer to Anda beach to spend our second day there. Half an hour after leaving, the back tire of one of the bikes got punctured.
Fortunately, we are now flat tires troopers, and we quickly found a nice farmer who indicated us a repair shop.
It took an hour and night was already there, so we chose to stay in the next town we got in. That was a great call, as we found a small lodging house for Filipinos: we were the first foreigner they ever accommodated. It was an amazing opportunity to discover more about Filipino’s family way of living and we had a great discussion on the price of life with the owner.
On the next morning, rain was pouring outside so we decided to skip the beach and go back directly to Tagbilaran. The 2 hours drive under the rain was definitely not pleasant and we arrived soaked up in water… just when the rain stopped and the sun was starting to shine!
Siquijor is a small island between Negros and Bohol and was a 3-hours ferry ride away from Tagbilaran. It is known by the Filipinos as “the Mystic Island”, as it used to be famous for its mountain-dwelling shamans using white magic to heal people. We stayed in a beautiful hotel right on the beach with a fantastic view from the room. The owner and his sons were very welcoming and helpful, and it was a really peaceful and relaxing place to stay in.
The view from our bungalow
Siquijor is very small and the tour of the island (a 72-km sealed road) can be done in only one day. We rented two bikes to go around the island.
First stop, some cliff jumping. This jump was about 12-meters high, and we almost needed shoes as entering the water was quite painful
The school of Lazi village
We made our way to some beautiful waterfalls…
…that I had to jump!
At the end of the day, we decided to cut through the mountains in the middle of the island to come back to the hotel before dark.
That was without taking into account Filipino’s way of giving direction, and we did quite a detour from the shortest way. As we were about to get out of the mountains, we had yet another flat tire with one of our bikes, not reparable this time. Long story short, we ended up having the two bikes breaking down within the same hour, and had to find a tricycle to go back to the hotel. We’ll give you the full story in the next post, there is some funny details to it.
Our last destination in the Philippines was Apo Island, a tiny 72-hectar volcanic island 25 km south of Negros with less than 750 inhabitants. We took a ferry from Siquijor to Dumaguete (Negros capital), and then a small Bangka on an agitated sea for one hour to reach the island.
We arrived right at sunset, when some villagers were practicing drums on the beach for an upcoming party: enchanting.
The hotel was also a great surprise: it was right on the beach and our room had a small balcony with an incredible view on the sea. We slept both night with the balcony doors opened, soothed by the sound of the waves and waking up to see the sea from the bed. It was truly amazing.
But we really discovered the magic of Apo Island on the next day. After a quick walk around the island to check out the lighthouse up on the hill, the village, and a small deserted beach, we went snorkeling.
When underwater, we had the pleasant surprise to meet with an incredible number of sea turtles living close to the island. We saw more than 15 each on 2 days… with a high score of 5 at the same time hold by Thomas. Swimming with turtles was a fantastic experience and was making it hard to leave the water.
Selfie with a turtle
This sea snake is one of the most dangerous of the world and its bite is deadly. Scary.
Coming back to Negros, we spend one day in Dumaguete and took a trip to the impressive Casaroro Falls. The Yolanda typhoon had destroyed the path, so we had to make our way to the falls climbing small rocks and crossing the small river a couple of time. It was the only time in our trip we saw any damages from the typhoon.
The bridge and the path were destroyed, but that was just adding fun to the walk
We are now flying to Bangkok, were we need to stay a couple of days to get our visa to Myanmar.