The day begins at the Tagbilaran airport, a small one-room (+ comfort rooms) airport in Bohol's capital city. The young woman at the tourist desk offers a binder listing accommodation options. She suggests a one-day tour package that includes all the major land-based tourist sites. I accept.
First stop is at the "blood compact" monument where Miguel Lopez de Legazpi of Spain and Rajah Sikatuna of Bohol signed what is considered the first treaty of friendship between different ethnicities, religions, cultures and civilizations on 16 March 1565. The blood compact part entails mixing a few drops of each man's blood in a cup of wine and drunk by both men.The visit should be a somber experience, but the hot sun, warm sea breeze and vendors hawking overpriced souvenirs is jarringly incongruous.
|Blood compact site|
|Bell tower of the historical Baclayon Catholic Church|
|The old man's face and bushy beard on the left-hand side only appears through the camera's lens (not with the naked eye)|
|Floating restaurant on the Loboc River|
|Lizard eying tourists at the Tarsier Centre|
|Sleep-deprived tarsiers subjected to yet another camera-happy tourist (including yours truly)|
|A caterpillar crawls along my bracelet|
|Pulsing chrysalis in the garden (when you touch it, it wiggles)|
|Butterfly pupae at various stages of development (collected from the butterfly garden)|
|Butterfly feeding on nectar in the butterfly garden|
Between the towns of Loboc and Bilar lies a two kilometer stretch of densely planted mahogany trees whose long limbs arch gracefully over the highway. The trees were planted to stem erosion of the steep hills lining the road. Every year groups plant more mahogany trees (no other species of vegetation). The forest a popular site for roadside picnics and movie backdrops. The atmosphere is remarkably similar to that of Vancouver Island's Cathedral Grove.
|Admiring the "man-made forest"|
|Chocolate Hills (during the summer they're brown like Hershey Kisses)|
|A rainbow arches over the Chocolate Hills after a light afternoon rain|
With a lighter wallet and a heavier backpack, my tour of Bohol ends.