Asgad IV, we continue towards Cebu

The remainder of the afternoon was very low key.  I walked over to a local household and watched people playing Tongit, a Philippine card game.  I had been taught the game the night before and was no longer confused about the rules.  Time passed.  Went on a walk and found a tennis game to watch.  The court is right on the beach, and the wind plays havoc with slower shots.

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You can see the waves breaking in the background.  One young man volunteered to score and referee, he sat in the scoring chair and turned wooden blocks to keep track of games and sets.  Time passed.

Then I returned to the house and watched a movie on HBO, How to Train Your Dragon.   More time passed.  We ate dinner, then Praxy went down the road to visit a family that had gathered over the death of a loved one.  I lounged the evening away, then went looking for Praxy.  She was busy talking to old friends and catching up on their world.  I fell asleep that night under the watchful eyes of the toko in the rafters above our bed.

Next morning, up early to catch the one and only jeepney at 6 am.  Off we went, I hope I return some day to renew the friendships that I made in Asgad.  2 hours later we were in Guiaun, at the Van Van’s station looking for a van to Tacloban.  We had to buy an extra seat for our two luggages, and we were off.  On Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride II.  Our driver was a maniac, I was on the edge of my seat all the way.  The only thing comforting about the ride was that there was another van in front of us going faster.  We were drifting on the corners and the tires squalled a little occasionally.  The other van would slowly pull away, then we would catch it when it stopped for passengers.  Good thing the roads weren’t wet. 

Obviously we made it safely to Tacloban and we found a nice motel for the night.  I was ready for a hot shower and air conditioning.  

Another next morning, this one in Tacloban.  We were up early again, and down to the Van Van’s station.  We started out going to Bato, but changed our minds when we heard the condition of the ferries from Bato to Bohol.  A change of vans and we were off to Ormoc to catch a Fastcat ferry.  This driver was fast, but sane.  We made good time and got to Ormoc in plenty of time to catch the Fastcat to Cebu. 

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The inside of a very modern and comfortable fast catamaran.  (I tried to get a photo of the outside, but nothing turned out for one reason or another.  I’ll try again when we leave Tagbilaran.)  If we were lucky, we could catch the next Fastcat to Tagbilaran.  Which we did.  On the way, we asked some of the locals where to stay in Tagbilaran.  One guy suggested the El Portal motel, so we decided to give it a try.  Another suggestion for a motel in the downtown area sounded very expensive.

The El Portal was very nice.  We stayed a night, then decided to spend three more nights.  The price is right at $22 and the rooms are excellent for that price.  About the only complaint I have is with the ants.  But I’ve had ant problems at better accommodations than this!  We goofed around for one day after the rather hectic trip from Tacloban to Tagbilaran, taking in an old Catholic church, the local mall, and I got a hair cut.  It was also time for laundry, we found a little laundry a short walk away. 

We decided to take a Bohol tour the following day.  At $2000 pesos for the two of us, the price was reasonable.  If we could have found more people, the price would have been split up.  Our bad luck. 

First stop was the “Blood Compact” between the Spaniards and the locals.  It was a sort of a peace ritual.

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Next up on the tour, the second oldest church in the Philippines.  This place is huge!

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There was a children’s mass going on, so I didn’t get to look around as closely as I wished. 

Next stop was a snake farm.  Praxy asked me later if I touched any.  She hates snakes, so I was vague on my answer…

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I guess you could say I touched one.  Then, more fun!

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This smaller python was a real hand full.  It wanted nothing more than to go back to its comfortable perch on the sticks behind me and was very insistent about trying to get away and return to its nap.  Even a snake this size is quite strong, the weather was warm enough that the snake was quite active.  It almost got a loop around my neck, but I was on to that trick and didn’t allow it.  The handler saw that I knew what I was doing and laughed as I struggled to control 6 feet of sleep deprived and determined python.  I didn’t want to piss it off, so I let it head back.  It calmed quickly when it realized I was letting go back to bed.

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The big boa was a cinch.  It never even awoke as I leaned on it and the handler shot the picture.  They breathe very slowly, the rise and fall under my left had felt very odd.  The smaller snake eats once a week, this bigger one gets a whole chicken every night.

The place that had the super large snake had been closed down by the government.  Seems they were behind on their taxes.  I was surprised, tax collection seems kind of lax around here to me.

Next was the highlight of the day, the tarsier refuge in central Bohol.

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The last time I was in Bohol, the “refuge” was a little collection of cages along the Loboc river.  The new reserve is large, I think the girl said 30 hectares of land.  All is closed in with netting to protect the little tarsiers from rats and cats.  They are quite endangered.  The tarsiers are free to roam within their enclosure.  The tourist area is less than 1/2 hectare.  They are not molested by humans excepting for caretakers that monitor the wellbeing of their miniature charges.

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The world’s smallest primate, they would easily fit in your hand.  You can tell by the large eyes that they are nocturnal, feeding on insects and worms.  This was the only one that woke up long enough for me to get a good picture.

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This is a picture of a tarsier doing what they do best during the daytime, sleeping.  We were led through the area, the guide pointing out tarsiers here and there.  They are territorial, so they return to the same area each day to sleep.  Boxes are constructed and placed in the favorite area for each little animal.  Most of the tarsiers were in their little boxes, safe from rain and predators.  And people.  Speaking of people…

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Good thing they are safe from me!

I remember back to the last trip, you could purchase a cricket and feed it to a tarsier.  It was fun to watch them eat the cricket.  They munched on it much like you or I would eat a carrot.

Off to the Chocolate Hills.  The Chocolate Hills is an area of upraised seabed.  The reefs formed the odd little mountains that was visible today.  Drive up a short steep road.  Walk up these steps.

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And look around…

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We were ducking rain showers the whole time we were on the top of the hills.  The background was horrible, white and blurry with rain showers and very bright.  I struggled to get decent pictures.

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This is a typical “Chocolate Hill”.  They are green during the rainy season, turning brown in the dry season.  Nothing grows on the hills other than grass and ground cover plants.  The land is not fertile and not tilled.  The official number of hills is 1268.

Time for lunch.  The only place to eat lunch in this area is on one of the floating restaurants on the Loboc river, about 15 miles from the Chocolate Hills.

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The food and scenery are great.  There were a couple of singers on board and we stopped briefly for some folk dances and singing by some locals.

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They clacked the sticks together and the two dancers stepped lively to keep from getting tripped.  A fun dance to watch.  I took some video, I’ll add it after I get home and post it on youtube with a link from Facebook.

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Praxy had a great time.  We have a new memory together, the Loboc river lunch cruise.   Price is right, 750 pesos for lunch and cruise for both of us.

Last stop was at a souvenir stand near Tagbilaran.  I sorted through the items and found some locally made items to install in my man cave in Pomeroy.   A little stuffed tarsier on a twig that hangs on the wall, and a piece of bamboo with seeds in it that makes it into a noise maker. 

Tomorrow we are visiting Panglao island.

01/11/2012   6:30pm


About Ken

I am a federal employee that loves to travel. I don't get any time off during the busy salmon tagging season, March through November. So, I save my leave and explore the warmer parts of the world during the winter.
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