I’ve always said one of my top things to do in a new country at least once is jump on a scooter and just go for a day. It was my third day in the Philippines, checking into Panglao Island, Bohol the day prior. There is a ton of day trips taking people around the island seeing more or less the same sights I was on my way to see, but it’s always better from the back of a bike. A sense of freedom, stop here and there, detour this way and get lost that way. Navigating a new place is half the fun. There is always more excitement awaiting you.
Nice and early the group of us rented scooters and were off. It had been a little while since I was on a semi-auto, well scooter of any sort and with a passenger to boot. It’s honestly as easy as, well riding a bike. It’s an expression for a reason. Something you don’t really forget, especially when I learned in India it was initiation by fire. Join in with experienced riders and keep up. Crossing the bridge from Panglao to Bohol, the scenery was already capturing my attention. This island was stunning. Once through the small city of Tagbilaran the countryside opened up. Lush tropical forest enveloped the road, rice paddies to either side as we slowly rose in elevation. The shades of green so vibrant from lime to emerald to jungle.
First stop the Tarsier Sanctuary outside the small town of Corella. Unfortunately this little guy is on the endangered species list, so I couldn’t pass up a chance to see them. Oddly cute with their bulgy eyes the size of their brains, thin spindly fingers resembling that of an alien. They could have sat in the palm of my hand. Active at night free to leave the sanctuary at will, the staff go searching every morning somehow spotting them camouflaged into the trees in which they sleep the day away. It is always nice to learn a bit about an animal in need of preservation and that there are places like this to help with the protection of them.
I initially wanted to stop in Loboc, a small town on the way to our end destination to see the church there. Due to the 2013 earthquake it took on a lot of damage and was undergoing some serious construction with scaffolding scaling the sides. Hungry and just in time a river cruise was about to take off. Down a stream of turquoise an hour long riverboat fantasy without the cocaine kisses and moonshine misses. Instead, a buffet with bottomless flower crab along with numerous other dishes. My main focus at this point was eating as much crab as possible. A short stop for a serenading with traditional song and dance, then back to dock.
I got back on my bike to notice my first flat tire. It was bound to happen eventually after riding in so many countries. Luckily ‘vulcanizing’ shops are nearly everywhere and I hadn’t made it out of Loboc. A quick repair and onwards we went. The road slowly became more steep and windy as we drew closer to the town of Carmen. Through the man made mahogany forest, by rice paddies and open fields, this island truly was a paradise.
Approaching Carmen the hills began to take shape to our sides. An arduous climb up to the viewpoint and the Chocolate Hills, what I ultimately came to see laid out before my eyes as far as I good see. At this time of year, the hills were coated in light green pastures as if dusted in matcha. Apparently 1268 of these odd landforms, legend says they are the calcified tears of a giant whose heart was broken by the death of a mortal lover. Who needs reality when myths are always so much better? I prefer letting my imagination run with them. I could have stared out at this view for hours. All I wanted to do was venture out and camp amongst this setting.
The sun began to sink, so unfortunately I had to peel my eyes away and hit the road into the glowing blaze before me. Back the way we had come, a fiery orange burned yet another phenomenal day into my mind. Crossing the bridge back to Panglao Island just as the sun was disappearing, the only thing left to do to cap the night off was dinner and a couple drinks at Alona Beach.
Tip – Take the extra day I wish I had on the bike and venture out to Anda Beach, apparently more beautiful and definitely quieter than the famous Alona Beach
The multiple waterfalls throughout Bohol. A couple of the more popular ones are Mag-Aso and Kawasan Falls