Third time’s the charm – I’ve heard that a lot. I was lucky to experience that magic as well. Bohol, the third island we visited here in the Philippines, was terrific! Even though no one had ever recommended Bohol to us as one of the islands to visit, I can say I liked it the most so far. I found it so because of the attractions and the views we experienced. We didn’t even have time to swim in the sea during our short holiday there. That means a lot because rushing to the water is always the first thing we do in new places in the Philippines.
I loved the tarsiers – the smallest primates in the world. When we came to their place, everybody found the carnivorous little creatures so cute. I had even to speak very sharply to several Chinese tourists who rudely got in the way of my picture-taking. Tarsiers’ large, staring eyes, which weighed more than their stomachs and brains combined, seemed to never blink and looked even more watchful when they spun their heads all the way around. Isn’t that amazing?
I was eager to handle this small creature for a few pictures on Facebook. But later, after hearing their sad story, I regretted that selfish wish of mine. Their population in the Philippines has dwindled. That’s not just because of their low birth rates, but mostly because of opportunists who catch and keep them for profit. Tarsiers are wild animals and can’t live long in captivity, but some locals don’t care about that. Filipinos need to provide their families with food and those small creatures are a good attraction for such tourists like me. Travelers are usually willing to pay for the lovely photos of and with tarsiers.
But don’t be too quick to blame me. Robertas and I went to the proper Tarsier Conservation Area. We never even got to touch them, and there was no mistreatment involved. Unless you count Robertas comparing my eyes to theirs.
Another memory that I will always treasure is the very unique tour guide-slash-entertainer. We met that person at the python and butterfly park.
We encountered them right after we entered the gate. The cheerfully swinging hips and wide, welcoming smile from afar made us think our guide would be a lady. When we walked up to the person, the sideburns, thick, muscular legs, and the face shape reminded me of a man. But the long, polished nails, red lips, flowing dark hair, and flowery dress reinforced our first impression. She asked where we were from and, after hearing the name of Lithuania, surprised us with a very confident and expressive LABAS (which means ‘hello’ in Lithuanian). She showed us all the birds she took care of at the park and even introduced them by name: Britney Spears, Brad Pitt, Leonardo, and others. Later, she showed off her ability to imitate the animal sounds. Thanks to her, we spent most of her part of the tour giggling. We enjoyed ourselves so much that, after the whole thing was over, we looked for the lady again to take a photo for the memory. She agreed enthusiastically and said she was truly honored by my request. The lady-whom-we-thought-was-a-man suggested we also make a video, in addition to the pictures, and it was great fun. I think it would be unfair to call what she did just dancing. There was a lot of hip movement, lip-pouting, and very inviting looks towards Robertas (I think he enjoyed them).
When we walked up to the person, the sideburns, thick, muscular legs, and the face shape reminded me of a man. But the long, polished nails, red lips, flowing dark hair, and flowery dress reinforced our first impression.
After her “performance”, though, the mood became a little more serious. At first, she seemed bizarre, funny, and very unusual, so part of us wanted to tease her a little. But after she opened her heart and told us a bit more about herself, I started to understand how hard things must be for her and it touched me. The person was kind, sincere, and good, and the stories about how people always jeer and make fun of her made us quite sad. To me, she seemed like someone unable to find her place under the sun in this world. Back on our rented motorbike, we kept quiet for a while. Each of us with our thoughts about our unique tour guide and her story.
Our days in Bohol were colored by different shades of happiness. We blissfully played under the small waterfalls, took a boat through a mint-colored river, and tried ziplining above the forests. I also defeated my fear of snakes when I Robertas made me hold a massive python in my hands.
Our favorite part of the trip, though, was without a doubt the famous Bee Farm. From the number of people there when we arrived, it was clear that we weren’t the only ones who’d heard about it. Their ice cream did taste like the best in all the Philippines and I will definitely be back the next time my sweet tooth demands their amazing mango-peanut butter shakes. And if you ever get the chance to go there, I very strongly recommend trying their sweets (and the rest of their menu, too!).
We flew back to Manila full of delicious food, positive energy, and awesome memories. We did leave the Chocolate Hills and Bohol’s mysterious caves for another trip, so we’ll surely be back to visit them!