Philippines Day 2: Chocolate Hills & Tiny Tarsiers

6:03am: 6am morning call cri. Breakfast of sautéed octopus, corned beef hash (the only other two protein-heavy dishes at the breakfast buffet besides eggs), bread pudding, and fruit for breakfast before we set out for the ferry terminal. Merry day after Christmas y'all

8:08am boarding our ferry to Bohol island. Why our tour guides made us report to the lobby at 7am, when the terminal is a ten minute drive from our hotel, is beyond me. Excited to catch a glimpse of the Philippines tarsier–one of the world's smallest primates, second to maybe the mouse lemur. They're nocturnal though, and hide in burrows close to the ground during the day, so chances of an actual tarsier sighting today are slim. Today's #OOTD: tropical halter dress, gladiator sandals, and backup sneakers in my trusty Kånken. 

1:13pm back on the bus after lunch above the water in a floating restaurant :) we paused at the riverbank to watch some traditional Visayan folk dancing and I joined them for a bit of Tinikling. Who knew my 5th grade cultural dance lessons would come in handy? 

2:26pm hiked up a short 200 hundred steps to see the Chocolate Hills from a popular vantage point. These limestone mounds, whose surfaces are hospitable to only grass, are named after the color that the grass turns during the dry season. There are about 1,260 of these hills around Bohol. Too bad these hills aren't actually made of chocolate. (tangent: when I first read Charlie & the Chocolate Factory and later watched the movie, I so desperately wished that chocolate waterfalls and chocolate milk cows existed.) 

Fun fact: the Chocolate Hills are featured in Harry Potter 2! +100 points to your favorite House if you can name the scene of their appearance.

{UPDATE: after extensive googling, I think the tour guide was lying bc there's no mention of when the hills are actually featured. maybe he meant that tarsiers were the inspiration for dobby's character in Chamber of Secrets. unclear.} 

2:34pm next stop: a tarsier sanctuary. A couple years ago, tourists could pay money to take pictures with the primates on their shoulders or cup them in their hands. To prevent stressing these lil fellas out, this isn't practiced anymore. At dusk, the tarsiers roam out in the wild. The keepers transfer a few into makeshift treehouses for visitors to observe during the day. 

Facts about the Philippines tarsier:

  • In the wild, they can live upwards of 20 to 30 years. In domestic environments, they live for as little as 3 months. Tarsiers have been known to commit suicide, in captivity, by hanging their necks between two branches :( 
  • Tarsiers can turn their heads 180°
  • Tarsiers are neither monkeys nor marsupials. 

3:11pm successful tarsier sighting! Multiple sleepy lil floofs up in the branches. 

{fyi you can click on the photos to enlarge em}

3:45pm I just ate a dried mealworm after making a deal with Coco that if she ate one, I would eat one. Tastes like dried edamame. AhWei, our other tour guide, followed up our mealworm sample with packs of dried mango, which he's selling as a side hustle, among other things like blue noni soap, extra virgin coconut oil, and natural sea sponges. 

7:48pm Buffet-style Chinese food for dinner + some classic Filipino desserts aka flan and rice cakes, I'm about this. 

9:41pm sped walked from our hotel to the mall so we could buy "souvenirs" from the supermarket before it closed. Ended up with a $50 haul of mostly dried mango strips and coconut chips, plus a jar of nata de coco thrown in as a treat for myself cause those chewy jello cubes are the