Munching on Floral Salad at Bohol Bee Farm

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I intentionally left out Bohol Bee Farm and give it a one-liner sentence in the previous post, simply because I want to write at length about it.

I am not your ideal organic person for I’d love to go for red meats and junk food. But when everybody in the town talks about Bohol Bee Farm, I knew I had to go there to check for myself. I did not have to spare extra money to make this trip as it was included in countryside tour package for which I paid Php1,500.00 in total.

I arrived at Bohol Bee Farm at about 11.00a.m. After purchasing my entrance ticket (Php25), I had to wait for the tour to commence. There were two girls with head scarf waiting too. I knew it they must have been Malaysians by the way they dressed. True enough, they were Malaysians on their last week of work in Manila, thus a weekend escape to Bohol. As I marked my 5th day in Manila, it was great to finally meet someone of the same nationality. What more in a place where I thought I’d probably be the only Malaysian in the island.

And so the tour commenced. We were given straw hats to cover our heads from the heat and off we went to do the herb garden first. Parsley, celery, peppermint, spearmint, salad etc. were lined in rows. Clearly, the staff took great care of the plants and flowers. They were so remarkably fresh. It was here that the staff told us that we can actually eat the flowers in the garden. Straight away into my disbelief. She added that we could try out the floral salad at the restaurant downstairs.

We were then taken to see the real busy bee. Organic bee frames, mind you. We were given the opportunity to take a photo or two holding the bee frames. As long as you don’t shake the frames rather abruptly, you are safe from the bees.

We then took a stroll around the farm. In the farm, they also produced crafts such as rugs, handbags, sandals and other house decorations. They are all hand mades, so it is worth buying. You can wait for a bit to see the whole process of making a craft product, if you have all the time to buy.

Finally, we headed to the wooden parlour restaurant with a sea-view. You could have now guessed what I ordered for lunch? Yes, that floral salad. Organic floral salad with honey mustard sauce. The sauce tasted a bit yucky, lucky my new companions gave me the sauce for spicy floral salad and surprisingly, they blended well and contributed to the deliciousness of the floral salad. Asked me how a bouganviella taste? Like a flower, I must say. It’s as if you are eating salad, but a more delicate and beautiful one. I definitely give it another go should I happen to be in Bohol Bee Farm again. The Organic Floral Salad costs Php190 while the Paragon Tea costs Php40.

Two first-times during Bohol Bee Farm trip:-
1. Holding an organic bee frame
2. Eating a beautiful floral salad

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Dauis Church Complex & Hinangdan Cave

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Waking up on an early Sunday morning, I was energetic and ready to do what it takes to make the fullest of my only Sunday in Bohol. I had my yummylicious banana pancake and omelette breakfast while seating at the table next to a British lady with swollen eyes. When asked what happened to her eyes, she told me she had suffered from an eye infection and added, I was the first person on her trip who was concerned enough to ask. There and then it occured to me how a simple act of asking a fellow traveller of his well-being may strike as deep concern to another, especially so, when he is a lone-ranger.

The auto rickshaw driver was already there at the check-out counter by the time I lugged my heavy luggage together with my newly purchased ukelele. Based on the countryside tour, I was scheduled to visit Hinangdan Cave, Bohol Bee Farm and Dauis Church before being transferred to Panglao Beach.

The Filipinos are religious lot, at 8.30a.m., the streets were already busy with the locals making their ways to the Sunday Mass.

The autorickshaw took me to the highway facing the sea onto a bridge that connected Tagbilaran City and Panglao Island. On the bridge, children threw the fishing reels off the bridge while young couples giggled lovingly to god-knows-what jokes.The sea was turquoise and so inviting! I told Richard, the autorickshaw driver, I wanted to make a stop on the bridge and he replied, “yes, yes…madam… yes”. As we passed the other end of the bridge, it appeared that Richard did not understand me at all.

As the auto rickshaw slowed down and neared the Dauis Church Complex, I was hampered with curiosity for I had never seen nor attended a Sunday Mass. There was a procession going on inside the church and the attendees were spilling up until the entrance of the church. Richard brought me to the back of the church, where one could get the Lady’s water. All the terms used were alien to me – “Assumption Parish”, “One Bread One Body One People”, “Our Lady’s Grotto”.

Dauis Church Complex’s history can be found here.

Just outside the church, fresh fruits and vegetable were sold.

On our way to Hinangdan Cave, I lost count on how many churches and masses that we passed by. Maybe, twenty. Maybe, thirty. They were just too many to count by fingers.

Hinangdan Cave is a karst cave, being made of limestone located in Dauis, Panglao Island. The entrance of the cave is a hole of about 1 meter wide in diameter and the cemented steps are narrow and slippery. As I had my backpack with me, Richard carried my heavy backpack inside the cave. Truth be told, I was afraid if Richard stumbled into the blue lagoon. The entrance fee is Php15 and parking fee is Php15.

Inside the cave, there is a greenish lagoon that floored the cave. It was said that greenish feature was due to the green limestone at the bottom of the lagoon. The adventurista may want to take a dip in the lagoon, if you don’t mind the karsts pollutants as well as the birds’poops that surfaced the lagoon.

I read on the internet that one could get a beautiful photo of the ray light entering a hole of the cave at certain time of the day. As I reached the cave a bit too late for that shot, I had to settle with so-so pictures of the cave.

And the journey was continued to Bohol Bee Farm. I heard many good reviews of this place!

With Bohol Bee Farm as my last leg of the countryside tour, I was sent by Richard to Panglao Beach area. After few words and hand signs indicating that I was on a budget and could not afford the hotels he recommended me, he finally got the point and brought me to Bohol Divers Club. A room with fan for Php500/night. Affordable and 5 minutes walk from the beach. Whatelse can I wish for!

Philippines Tarsiers: The Smallest Primates

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Say Hello to Philippines Tarsiers

Big-eyed Tarsiers

What a petite primate, it measures only about 85 to 160 milimetres in height and about the size of a human fist.

It has a pair of big round eyes; larger than its entire brain and its stomach. It has a special adaptation in the neck that allows its head to be rotated 180 degrees.

Where to spot tarsiers – Bohol, Philippines & Borneo & Sumatra & Sulawesi

Butterfly Farm, Bohol

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Next on Bohol Countryside Tour is Butterfly Farm, Sagbayan. The entrance fee is Php30. You will be accompanied by a guide who will explain on the evolution of a butterfly, the beautiful colourful insect. Due to huge space, the butterflies are all scattered in the farm. Notwithstanding you can still spot or close in with the butterflies when they are feeding on a nectar from flowers or fruits provided by the farm keeper.

The butterflies are also fed by a honey concentrated sponge hanged at few walkway of the farm.

Ambled with the least motion, I try so hard not to send the butterflies scurry away into the unknown hide-outs.

The farm is huge considering the small number of butterflies in the farm. No wonder there is a picnic scene during the weekend and peak season.

If you are lucky enough, you will bump into a bee mascot who is just as excited as you are to be there.

Before you get set for your next destination, don’t miss trying home made fruit ice-cream sold at the butterfly farm. Mango ice-cream is one of the favourite.

Ship Haus, Bohol

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Ladies and gentlemen, welcome on board. My name is Farah and I am your captain on board today. I’m going to bring you sailing in our newly built ship that is ShipHaus.

ShipHaus was never in my pre-trip itinerary for its existence was never made known to yours truly. So when the autorickshaw driver, Richard, brought me to a house that resembles a ship, I thought it was a scam. But wait, it’s a new attraction in Bohol. ShipHaus is the name given for a house owned by Capt. Gaundencio Dumapias, a native of Bohol who was once a poor boy and later become a successful sailor.

Initially, the ShipHaus was not intended to be a tourist attraction. Local people fondly call the place, “Bay Barko”, a Visayan word than means a ship house. Capt. Dumapias wanted a different and used the Haus instead of House. So it was finally called ShipHaus located at Poblacion Norte, Batuan, Bohol, Philippines.

The ShipHaus is well-equipped for a sailing ship with captain’s cabin, chiefmate’s cabin, kitchen, etc. The workers are all dressed in navy uniform. There is a roof deck that resembles a front ship from which you can horizontally look into the endless ocean.

Well of course, it is not just a ship house. It stands as a symbol of courage, determination and hard work that pays. It is as if I could imagine how an act of building a ship house in the middle of a fishing and farming village gives so much hope and promises for the children to be a top notch seamen. I can’t help but to be reminded of the illegal fishing system once used in the Philippines where children were belaboured in the worst conditions. They slept in rat-infested bunks, fed only twice a day and were thrown in the open sea to pound and crush coral reefs so as to scare the fishes and draw them into the nets. Such was life for a Filipino kid back then in a fishing village. Instead of being the child who is thrown into the open sea for an illegal fishing system, it is a hope that the child becomes a navy sailor, to the least. Capt Dumapias’s act is definitely an applaudable effort!

Chocolate Hills, Bohol

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A Unesco Heritage Site – Chocolate Hills remain bizarre! The unusual geological formation in Bohol that can be likened to 1,776 Hershey-shaped hills spreading over an area of more than 50 square kilometres. I kid you not, they look like Hersheys. It got me wondering as the home to The Hershey Company and H.B Reese Candy Campany, is the Hershey, Pennsylvania. That’s half the globe, if you ask me. The only justification that I can come up with is an American traveller sailed and reached Bohol and got inspired by the shapes and created Hershey.

The chocolate hills are made of grass-covered limestone. The domes vary in sizes from 30 to 50 metres high. During the dry season, the grass covered hills dry up and turn chocolate brown.

The Filipino version of Hershey, i.e. the Peanut Kisses can be easily found here.

There are two viewing station of the Chocolate Hills. The first one is the Chocolate Hills Complex, a government-owned viewing station. It has a restaurant, hostel with swimming pool and observation deck where one could view the hill at 210 feet above the ground. The other viewing station is located at Sagbayan Peak, a mountain resort in Sagbayan town. It is only 18 kilometres from the Chocolate Hills complex but an extra Php500 is charged by the autorickshaw.

This is taken from Chocolate Hills Complex:

The entrance to Chocolate Hills (as at September 2011) is Php50.

When I was there, I did not get quite a collection of good pictures as the sky was brimming white due to the earlier rain.

Bohol: Loboc River Cruise

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After visiting Sandugo site (Blood Compact Site), my next stop was certainly one of Bohol’s best attractions. Loboc River Cruise is a bamboo-made cruise abled to cater 30 people at a time. It was just about noon that I was dropped by Richard(Autorickshaw driver) at the entrance of Loboc River Cruise. He booked my cruise ticket with Riverwatch Floating Restaurant for which I paid Php350 for the buffet luncheon and Php150 for the entrance fee. In return, I was given an entrance postcard-ticket.

I was then told that I just missed the boat by few minutes and was asked to wait for the next boat scheduled in 30 minutes time. I killed the time by going from one souvenir shops to another. The souvenirs in Bohol were unique and hard to find in other places. Based from my personal experience, I refrained myself from buying souvenirs at the first few tourist attractions because they tend to be a tad bit too expensive. So I came out with empty hands. 😉

I had my eyes fixed on the ‘ukelele’ here.The ukelele is a musical instrument classified as plucked lute, a subset of the guitar family. Remember the little strange instrument played by that fuzzy blue creature named Stitch from Lilo and Stitch? That’s ukelele. Don’t ask if the one I had my eyes fixed on was soprano, concert, tenor or baritone. Apart from being a tune-deaf, I have poor music background.

At 12pm, I sauntered to the departure gate. Mine was Gate 1. While being serenaded by giant-sized ukelele band, I tried to work on the wifi connection but to no avail. My blackberry did not support wifi connection in Philippines.

The floating bamboo restaurant took off sharp at 12p.m. I was seated at Table 1 together with a group of Japanese girls. On the floating restaurants, there stood numerous tables and chairs, a huge middle table with varieties of traditional Boholanos food and a section where a band played popular jazz and blues style music.


As the boat took off, the buffet began and popular oldies songs were serenaded to make it a perfect cruise over the Loboc river. It was really an escape from the hustle bustle of the city. The passengers were ushered slowly through the lush green landscape; the father you went, the greener it was. One could not help but notice life along the river; houses were located just next to the river that I wondered if the river had flooded the house once. Also there were children swimming and people passing through in small bankas waving frantically towards the floating restaurants.

As the floating restaurant neared Busay fall, about one and half meter high, we knew we had completed the journey half way. The floating restaurant then made a return trip, and we stopped by at a floating sheltered bamboo,of which, I would happily call, floating music stage.

There was a huge group of adults and children with musical instruments singing and dancing as if they have not been hampered with problems at all in their lives. The children took turns to dance while the others played colourful ukelele of different sizes and sang songs. What a gifted society. It goes to show you don’t have to go to expensive music schools to be able to be a good musician or entertainer.

I have met travellers who struck Loboc river cruise as an overrated tour. But I’d say, it’s a must, albeit I had to admit, the shows were too short a time to make it worth Php500.

If you are an adventurous person, there’s a place located on the eastern bank of the Loboc river called Nuts Huts resort. If kayaking in the morning, jumping sommersault style into the river and a happy river life are what you are looking for, Nuts Huts is perfectly suited for you.

Nuts Huts Resort : Contact Person: Walter Laureys (+63 920 846 1559)

Recommended: Nisa Travellers’ Inn

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As recommended by Oh Melting Pot’s frontdesk girl, I hired a tricycle who would want to take me to Nisa’s Travellers Inn for Php10 (MYR0.70). Only when I was insistent enough, that he stopped recommending other guest houses and pension houses. Here, in the Philippines, the term pensions houses is widely used.

Located right in the middle of bustling city activities (at tagbilaran’s pace), I found it a good place to take shelter for a night or two before going to Panglao Island. It’s near the city, malls, banks, schools, hospitals, city hall and markets. Nisa Traveller’s Inn offers clean air-conditioned with shiny wooden floors and clean walls with shared toilet and bath. Most importantly, it is bed bugs free.

It’s interesting to note that throughout the inn, many posters with travel quotes were hanged.

At the time of writing, the rates are as follows:

PREMIUM
(Aircon w/ Cr, Hot & Cold Shower, Tv)

Rooms No. of Beds Description 24hrs/DAILY RATES

Room 12 Two single Beds Premium Php900.00
Room 14 Two single Beds Premium -same-
Room 15 Two single Beds Premium -same-
Room 7 Three single Beds Premium Php1,000.00
Room 20-A 1 – King size beds Premium Php1,200.00
& 1 sofa bed

SPECIAL
(Aircon w/ Tv – Shared bathroom)

Room 19 1 – King size beds Special Php800.00
& 1-Single bed
Room 25 1 – King size beds Special Php850.00
& 1-Single bed

SPECIAL
(Aircon – Shared bathroom)

Room 22 One Single Bed Special Php500.00
Room 20 Two Single Beds Special Php600.00
Room 21 Two Single Beds Special Php600.00
Room 18 Three Single Beds Special Php750.00
Room 6 Three Single Beds Special Php750.00

STANDARD
(Fan – Shared bathroom)

Room 8 One Single Bed Standard Php400.00
Room 9 One Single Bed Standard -same-
Room 10 One Single Bed Standard -same-
Room 11 One Single Bed Standard -same-
Room 16 One Single Bed Standard -same-
Room 23 One Single Bed Standard -same-
Room 24 One Single Bed Standard Php400.00
Room 3 Two Single Beds Standard Php500.00
Room 4 Two Single Beds Standard -same-
Room 5 Two Single Beds Standard -same-
Room 17 Two Single Beds Standard Php500.00

Extra person Adult (Aircon) -(Php150.00)
Extra child – (Php100.00)

Extra Person Adult (Non Aircon)-(Php100.00)
Extra child – (Php75.00)

DEPOSIT REQUIRED. ONE FULL-DAY RATE
FREE BREAKFAST (6:30AM – 9:30AM)

Mine was the single room with fan which costs me Php400 (MYR29.00) per night.

I’d recommend this place to you, should you want to visit Bohol in the future. Instead of going straight to the islands, the country side sightseeings are located on the other part of Tagbilaran, for which Nisa Traveller’s Inn is a good starting point.