Posted by: Jill | August 12, 2008

Tiny primates and transvestites in Bohol

Just back from four delightful days on Bohol, the island just east of Cebu. Our trip began with some great diving on the small island of Balicasag, which is near the small island of Panglao, which is near the small island of Bohol proper. The Philippines is, in a very real way, an island nation.

Lo-own) then a bus south to Tagbilaron, then another bus out to Panglao Island.

I took a ferry from Argao (on Cebu) to Loon (say: Lo-own) then a bus south to Tagbilaron, then another bus out to Panglao Island.

The diving was seriously spectacular. We did two wall dives. At one point, my attention was divided between a big school of beautiful fish! And a sea turtle! With two remoras swimming alongside! And a HUGE sweetlips fish, more than 1 meter long! And another great big school of different fish! And look, the sweetlips is sitting on top of a HUGE barrel sponge! Look! Look!

Underwater, we use hand signals to communicate, so you can imagine how delightfully frantic these hand signals were.

In an effort to save you from underwater photo fatigue, I’ll put some of my favorites pictures in a separate post.

This is what surface intervals look like on Balicasag Island

This is what surface intervals look like on Balicasag Island

Post-dive and extremely happy.

Post-dive and extremely happy.

After two days of sun, diving, and real Italian food (and red wine!), we rented a motorbike and took off for the hills. Anna is an excellent driver. Only once did we encounter a water buffalo in the road, but there was plenty of room to go around him.

Seeking adventure on our shiny red motorbike

Seeking adventure on our shiny red motorbike

Our first stop was the Philippine Tarsier Foundation. Tarsiers are tiny primates, smaller than a grapefruit. They are found only on a few islands in the Philippines and in Indonesia. There is so much to learn and see in this world, and I feel very lucky to have been able to see something so rare.

Anna's amazing photo of a tarsier

Anna's amazing photo of a tarsier

Yes, they are creepy-cute. Unfortunately, they’re facing a familiar fate: their population is declining because of habitat loss. There are also a lot of sad (and illegal) tarsier cages along the highway for easy viewing. We chose to dutifully pay the P20 entrance fee to the conservation foundation where a trained guide led us on a walk through the woods to see tarsiers. Because they are nocturnal and highly territorial, during the day they just kind of hang out and rest in their individual territories and so are very easy to find.

Scenery along the road

Scenery along the road

After the tarsiers, we continued on to an amazing haven: Nuts Huts, on the Loboc River. The river cuts a deep course through the mountainous jungle, so we climbed down 277 steps to the river bank and then climbed up a bamboo ladder to our nipa hut.

Our peaceful nipa hut on the banks of the Loboc River.

Our peaceful nipa hut on the banks of the Loboc River.The Loboc River: refreshing swimming for tired travelers.

The next day, we wound our way back along Bohol’s coastal road. Perhaps the highlight of the entire trip was a stop to see the Bohol Python – the biggest python in captivity in the world. The snake was an impressive 21’, but it is sort of sad that she just lives in a small concrete cage. The good part was not the python.

The good part was our gorgeous python hostess / transvestite rockstar diva. When she grew tired of spouting boring facts about the snake, she showed off her custom made python-skin bikini and offered to perform for us.

And perform she did! She belted out that Mariah Carey song in her hot pink lipstick, long flowing hair, and very short sundress. She flipped upside down – twice – to sing while hanging from the rafters, and it was just as fun to watch her dramatic performance as it was to watch the expressions on the face of the other tourists. I’ve been told she’s actually quite famous on Philippine television.



  1. Jill – your life is just toooo much! I hardly know what to say. It almost sounds unreal.

  2. Agreed, Mom, that it seems unreal. That is a good way to describe the python & transvestite experience…and that after floating down the chocolate colored Loboc River that morning on a piece of bamboo, after the experience of being so close to a tarsier, and getting to do all of this and work on a Master’s thesis! Almost too good to be true. As Jill’s counterpart, I can attest that its real, though strangely so!

  3. Given all these great adventures….can you possibly imagine what’s next?? Good that you know how to savor each moment as a “Be Here Now” type of experience. I love reading this!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: