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Pictures of our 2nd visit to the Philippines with our car from Nov. 2010 - Jan. 2011
[Part 3: Island of Bohol – Luzon (South)  with our vehicle in January 2011]
 
2nd Visit Part 1: Luzon (South) – Islands of Mindoro – Panay   with our vehicle from November to December 2010
2nd Visit Part 2: Islands of Negros – Cebu   with our vehicle from December 2010 to January 2011
1st Visit to the Philippines: Luzon (North)  without vehicle in February 2008
 
 
Philippines Map
 
 
          Map of
    Southeast Asia
 
latest picture: February 1, 2011
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Island of Bohol    1/14 - 1/19/2011
 
When we land in Tubigon arriving from Cebu the downpour continues and right then our windshield wiper stops working. Memories from Norway come alive. There, we improvised by tiding a string on both wipers and pulling it alternately from the side windows. Here, however, we get around it, as the rain stops abruptly and the sun is shining again when we drive past the beautiful blue “St.Vincent Ferrer” Church in Calape. In its church park there are still creatively made Christmas trees of empty plastic bottles, lids and all kind of recycling material.
 
 
 
 
 
 
236  The beautiful pale blue
“St. Vincent Ferrer” Church in
Calape in the West of the island
is one of Bohol’s attractions
237  A little break and some
gossip under a bridge
238  A dense Nipa palm forest lines
a river bank. Roofs and walls of the
traditional Nipa huts are made
from the strong Nipa palm leaves
 
Heading south, lush green rice fields pop up again. Where rivers are favored by the tides of the sea, dense Nipa palm forests line their banks. Nipa palms are robust and used for building the walls and roofs of the traditional Nipa huts. Towards the evening, we reach the capital Tagbilaran and take a room at the hotel Sun Avenue for Peso 1’150 (US$26), including breakfast. In the evening we shop in the supermarket at the mall and poke around in the many shelves. Suddenly church bells sound from the loudspeakers. What’s going on? We look at the watch. It is 6pm. Like by command, the cashiers are kneeling down, shoppers cross themselves and remain in prayer for around five minutes. It is the first time that we experience this in a Christian area. For example, if the muezzin calls for prayer in Saudi Arabia we know that shutters are lowered and shops close for at least half an hour.
 
 
 
 
 
 
239  The old church in Maribojoc of
the Spanish colonial area needed also
a renovation – like many others too
240  Children at the seashore at
Tagbilaran, the capital of Bohol
241  A typical village shop
 
Next day is dedicated to the island of Panglao – a famous tourist area – connected by two bridges with the “mainland”, the main island of Bohol. Here the contrast between poor and rich could hardly be starker. We drive past modest Nipa huts, where six people live on a confined space of 3x3 yards without electricity and water supply, and mostly also without toilet. Not far away is the Alona Beach with the expensive hotels and restaurants and the omnipresent dive centers. These establishments seal off completely any access to the beach. Only those who are prepared to pay consumption are allowed to pass. The only remaining option is parking the vehicle somewhere and search for a beach access by foot. Being not our world anyway and additionally being incredibly hot, it does not upset us. We hop into our LandCruiser again and drive towards the hills. There we find soon a spot in the nature just for ourselves. It not only provides us with shade and quietness, but also with a splendid view to the sea and towards the main island.
 
 
 
 
 
 
242  
243  
244  
Different kinds of Nipa huts on Panglao Island, the famous seaside resort.
Extended families often live cramped together in tiny rooms, mostly without running water and power
 
The day afterwards, we leave the capital behind us and drive towards the East. Soon we arrive at the mighty Loboc River. From the bridge we watch the floating restaurants, packed with mostly local tourists, being pushed upriver by a tug. Lightheartedly we can do it without joining and set off to the interior. Our goals are the two main attractions of this island: The endemic and endangered Tarsiers in Loboc, the second smallest primates in the world and the Chocolate Hills in the village of Carmen with its 1’268 hills.
 
 
 
 
 
 
245  Floating pavilions at a luxury
hotel complex in Panglao …..
246  ..... the setting of the
'Bita-ug Beach Resort',
directly on the beach …..
247  ..... and the famous Alona Beach in
Panglao in the South of the island with its more
expensive hotels, restaurants and diving centers
 
Shortly after the Loboc tourist complex, we follow a sign “Tarsiers” into a small leafy enclosure and peer around. Initially we do not see anything. Only when we check very carefully, we spot the first and then the second of these tiny primates clinging on to a thin tree branch. They are hardly as tall as a fist and have enormous eyes. It warms my heart and I cannot find any words to describe my overwhelming feelings at the sight of these cute tiny creatures. Actually, they are nocturnal, but to satisfy the tourists, they are shown by day and with the donation box, the business flourishes. We also feed the container, but with really mixed feelings.
 
 
 
 
 
 
248  Lovely view from our picnic
spot on a hill on the Panglao Island
towards Tagbilaran on Bohol …..
249  ….. Emil is enjoying the view
and looking forward to our picnic
250  In the village of Panglao
there is an impressive cathedral,
surrounded by a well groomed park
 
Doing it, we are also contributing to this illegal prospering business. Apparently attempts to stop it are on the way – but as corruption has a long tradition ...... Kept well and fed well (they are insect eaters), tarsiers live about 12 months in captivity. In their natural environment however up to 24 years! In addition, their life expectation is reduced due to shocking treatment because of their fragile bones. Despite of the sign at the entrance “Handling strictly forbidden” we watch how a group of youngsters do not give a damn about directions and the attendant turns a blind eye to it – the donation box stands besides!
 
 
 
 
 
 
251  A floating restaurant is pushed
up the Loboc River by a tug
252  Floating restaurants parked at
the tourist complex in Loboc,
crammed with mostly local tourists
253  The banks of the Loboc
River look really very tropical
 
It is time for our lunch picnic. Not finding a proper spot, we proceed to the “Chocolate Hills” in Carmen, which turns out to be fortunate as shortly afterwards rain starts. The “Chocolate Hills” owe their name to their brownish appearance during the dry season. Today however, after the continuous rain of the last weeks, they are covered with a fresh green. It is a modest entry fee (Peso 100 = US$2.20 for two persons) that we pay to drive to the view point and to climb the many steep steps to the platform. Though the sight is not necessarily overwhelming, the 1’268 almost identical hills, each between 160ft. to 400ft. high, are still a peculiarity. They certainly attract crowds of tourists.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
254  The cocks trained for the
famous cockfights (Sabong) are looked
after very well. Each one has its own shed
255  Between the villages of Loboc
and Carmen in the center of the island,
we drive through a beautiful forest
256  The old church in Loboc is the
attraction of the village, but needed
also some cleaning
 
We spend the night in this region hoping that the Chocolate Hills will be at their best early morning – wishful thinking! Already during the night it continued to rain and didn’t stop in the morning. “Adorned” by fog, some of the hills show themselves only dimly. Others appear for a few seconds to disappear in the mist again – a different experience from yesterday. We reached here in the center of Bohol definitively the border of the Northeast monsoon’s influence.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
257  In Loboc we see our first
Tarsier, hardly as big as a fist,
with enormous eyes,
being a nocturnal animal .....
258  Liliana hardly can see
enough of these cute primates
259  If Tarsiers are looked after and fed
well (they eat actually only insects), in
captivity they live maximum 12 months; in their
natural environment however up to 24 years!
 
There are only ten days left until the containerization of our LandCruiser in Subic Bay on the island of Luzon has to take place. It is time to get slowly on our way. While we were never sure about our return trip, today it becomes definitively clear: We cancel our earlier plan to return through the Eastern islands of Leyte and Samar and will head back to the mainland the same way instead, using the “Strong Republic Nautical Highway” for the second time. However this involves five ferries instead of only two. What made us change our mind? It is the Northeast monsoon that this year is much stronger than in the past. Already since weeks the whole of the Eastern Philippines is subject to continuous rain, flooding and land slides and there is no end in sight. Furthermore nobody is able to give us competent information about the road conditions: Are they passable at all – particularly the bridges; are the landslides cleared; are there some stretches flooded; is there at all a chance to get through? Being tied to a date, it is simply too risky.
 
 
 
 
 
 
260  The ”Chocolate Hills“ in Carmen
include on an area of about 20 sq.mi.
up to 1’776 scattered, almost identical
hills, between 100 and 390 ft. high.
They owe their name to their brown
look in the dry season
261  A remembrance picture of
our visit to the “Chocolate Hills”
262  View of paddies and palm groves
from the “Chocolate Hills” viewing point
 
Two rivers that yesterday flowed peacefully through the central highland of Bohol have risen dramatically over night. Parts of rice fields are under water. Ourselves, we are also affected from the rain. Despite repairing our wiper only a few days ago, it stops working again. Now there is only our emergency solution: To tie a string on both wipers and pull it alternatively from the windows – by the way: It works perfectly. Back in Tagbilaran, the streets are teeming with people in blue uniforms. Armed military is patrolling. What is happening? Only when we check our emails, we know the reason: Romanus from Sipalay writes that a terror warning has been issued for the island of Bohol. Not that we are panicking, but it makes our tomorrow’s farewell from this lovely island a bit easier.
 
 
 
 
 
 
263  Green, green, green after the
continuous rains – a rice field in
the Loboc region
264  Heavy rain during the night
made the river to overflow and
inundate part of the rice fields
265  A mystic morning after
a night of heavy rain in Loboc
 
Our return to the departure island of Luzon – exactly to Subic Bay – takes place in five days with five ferries through five islands. Here a short description:

1st Ferry: From Tubigon/Bohol Island to Cebu City/Cebu Island:
The sea journey to Cebu City takes two hours on a calm sea. From Cebu City in the East we cross the island on a new, little spectacular route to the West, to Toledo. We stay the night at Toledo and next morning at 6am, we are already at the port where Emil is struggling with a sleepy unfriendly guy at the ticketing booth of the Lite Line. He does not want to accept our foreign vehicle registration and therefore doesn’t want to let us board, insisting that he has the competence to deny it. In the meantime, a uniformed lady from the agricultural department shows up at our car looking for plants. Always something new: Either didn’t happen before in the Philippines. At the end, the guy at the ticketing office backs down and at 7.30am we are on board.
2nd Ferry: From Toledo/Cebu Island to San Carlos/Negros Island:
The crossing time is two hours. For the next ferry connection, it is necessary also here to change from the East coast to the West coast, from San Carlos to Bacolod. We choose again the route crossing the island through the hills, branching off South of San Carlos. It is a lovely ride with lovely views. We stay the night in Bacolod at the same place as on the outward journey.
3rd Ferry: from Bacolod/Negros Island to Dumangas/Panay Island:
We take the 10am ferry. The crossing lasts two hours. Again we have to switch port for the next ferry: From Dumangas overland to Caticlan, from the Southeast to the Northwest. Instead of following the coastal road, we take the route through the flat interior, passing mainly through wide rice paddies. We spend the night in Kalibo, 40 miles East of Caticlan.
4th Ferry: From Caticlan/Panay Island to Roxas/Mindoro Island:
This crossing lasts 3 hours. The ocean is calm again. From Roxas in the Southeast we have to change to the ferry terminal of Calapan in the Northeast, unfortunately we have to drive on the same awful construction road (Emil counts 10 different construction sites) as outward bound. We sleep in Calapan once more at the same location.
5th Ferry: From Calapan/Mindoro Island to Batangas/Luzon Island:
At 10am we board the Montenegro-Ferry – the best in the Philippines – back to Batangas on the main island of Luzon. Immediately we continue to the Taal Crater Lake, where we stop one day to relax and take in the fresh air of the Tagaytay hillside.
 
Luzon (South)    1/23 - 2/1/2011
 
 
 
 
 
 
266  Emil at breakfast in Calapan
before we cross over
to Batangas on Luzon
267  A common sight: “Playing” with
the mobiles everywhere –
there is a lot of time on the ferry
268  What is this little passenger
possibly thinking about?
 
Expecting mail at our embassy in Makati, a quarter in Manila City, we cannot delay our visit to the mega town any longer. Unfortunately, the CD’s of our radio and TV interviews from Switzerland and Germany didn’t arrive. But we have the honor to be invited by our Ambassador, Mr. Sieber, for a cup of coffee and spend an hour in an easy conversation with him.
 
 
 
 
 
 
269  View from Tagatay to the village of
Talisay at the Taal Crater Lake – Tagatay is
popular with weekenders from Manila …..
270  ..... in the distance an
impressive rainbow is forming …..
271  ..... the crater lake presents
itself very peacefully
 
Not being tempted to remain longer in Manila, we leave this congested city behind us and are happy when we are safe on the highway to the North. Was it intuition? Only one hour later we would have been caught in the traffic chaos on the EDSA road in the Makati business area, when a terrorist attack on January 25th, 2011, targeted on a bus left five people dead.
 
 
 
 
 
 
272  A new settlement along the
express road from Clark to
Subic Bay catches our eyes
273  In Olangapo, the neighboring
town of our shipping port Subic Bay,
the odometer of our LandCruiser reaches
the special figure of 666’666.6 …..
274  ….. exactly in front
of the City Museum
 
Early afternoon, we already reach Olangapo, the busy “border town” near Subic Bay, which is our shipping harbor. A unique moment is waiting for us right in front of its museum: Our odometer reaches kilometer 666’666.6 – what a lovely figure (= 414’247 miles)! Thanks to Emil’s accurate statistic, we immediately know where we celebrated our 555’555.5 km. It was in Panama on August 5th, 2001. Two hours later, on the terrace of the Rama Beach Resort, we toast to it with a beer or two just when the sun sets behind the ocean with a beautiful red ball. We are now at the Zambales Coast, 5 miles South of Botolan.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
275  At the ‘Ramo Beach Resort’,
6 miles short of Botolan at the West
Coast, small leatherback turtles
(Dermochelys coriacea) have
hatched after an incubation
time of 24 days …..
276  ….. Liliana watches how the hardly
4 inches long babies intuitively crawl
towards the sea. We could watch back
in April 2003 in Saint-Laurent-du-Maroni
in French Guiana how the big turtles
returned to lay their eggs
277  Only a quarter will survive
their first phase of life. Birds,
stray dogs and in the sea fishes
are during this stage their
major predators
 
During the night, after 24 days of incubation, tiny Leatherback turtles have hatched at the enclosure of the Beach Resort. Roger, the Australian manager has specifically waited for us before releasing them onto the beach. We watch how these hardly 4 inch small babies intuitively crawl towards the sea. Some of them are returned by the waves and land in the sand on their back, sometimes even more than once. Each time, it needs a lot of energy for them to get back on their flippers. We assist them in the first phase of their life and wait until we are sure that all of them are at least safe in the water.
 
 
 
 
 
 
278  Sunset at the “turtle beach” of
the ‘Ramo Beach Resort’ near Botolan
279  We park our LandCruiser in front
of the ‘Botolan Wildlife Farm’ of Martin
Zoller from Switzerland, situated at the
Zambales coast. We visited him already
without our car in February 2008 while
transiting from Hong Kong to New Zealand
280  The Burmese albino snake is
one of the animals at this well kept
wildlife farm. On the upper left
side a “normal colored” Burmese
Python (Python morulus) is visible
 
Only 4% will survive. Their main predators are humans, birds, straying dogs and fishes. Here, they are at least safe from the first three. What then happens in the sea, we cannot influence anymore. We are very happy about this unexpected experience. It completes the one we had in April 2003 in French Guiana where at night, equipped with a torch, we could watch the Leatherback turtles landing, digging their hole and laying their eggs.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
281
282
283
The star of the lovely zoo is „Ramses“, a Sibirian Tiger (Panthera tigris altaica) –
a beautiful wild animal, raised by Martin and his family. Today, “Ramses” is five years old
 
We are looking forward with great anticipation to see „Ramses“, the Siberian Tiger, when two days later we move on to the Botolan Wildlife Farm. Already two years ago, we visited this place when we explored Northern Luzon without our LandCruiser. And again it is marvelous to see this beautiful wild animal, the star in the small zoo of Swiss Martin Zoller, right in front of us. We watch him for hours and are always pleased, when he comes towards us with his special “grunting”, showing us that he likes our company. In the tropical garden with all the well kept animal enclosures and tropical flowers we can relax wonderfully. There are owls, monkeys, ostriches, deer, snakes, a crocodile and many different birds.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
284
285
286
All kind of beautiful tropical flowers bloom in Martin’s “zoo garden”
 
The accommodation is clean and of good value. And Grace, Martin’s daughter, is an excellent cook. We spend many hours in Martin’s company and get many things confirmed about the Philippines’ way of life. He also tells us many anecdotes about people’s reaction when he suddenly appeared with then still young “Ramses” in a restaurant or when he took him for a ride in a boat. With his help, we also find the urgently needed spare part for our broken wiper. Everything is just perfect for us here in this little oasis. Therefore we decide to return to Subic Bay – two hours driving time away – only at the day of containerization of our LandCruiser, on Monday, January 31st.
 
 
 
 
 
 
287  The proud Purple Heron (Ardera
purpurea) lives in harmony with the turtles
288  During the fresher evening hours,
the game becomes active again
289  An ostrich (Struthio camelus)
and a deer (Cervus mariannus) roam
inside the spacious deer enclosure
 
On Sunday, January 30th, our peace gets suddenly unexpectedly interrupted. From our broker we get surprisingly an SMS with the bad news that there is no container available on the following day. How can this happen? We ordered it already on January 3rd, which was confirmed. Additionally, we checked again by phone when we were in Manila on January 25th, if everything was OK, which was confirmed again. After having sent around some emails to the responsible people, we get on Monday morning at 8.30am the reassuring news that the container is now on its way from Manila to Subic Bay. This makes us leaving to Subic Bay too to meet the box coming from the opposite direction. Little did we know by then what the agent in Manila had still in store for us.
 
 
 
 
 
 
290  One of the seven beautiful
eagles in the aviary
291  Emil is not scared to
pet a Burmese python baby
292  It is early morning: The Philippine
Eagle Owl (Bubo philippinensis) is
sleepy and closes slowly its eyes
 
While driving to Subic Bay the phone rings at 11.30am. Manila is on the line with the upsetting news that – contrary to the morning confirmation – our container is not yet on its way because they first need our agreement that we will take over the transport costs of US$409. Are they really being serious? We go ballistic!
 
 
 
 
 
 
293
294
295
The biodiversity of orchids in the zoo garden is enormous
 
But being under extreme time pressure (tomorrow Tuesday early in the morning, we booked our flight to Singapore), there is nothing else we can do than give our OK; it looks like extortion. Next we are informed that the container is now released and will leave Manila at 2pm. May be it still works out; four hours of trucking from Manila to Subic Bay should be OK! We cling to it, because the port authorities generously allowed us in the meantime to stuff and lash our LandCruiser in the port until 10pm.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
296  Another blooming orchid
297  A butterfly, attracted by the
many flowers, rests on a big leaf
298  A weird sight: pumpkins
dangling from droughty bush branches
 
At 4pm however, also this last hope breaks up definitively. We get the message that the container will arrive here only after 10pm – container trucks are allowed to circulate in Manila only after 6pm due to traffic disturbances – definitely too late to arrive in time in Subic Bay! This means that we will miss our budget flight of tomorrow Tuesday, 7.45am from Clark Airport to Singapore, of course without any refund possibility.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
299  Head of a „Crocodilus Mindorensis“
at Kitsie’s Farm in Ibo – a fresh water
crocodile found only in the Philippines. It
belongs to the critically endangered species
300  An impressive saltwater
crocodile (Crocodilus Porosus)
at Kitsie’s Farm in Ibo …..
301  ..... these salt water crocodiles
live in a natural environment
 
The following morning at 8am we find ourselves again in the office of our broker. Our container has arrived during the night. “If we are very lucky, it may work out now” Emil argues when we follow Mrs. Dang from the broker office to the Subic Bay Container Terminal. He got out in the office that it needed a permit to stuff our car within the port and apparently Soriamont in Manila has omitted to apply for it. But Mrs. Dang does a good job and the port staff is cooperative (with one-two bottles of whisky). Like in a lot of other places, also here many eyes are watching how Emil drives the car carefully into its 21st box and lashes it professionally. “See you again in Sri Lanka!”
 
 
 
 
 
 
302  Farewell-picture of Martin, his
daughter Grace (besides him) and the
housemaid of the ‘Botolan Wildlife Farm’,
where we spent a couple of relaxed days
303  A fancy painted jeepney
in Iba – the main mean of public
transport in the Philippines
304  The wide river and the landscape
near Botolan have a touch of Alaska
 
In the afternoon, we are sitting in the air-conditioned bus to Clark Airport – we still got hold of two seats on the 4.10pm flight of the Philippines Seair to Singapore. During the bus journey, we ask ourselves: “Did the enormous financial effort and the time consuming bureaucracy war pay off? The visit of the Philippines became up to now our most expensive one, mainly due to the disproportional port charges – was it worthwhile? For Emil it is more than questionable, because we explored the most attractive region, Northern Luzon, with its colonial master pieces and the man-made rice terraces already in 2008, back then without our LandCruiser but with a rented car.
 
 
 
 
 
 
305  The landscape along the West
coast in the province of Zambales is
rather dry compared with other regions
306  We park in front of the ‘Subic
Bay Freeport Zone’, which we left
on November 11th, 2010. The war
of bureaucracy starts
307  Customs Officer and Gate personnel
are eager to have a picture taken with our
LandCruiser. The lady with a bunch of papers
is Mrs. Dang, the broker, who showed the
most engagement to get our car released
 
My feelings differ somehow: I remember the small islands in the South with its colorful outrigger canoes, the peaceful life of the fishermen families, the modest Nipa hut villages, the fresh green of the rice fields, the white and black sandy beaches, the old Spanish churches, the tiny Tarsiers on Bohol Island and the friendly, but reserved people. Yes, I admit it was not necessarily outstanding, rather lovely and neat, but I would not like to miss it!
 
 
 
 
 
 
308  End of our Philippine journey:
Our LandCruiser is now ready to enter
the Subic Bay International Terminal
309  Customs Officers and Terminal
employees are keen to have a photo
taken with our LandCruiser
310  A last look of our trusty buddy caged
in its 21st container before he starts his
long sea journey to Colombo in Sri Lanka
 
 
More websites from the Philippines:
2nd Visit Part 1: Luzon (South) – Islands of Mindoro – Panay   with our vehicle from November to December 2010
2nd Visit Part 2: Islands of Negros – Cebu   with our vehicle from December 2010 to January 2011
1st Visit to the Philippines: Luzon (North)   without vehicle in February 2008