Saturday, December 29, 2007

I'm not a Monkey!

After arriving in Bohol we went via taxi and motorboat up a river to 'Nuts Huts', a typical backpacker place in the jungle, quite literally. We grabbed 1 of the 12 cottages by the river and proceeded to befriend the Belgium owners and other guests. The first activity was a swim in the river and to the waterfall nearby, followed by relaxing in the hammocks and enjoying the 30 degree heat, cold beers and yummy fusion food.

After a night on a comfy mattress -it really is just China alone that has awful mattresses- and without too many mosquitos, the next day beckoned as we cycled to the Tarsier Sanctuary, which is quoted as the 'smallest monkey in the world' -but it is not a monkey. It is small primate though, about the size of a small bird. It has massive eyes as it hunts in the dark and is quite cute, apart from when baring its teeth when one moves one's hand too close whilst trying to take a photo to compare the size of the hand with the Tarsier!

The little guys are adorable and thankfully expanding their population as their habitat is slowly regrowing after the forest's destruction (due to the increase in land needed for agricultural and limber trade). The bike ride continued via a beach through the countryside to the middle of a forest, before backtracking out of the forest (useless instructions!) to the main road and back to the 'Huts'.

The scenery in rural Philippines is not so different to the rest of South East Asia with plenty of rice paddies, jungle, adorable kids everywhere and so on. There are also a plethora of religious buildings such as churches, chapels and other religious sects's buildings (something inherited from the Americans I think when they ran the country for a few decades around the 2nd World War, building on the Spanish's Catholicism left over from Colonial times). Delighfully though the local's houses are built from 'nippa'. bamboo, wood etc which make them very pretty, environmentally friendly and apt for the environment. And, our buddies from coca-cola, have kept plenty of tiny stores stocked full -indeed, almost 1 house in 10 is also a micro-store!

Yesterday we motorbiked 150km or so up and down, primarily to see the 'chocolate hills', though in the current rainy season they are more green than chocolate colour -still pretty though... seeing hundreds of tiny 30m or so hills dotting the countryside. I also can declare that Philippino massages are nice and relaxing, comparing favourable with others across SE Asia.

Today we hiked up through the jungle, swam over 500m (impressive for me) in the river, chatted with some Peacecorps volunteers and relaxed in the huts. All that remains is to enjoy the stars and get up at 5am to get to the next place -on the beach, in time to spend New Years there. I am still getting over spending Christmas in the sun, let alone New Years on a beach!

p.s. if you are smiling wryly about the implications of the title of this post and my hairy arms... you are just immature, and succumbing to my ability to make a joke that everyone will get -so you are not clever!! Anyway, it might make you smirk as much as the rubbish joke in the Christmas cracker :)

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