Thursday, June 6, 2013

[CARMEN] Our Hills Are Chocolate

They say that back when the population of water buffaloes far exceeded that of the human inhabitants, it took a million of them simultaneously taking a dump to form what is now known as the Chocolate Hills. This is a joke, but since many people would take anything they read as gospel truth, let me put some joke tags. [joke] They say that back when the population of water buffaloes far exceeded that of the human inhabitants, it took a million of them simultaneously taking a dump to form what is now known as the Chocolate Hills [/joke]. Kidding aside, this popular tourist attraction is a sight to behold, as long as it is not raining and there aren't too many camwhores congregating at the few photo-op sites like there is no tomorrow.

The trip from Tagbilaran takes roughly an hour. You have a choice between a van and a bus. I would say go for the van and take advantage of the air-con if the sun is merciless on the day of your trip. If not, then the ordinary bus option would be cheaper, and nothing beats that feeling of the cold breeze on your face while traversing the highway; could be a bit dusty though. I took the van because it left earlier than the bus. If you are rich, perhaps you could charter some private transportation.

Do tell your bus driver to drop you off at Chocolate Hills. You need not worry that it would be of any inconvenience because he would not be going out of his way and drive all the way up to the hills himself just to accommodate you. It would be better to make this request with a loud voice so the other passengers would also hear you? Why? Some drivers are no longer that young not to have some weird memory gap issues. The last thing you would like to happen is for you to miss your stop, especially when it is raining and you have no idea where you are. In my case, the other passengers saved me from that fate because the driver almost forgot. Thanks, passengers!

From the main road, there would be the ever ubiquitous habal-habal waiting to bring you up the hills. The entrance fee is 50 pesos and a round trip habal-habal ride would set you back around 160 pesos. There is a hotel within the complex, but I would not advise staying there unless you are that obsessed with these hills. There are no other attractions nearby and it is a bit inaccessible if the other tourist sites you want to visit are located outside Carmen. Wait, who are we kidding here? Of course they will not be in Carmen. Most of the tourist locations in Bohol, at least the tourist infested ones, are far away from each other and situated in different districts.

The hills are not brown all throughout the year. There will be times when they are green, which makes the moniker “chocolate” sound a bit strange, unless that chocolate is mint flavored and coated with some green artificial food coloring. The hills were a mix of green and brown when I was there, and because it was raining, the photos were not that engaging. What would have been ideal was a mix of blue, white, and green/brown instead of dull grey. In any case, you would only be taking pictures because access to the hills themselves would take some other factors into consideration. If your habal-habal driver is up for it and it is not illegal, then maybe you could visit one of those mounds. Do NOT quote me on this because I am not sure about that information. I am only basing this assumption on the fact that I saw some residential areas near several of those hills.

A photo care of the guys from the hills would cost a hundred pesos. A popular pose is that with a broomstick, which is the closest you would probably get to faking participation in a Quidditch match. I find that a bit dangerous, though, unless the background is Photoshopped. For once in my life I feared for some of the camwhores who posed incredibly close to the cliff, where one wrong step would have had them rolling all the way down to Tagbilaran. As a consolation, they would no longer have to pay for a bus ticket going back. Moving on, going up the viewing deck means climbing how many hundreds of steps. A good alternative would be the uphill slope next to it.

Going back to Tagbilaran could mean having to stand up in a full bus. The vans seem to have an early curfew, and would be hard to find after lunch.

[CARMEN] Our Hills Are Chocolate

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