We started the day by getting our hotel to ring back the two motorbike taxis from yesterday, the guys who had brought us from the bus stop and off we went with them to see the Chocolate Hills on a half day tour. They are stars of so many picture postcards from the Philippines (the Hills not the Motorbike Taxis of course). It was really good going on the back of the motorbike especially when we came off the main road onto the beaten tracks around the hills.
The hills are odd little conical shapes and are all very regular in shape if somewhat varied in size. They are called the Chocolate Hills because in the dry season when they are brown they resemble chocolate drops – I made a note to check if this is true or not, as they may be made of chocolate – yummy!
We stopped in the midst of a few of the hills – various groupings have their own little names – Seven Sisters, Seven Dwarfs etc., etc and the like. We went up a hill which was quite a fair old climb especially as it was so hot. Our ‘guides’ meanwhile rested back at the bottom of the hill in the shade whilst we navigated the route up. Okay, it was not the Eiger or anything like that but we were glad of the water we had with us. The path was gravel but every now and then you could see shells in the path from when the hills were actually a part of some seabed or other. When we reached the top we had a great view of the surrounding countryside and lots of the nearby hills and they really do look quite cool. We had heard that a recent earthquake had caused some damage to the hills but this was not evident on any that we could see from our vantage point.
We reached the bottom and the guides then took us to another hill to climb if we wanted – one of the Seven Sisters. This time they waited – again in the shade – at the nearby village whilst we walked to the hill and then attempted to find a way up it. I tried a couple of feeble attempts to set up a base camp from which to attempt the summit but the day was red hot by this time and the gravelly surface kept running away from under my feet and the final straw being that my wife’s encouragement had turned to derisive laughter so I gave up and came down. On this showing I may have to rethink my plans of conquering Everest! We walked back to our guides and zipped off once more only stopping to photograph some water buffalo in one of the watering holes. This Water Buffalo was having a wash in order to attract one of the white herons for a pairing later in the day.
We reached the Chocolate Hills tourist park and this was set on yet another chocolatey hill but this one had been slightly damaged by the earthquake. At the top the views were great and also a bit lower down from the viewing area they had a stage where Filipino boy and girls were singing songs and playing ukuleles – some of them songs we knew (Our Kid’s Wedding Song amongst them).
We treat ourselves to an ice cream before bidding the hills adieu – they are chocolate in colour but taste far too gravelly for my liking. It had been a really good trip but next we had to get back to our hotel for the next leg of our trip across Bohol.
We collected our things from the hotel and waited outside for the bus to Tagbilaran a ferry port which would enable us to get over to Dumaguette. The bus came and we were off, even this journey was nice with a lot of jungle to see with turquoise blue rivers running through and then the scenery would change to open rice fields. This was the flavour of the trip, full of the most vibrant greens all the way. The lovely scenery was only punctuated by the lovely shouting of the bus conductor as they have a habit doing here.
We reached our hotel at Tagbilaran which was called Tr3ats Guesthouse – it was a new hotel and seemed quite swish though the town was a bit more run of the mill but that said, after a rest we still took a walk into town where there seemed to be some things going on in front of the church but we were hungry and needing some stuff from the shops. First off, food was found at a restaurant round the corner from the church and the square – this was really nice and the place was staffed by deaf people too. The signs showed you how to say please and thank you using (Filipino?) sign language. After filling our tummies we went off to the shops well one shopping mall is all we could stand – bought everything we needed and went back to the hotel. During the trip ‘home’ Liz saved me from an untimely demise at the hands of a moped rider, I gave her a telling off as I was quite shocked by the whole affair. Anyhow finally back at the hotel we decided on a beer so Liz decided on chucking hers all over the place – what a palaver! So when we got it cleaned up we thought it best that we go to bed.