Maomags and the Choco Hills of Bohol
So, we only had one full day to spend on the island of Bohol before we headed south on a ferry to the isle of Camiguin.
What to do, what to do?
A quick google image search pulled up two repetitive images: the chocolate hills and the tiny, bug-eyed tarsiers.
So, that we did.
Thanks to the deafies, we set off on a borrowed (not rented!) bike and delved into rural Bohol.
The tarsier sanctuary we found (apparently there is more than one) was devoid of tourists and we spotted only two of the tiny primates, perched high in the treetops. One glared right at us as I tried to snap a picture, and that was the end of my attempts of landing a national geographic worthy picture of tarsiers.
We were told they were nocturnal animals (hence the big eyes!) and are extremely sensitive to light and noise. After learning more about them, I was ok with our brief encounter. It turns out the cute tarsiers are highly territorial and will not abide being in close proximity to even another tarsier. They are capable of even becoming suicidal (plummeting to their deaths) if exposed to too many stressful situations (i.e., too much noise or an encroacher).
Every morning before the sanctuary opens, the workers comb the area to try and find as many of the tarsiers as possible. On the morning we went, they could only find two, and they consider that a good number.
From there, we rode on to the mysterious choco hills. Legend has it the hills were formed when a giant wept over his lost love, but I’m kinda resistant to the idea of solidified giant tears. Scientists offer an alternative explanation: the hills were formed by erosion.
According to the fallen plague at the lookout, a few million years ago, the area was covered by the sea and coral reefs. Over time, the land rose above sea level, and over the course of hundreds of thousands of years, acidic rain ate through the fragile layers of coral and shell fragments. First it started as small puddles, then they deepened into streams, rivers and gullies, then widened into lakes, and that’s how the conical hills were formed from flat surfaces. “Thus, the chocolate hills that you now behold are products of the patient laboring of rainwater on a thin, soluble limestone formation.”
Unfortunately, there is absolutely nothing chocolately about the hills. I have no idea why they are called such. I read somewhere that supposedly they are a chocolately color at some specific time of year, but all pictures I’ve seen of it are a light green or maaaaybe a caramel shade, but nowhere near the shade of chocolate I’m accustomed to.
To add to that, it was a lousy lookout, because abandoned construction projects kept blocking the view everywhere I aimed the camera. I had to really configure myself into strange positions to get a decent, unobstructed picture. No other way to get up close and personal with the hills, not even another viewpoint to ascend.
I have to say I don’t know if the choco hills deserve the hype. Indeed, they could be called ‘cool’ and they are some kinda wonder of nature, but if we had used public transportation (or paid for a tour) to get all the way there and back, I wouldn’t have felt like it was worth the effort and costs.
I liked what we saw on our drive there, and the deafies told me about a few other places worth visiting; there seems to be more to Bohol than just the hills, so would people please give it a rest?
But we made a nice day out of it, so at least there’s that.