Traveling from Tagbiliaran to Carmen is a long ride but the best part of the trip is what you see along the way and of course, Carmen, where the chocolate hills can be viewed from an elevated flat form.
I pass by Loboc River and the town’s many interesting sights, their popular river cruise has been featured on TV and print media (something that I would try before going back to Tagbilaran the same day). The river is extensive and wide, it stretches for kilometers, and its clean – villages and jungle sits right beside it, it was a sight to behold, I wonder how life is living next to it.
The fun part of the long trip to Carmen is the scenery (I try not to count hours but savor the moment!) I saw nothing but nature, pure nature especially when the climb towards the midland started, and it was awesome. When we reached the man made forest, the trees made the sun disappear, the bus had to open its lights inside so that the vehicle would be visible from incoming traffic. The trees here were planted by volunteers decades ago. I’ve never thought that something that looks so natural was a project of men; I guess I’m used to seeing men destroy nature, here they brought it back, and it was a good feeling seeing it.
After the man made forest, we pass by this truck that has plummeted into the ravine, I don’t know if it has been there for some time, I think the driver and his passenger had long been evacuated but the scene reminds people that the road is safe only if people make it safe, the highway have some tricky curves and because it was built on a mountain, some parts of it is drenched with natural forest water. I don’t think I’m skilled enough to drive here, how can someone drive here at night?
I don’t know how long the trip took when we finally reached the poblacion of Bilar, the bus did stop in front of its Mercado, unloading passengers and merchandise, it was the busiest place in Bilar – passing the poblacion one could begin to see some of the Chocolate hills, actually its during summers that these hills becomes brown, making it appear like giant Hershey kisses, but after summer it becomes green and it is now.
My only advice to other nomads commuting to Carmen, always ask for directions, upon boarding the bus in the terminal in Dao inform the conductor or your seatmate or someone who knows that you’re going to Carmen to see the chocolate hills.
I’m often too shy to ask, often just relying on my gut instinct – that’s why I get lost all the time – but I like getting lost, it is when I’m lost that I find myself – moments that I really feel good, it completes the traveler in me, its weird but I’ve always been this way.
I remember when I was a grade school seeing a poster of chocolate hills in our classroom, along with Taal Volacano and Luneta. These images never left my mind, I wonder if public schools still have those scenic posters. I marveled what it was made of, dreaming that it was really chocolates, well it didn’t turn out to be real chocolates but seeing it is one sweet unforgetable experience.