May Peace Prevail on Earth
Photo of the pole with signage that reads, “May Peace Prevail on Earth,” overlooking the Chocolate Hills, on the island of Bohol, in the Philippines
The Chocolate Hills were a great spot for my trademark jumping pics! In these photos, I’m leaping right over the Chocolate Hills.
Wondering why they call them “Chocolate Hills” if they’re green? In the dry season they look like perfectly formed little Hershey Kisses. Explained here, with more photos.
Bohol, Philippines — They call this area the Chocolate Hills, and while the name sounds like something out of Willie Wonka, it’s actually a collection of more than a thousand (1,247-1,776, depending on who’s count you go by) limestone haycock hills spread over 20 miles on the island of Bohol, Philippines. During the dry season, the green grass turns brown and looks like endless rows of Hershey Kisses, hence the name Chocolate Hills. I guess Muddy Hills just doesn’t have the same ring to it – or tourist draw.
The Chocolate Hills are cone-shaped or dome-shaped hills and are actually made of grass-covered limestone. The domes vary in sizes from 100-160 feet, with the largest ones going to nearly 400 feet. Trees grow on the base of the hills but the rest of them are bare, filled only with grass (which turns to dirt in the dry season).
The legend on how the Chocolate Hills formed is a bit more fun. There’s a romantic story of a giant named Arogo who was extremely powerful. Arogo fell in love with Aloya, who was a simple mortal. Aloya’s death caused Arogo much pain and misery, and in his sorrow he could not stop crying. When his tears dried, the Chocolate Hills were formed. Full story of the legend can be found here.
I didn’t think the Chocolate Hills were quite as impressive as the hype, but they were certainly interesting and would be more intriguing if they were actually chocolate (or we’d settle for chocolate-colored).
Wikipedia does a good job summarizing the science behind Chocolate Hills.
We stopped to enjoy the view of impressive Petra during our hike up, and stopped to appreciate a woman singing at the top of the mountain. It was one of those moments where she’s singing loudly at the top of the cliff, with her voice echoing all the way down to where we stopped, but nobody else seemed to notice.
If you know what she’s singing about, or even what language she’s singing in (Arabic?) please do let me know in the comments.
This post is from my day hiking up a volcano, where we discovered sulfur mining at Kawah Ijen volcano. It’s is the site of a labor intensive sulfur mining operation in Kawah Ijen volcano and acid crater lake, in eastern Java, Indonesia. Miners extract the sulfur and carry it 8,660 feet up and down the mountain.
Sulfur Mining photos from our Kawah Ijen volcano adventure are below.
Kawah Ijen – I don’t recommend eating sulfur deposits
My favorite photos of Kawah Ijen come from the Boston Globe’s photography section, The Big Picture, which has been getting much better recently. I’ll track down the direct photo.
As we hiked up towards the peak of the Kawah Ijen volcano crater, visibility got worse with each step
So much for the amazing Kawah Ijen view of a turquoise crater lake surrounded by Volcanoes.
At least I’d soon discover the sulfur mining at Ijen.
Sulfur mining photos from our hike at Kawah Ijen
Visibility and colors were changing with each step. The air got more difficult to breathe as we got towards the peak due to the sulfur. Check out the photos:
Our hike to see Kawah Ijen would have been a failed mission, had we not discovered fascinating sulfur mining. Redemption for our Java experience.
After seeing this photo of Ijen I knew I wanted to visit:
From the photos it looked gorgeous – a turquoise crater lake in the middle of a group of volcanoes. But after a red-eye road trip to the base, and a difficult 2-hour drive up the mountain, and a hike up, the overcast sky became nothing but fog. Visibility was only a few feet in some places. All we saw was this:
I’m 0 for 2 on attempts at seeing volcanoes on this trip to Java. I almost turned back but then we took a different hike to see the sulfur mining on the other side of the mountain.
After leaving Bali at 9am, we arrived at Surabaya (SUB) on the island of Java at 9am. Nadya and I were picked up at the airport by her cousins friend, who was kind enough to drive us 2.5 hours to her cousins place. That’s exceptionally nice – would you do that for a friend’s friend visiting? Would you drive 2.5 hours to pick up a friend’s cousin’s new friend at the airport?
The plan was to head to Gungung Bromo, their largest volcano to watch it at sunrise. We got a ride to her cousins, at which point we’d we’d take another leg of transportation towards the base of the mountain, and leave for the mountain around 4am. It’s a lot of effort but Lonely Planet Indonesia (Travel Guide) raved about it.
Indonesia has 129 volcanoes (debated number; some place the number as more than 150), most in the world, and none are more beautiful than Gunung Bromo, on the eastern side of the island of Java (same island as Jakarta, Indonesia, where U.S. President Barack Obama once lived). There’s actually 40 volcanoes on the island of Java alone, but beautiful postcards from Indonesia with a volcano are typically of Bromo. It’s impressive!