Aug 22-Oct 31, 2016
GPS waypoint: 7°03'51.7"N 125°36'27.8"E
Location: Davao City, Mindanao, Philippines
Life in Singapore was becoming easier with every passing day. With a few hotel stays already in place, I could have stayed longer, but I run the risk of being too late for the durian season in Davao - thus my early departure from Singapore.
From Singapore, I could have taken the US$102 direct flight for Davao from Skyscanner but I wavered thinking the price might go lower - it never did. By the time I felt the pressure to leave, the cheapest flight I could find was to go to Manila first and take another plane for Davao - a total of US$150, duh! Sometimes, I think the only person I'm outsmarting is me.
Deja Vu Philippines
I came back to the Philippines for a few reasons:
- apply for a Chinese visa (for a possible Beijing trip) as they have advised me in Kuala Lumpur to make the application in the Philippines
- renew my passport, as the 6-month window was nearing
- get my durian revenge in Davao after my frustration with Penang's exorbitantly priced Musang King at US$13/kilo
- to get my much needed rest from the fast-paced life of traveling continuously for 8 months
- I was missing Davao already
Manila Taxi Scam
Upon arriving in Manila, fearing I might miss my flight to Davao, I tried to get a cab for the 2-km transfer from Terminal 1 to Terminal 4. The yellow airport cab with a big 'metered' sign wanted a P200 flat fee - for that short 2 kilometers! I went to talk to the white cars (called taxis but looking like private cars) and they wanted P550! The Grab taxi stand wanted P250! I was furious at them, almost yelling that they were a bunch of scammers and out to take advantage of travelers. I thought that with the new administration, things would change. Luckily, the free shuttle was leaving. I took it instead and still made it to my flight. This scam would not take place without the complicity (and added earnings) of the airport authorities. Paging....President Duterte...one phone call to these scammers and they'll be quick to clean up their act!
Davao has always been a favorite destination for me. Every time I visit, the energy is different, giving the place a fresh welcoming scene whether it be people, events or new places of interest. Of course, there are the main stays - yoga, durian and tuna. I wonder what this beautiful place has in store for me this time.
A few days into Davao, walking around, I stumbled upon a street sugbo, where I ordered a slab of 1/3k tuna collar for only P130 ($2.80). It was cooked to perfection. A sprinkling of calamansi (baby lemons) and it was a dish fit for a king. Full, I walked some more and stumbled upon a durian vendor. I couldn't say no to durian. I usually go for a kilo but the smallest they had was 1.9 kilos. At P40/kilo, I only paid P77 ($1.67). I gorged it - all 1.9 kilos of the most delicious Cob durian I've ever had. Bloated with the finest street food you can find, I came back to my hotel with satisfied smile. All that goodness for P207 ($4.50)! Durian is one of the reasons I'm in Davao. With its P50/kilo price, I could have my fix everyday - and I do for the most part. Of course, mangosteen and marang is also in season and I take them all in alternating intervals. This is one of Davao's magic - fruits are aplenty and they are all affordable. I could not do this in Cebu or Manila - not even when in season! Durian and tuna would be my staple in Davao. Even though it's cheap, I know it's beyond my budget. However, I appreciate the fact that after Davao, I could never have those meals again for such a price. In Singapore, I can't even buy a small shot of espresso with that money. Davao is amazing!
Marang madness in Davao
Renewing my passport was painless. I applied for an appointment online (http://www.passport.com.ph/), showed up at SM Ecoland (the only passport place for Davao) and got my passport in 20 days from the interview time. Renewal was about P1000. While this level of efficiency is common and expected abroad, in the Philippines, this is not always the case. I'm glad Davao is forward-thinking that way.
I thought this was odd. When I get hotel deals, it usually includes breakfast for two. It's my chance to invite and get to talk one-on-one, to people I have connected with. On separate dates, I invited 3 people (among many) to be my breakfast guest or coffee guest. They said yes but none showed up - changed their minds at the last minute. I didn't find the need to tell them I had to skip a yoga class or miss a workout for that breakfast...or miss my sleep. I find that disturbing.
This is perhaps Davao's most under-rated public offering. Cinematheque showcases quality indie local films or critically acclaimed foreign films, most of the time, for free! I watched 3 Argentinian films and a couple of European films - all of them great and carefully selected. But public turnout is dismal. A lot haven't even heard of it. I see it as a marketing problem. With social media, so much can be done. If the public can only be made aware of this. It's such a wonderful venue.
They were initially left as open excavation where people fell through when the streets were flooded on heavy rain. But as I was leaving, I saw the colverts in place and the open holes covered with concrete on top of it. At least I see public spending on infrastructure that will benefit the people of Davao in the many coming years. I hope there will more of that. With Duterte's presidency, Davao has been seeing explosive growth - infrastructure should keep pace with the rising urban migration.
In one of my earlier visits, Davao was an unforgiving place. No matter what I did, nothing was happening - no hotel deals, no cash income...nothing. I had to pawn my GPS for bus money out of Davao. I felt defeated.
Now, Davao was generous to a fault. It even gave me more than what I expected - money for a new laptop, lodging with my aunt, a series of comfy hotels to stay, part of a food tour, meet new friends in yoga and meet-up with Jin, a traveler I met along my Southeast Asian tour.
I accomplished everything I set out to do in Davao - got a new laptop, gorged myself with tuna and durian, got my passport renewed, teach/attend yoga classes and got to catch up with friends and family.
Notwithstanding its abundance and blessings, after 9 weeks, it felt time to go. I will always be grateful for this episode. Davao was simply magical. Thank you...and thank you to all those who made it happen (you know who you are).
Davao City, Philippines
- Bahay ni Tuding - central Poblacion location, wifi, hands-on owner
160 San Pedro Street, 8000 Davao City
0947 361 3544 | 7°03'57.6"N 125°36'28.3"E
- The Pinnacle Hotel and Suites - central location, new management, newly renovated
Sta. Ana Avenue, Davao City 8000, Philippines
(+63) 932-8708621 | 906-3185885 | 7°04'34.2"N 125°36'54.2"E
- The Apo View Hotel - Davao's iconic hotel, old world charm, casino
150 J. Camus Street, Davao City Philippines 8000
+63 (82) 221-6430 to 40 | 7°04'09.2"N 125°36'27.4"E
- North Zen Basic Spaces - great rooms at affordable prices
Sobrecarey St. (corner Lapu-Lapu St.), Davao City, 8000
(082) 295.3997 | 7°04'43.0"N 125°37'04.3"E
- Urban Living Zen Hotel - newly opened - all NEW!
F.s. Dizon Bacaca, 8000 Davao City
(082) 287 3133 | 7°05'28.4"N 125°36'22.3"E
- The Royal Mandaya Hotel - heart of downtown Davao City
J. Palma Gil Street, Davao City, 8000
(+63 82) 225.8888 | 7°04'09.4"N 125°36'36.8"E
- Alu Hotel Davao - central downtown location
M. Roxas Avenue corner Padre Faura Street, Davao
+63 82 227 5232 | 7°04'07.7"N 125°36'51.7"E
- One Oasis Davao - hotel accommodation in a condo unit
Eco-west Drive, Ecoland, Davao City
firstname.lastname@example.org | 0925.500.3211 | 7°02'49.2"N 125°35'19.1"E
- Apollo Van Rental - Davao City tour, Samal Island tour, airport transfer
0925.500.3211 | email@example.com
yoga | health | fitness
- one of the cleanest potable water in the country
- smoking is banned from commercial establishments
- pineapple samurais are endemic here and nowhere else in the country (pineapple vendors who cut-up whole pineapples into chunks with just a few strokes of their carving knives)
- public utility drivers conspicuously display their IDs
- durian Mecca of the Philippines (not to mention Marang, Mangosteen and Sweet Pomelo)
- you want to add some more? please submit on the form below
- the weighing scale of fruit vendors specially the durian push cart vendors are a blatant cheat - showing almost twice the actual weight
- Revisiting Davao Aug 22-Oct 31, 2016
- A Roof Over my Head in Davao Aug 22-Oct 31, 2016
- Davao Yoga Scene Oct 31, 2016
- Pranayama Oct 24, 2016
- Yoga Beyond the Mat Oct 21, 2016
- Grilled Tuna Overload in Davao Oct 13, 2016
- Duterte Mania in Davao Oct 12, 2016
- Sirsasana, Sarvangasana - Yoga Makaranda II Oct 7, 2016
- Tirumalai Krishnamacharya Oct 5, 2016
- Ashtanga Yoga with James Fritz Freire at Holiday Gym and Spa Oct 1, 2016
- There was a Bomb Explosion? Sep 30, 2016
- Jin in Davao Sep 29, 2016
- Scrubs and Hilot at Holiday Gym and Spa Sep 22-29, 2016
- The Fabulous Dabawenyos Aug 22-Sep 26, 2016
- Nirvana Breathing Fitness with Lita C. Quisumbing Sep 21, 2016
- Massage, Sauna and Ear Candling at Holiday Spa and Gym Sep 17-19, 2016
- Downpour in Davao Sep 18, 2016
- Lounge One Yoga Sequence by May Bel Le at North Zen Hotel Sep 16, 2016
- Celebrating Davao's King of Fruits - Durian! Sep 11, 2016
- The Blast that Rocked Davao Sep 2, 2016
- Hatha Flow Yoga with Joanna Lizares Co at Holiday Spa and Gym Aug. 31, 2016
- Conducting a Power Yoga Class at Yoga Davao Aug 29, 2016
- Good Eats with Mel Pangan's Davao Food Tour Aug 26, 2016
- Bank of the Philippine Islands (BPI) Aug 25, 2016
- A Gifted Dell Laptop from the Usual Suspect Aug. 24, 2016
- The Duterte Phenomenon Oct 21, 2015
- 20 Days in Davao City July 4- 24, 2014
- Goodbye Davao...Again! Sep 28, 2013
- Wine and Cheese at Malagos Farm House Sep 27, 2013
- Custom-made Peanut Butter at Davao City's Bankerohan Market Sep 27, 2013
- Yoga in Davao Sep 26, 2013
- Celebrating 25 Years of Habitat for Humanity Philippines Sep 18, 2013
- Clobbered in a Vicious Karate Match Sep 17, 2013
- Back Into the Black Sep 1, 2013
- No Reply Aug 30, 2013
- Full Body-Cavity Search without the Latex Aug 25, 2013
- Fun Day with Crocodile Sonny and Sports Unlimited Dynamic Duo, Dyan Castillejo and Marc Nelson Aug 15, 2013
- Fun! Fun! at Maxima AquaFun, Samal Island Aug 11, 2013
- Goodbye Davao Jan 22, 2013
- Davao City's Peace and Order Jan 21, 2013
- Holiday Spa Yoga, Davao City Jan 20, 2013
- Free Yoga at People's Park Jan 12, 2013
- Davao City: Family Ties Dec 15-22, 2012
- Breakup Diaries: Chance Encounter in Davao City Dec 19, 2012
- Davao City June 20-23, 2009
- Davao City March 18-20, 2008
- Mount Apo March 15-18, 2008
Aug 22-Oct 31, 2016
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