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Revisiting Davao Aug 22-Oct 31, 2016

Revisiting Davao

GPS waypoint: 7°03'51.7"N 125°36'27.8"E
Location: Davao City, Mindanao, Philippines

Goodbye Singapore
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.

Cheap Flight
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 phone call to these scammers and they'll be quick to clean up their act!

Davao Culturescape
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.

Davao Eats
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!

Revisiting Davao
Marang madness in Davao

Renewing my passport was painless. I applied for an appointment online (, 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.

No Show
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.

Cinematheque Davao
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.

Drainage Infrastructure
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.

Ending Thoughts
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).

--- TheLoneRider

Next stop: Coron, Busuanga, Palawan

arriving Davao from Singapore kneaded like a bread dough at Holiday Gym and Spa the jolly Plana Forma yogis who adopted me with Mel and her food tour, Mel's Davao Food Tour
keeping fit at People's Park sugar cane juice! this should be more readily available on the street...not just in the mall having my outdoor street dinner along Roxas Street. An hour later, a bomb exploded on the other end visiting my Mom, a Dabawenya
getting involved with Shine, an advocacy on autism despite his imperfection, Duterte is still the only one capable of meaningful change in our personal opinion treated to Malagos Farm for wine and cheese by my adorable Holiday Gym yogi friends emulating the Malaysian and Singaporean breakfast set...2 soft boiled eggs, coffee and buttered toast
discovering an Indian restaurant. Apparently, there are many Indians in Davao taking up medicine sumptuous breakfast buffet at Apo View Hotel business as usual at Roxas Street, the site of the bomb blast celebrating my birthday with my aunts, delicious cake by my Plana Forma yogi friends
Kapangpangan lunch at Bistro ni Tuding with my aunts and uncle movie time at Cinematheque Davao drainage construction is coming to completion my last durian at Bangkerohan with my dear Manang Suki

Google Map Davao City, Philippines

tourist attractions in Davao City tourist attractions hotels in Davao City - hotel van rental in Davao City van rental
  • Apollo Van Rental Apollo Van Rental - Davao City tour, Samal Island tour, airport transfer
    0925.500.3211 |
yoga in Davao City yoga | health | fitness food tour in Davao City tour food in Davao City resto | cafes in Davao City cafe autism in Davao City advocacy

Great Things Going for Davao City

  • 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

Not So Great Things Going Against Davao City

  • the weighing scale of fruit vendors specially the durian push cart vendors are a blatant cheat - showing almost twice the actual weight

Davao Related Articles

Davao City Travel Information
Currency Converter

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Aug 22-Oct 31, 2016

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Davao Hotels


Davao hotel
One Oasis Davao

Davao hotel
Alu Hotel Davao
Davao hotel
Urban Living Zen Hotel

Davao hotel
The Apo View Hotel
Davao hotel
The Pinnacle Hotel and Suites

Davao hotel
The Royal Mandaya Hotel
Davao City hotel
Bahay ni Tuding
Inn and Resto

Davao hotel
North Zen Basic Spaces

Health and Fitness

Davao hotel
Lounge One
Yoga Davao
Davao Yoga, gym, spa, salon
Holiday Gym & Spa
gym | spa | yoga
massage | salon
Alveo Herbal
Alveo Herbal
cleanse the body
boost immune system
Lucy Rivero
T 0917.660.9529

Food and Coffee

Davao Pampanga cooking
Bistro ni Tuding
Davao restaurant
Le Cafe Bar & Grill Restaurant
Mel's Davao Food Tour
Mel's Davao Food Tour
Davao hotel
FROG Kaffee


Van Rental

Davao Autism
Shine Life Skills Center
Davao hotel
Cinematheque Davao
Davao hotel
Apollo Van Rental