Category Archives: Davao City

Out and about for adventure

Bahay ni Tuding is the place to go to if you’re traveling on a budget. Sure, there’s nothing spectacular about it. It’s like your old house-turned-boutique hotel, but it afforded me a quaint breakfast I enjoyed a lot.
The hearty meal was composed of toasted bread, jam, fruits and yogurt, and, of course, hot brewed coffee—something I couldn’t live without even when traveling. I was glad it was brewed coffee; not an instant 3-in-1 most budget hotels usually serve.
I had a nice sleep and since I got all the time in the world (well, for 3 days at least), I took the opportunity to wander around the place for a bit.
Except for the room bearing no windows, the hotel is nice overall. For only P1,000 a night, I enjoyed a nice bed, a bathroom with a water heater, hearty breakfast, and accommodating staff. You don’t get that much for a thousand bucks these days.
Oops, sorry for the quick review. Now, let me get down to business.
I allotted two days to go out and about for adventure in one of the cleanest cities I’ve been to so far. I did some research on the best spots to visit and the best places to eat at. My friend even found it hilarious that I got everything planned a few months back. She was laughing at me for being overly prepared for my Davao trip.
But, the thing about traveling is, not everything needs to go as planned. There’s always room for adjustment. I prepared a list of places I wanted to visit, but I ended up rehashing my itinerary.
Now, what follows is a list of the best spots and the best activities, and you don’t necessarily need to plan your trip according to it, but I bet you’ll have the best memories of your Davao trip if you tick everything off.
MUSEUMS
Museyo Dabawenyo
Never leave Davao City without paying Museyo Dabawenyo a visit. In fact, I suggest that you place this at the top of your itinerary, because this is one way of knowing and understanding Davao’s culture. Entrance is free. A guide will tell you stories about how Davao got its name, about the different tribes and ethnic groups in Davao, and many more. Take note though that you’re not allowed to take photos inside.

D’ Bone Collector Museum
Founded by Darrel Blatchley, D’ Bone Collector Museum houses hundreds (maybe, thousands even) of skeletons of various species. One of the most prized pieces is the skeleton of a saltwater crocodile named “Lolo.” It used to be the largest crocodile until its death in 2013.

NATURE AND MAN-MADE ENVIRONMENT

Samal Island
Truth be told, I didn’t go to Samal Island, because I was alone. I couldn’t imagine how I would enjoy the island on my own, without a (girl) friend to savor the moment with. But, you should go. Well, this serves as a note-to-self.
The Philippine Eagle Center
I felt a sense of fulfillment when I got the chance to gaze at the glorious Philippine Eagle. Aside from the fact that they are beautiful, their species is on the brink of extinction. They are critically endangered, as they can lay only one egg every two years.
There are other bird species and mammals in the center. You can take photos of all the animals you see, but make sure to not disturb them.
EXTREME ADVENTURE
Eden Nature Park
This one’s for the adrenaline junkie in you. Covering 40 hectares of land, Eden Nature Park offers Skycycle, Skyswing, and Zipline that will surely send the adrenaline rushing through your veins.
I tried Skycycle and pedaled my way through a 200-meter steel cable and back, 60 feet high up in the air. That, I’d say, was the highlight of my Davao trip. It was thrilling and nerve-racking at the same time. I almost backed out! But I knew I’d regret it if I didn’t push it. Plus, the fee was non-refundable, so there was no turning back.
You can also go horseback riding around the area, or play like a kid on the obstacle course. The park also boasts of hiking trails, so if you’ve got the stamina, go and savor the fresh air around the area. And you’ve paid a hefty entrance fee, so make the most out of it.

Challenge accepted! I would never say no to this adventure.

Okay, so it’s a giant swing. Wait, a GIANT what?

So, if you just want to be carefree, go to the obstacle course.

“Kumusta ang hacienda, Dodong?”

Art lovers will find this a real haven.
FOOD TRIP
Roxas Food Strip
Another note-to-self: Try some street food along Roxas Ave.
Eat durian
Davao City is famed for durian. In fact, on almost every street corner, there’s a vendor selling durian which you can eat right then and there.
Jack’s Ridge Restaurant and Café
Known not only for its good food, but also for its view deck, Jack’s Ridge is the perfect place to cap your last night in Davao.
Eat some seafood. Heads up though: minimum order is 300 grams, good for two. If you’re traveling solo like me, perhaps you’ll need to share some with a total stranger. Now, if you’re someone who can’t stand eating alone, then by all means, look for a companion. Trust me, you’ll never want to dine alone at Jack’s Ridge unless you’re someone like me who doesn’t really mind.
Drink pomelo shake, then end it with durian flan.
If the night is still young, hop to Karl Gourmet and Coffee, and sip from a cup of hot coffee with durian bits while watching the city below. The city lights make for a great spectacle while you live the moment and forget about the stress you’ve temporarily left behind.
After you’ve had your fill, head back to your hotel, get a good night’s sleep, and wake up to a beautiful morning served with toasted bread, jam, fruits and yoghurt, and a hot cup of good coffee.
All these and you’re ready to go home!

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First night’s mission: Experience downtown Davao

I took a deep breath as soon as I stepped out of the arrival area at the Francisco Bangoy International Airport (Davao City International Airport). It was both a feeling of relief that I made it to NAIA on time and of great satisfaction that I finally got the chance to travel again after a while. I’m blessed to be here.
Wasting no time, I hailed a cab to take me to the hotel where I was billeted at. I was in a dilemma at first though. I thought that if I took a cab at the airport, the driver might ask for a higher fare, just like what taxi drivers in Manila do most of the time. I thought of walking towards the gate leading outside the airport’s vicinity and hail a cab there instead, but I immediately dismissed the idea as soon as I realized that doing so would require much effort.
It was 7:45 pm and my stomach was starting to grumble, so I swallowed all bits of hesitation. The taxi driver was courteous enough to admit that he didn’t know where my hotel was located, so I just pulled out my phone and fired away Google Maps. I found the exact location and told the driver where to take me to. He obliged.
I initiated a conversation with him by asking a few questions, starting with, “Are you going to ask for an additional amount on top of the metered fare?” I almost sounded suspicious rather than inquisitive, but the driver willingly answered my query.
“Ay, bawal po dito ‘yan, Sir. Bawal pong mangontrata dito,” he said.
(“That’s not tolerated here, Sir. Demanding a fixed amount is not allowed here.”)
That’s great! My first impression: Dabawenyos are honest, obedient and disciplined.
We talked a bit more about the traits of Dabawenyos, the tourist spots, the food, the surroundings, and the bombing that shocked the nation, among others. That’s one way of getting to know the place—asking questions and seeing from the perspective of a local.
About 20 minutes later, we arrived at Bahay ni Tuding where I settled down for a few minutes before heading out for a night stroll. My mission: Wander around and experience downtown Davao at night. Oh, yes, Bahay ni Tuding is in the downtown area where you can find almost everything.
Since the hotel’s restaurant was already closed by the time I arrived, I opted to dine out. The receptionist advised me to try Kusina Dabaw. I obliged.
I found in the menu a dish that was new to my ears. Balbacua. I asked the waitress what it was, but since my stomach was already complaining, I placed my order upon hearing “beef.” Several minutes later, my order was served and, well, it was something I never expected. Apparently, balbacua is a thick soup dish with cow’s skin, seasoned with chives. I learned later on that it is a specialty dish in Davao and there’s a place in the public market called Balbacuahan, a strip of eateries serving the dish.
I didn’t like it though. Not that it wasn’t delicious at all; it just wasn’t my type of food.
As it turned out, I didn’t have a satisfying dinner, so I strolled around, looking for some redemption.
I stumbled upon a brightly lit old house that had been turned into a café and bar. Letting my curiosity take over, I entered Claude’s Le Caféde Ville.

Built in the 1920s, the old structure is owned by the Obozas, one of Davao’s highly esteemed families.The foyer was adorned with family mementos ranging from framed photos, plaques and trophies, and bottles of wine, among others.

Inside, it felt like I was transported by a time machine. A wooden floor, wooden walls, and old furniture made up the interior bathed by dim lights, adding to the serene and relaxing ambiance of the place.
They serve Irish coffee (I forgot the price), wines (P300 per glass) and cocktails (P250 per glass). I had a glass of Bacardi cocktail and a plate of cashew nuts. One thing I realized, though, was that the place is better enjoyed when you’re with someone, or with a group, because it is a place for a good conversation. There’s no live band; just some old music playing softly in the background.
A few minutes later, the waitress approached me and asked, “Sir, okay lang ba kayo? Kayo lang mag-isa?”
(“Sir, are you okay? Are you alone?”)

I just smiled and said that I was okay. In my mind, though, I screaming, “I don’t feel lonely. I’m just enjoying my time alone.” And then I left (of course, I paid the bill first).
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