SPRAWLING DAVAO: DURIAN AND EAGLES


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Asia » Philippines » Mindanao » Davao
January 7th 2010
Published: January 25th 2010EDIT THIS ENTRY

flight from Manila to Davao took a good hour and a half and I slept right away. Arriving just before 6pm as we stepped out of the tube gate the 1st thing I notice is the strong smell of durian, welcoming me to Mindanao!! The terminal is nice and clean, after picking up my backpack I came out and waited for Olan outside, not 10 minutes later he showed up, 1st time meeting is always awkward but he right away made me feel at home, he is my 2nd Couch Surfing host. he has his own car and he immediately showed me around the city by night going through neighborhoods, the main drag, the bar area, what i noticed is they have their own version of jeepney, its much smaller and I thought immediately, my backpack won't fit there so can't ride it when I have to leave Olan's digs. Also it is noticeably cleaner and quieter than Manila. Davao city is a huge sprawl of a city, the largest in area in the country and I noticed they built the city to spread wide instead of up, meaning not a lot of skyscrapers much like the New Zealand towns.
Museo DabawenyoMuseo DabawenyoMuseo Dabawenyo

made of durian peels

We are both hungry so we went to a place called Luz Kinilaw place. The smell of seafood grilling whet my appetite right away, char broiled tuna jaw in skewers, squids, tuna tails, huge fish roes, a specialty, yummm. The ladies were continuosly grilling piece after piece of fish, they are very busy and popular. Olan chose our dish and up we went to the 2nd floor it's a big mess room like set up, very simple but crowded. Food came and we digged in, I was in heaven, savouring all the fresh grilled seafood I could get, then comes the tuna kinilaw and Olan simply put some vinegar, chilis, and it was superb much like the one in Kapuluan Vista resort in Pagudpud only fresher. Then fish tinola came, tuna in a simple palate clearing broth. We both struggled to finish but we wasted nothing, happy and satisfied we again cruised the town. They have Chinatown here and a new park called People's park, closed tonight for maintenance, too bad.

We stopped at the seawall for a walk while we sip the durian flavoured coffee we bought! I am not a big coffee drinker and mine is a cappucino with bits of durian, not bad really, strong smell but subtle flavor. There is a statue of David in the park, naked in all it's glory, this is only one of the 4 replica of Micheangelo's masterpiece and its huge, I mean the statue. There is a pool where baby sharks swim around, cool set up and locals come here to chill and perhaps neck. Then we decided to go for a massage, Davao has a number of health spas and massage centers, and they are cheap, quite cheap, we paid not even 300 pesos for a 75 minute massage at a place called Firm therapeutic massage, excellent way to cap the night with.
Then we picked up Olan's mate, Maricar, very bubbly girl, quite funny and cute. She will stay the night as well at Olan's who live in the outskirt of town.

A marketing manager at Apo hotel the oldest in Mindanao, he did very well for himself, his abode is small but very cute and neat, quite homey and I have my own room! Man this guy is really cool, making me feel very much at home from the get go. We are all tired so went to bed just past 1am! These guys still have to work the next day mind you but willing to entertain a first timer in Davao.

Woke up around 8am Maricar and Olan my couchsurfing host is busy preparing filipino breakfast of corned beef and pancit canton with loadsfull of rice, sweet! They then drop me off at a junction where I took an a/c jeep to Calinan, it was about 1/2 hour then the driver found a dude on motorbike to get me to the Eagle Conservation center. 10 minutes later we are in the facility in a district called Malagos, after paying the entrance fee of 50 pesos, I quickly headed straight to the eagles very excited, with strange names like Pagasa, Dakila, Geothermica, its uniquely Filipino indeed. The Philippine eagle or formerly known as monkey eating eagle,these birds are threatened in their natural habitat due to deforestation and here you can see them in all their magnificent glory, some are paired to mate. I quite enjoyed my time watching their antics, some fluff their feathers, some spread out their wings others just stare at me curiously. There are also some kites and sea eagles in cages, the cages are quite big so they can move about as they please. Aside from a annoying family, there we no other people their aside from me so I took my time walking around the complex. Deers, monkeys and wild pigs are also here and nice lush green set up makes for an enjoyable stroll in the park.

From the outside while walking towards the waiting shed for trikes, I saw a wooden sculpture of an eagle capturing a monkey, thought it was cool, that's it's old name by the way. Flagged a motorbike and took me to the a/c jeepney waiting shed. I needed to pay at the counter before getting onboard. It filled up quickly and off we went, an hour of agony, one guy had a B.O. and it filled up a stench in the whole jeep, I checked first if it was me, happy to report I still smell good! I fell asleep in the jeep and woke up in time to get off at C.M.Recto near the Marco Polo hotel. I walked around getting lost most of the time but easy to ask the locals, found a cheap eatery inside the markets then walked around some more, I checked out the fruit stands and observed how people go about their business here, not as bustling as Manila, streets are clean and orderly traffic. In the eve I met up with my host Olan ad his friend Phillip at the People's park but it was shut for maintenance so can't get in, dropped off my mingy laundry, they have a minimum of 4 kgs. charge, my washings struggled to reach 2 kilos, 80 pesos not so bad really. We went up to the top of the hill overlooking the city of Davao, there is a resort there with a pool and restaurants and a magnificent view of sprawling Davao. There are ancient shells, clams etc discovered right at the hill proving that this island of Mindanao was once under the sea.

We drove down and found a place to eat cheap dinner and met up with more of Olan's friends, Gary, Maricar, and Jong joined us for a hearthy dinner of Pakfry(paksiw then fried big fish), among other thins, they have here unlimited rice, for the gluttons among us! Then moved on to a dirnking place where we met up with another couchsurfers,
Seawall parkSeawall parkSeawall park

David's statue
a local named Czaldy and Josh from the US, when we joined them they were already starting their 2nd bottle of Tanduay rhum. More San Miguel beers later and good stories we headed to the sea wall and had some balut while admiring the statue of David. Tired and already almost 2am we headed back to Olan's house leaving Josh and Czaldy at a dodgy bar place for more merriment. We agreed to meet at 10am for a day excursion to Samal island.

Woke up really late, around 10am, so forget about Samal island today, Olan dropped me off at the Davao museum , its free, and I have a guided tour of the small place, most of the things though my guide doesn't know, not well informed, most of my questions were unanswered. There is some cool artwork downstairs, product of a yearly contest among locals to be creative in making paintings, I quite like that most used natural local materials like the durian peels, abaca fibers etc. Walked the Osmerna park noticed people getting massages and nailwork done. I looked for the My Hotel hotel to book for my stay tomorrow, took awhile to find it I
Olan's digsOlan's digsOlan's digs

my CS host's house in davao city
went past it and ended up at the Bankerohan market where they have fresh fruits, durian, mangosteen, manoes, lanzones, rambutan to name a few, I also had a cheap lunch at the turo turo eateries inside the market, $1.50 barely!

I met Olan and his friends again for dinner at the place they call Shangri La but its nothing but.. A small eatery with mostly chicken parts skewered and ready for grilling, hearts, liver, kidneys, necks, butts every part is put to use here and they are quite delicious and cheap! The gang showed me the Pinoy karaoke Davao style, we went cruising the town and stopped at this famous hotel near the waterfront where you can Paradise resort on Samal Island, from there we went to a Karaoke bar and everyone except me sang, very funny, they give it their all, especially Olan but they have good voice, I even with inebriation caused by San Miguel beer did not manage to get up the stage and belt out a few tunes. Of course the favorite is sad love songs! Went home really tired and slept in pretty well at Olan's.

After breakfast we got dropped off by Olan at My Hotel, a nice cheap place to stay in downtown at San Pedro street, Maricar took me cell phone shopping but we failed to buy one, I was looking for a tri band for less than 1,000 pesos but they are more expensive than that so screw it another time maybe.
In the eve we again went out for some food and then went to see a movie at the SM mall, they went to see Avatar and I chose to see a tagalog movie called Panday which was really crap, wasted my $2.5!
Tomorrow I head to General Santos city to check out Manny Pacquiao's digs and get some fresh tuna!


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