Approaching Samal Island
What can you do if you have less than 24 hours in Davao? Why, get out of your hotel and explore, of course! After surfing on my mobile and asking a few people, I decided to go the following places in Davao to make the most out of my short trip to this peaceful and cosmopolitan place in North Mindanao, Philippines. First stop: SAMAL ISLAND
Following the suggestion that I should first visit the farthest place from my hotel, I took a cab to Kilometer 11 in Sasa then a ferry ride to the Island Garden City of Samal. I left very early in the morning to make sure that I can make the most of my day, and it took me less than an hour to get to Samal. There are actually many resorts in Samal, and the more popular ones include the Pearl Farm Beach Resort and Paradise Island. I opted for a day tour of Camp Holiday since it was the nearest from the pier. I really enjoyed walking along the beach, looking at the bright blue sky, playing with the clear waters, and conversing with the friendly people. The resort was quite small compared
Taking of photos isn't allowed inside
to others, yet it had a lot of visitors even early in the morning. I would have wanted to stay longer but I had other places to explore (which really puzzled the staff, who had to ask me twice if I was really leaving). I left after enjoying my simple brunch.
For those who wish to visit Camp Holiday Resort, the day tour fee of the resort was just P80 and the ferry ride from Kilometer 11 to Samal and back was just P20. For those who want to dine here, food at this resort's a little expensive compared to the food in Davao's town proper. Therefore, if you are traveling with a group or with your family, it might be better to bring your own food and just pay a minimal corkage fee. Second Stop: DAVAO MUSEUM
After the ferry docked at Kilometer 11's wharf, I decided to take a jeepney ride to Davao Museum. It took me about 10-15 minutes to get to Davao Museum since the Saturday traffic was starting to build up. The museum was a bit secluded since it's located inside Insular Village Phase 1. Still, it was a good place to learn
about the history and culture of Davao province and Mindanao.
The Museum has two floors, with the first floor devoted to a timeline of Davao's colorful history and a private collection of artworks that reflect the influence of colonizers on Davao and the rest of the Philippines. The second floor showcased elements of the culture of the indigenous people in Davao and Mindanao, such as tribal costumes, musical instruments, old jewelry, primitive weapons, earthen ware, among others. I was personally struck by the struggles of the different tribes and how Davao's forest cover and natural resources were almost reduced to none during the incumbency of former Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos. Seeing the developments in Davao at present and their efforts towards ecological and cultural preservation, I couldn't help but admire the Dabawenyos' resilience!
You can explore Davao museum on your own. The fee is P100 for adults. A guided tour can be arranged for a group composed of at least 10 people, and the tour must be requested in advance. Taking of photos or videos inside the museum is not allowed. You can buy souvenirs at the shop inside the museum. Third Stop: DAVAO CROCODILE FARM COMPLEX
A flightless bird at the Crocodile Park
The museum's staff helped me get a cab that would bring me to my third stop, the Davao Crocodile Farm. I wanted to visit this during my first trip to Davao but I was informed there was not much to see. Since the Crocodile Farm transferred to its new location at the Riverfront Corporate City, a lot of attractions have also been set up near the Crocodile Farm. Obviously, the Crocodile Farm's main attraction is its bask of crocodiles - big, tough-skinned, aquatic predators that seemed idle and indifferent while submerged on water or lying on their bellies.
Aside from crocodiles, the farm is also home to various animals such as prancing ostriches, elegant tigers, colorful birds, scaly lizards, slithering snakes, and others. Among those animals, I enjoyed seeing the Civet, which is well-known for producing one of the most expensive coffee in the world; and the Cassowary, a flightless bird with a very dark plume.
A ticket to the Crocodile Park (at P150) includes free entrance to the nearby Butterfly House and the Tribu K' Mindanawan. After walking around the Crocodile Park, I rode a tricycle to the Butterfly House. I was initially disappointed when
Butterflies and flowers
the staff told me to proceed to the "Exhibit Area". I thought there would just be photos or maybe a glass cage with a few butterflies. I am glad that wasn't the case! When I opened the door of the exhibit area, I was amazed to see a lot of butterflies fluttering around that it felt like stepping into a wonderland! Since I came in the afternoon, taking pictures of the butterflies up close was pretty easy since most of them were resting on the leaves to escape from the heat.
From the Butterfly House, I went straight to the Tribu K' Mindanawan, a cultural village featuring the way of life of the indigenous people of Mindanao such as the Obo Manobo, Mandaya, Ata, and Blaan, . The village is near the riverside and the "exhibit areas" are actually replication of the traditional homes of the different tribes. There are also activity areas where visitors can catch a show or performance of tribal music and dance.
One of the staff recommended that if I visit next time, I should come around 3:00 p.m. so I can briefly explore the Crocodile Farm and the Butterfly House, then return to
Tribu K Mindawan
Learn about the tribes of Mindanao Philippines here
the Crocodile Farm to catch the 4 p.m. educational show (which includes seeing Pangil, the 2nd largest crocodile in the country, in action; as well as some "dancing crocodiles"). Afterwards, I could watch the 5:30 p.m. cultural performance at Tribu K Mindanawan, then eat some Crocodile Meat at the Riverside Grill, just a few steps away from the tribal village. Last Stop: SM DAVAO
I ended my day tour with a quick stop at SM Davao to buy some pasalubong and to have a sip of Davao's unique coffee blend, the Durian Coffee of Blugre. I don't really like eating durian because of its awful smell so I anticipated the worst and ordered a Scarlet Velvet Cake to help me finish the coffee. Both the coffee (with its Durian bits) and the cake (with its just-right-sweetness) were delightful, a great way of capping my day tour of the wonderful province of Davao.
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