January 31, 2017

Weekend in Davao

Jul 8-10, 2016. It's another jam-packed weekend for the travelling warriors and our destination for the week is the very popular --- Davao City!

Located in southeastern Mindanao, this city is very much known for two things: Duterte and durian. Davao is the hometown of current Philippine President, Rodrigo Duterte, where he also served as the city's mayor for several terms. The effects of his leadership are still very much present to this day - the city is clean, smoke-free and the people are disciplined. Everyone (including public utility vehicles) are following the speed limit. For someone who deals with the daily horrendous traffic in Manila, seeing PUV drivers who drive within speed limits and loads/unloads in correct places is a sight to behold. 

As ever present as Duterte's influence is the durian fruit and all things durian. Aside from fruit vendors flocking in every place, you can find durian in every food imaginable -- from fruit shakes to candies to ice cream to coffee flavor! Yup, there's no shortage of this fruit here. 

Being the biggest city in the Philippines (in terms of land area), we know we couldn't possibly cover all the must-do's in just one weekend. But we tried our best and here's a quick run-down of what we did in the short time we have:

Samal IslandSamal Island is just a quick ferry ride from the city and is known for its white sand beach. There are a lot of resorts on the island ranging from budget accommodations to posh resorts.

We stayed at Secdea Beach Resort, as recommended by my sister. The resort is beautiful, the rooms are spacious and it's reasonably priced. I suggest you stay here on a weekday to avoid the crowd of day visitors during weekends. (We initially wanted to stay at the other  popular posh resort, but due to their unreasonable child policy, we decided otherwise).

Sea Shell room at Secdea Resort
Two of the three pools in the resort
Beach area

We just stayed here for a night and it was enough to relax, enjoy the resort's amenities and binge on their sumptuous food.

Eden Nature Park and Resort. A quick drive away from the city is this man-made mountain resort offering a variety of activities and attractions. There are currently three adventure rides to try - the Sky Rider (which is a zipline), Sky Swing (a giant swing similar to the one in SandBox Pampanga) and Sky Cycle (a suspended bike ride).  

Eden is home to about a hundred-thousand pine trees
Sky Cycle
Since we got here really late, we decided to just try the Sky Cycle (the only ride we haven't tried yet anywhere!). The line was long and so we decided to try the other free activities in the area while waiting for our turn. They have a flying fox (a mini zipline-like activity) and a long obstacle course with tire obstacles, monkey bars, and a lot more adrenaline-pumping,  sweat-inducing activities.

We had so much fun racing in the obstacle course and before we know it it's our turn to try the Sky Cycle.

As fun and as easy as it looks like, the Sky Cycle is the longest, scariest, and most excruciating  ride I've tried in my entire life. Not even the crazy rollercoasters come close to this one. Unlike in a zipline or a rollercoaster ride, where you just stay still, close your eyes and scream your lungs out until the ride is over, the Sky Cycle requires that you exert effort to pedal so you can actually move and finish the ride! That, or you get stuck suspended in mid-air, about 60 feet above ground (with people cursing you for delaying the line). 

I was fighting back tears as I tried very hard to pedal while screaming and watching my kids and hubby gain lead on me. When I finally reached the other side, I really wanted to cry as I realized that we have to go pedal back to where we started! 

I'm very happy to write that I survived the Sky Cycle, and it's officially the scariest ride I've ever tried. But then, don't just take my word for it, go give it a try!!! :)

Camp Sabros. This adventure camp/mountain resort is located a bit farther out the city, approximately two-hours away. It offers a captivating view of Mt. Apo, the highest peak in the country. Unfortunately for us, it was a very cloudy day and we couldn't get a clear glimpse of the mighty mountain.

Camp Sabros is well-known for its zipline rides as they are one of the first ones to offer such in the country. They also offer accommodations for overnight trips. 

Overnight accommodation at Camp Sabros

Instead of bringing your car all the way up the mountain, you can park your car halfway up. Then ride a horse the rest of the way to the resort and enjoy the scenic view. When you get there, you might opt to have a quick brunch at their restaurant which serves mostly Filipino cuisine.

Despite the high elevation, I enjoyed the zipline ride here. The view is breathtaking and it's not as scary because you can do it with a partner. 

Davao Crocodile Park. Of course a trip to Davao will not be complete without a visit to the famous Crocodile Park. The entrance fee includes admission to the Crocodile Park, Butterfly House and a seat to see the fire dance show by the Tribu K'Mindanawan.

Be sure not to miss the Crocodile shows. They feature comedic acrobats trying to cross a tightrope hanging over the crocodile pen. They also make the crocodiles "dance" by baiting food and making them jump up vertically. 

They also have an ostrich pen and you can feed them off your palms (there's a minimal fee for the ostrich food). Now, if you don't like the idea of giant birds (as big as humans) pecking at your palm, you can choose to feed the gentler koi fish at the pond.

Up close and personal with an ostrich

Now if you're up for an exciting and new experience, you might want to try the Snake Massage. Luckily for us, it was already closed for the day, as this activity is only available until 5pm (apparently, snakes don't really like it when you make them work overtime).

Aside from exciting experiences, you can also try the exotic food available here such as crocodile ice cream (made with crocodile eggs), ostrich ice cream (made with ostrich eggs) and civet coffee (made from beans pooped out by civets, mammals that look like huge rats).

We tried the ostrich ice cream (which looks like the safest amongst the three) and it tastes like an ordinary vanilla ice cream just not as smooth and creamy.

When the sun sets, it's time to watch the fire dance show by the Tribu K'Mindanawan.

We weren't able to visit the Butterfly House because we still have a flight to catch. Also, there are more places within and near Davao that we wanted to visit (like Mati), more activities to try (like white water rafting), but for now, this is where we end our quick but jam-packed trip. 

Secdea Beach Resort
Email: secdeabeachresort@gmail.com
Tel: +63 82 305 2774
Mobile: +63 925 892 6072

Eden Nature Park and Resort
Eden Bayabas
Toril, Davao City
Tel: +63 82 2991020
Fax: +63 82 2990313
Mobile: +63 918 9307590
Email: info@edennaturepark.com.ph
Website: www.edennaturepark.com.ph

Camo Sabros
Sitio Baras, Brgy. Kapatagan
Digos City, Davao del Sur
Tel: +63 82 2840579
Mobile: +63 912 8689981
Email: inquiry@campsabros.com
Website: www.campsabros.com

Davao Crocodile Park
Diversion Highway
Ma-a, Davao City
Tel: +63 82 2868883
Fax: +63 82 2214671
Email: parkinfo@crocodilepark.ph
Website: www.crocodilepark.ph