Monday, May 23, 2011

Wow Davao! Part 3: Where to go and some thoughts

This eagle is named Sir Arny. He is the only eagle not cooped up in a cage but one of his talons is tied to his perch so he doesn't fly away.
Since Davao City is so huge, it would be better to hire a taxi for a whole day to take you around the tourist spots of Davao. 

Tip:  Ask around. Your hotel may be able to get you a better deal. And make sure to get a clear itinerary from your taxi driver. Our hotel said they could have arranged a tour for P2,500 that would include all the top destinations: Eagle Center, Eden Park, Crocodile Park, etc. for a 10-hour tour. Don't be like us. We hired the first taxi we rode and only went to the Eagle cnter, the croc park and Aldevinco for an 8-hour trip. Eden would have cost an extra P500. We didn't even get to go to Malagos garden to take a picture of the Waling-waling orchids. Anyway.....
 You must go to the Philippine Eagle Center, where conservation efforts are being made to save  our country's national bird. The entrance fee is onlyP50 which will help save the eagles. We first sat through a short video about how the Philippine eagle only reproduces once every 2 years and how the denudation of forests and hunting has severely affected their numbers. I felt so sad for these majestic creatures I wanted to say sorry to each one of them in their cages when they should be soaring free.
A pair of eagles that the center hopes will breed.
One of the many brahminy kites around the center.
The center is situated at the foot of Mt. Apo and was made to resemble a rainforest and it is amazing to see the eagles way up high in their cages. They also have hawks and other eagles as well as Palawan deer, boars and monkeys. This was definitely the highlight of the tour.
 If you haven't been to a crocodile park,which we skipped in Puerto Princesa, check out the Davao's Crocodile Park. For P150 you can see the crocodiles and numerous other animals in their zoo.

Tip: Every hour or so, they announce that visitors can have their photo taken with a python and a baby croc for free. Otherwise, they charge P35 per person.

The weird thing about touching a snake is how cold and soft their skin feels. It's unnerving!

Your ticket also lets you enter the Butterfly House (which we skipped since it was soooo hot, we assumed the butterflies would be hiding) and the Tribu K'Mindanawan Cultural Village which shows the different houses that the indigenous people of Mindanao call home. They have a show on weekends right after the croc show but we had a plane to catch so all we saw were houses and some of the performers resting in one of the huts.

Mama checked out some of the authentic clothing on sale but they were just too pricey and not really practical to buy.  They are really beautiful but how often would you actually wear this?
 Check out Ponce Suites for a look at Davao artist Kublai Millan's many, many artworks. We stayed here for 2 nights but we don't really recommend it. While really cheap, the rooms are not new and the beds are not very comfortable. It's also quite funny to see whole walls covered in art but inside, the rooms are almost bare. It's also located quite far from the center of the city but on the plus side, it's very quiet, like a private subdivision. And if you want some durian ice cream and other durian products, there's a house next door that sells them.

 Take a walk in People's Park for more artworks by Kublai. The place is huge and entrance is free.  I just don't know why most of the lights were off. The fountains and waterfalls were off, too. Maybe the city was conserving energy and only turned on the lights on weekends?  Too bad, I bet they looked lovely.


 Shop for souvenirs at Aldevinco. This is the place everyone says you can buy your pasalubong. While Mama said she could buy most of the same items in Quiapo, we still bought a few items like Davao t-shirts at P120 each and pomelo at P60 per kilo. We also bought durian and mangosteen candy at P25 per pack. I do not recommend the mangosteen candy. I did not taste any mangosteen in them.

Tip: It's more expensive but if you buy pomelos with the "Nenita" brand, they are said to be sweeter.

The blouse mama is wearing also came from Aldevinco.

We ate dinner at the classiest-looking resto in the airport but the food was forgettable.
 Davao International Airport. We arrived early and hung out at one of the tables on the 2nd floor. Mama helped one of the stalls sell t-shirts. Wowo would have been so proud.
They sell durian ice cream and other items at the airport for some last minute shopping. I got another shirt plus a bottle of mangosteen jam. The weird thing about their security is that friends told me it was okay to handcarry pomelo as long as it was properly packed in a cardboard box custom-made for bringing on a plane. But when we went through the 2nd x-ray screening, we were told that only pilots were allowed to bring in pomelos in cartons. Pa and Ma had to unpack the fruits and shove them into our bags. Once inside, I saw stalls selling pomelos in cartons. So was this policy made to benefit the poelo sellers inside the airport? Again, weird.
A sculpture by the prodigiously productive Kublai Millan right outside the airport of a giant durian with the different peoples of Davao inside.
While I do admire how Mayor Duterte has made Davao into a progressive, clean  and safe city with the People's Park and the no-smoking ordinance and the very low crime rate, I do have misgivings about how he keeps it safe. He is said to be behind the Davao death squad that gives would-be criminals one warning to get out of town or else turn up dead. Instead of solving the problem of criminality, it's like they're just exporting them somewhere else. There's something wrong with this. It's like cleaning your backyard by dumping the trash at your neighbor's yard. Not to mention the whole summary execution thing. I mean, I just hope their system is fool-proof.

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