Davao city doesn’t get much of a write up in my guide book. All I know of the place is that for some reason it’s popular with foreigners looking for a place to live. Sounds like I had a plan of direction after all.
The guidebook mentioned that crime was low, it has several crocodile farms which they seem obsessed with writing about in every big town here. And, it was a port city which is nothing unusual in the Philippines.
Thank goodness for wiki-travel and word of mouth.
Who lives here?
4,000 expats & foreigners live in Davao. That’s quite a number of foreigners for a place that doesn’t get much of a write up. It meant there had to be something about the place they liked. And, there is. Maybe I’d like it too? Is Davao my missing link …
The best city in the Philippines for getting around:
Davao is quite large, yet it’s relatively easy to get around. The roads are wider than any other city I’ve visited in the Philippines. Traffic seems gentler too. A taxi is no problems, jeepenys and tricycles either. The city doesn’t seem to be in a rush. And, herein lies the secret to Davao.
Contradictions of travel began once I arrived and checked into a cheap pension house not so far from the Ecoland bus terminal. Online most were offered at around 1000 + pesos, on the ground they were 250 -300 fan rooms, and 500 peso A/C rooms right near malls and some of the attractions of the city.
On the ground:
I hate malls, but the temptation of air conditioning at Gaisano Mall was too much, it was also lunch time.
Secondary to that, I was minutely curious to see if it was any different so far south compared to say Manila. Nope, no difference. Floors upon floors of retail outlets and fast food. Slightly higher prices than local places, but pretty much the same.
No free WiFi. And, Smart on my mobile phone is not doing well at all. Hence I am spending a lot of time processing photos.
Time to check out the other sights around Davao City
Magsaysay fruit vendors is infamous for what the equally known Durian fruit is famous for. The worlds stinkiest fruit in the world is held with pride and passion in this city.
“You try Durian!” called out a woman with a smile as I stumbled onto the market.
I walked over and asked the price of a slice.
“160 pesos” which is about USD $3. I never understood why Durian is so expensive in the Philippines as it’s so populous.
They say the smell is worse than the taste. But I do believe if something smells bad, don’t eat it. I travel long term, this saves me. If I was only there for a few weeks, no problem. (and, yes I have tasted Durian fruit)
Every city has a China town:
China town was a little further up ahead. And again, aside from a colorful archway, was just another street. Though it did have an extra few Chinese stores running along it.
But dark clouds and a sweetness in the air told me it was about to rain. Time to retreat back to Gaisano mall. It took only 10 minutes to get back across the city. This is unheard of in the rest of The Philippines.
So the answer to why foreigners like Davao is …
The long awaited rains are now here, and the people of the city come into the mall for shelter. Among them, many, many foreigners. These foreigners were different though. Outside of Manila it was the first time I saw younger more long term foreigners in The Philippines.
Volunteers, English teachers and the odd married guy. Workers, people in business attire, and generally slightly smarter looking foreigners. Davao simply makes sense to live in, because it works.
Moreover this is one of the reasons so many foreigners live in Davao. It’s not because it’s the most exciting place in the world. It’s at the bottom of a “war torn” island.
Yet, at the same time its very safe. It’s easy to get around. You can get just about anything you want. And, the pollution is minimal here. Not only that, but the city simply seems to work.
It’s not a paradise island place like El Nido in Palawan. But, it is a good place to live as normal a life as an expat could have overseas, it would seem.
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Finding Buddha …