[Wanderlust Tips June 2018] If i had to choose only 10 nostalgic memories, i would still choose the southernmost island of the Philippines, Davao. It is where people can proudly say that “life is here” because to them, living there is to enjoy what nature and life offers.
If I had to choose 1,000nostalgic memories, I would choose Davao, the Philippines more than anywhere else in the land of more than 7,000islands. The seawater here is so blue, more than the dye used for the fabric. From the boat, sitting close to each other, we could watch the bottom of the sea, because the seawater is not only blue but also very clear. Do you still remember those moments of peace?
If I had to choose 100nostalgic memories, I would still choose Davao, especially the small island called Samal. Perhaps there is nowhere else in this country where dozens of storms happen every year that the sea is so beautiful and peaceful like in Davao. Hundred-hectare coral reefs will enchant anyone who visits this place. Snorkelling in this beautiful place, and you will realize that no words can be used to describe the magnificent scene under the sea.
If I could choose only 10nostalgic memories, I would still choose the southernmost island of the Philippines, Davao. It is where people can proudly say that “Life is here”because to them, living here is to enjoy what nature and life offers. I will always remember the smiles, words and the ways Davao people welcome tourists: gentle yet delicate and emotional, not extravagant but very warm-heartedly.
If I could only choose 1nostalgic memory, I would choose Davao. I miss the smiles that fascinated all visitors when they saw female dancers in the fire shows, the sailing dance of young men on Samal island, heard the powerful and persistent sound of drums and the lapping sound of waves by the boat, tasted the special dishes of the tropical country. I remember the afternoons by the seawhere it was only the two of us in the resort which is as beautiful as paradise, Pearl Farm Beach Resort.
It was an afternoon in a faraway land, before the sunset shone its last light, the night came. You and I sat on a small balcony of one of Pearl FarmBeach Resort’smost beautiful bungalows, not talking or saying anything but admiring and listening. I saw everything, felt peace in every breath and on every boat drifting off the coast. I saw the sea covered in blue colour stretching to infinity; there were some pure white ships full of passengers approaching the coast. Farther away, there were some boats of fishermen, but the farthest was your faraway gaze when you leaned on my shoulder. And I felt like our two hearts beat as one, I heard the sound of the little gecko as if it was singing, I heard the coconut palm leaves swinging in the wind and heard the things that we seemed not be able to tell each other.
Sometimes we can describe our nostalgia in words, but sometimes we cannot, and this nostalgia always makes me think of Davao. It is a long journey from Hanoi or Saigon with a transit in Manila, and the total travelling time is more than 10hours. However the special memories that can be made here, may make visitor want to stay. It might be a little dreamy moment to see the world’s largest Monkey-Eating Eagle with its wingspan of more than 2metres; I wished I could be able to freely fly like a bird. Maybe it was an interesting curiosity when talking to the driver of a colorful Jeepney – the traditional transportation vehicle of Philippines, or a grandma sitting on the porch in the late afternoon. It can also be a memory of tasting the famous chocolate in Malagos Garden Resort or enjoying the sweet scent of the typical jackfruit from this land.
Davao is peaceful and beautiful, this may surprise you as the Philippines is known as the country of storms, and every year this country suffers dozens of storms. But it is miraculous that Davao is not affected. Philippines’ highest mountain, Apo, with its distinctive curved arches protects the southernmost land from the enormous winds of the sea and enabled stretching banana farmhouses to produce their freshest fruits. If you are a durian lover, I advise you not to go to Davao, because you are sure not to want to go back home. Durian in Davao is the best in the Philippines and is surprisingly cheap. In durian season, it costs only about 25pesos (USD0.5) per kilogram. Do not eat durians here if you do not want to become addicted, as I was addicted after eating two durians myself.
When will the boats stop setting sail? When will travellers stop travelling? Throughout my life, I have visited a lot of new lands, met a lot of people, enjoyed the honey-like golden sunshine and swum in the clear blue water of the immense sea; those memories I will remember for the rest of my life. I miss the memory that seems to be immortal, but finally fades away with time. With its back on the mountain, overlooking the blue sea, the small bungalow looked so beautiful, making anyone who came here also fall in love. I let my soul guide my mind until the night came, the yellow lights reflected in the calm sea, and everything around was so quiet. Apparently, this was the most wonderful moments of my life when asking those without answers like, “When will life burdens stop bothering us: the fatigue, life matters, the hustles, the car horns, the hurried footsteps of people going to the office in the morning?”. All of these things have been forgotten during the flight to the Philippines. Only the moments during our visit remain. Life is the sea breeze caressing our skin, the sweetness of the wine like our first kiss, and the moments when we lie on the sofa listening to our own heart. Davao! When will dawn appear?
The night could not last forever; a dreamless sleep seemed to be not enough for a faraway traveller when visiting Samal. The morning sea rustled softly as if it was singing; sunlight shone through the soaring palm trees to the pool’s water surface; the sun rose above the mountain; several guests went trekking, explored the cave, and went kayaking or scuba diving. Samal is often referred to as the Island Garden City when talking about the greatness of this island with dozens of activities that will satisfy every need of its visitors. You can stay in the houses of people on the island, or in a bungalow of a luxury resort on the beach, which makes visitors think they are lost in Maldives. Samal still does not have many foreign tourists, so everything here still remains as wonderful as the generous nature of citizens here. They offer tourism services in their own style, no hurry or noise but slow as a boat floating freely on the sea.
I will never forget the images of the ordinary life of people there. On a colorful three-wheeled motorbike, a tan-skinned husband took a ride while his wife sat next to him carrying their younger daughter, and the older son sat behind with a schoolbag on his back. Life in Davao in particular and the Philippines in general is like that, this is a typical image of the lives of less well-off people. You can talk to them comfortably as well as try to drive that special motorbike. Davao used to be famous for murder issue, but now everything is completely different; there are not so many places where peace appears on every street corner or ferry like in here.
If you want to explore the whole Davao, it may take you a few months, but if you only have a few days, then Samal is a top choice. It takes about 30minutes on a ship or ferry to this beautiful little island where harmonious nature and life are one in the middle of the bay. Would you dare to visit Samal? Would you dare to leave all of the burdens of life to jump into the blue tranquil water to swim for pleasure, to admire the coral reefs which look like a flower forest under the sea, to lean on my shoulder watching the sunset, to hold hands and sit on the sofa listening to the sea whispering? Do you have the courage to ignore familiar tourist destinations in Thailand, Malaysia, or Singapore to explore a new horizon – Davao? I remembered every piece of the land as I thought back to the melodious notes rising softly amidst the candle lights on the beach that year.
It is impossible to write down nostalgia, experiences or emotions about the Southernmost land of the Philippines because there are no words that can fully describe the beauty of this land. The colour of the sea at dawn, whether there is any camera or painter who can best capture that magical moment, or the taste of durian or the sweetness of chocolate which has just been made, who can describe it? It may be hard, only when you start your journey and open your soul, then you will feel the wonders awaiting in Davao. Like me, in the bungalow on the sea with the candle lights in a corner of the room, immersed in the smell of essential oil, a few birds chirping softly, I sat and read books on a chair on the balcony and fell asleep, startlingly woke up at night, grabbed a small notebook to write down a few words: Davao, nostalgia for Davao, Samal.
The Philippines is one of the countries that allow Vietnamese tourists to enter without a visa. Under the visa waiver agreement between the two countries Vietnam and the Philippines, you only need a passport valid for a minimum of 6months and will be allowed to stay temporarily for 21days.
There are no storms in Davao. The city has good weather throughout the year, with an average annual temperature of 32oC and an average rainfall of 2,000mm per year.
In Davao, you can choose to stay at budget hotels and resorts. However, in Davao in general and in Samal Island in particular, one of the best options is the Pearl Fam Beach Resort (Brgy Adecor, Kaputian – Samal – Kaputian Road, Babak, Island Garden City of Samal, North of Davao). The resort is located along the coastline, amidst lush greenery. With great services and picturesque scenery, it promises to bring you the most authentic experiences in Davao as well as Samal.
>> To Davao
There is no direct flight from Vietnam to Davao, so you will have to transit in another city before coming here. Normally, people often choose Philippine airlines like Phillipines Airlines, and Cebu Pacific to fly from Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh City to the capital of The Philippines, Manila, and then fly to Davao.
>> In Davao
There are many means of transportation in Davao. The most convenient one is taxi. You can also opt for a cheaper colourful Jeepney, which is very popular with locals. Davao also has other transports such as buses, water taxis, E-tricke trams, or you can rent cars to explore Davao yourself if you have an international driver›s license.
Some of the dishes that you should enjoy when coming to Davao are grilled tuna, kinilaw na malasugu – fresh seafood salad with vinegar sauce, grilled pork – liempo served with rice, Bola Bolang Puso. In addition, dessert highlights include cassava dumplings, durian covered with cream, and other fruits.
Durian and suha (similar to grapefruits) of Davao are extremely delicious while the price is quite cheap. Also, mangosteen candy or durian candy is also very popular to buy as gifts. And if you are a chocolate lover, you definitely should not miss the very famous Malagos chocolate.
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