Monday, September 18, 2006

Davao del Sur: Whitewater tubing in Davao

Today, it was time to get wet and wild in Santa Cruz, Davao del Sur which is known for its whitewater tubing in the Sibulan River in Darong, a barangay quite close to the boundary of Davao City.

If you don’t have a car, you could simply take any public transportation going towards the direction of Santa Cruz. Although you will have to keep your eye open since there isn’t any signage along the highway pointing towards the attraction. Look out for the sign pointing to Barangay Sibulan and the Ayala Agricultural Development Corporation and make a right there.

It’s about 100 meters from the national highway and the road is quite bumpy. You’ll know you’re in the right place if you see a copra processing area. The base camp of the whitewater tubing is in front of the Ayala Canteen. Just ask around if you’re not sure but you make a left there into an open space used for parking. Don’t be surprised when you see an extra PHP40 in your bill since they charge for parking.

The whitewater tubing at Darong is quite affordable since you won’t spend more than PHP400 per head. You basically pay for a guide which is one is to one, rental fees for the tube and the gear and the habal-habal (motorcycle) ride up to the starting point.

It’s a muddy and rocky road up to the starting point. And from the road, you will have to walk about 100 more meters down to the river along a slippery and muddy trail. So better make sure you bring a trusty pair of sandals since I was wearing slippers and ended up having to take them off.

Anyway, I was relieved when we finally got to the river since it was simply fun, fun, fun all the way down to the base camp. Better be ready for some scratches and small bruises here and there but there’s nothing to worry about since the guides are very experienced.

You’ll definitely fall off the tube at one or two of the rapids so don’t panic since the water is quite shallow. Just hold on to the tube and try to keep your legs up so you do not hit the rocks. Anyway, your guide will be there to hold on to you if you aren’t able to grip the tube.

It would take about 2 hours to complete the basic route. I fell once during this run. But I escaped with just a few scratches and a sore toe which hit one of the rocks while I was on the tube. Hehe! But if I had more time, I would have done a second round or started from a higher point. Also try to avoid going here on a weekend if you want the river and the base camp all to yourself. It seemed we were the only clients for the day. Hehe!

On the way back to Davao City, we were able to spot a durian stand selling the fruit for as low as PHP25 a kilo. The arancillo variety we got was PHP40 a kilo and it was much better than the one I had the night before. Indeed it tastes like heaven but I think the part which says it smells like hell is quite exaggerated since it wasn’t that bad.

There were vendors also selling marang so how could I resist. I got one piece for PHP20. So we had fruits for our late breakfast. One thing I wasn’t able to try out though was mangosteen. Maybe I will during my next visit to Davao.

I was planning to visit the Philippine Eagle Research and Nature Center but since I had been there already, we decided instead to rush back to the city proper for a late lunch since we wanted to catch the buy one, take one pizzas at Picobello, a classy Italian restaurant in the Gaisano South Ilustre mall which is frequented by Davao expats in the evenings. This promo is available only from 2 to 5 p.m. I spent about PHP260 for the two pizzas we ordered.

For dinner, I met up with my SSEAYP batchmate Steve who took me to Jack’s Ridge, a popular dining area which offers a commanding view of the city’s skyline (right) and the Davao Gulf. The ridge was actually the headquarters of the retreating Japanese forces towards the end of the Second World War and is replete with caves dug up by the Japanese as well as bullets and other war materials in the rocky soil. There is also rumor that somewhere in the caves is hidden part of the Yamashita loot.

Anyway, after that great dinner, I rushed to the Matina Town Square since I was going to meet more of my Davao brods at Kanto Bar. We had an interesting discussion and ended quite late. To make the long story short, we got to the bus terminal quite late and the next bus leaving for Cagayan de Oro was still at 2:30 a.m. The last aircon bus leaves at 10 p.m. so I had to make do with the de luxe buses. I wonder why they call the non-aircon buses de luxe. Hehe! I paid PHP365 for the seven hour trip from Davao City to Cagayan de Oro.

More photos of Davao del Sur and Davao City in Multiply.
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