I was blessed to be able to fly for free because of the flight voucher I received from Cebu Pacific when our flight from Manila to Cebu was cancelled and we were transferred to another flight. I had only 6 months to use it so I booked it on the third week of August; little did I know those dates were the dates for the Kidayawan Festival in Davao City which I learned only a week before my flight. I got excited with the thought of actually attending a well-known local festival, but unfortunately I was not able to see it up close and personal and only from the hotel’s TV feed. It was very hot that weekend in Davao City, a lot of people were in the place where the street dance was being held and it was kind of traffic around that part of town. So I ended up skipping watching the Kidayawan street dances. But you know that there are festivities going on because my flight was full and there are also many tourists in Davao.
I’m baffled every time people learn that I am alone on that trip when many other tourists have been roaming around the world alone, and Davao City is a major Philippine destination and for sure many solo travelers had gone that route as well. I learned quite a bit from being a first time solo traveler. For one, it’s much more expensive since you need to shoulder all the bills and have no one to split it up with. It was ok though; I’ve prepared and saved up for this trip and have a set budget already. You have lesser photos of yourself in all the places you’ve visited. I didn’t bring a selfie stick with me (I was kinda shy to bring one actually) and I’m not good at taking selfies. Thank God for nice random strangers, hotel and restaurant staff and guards who willingly took photos of me. But it was ok, I was able to appreciate more of the places I visited and focused less on taking photos of myself which I have had so much in my previous trips. This made me appreciate more the places I’ve been to, the food I ate (which was a lot!) and the people I met. I also was carefree with time; I would leave and go back to the hotel whenever I want to. I don’t have to wait for other people and waste time and bargain in deciding where to go and where to eat.
I learned a couple of words from the local dialect too! Travelling solo wasn’t so scary or lonely after all, like others think it would be. I also got to practice independence and courage; I didn’t worry if my itinerary wasn’t followed or if I got lost. But of course to be on the safe side, I always message my family as to where I am currently located or tell the hotel staff where I am going. I would love to do it again actually and go to more unfamiliar places. Well maybe, who knows…
Karlo's Gourmet and Coffee at Jack's Ridge
After my short trip to the Aldevinco Shopping Center where I bought some souvenirs, I was deciding whether or not to go to Jack’s Ridge. Jack’s Ridge is a place up in the hills near the city proper and houses several restaurants and resorts. I was contemplating whether to go since I really don't have anything to do there and I was still full from my lunch at Luz Kinilaw. But since it was still early and going back to the resort house isn't the best idea, I told myself, what the heck, I'm only going to be in Davao this time so might as well make the most of it somehow. So I hailed a taxi and asked the driver to bring me to Jack’s Ridge.
Jack’s Ridge is around 30 minutes away from the city and located inside a high-end subdivision up the Matina Hills. The land on which Jack's Ridge now stands once formed part of the headquarters of the retreating Japanese forces towards the end of the World War II. The Americans had landed in Davao on May 1, 1945, forcing the Japanese to beat a path to Matina Hills where they had a commanding view of the Davao Gulf where the American ships were anchored. Today, more than half a century later, Jack's Ridge is filled with reminders of its historic past. Caves dug by the Japanese pockmark the area, and once in awhile people still find bullets and other war materials in the rocky soil.
Inside the compound of Jack’s Ridge are several restaurants that give visitors a commanding and refreshing view of Davao City and the Gulf. There’s the Taklobo Restaurant which serves Davaoeño cuisine. Kai's Bar And Grill – where bands perform at night. Tap Room Piano and KTV for some karaoke fun. Kool Kat's Pool where people can enjoy swimming in the cool Matina Hills breeze but this was close when I visited. And last but not the least Karlo's Gourmet And Coffee.
I ended up choosing to stay at Karlo's Gourmet and Coffee to have some desserts and coffee. Karlo's Gourmet And Coffee. A chic restaurant that serves fusion of French, Italian and some Mexican dishes and of course, coffee. I checked out their store rack for a cake to order but I was told that I can take a seat first then someone will approach me to take my orders. So I went out to the veranda and sat on one of the available seats. Of course, why would I sit inside when the purpose of going there was to enjoy the cool mountain breeze? It was only a little past 3:00pm and the air was already cool.
I ordered my favorite, Iced Mocha and their cake of the month. The coffee was ok and the chocolate cake had just the right consistency and texture. Nothing spectacular actually. I tasted a slight hint of the taste of durian in my chocolate but t wasn’t strong so didn’t have a problem with that.
I stayed until around 5:00pm just checking stuff on my phone and social media since they have wi-fi access and just browsing through the photos in my camera.
I basically just spent the rest of the day enjoying the cool weather up in Matina Hills, doing actually nothing. And to be honest, it was one of the relaxing things I’ve done in the last couple of months.
Going back to the city wouldn’t be a problem since cabs usually arrive to drop off passengers or you can ask the guard to call you for one. You just need to wait like 10 minutes tops before it arrives. Best time to go there is 4pm onwards. I wasn’t able to experience seeing the nightlights it it was ok. A good reason to come back to Jack’s Ridge when I get the chance to fly back to Davao.