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(Reluctant) notes on my Davao and Medellin stays

Post your trip reports, travel experiences, and updates abroad. Or your expat story if you already live overseas. Note: To post photos and images, insert the image URL between the tags [img]and[/img] after uploading them to a third party site.

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Postby publicduende » Fri Jan 11, 2013 4:49 pm

No problem with you chipping in, in fact I'll be piggybacking on your explanation, which I largely agree with anyway.

Twobrains wrote:Jacare, you asked for more information about Davao. I'm sure PD will be along with more about his experiences a bit later, but I'm sure he won't mind if I chip in. One small advantage I have over PD is that he just went to Davao (and Samal), whereas I visited Cebu, Angeles and Manila in addition, albeit briefly, so I have some points of comparison.

Certainly Davao felt the safest place I went to. And the cleanest, though everything is relative - there is still plenty of rubbish on the streets, unfinished infrastructure and buildings and a general feeling of uncompletedness. If you've been to the less salubrious parts of Mexico, it's like that, only much more so. There's no getting away from it - it's generally a poor country and many people are desperately trying to scrape a living. Even Davao has beggars, who had no hesitation in approaching me, but there are less homeless than I saw in Cebu and Manila. There are evidently plenty of well-off people too, with late-model cars vying for road space with dozens of jeepnies and quite a few small motorcycles. Some of the malls such as Abreeza are right up there with anything you could find in the first world and the bars and eateries on Torres Street, for example, look modern and clean.


Davao is indeed the cleanest and safest place in the Philippines, a fact every authority including Manila is recognising. And if due is due, most of the merit goes to the Duterte family, namely Rudy Duterte and his daughter Sara, which have been running the city since 2001. Rody is the quintessential fascist mayor, Davao's "Margie Thatcher meets Mussolini": a populist with a big eye on the business implications of cleaning up the city, an iron willpower, capable of quick and dirty decisions bordering the illegal, only for the sake of the final results. He got famous for tolerating (some people say openly funding) a bunch of alternative militias who literally dragged all the scum of Davao - criminals, corrupted public officers, child molesters, etc. - to the fields and shot them behind the head. It has been calculated that more than 350 people have been killed by the death squads. Like the method or not, Davao has been transformed from a dirty backwater of a city, prone to criminal activity as much as Cebu plus nasty endogenous problems like the Muslim separatist terrorism, into the fastest growing city in the Philippines, and one of the "Asian cities of the future" (http://prixbanzon.wordpress.com/2008/01/11/davao-city-asias-city-to-watch-in-the-future/). This is no small results, especially in such an inertial political context as the Philippines.

Twobrains wrote:Davao has very few high-rise buildings and is very spread-out. The airport is a good 25 minute taxi ride from downtown. My lack of easy transport contributed to my seeing a lot less of the city than I imagine PD did. I was mostly on foot, in the downtown area (rather dirty and with a noticeable concentration of pawn shops - I mean dozens - which must speak of the financial predicament of many of the locals), in Rivera Village (a quiet, almost gated-community feel) and in the malls such as Abreeza and Gaisano (crowded with students and schoolies due to the large number of colleges in the vicinity). I also went to Chinatown - not many Chinese around, but plenty of their cheap goods for sale - and spent time in a couple of parks. One, People's Park, was very restful but the other, Magsaysay, was much less so. But I never felt threatened; there are areas in almost every major city in England where I would feel in far more danger. I was self-conscious about using my good camera - more due to not wanting to flaunt my relative wealth than any fear that it might be snatched - and I used my smartphone camera more. Incidentally, I priced my camera in a mall in Manila and it costs twice as much there as from Amazon in the UK.


A quick comment about the lack of high-rise buildings in Davao. At the moment the highest building in the city is the Marco Polo hotel, the only 5-star international standard hotel available. I have personally checked out some of the new property development and, as a matter of fact, by 2017 Davao will have no fewer than 12 (!) new high-rise development, hosting luxury condos, BPO centres, malls and recreational spaces. I have seen a few, Abreeza Place (integrated into the Abreeza mall estate), Avida Towers, Aeon Towers, etc. Davao is very much a city in transformation. TB's first photo was taken in the San Pedro area, one of the seedier areas in Davao, and as you can see it doesn't look that dodgy overall. The better areas, where the malls are and the luxury condos will be, would put any new Asian or European metropolis to shame.

True, there are not many public parks, People's Park being not much more than a big slate of concrete where families let their kids roam free and can visit a couple of artificial amenities like a waterfall on plastic rocks and a small pond full of (real!) carps. It is also true that the most spectacular displays of nature are just a few minutes drive from downtonw. Who needs a park when you have the beautiful coral beaches and mangrove forests of Samal an hour ferry away (cost: 60 pesos, less than a pound) or the freshness of the hilly or mountainous district surrounding Mount Apo on a 20 minute drive? And, being taxi all metered and quite cheap, no place is ever too expensive to reach. I could say TB's experience was probably spoiled by too much walking under the sticky hot weather avoiding broken pavement and improvised stalls. The experience by taxi or jeepney is a very different one, and tends to give a fairer view of the city.

Twobrains wrote:I didn't see many western tourists walking around Davao, and I was evidently an object of curiosity for many locals. The attention from not a few young ladies was flattering and had I been bolder I may have got a few numbers and, possibly, dates. As it was, I stuck with finding girls via internet dating. That was easy enough but the girls were often unreliable, though nowhere near as bad as in Cebu and Manila.


I have never been to Manila or Cebu and their malls so I can't compare - but overall I have seen a refreshingly low number of expats strolling Davao's hotspots: the malls, People's Park etc. The (stereo)typical couple was indeed the middle-aged white Caucasian with the not-so-attractive dark-skinned girl, but it was good to see so few of them. Call it the "Will N Down" effect, but the few days I was in Davao with a slim fit t-shirt I did get quite a few girls to look and smile at me. Plus the usual mocking about me looking like Nicholas Cage, which I have been getting for years every time I travel to Asia...

Twobrains wrote:To give you a (rough and incomplete) indication of incomes and living costs, one girl I met was 25 and had been training to be a nurse until she ran out of money for tuition fees. She now works long hours in a mall for 300Php a day. Another girl worked for even less than that, but her rent in a crappy boarding house is only 1000Php per month. Although that sounds cheap, many other goods and services are not - in fact they are often on a par with cheaper western countries. I think petrol was about 42Php a litre (half what it is in England, so cheap for us but expensive if you only earn 300Php a day!). The malls are just as expensive as those in the west. A hot chocolate at Bo's Coffee will set you back 110Php. Shoes and clothing there are equivalent to what we would pay, though of course you can go to much cheaper street stalls and pay a fraction of that for clothes. The Philippines is the only country where I have seen many shops selling only second-hand, very used shoes. A bottle of Tanduay Ice (an alco-pop) in a supermarket is 21Php, and in a bar anything from 50 to 100Php. A bottle of beer at a bar goes for 50 to 120Php.


Concurring on the whole line. A good graduate from a good uni (eg. Ateneo de Davao) would start on a salary of about 5,000 pesos per month. All he or she would be able to afford is a bed in a dormitory (they now call them "dormitel" because they have air-con and wi-fi connection, but bunk beds shared with other 5 or 7 people they are) and a daily diet of chop-suey and garlic rice. A trained call center operator could go up to 10,000 pesos. A software engineering graduate from a top college (AMA college or USeP) would fare no more than 15,000. The best money is made by running own businesses, eg. I have heard importing second hand cars and vans from Japan and Korea and reselling them into the Davao market has been quite lucrative for some time.

Let me add something that is very, very close to my heart. I am a HUGE seafood lover and never in my life I had so much quality fresh seafood, grilled, sizzling, you name it, for SO cheap. A 500g charcoal grilled pusit (squid) in a mid-level restaurant (BBQ Boss or Penong's) is 150 to 200 pesos, so no more than £3!! Ladies and gentlemen, this is my personal definition of culinary heaven! Food in general is delicious and never too expensive. I have never, and I mean never spent more than 600 pesos for a fantastic meal involving two or three dishes of seafood (mixed seafood, squid, tuna or tuna belly, prawns) or meat (pork, pork belly or chicken) and one or two delicious shakes.

Again it could be my own bias again, amplified by the fact that food in Medellin is monotonous and not so tasty, but the Filipino food I had in Davao is the cheapest and most delicious I ever had in my life, anywhere in the world. And I am an Italian used to top-quality Mommy's cuisine, so please don't take this statement lightly :)

Twobrains wrote:The mayor of Davao has apparently taken many initiatives to clean the place up. There is a smoking ban in every public building and it is observed - I think it may even be illegal to smoke on the streets. There is no in-your-face p4p scene like you will find in Cebu or Angeles. I didn't go out much late at night but I got the impression that the city is not exactly hoppin'.

Overall, Davao is ok, and Samal island has some fantastic beach resorts, but I was happy to move on after 8 days. For me, there's not enough to do unless you hit lucky and strike up a relationship with some locals who have the time and resources to entertain you.

Just my 2 pesos.


It is indeed illegal to smoke anywhere, even outdoor, like in Japan. There was also a ban on fireworks during the Xmas/NYE period. Most of the P4P action happens in the Bangko Central and San Pedro areas. I have personally seen the clusters of pros and semi-pros standing on street edges. Trouble is, Davao's prostitutes are notorious STD carriers, so I would try and avoid them. Especially if sex with a non-pro can be easily obtained.

And by the way, something I have just found:
http://davaocity.en.craigslist.com.ph/s ... ?query=w4m

Very valuable 2 pesos mate, thanks for the tandem work ;)
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Postby pete98146 » Fri Jan 11, 2013 7:20 pm

eurobrat wrote:The Philippines sounds nice but I am not at all attracted to those women the least bit.


I was never remotely interested in them either until I made my first trip over to Asia. If the average western guy is able to spend more than a few weeks in ANY ASIAN COUNTRY....I REPEAT ANY ASIAN COUNTRY, he should be swimming in women.

Fact of the matter is many asian women are slender, smart, beautiful and available. Realize a certain percentage of guys will always like caucasian girls and thats cool but for those guys that can learn to embrace the asian look, this continent can be pure nirvana.
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Postby Twobrains » Fri Jan 11, 2013 7:26 pm

publicduende wrote: I could say TB's experience was probably spoiled by too much walking under the sticky hot weather avoiding broken pavement and improvised stalls. The experience by taxi or jeepney is a very different one, and tends to give a fairer view of the city.
SNIP
Plus the usual mocking about me looking like Nicholas Cage, which I have been getting for years every time I travel to Asia...
SNIP
And by the way, something I have just found:
http://davaocity.en.craigslist.com.ph/s ... ?query=w4m

Very valuable 2 pesos mate, thanks for the tandem work ;)


Yeah, I should've splashed a few more pesos on taxis, but I honestly didn't know where to tell them to go. You had the benefit of local knowledge. ;) In Cebu I was a bit more adventurous and rode the jeepnies quite a bit, but I had a map for those procured from the Philippines-Addicts site.

I should think looking like Mr Cage would be a distinct boon in most of Asia! Have you been to Bangkok? Sure you'd be a big hit there! Maybe a lookalike career awaits?

Good find - I never thought of Craigslist. Some of those semi-pros are a tad pricy, though.

You're welcome.
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Postby eurobrat » Fri Jan 11, 2013 7:33 pm

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Postby Twobrains » Fri Jan 11, 2013 7:47 pm

eurobrat wrote:Yea but I have found a lot of cities in Europe where there are plentiful amount of available women who are also Slim, Educated and Beautiful. But if it's Asian's is what floats your boat then by all means go ahead.


I envy young guys like you - the world is your fuzzy clam. But for us older men, Asia is the best place to pull much younger women, especially Thailand and the Philippines. Maybe save Asia until you need it.
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Postby eurobrat » Fri Jan 11, 2013 8:01 pm

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Postby pete98146 » Fri Jan 11, 2013 8:54 pm

Twobrains wrote:
eurobrat wrote:Yea but I have found a lot of cities in Europe where there are plentiful amount of available women who are also Slim, Educated and Beautiful. But if it's Asian's is what floats your boat then by all means go ahead.


I envy young guys like you - the world is your fuzzy clam. But for us older men, Asia is the best place to pull much younger women, especially Thailand and the Philippines. Maybe save Asia until you need it.


Very much agree! First time I ever traveled abroad was after my divorce. I had just turned 39 years old. Got a lot of attention from the women in Brazil but 11 years later, I doubt I'd garner the same about of luck but you never know. I never thought much about traveling to Europe as I already had a sour taste in my mouth for white women so my motivation to find another one was nil.

Agree with Twobrains. One of the most powerful tools that a guy can use is the principal that "opposites attract." Let's face it, only 20% of asian women would be open to dating a non-asian. But the good news is that asia has 4x the population density of Los Angeles so that 20% adds up to a HUGE dating pool. I'm convinced asians get tired of looking at asians. If you had to eat vanilla ice cream everyday how boring would that be? Enter the decent looking non-asian and bam you should have an instant pool of beauties at your beck and call.

Seriously doubt that guys over 40 could pull this off in Europe.
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Postby publicduende » Sat Jan 12, 2013 2:21 am

Twobrains wrote:
eurobrat wrote:Yea but I have found a lot of cities in Europe where there are plentiful amount of available women who are also Slim, Educated and Beautiful. But if it's Asian's is what floats your boat then by all means go ahead.


I envy young guys like you - the world is your fuzzy clam. But for us older men, Asia is the best place to pull much younger women, especially Thailand and the Philippines. Maybe save Asia until you need it.


This might be true in part. Lots of Latin American chicks in their late 20s wouldn't mind having a man in his 40s as their boyfriend, or lover, as long as he looks young, fit and knows how to take care of himself. Money is an advantage, as it is social and professional status, but bringing something exciting on the table is probably more important...perhaps a big cock :)
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Postby eurobrat » Sat Jan 12, 2013 2:31 am

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Postby publicduende » Sat Jan 12, 2013 2:36 am

pete98146 wrote:
Twobrains wrote:
eurobrat wrote:Yea but I have found a lot of cities in Europe where there are plentiful amount of available women who are also Slim, Educated and Beautiful. But if it's Asian's is what floats your boat then by all means go ahead.


I envy young guys like you - the world is your fuzzy clam. But for us older men, Asia is the best place to pull much younger women, especially Thailand and the Philippines. Maybe save Asia until you need it.


Very much agree! First time I ever traveled abroad was after my divorce. I had just turned 39 years old. Got a lot of attention from the women in Brazil but 11 years later, I doubt I'd garner the same about of luck but you never know. I never thought much about traveling to Europe as I already had a sour taste in my mouth for white women so my motivation to find another one was nil.

Agree with Twobrains. One of the most powerful tools that a guy can use is the principal that "opposites attract." Let's face it, only 20% of asian women would be open to dating a non-asian. But the good news is that asia has 4x the population density of Los Angeles so that 20% adds up to a HUGE dating pool. I'm convinced asians get tired of looking at asians. If you had to eat vanilla ice cream everyday how boring would that be? Enter the decent looking non-asian and bam you should have an instant pool of beauties at your beck and call.

Seriously doubt that guys over 40 could pull this off in Europe.


I wouldn't put that percentage at 20%. The fascination about a man (or woman) who has different body type, facial features and habits is quite strong regardless of ethnicity or social status. I have met Asians for whom dating a Caucasian would be tantamount to a family scandal, and Asians who candidly confessed me that "after trying something bigger than 13 cm there's no way back" :)
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Postby zboy1 » Sat Jan 12, 2013 2:54 am

publicduende wrote:
pete98146 wrote:
Twobrains wrote:
eurobrat wrote:Yea but I have found a lot of cities in Europe where there are plentiful amount of available women who are also Slim, Educated and Beautiful. But if it's Asian's is what floats your boat then by all means go ahead.


I envy young guys like you - the world is your fuzzy clam. But for us older men, Asia is the best place to pull much younger women, especially Thailand and the Philippines. Maybe save Asia until you need it.


Very much agree! First time I ever traveled abroad was after my divorce. I had just turned 39 years old. Got a lot of attention from the women in Brazil but 11 years later, I doubt I'd garner the same about of luck but you never know. I never thought much about traveling to Europe as I already had a sour taste in my mouth for white women so my motivation to find another one was nil.

Agree with Twobrains. One of the most powerful tools that a guy can use is the principal that "opposites attract." Let's face it, only 20% of asian women would be open to dating a non-asian. But the good news is that asia has 4x the population density of Los Angeles so that 20% adds up to a HUGE dating pool. I'm convinced asians get tired of looking at asians. If you had to eat vanilla ice cream everyday how boring would that be? Enter the decent looking non-asian and bam you should have an instant pool of beauties at your beck and call.

Seriously doubt that guys over 40 could pull this off in Europe.


I wouldn't put that percentage at 20%. The fascination about a man (or woman) who has different body type, facial features and habits is quite strong regardless of ethnicity or social status. I have met Asians for whom dating a Caucasian would be tantamount to a family scandal, and Asians who candidly confessed me that "after trying something bigger than 13 cm there's no way back" :)


If that's true, why do White women rarely marry or date outside of their race as a percentage of the population?

How Your Race Affects The Messages You Get
http://blog.okcupid.com/index.php/your- ... -back/?a=1

White women prefer white men to the exclusion of everyone else—and Asian and Hispanic women prefer them even more exclusively.


Men don’t write black women back


As for the "Asian women" disparaging Asian men, par for the course for most status seeking Asian women. I never understood why Asian women disparage their own race so much in comparison to other races; sure, some Black men are pretty bad in that regard in how they characterize Black women--as well as some White men in describing White women--but not to the degree that Asian women do, smh...
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Postby pete98146 » Sat Jan 12, 2013 3:16 am

I'm gonna stick with 20%. Although many more asian women will admire a non asian man, when the rubber hits the road and external factors come into play (pressure from parents and friends) most will stick with their own kind.

I've noticed that when I'm in Asia, I get looks and flirts from married women. I'm tall and Scandinavia so I know they enjoy the different look but my chances of landing them are slim. Their fascination is only skin deep.
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Postby zboy1 » Sat Jan 12, 2013 3:25 am

pete98146 wrote:I'm gonna stick with 20%. Although many more asian women will admire a non asian man, when the rubber hits the road and external factors come into play (pressure from parents and friends) most will stick with their own kind.

I've noticed that when I'm in Asia, I get looks and flirts from married women. I'm tall and Scandinavia so I know they enjoy the different look but my chances of landing them are slim. Their fascination is only skin deep.


I think that's true of all races to be honest. Only a few percentage in any race will engage in interracial marriage beyond flirting and ethnic fascination for another race. The pressure is either too great or the stigma too high in most cases.
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Postby publicduende » Sat Jan 12, 2013 5:36 am

pete98146 wrote:I'm gonna stick with 20%. Although many more asian women will admire a non asian man, when the rubber hits the road and external factors come into play (pressure from parents and friends) most will stick with their own kind.

I've noticed that when I'm in Asia, I get looks and flirts from married women. I'm tall and Scandinavia so I know they enjoy the different look but my chances of landing them are slim. Their fascination is only skin deep.


Well, for an Asian married woman having an affair with a random white tourist, there's a lot at stake. She surely wouldn't want to jeopardise her relationship with her husband and extended family for a few night fling. If you then mean a single young Asian woman and a Caucasian not too old (say <=45) man, Scandinavians included, I wouldn't see why that wouldn't work.

There are thousand ways to seduce a woman, whether she's from Colombia or Cambodia. So long one wants to get his feet wet... The issue with short term travellers and sex tourists, as dissected several times on these pages, is the lack of time and willpower to pursue a particular woman.
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Postby Twobrains » Sat Jan 12, 2013 10:20 am

publicduende wrote:There are thousand ways to seduce a woman, whether she's from Colombia or Cambodia. So long one wants to get his feet wet... The issue with short term travellers and sex tourists, as dissected several times on these pages, is the lack of time and willpower to pursue a particular woman.


True. I wouldn't rule out being able to seduce any woman from 18 to 50, from any country, given a few hours alone together in a private room (assuming basic verbal communication was possible), free from external influences.

But those last four words are the most important part of the whole equation. Depending on the country, there are hugely different external influences on the girl. I've been in situations in the UK where an attractive early-twenties girl has shown clear interest in me, but her friends pulled her away, because I'm 'too old' according to their model of what is acceptable. Whereas in the Philippines a large number of girls are already married to old guys and the precedents are in place - other girls can see a rationale for it (usually money) and can excuse, or even envy, the girl's aberrant behaviour. Women are herd animals and they are loathe to leave the safety of the pack. Given time, multiple dates, and a fair amount of secrecy, they can sometimes be persuaded to risk sisterly disapprobation if the sexual chemistry is strong enough. But it seems to me this website is all about those external influences, and moving to places where you don't have to sweat it so much.
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