I was skeptical to write a blog post about our stay in Court View Inn last November 29, 2012 because there was nothing spectacular about it nor did we experience something terrible. Besides, we were only here just to literally sleep because we spent the whole day around the city and checked-out early the next day to catch the outrigger boat bound for Pearl Farm. I guess what prompted me to write this review is its 4.5 rating on TripAdvisor, a far cry from what I saw last year. In my honest opinion, this hotel is average at best.
When you're a newly opened hotel without any associations to the big names in the industry, good advertising (aside from excellent service!) is your best tool. Photos are a great way to market your hotel and the internet offers a strategic venue to lure customers. But photos on social networking sites can be deceiving. I chose to stay at Court View Inn because the hotel rooms looked clean and big in photos, the rates were affordable and it just opened three months before our travel dates. They are also one of the very few hotels that offer triple standard rooms.
Inasmuch as we want to spend the days lazing around Samal Island Huts, a speedboat in Babak port was already waiting to take us island hopping around Talicud island in the morning of December 1, 2012. Renting the speedboat for one day set us back P7,000 (whew!) so we really need to put on the sunscreen and see what Samal has to offer.
I didn't expect much from Samal Island, judging from most reviews in TripAdvisor calling the island "overrated" -- that the sands are not white and the beach far from fantastic. I've learned my lesson the hard way when we went to Puerto Galera. We visited Coron beforehand and the place set my standard for what a tourist spot should be. Coron was my first ever legit out-of-town trip and our visit was phenomenal. I have since compared every place I've been to with Coron and have been unconsciously setting myself up with some major disappointments. It was only later on that I realized how I've been sabotaging my own trips because of my high expectations.
Pearl Farm may probably look a lot better at night with pool lights and all ('coz it looked hella boring during the daytime) but we didn't have time to wait for the sun to set and act like star-crossed lovers groping each other by the iconic pagoda. While everyone was still in Malipano Island, we were already on our way out to look for habal-habal drivers who'd be willing to take our fat arses off to the northwestern part of the Island Garden City of Samal.
While planning for this holiday trip, I thought that going to Samal Island Huts from Pearl Farm would be as easy as 1-2-3 (or a-b-c if you fancy alphabets). We would just ride the habal-habal and pay P100 each. Actually, we could just take advantage of the free boat transfer from Pearl Farm back to the city, take a cab to Sassa Wharf, and then ride the barge from there to Babak Ferry Terminal and finally take the tryk to Samal Island Huts. But where's the fun in that, right? Besides, we didn't want to wait for the 4:30pm boat ride back to the city because I was pretty sure I wouldn't be able to keep my sanity intact if we stayed for two more grueling hours in Pearl Farm doing, you guessed it right, nothing.
Okay - I know, I know. Gross title. But if there's anything more memorable about our trip to this famed resort other than the "overratedness" of it all, it has got to be me shitting loads of papaya down the drain (will probably edit this after getting my imaginary "virtual manners" back).
Being the stereotypical tourist that I am, I wanted - no, scratch that - I needed to visit Pearl Farm. It promised a taste of luxury for a day tour rate of P1,950/person on weekdays and P2,500/person on weekends *gulp* Of course I scheduled our day trip on a Thursday. Besides, if we pushed through with the original itinerary and visited on the next day, which was a holiday, I'm pretty sure we'd have no place to even have our asses seated judging by the number of people already waiting in the resort's, well, "waiting area" (sue me for my limited vocabulary ples).
Jack's Ridge is perhaps one of the most popular tourist spots in Davao City along with Eden Nature Park and Philippine Eagle Center. But after an in-depth research (naks), I concluded that Jack's Ridge is just like Eden Nature x Tagaytay (why do I sound so thesis-ish). Yeah it's great because it offers a good view of the city skyline and blah blah blah. But on that day we just decided to ditch the one-with-nature kinda place in favor of an all-you-can-eat-crab adventure (everyone loves crabs!! <3).
A month before our trip to Davao, Two2Travel blogged about Glamour Restaurant & Cafe's crab buffet and that definitely gave us an idea on where to satisfy our seafood cravings. So after freshening up (because we sure as hell were stinky after spending eight hours around the city), we asked Court View Inn's receptionist for directions to Glamour Restaurant. She gave me a puzzled look because apparently the restaurant wasn't as famous as I thought it was. After five minutes of listening to ate receptionist debate with the other hotel staff, we left with no definite directions *facepalm*.
As if it weren't a big enough problem that we had to choose only a few tourist spots from the numerous places in Davao, we now had to decide where to try zipline. Huh. I thought going on a vacation meant being relaxed and worrying about nothing??
Eden Nature Park has its own zipline facilities but I read somewhere that it's too short you can't even say "it's more fun in the Philippines" in one ride. Then there's Camp Zabros, which seemed perfect because it offers an amazing view of Mt. Apo. I was definitely rooting for Camp Zabros until I discovered that it's two hours away from the city proper. That means going there just for the zipline is an absolutely ridiculous idea. Kuya Joey, our taxi driver (09206954333), also advised against it because who goes to a far flung place that requires a total of 4 hours of travel time just to try zipline that probably doesn't even last for ten minutes? Yep, so we had to boot Camp Zabros out of our itinerary and look for a better alternative to Eden Nature Park. This, my friend, was where Outland Adventure entered the scene.
Preparing for our Davao trip proved to be more than just a simple task. In just under a month, I had debates with myself thrice as much as I had all throughout my life. Okay, that's pushing it a little bit. But with all the hundreds of things to do in Davao and with only four days to spend, it seriously made me crazier than I already was.
As always, I referred to PinoyExchange for itineraries, real-life stories, pieces of advice, and do's and don't's. It's my go-to site for everything related to travel and career stuff. But for some odd reason, reading the Davao thread made me confused more than ever. So I sought the help of AdventuRoj, who lives there, and she was kind enough to answer all my queries.