I was met at the airport. I had a guide for my tourist looks at the city of Davao, Panabo, and Tagum. the first week I took taxis and 'all day' vans to get around and to get some things 'started'.
The second week was much more relaxed. I rode buses, jeepneys, and tricycles more. Yes, my knees and head was banged up a bit, but was fun. I am 5'11" tall about 250 pounds. jeepneys have very low ceiling heights. most of the time, my head touches the roof when I am sitting. I end up 'stooped' over. I also did a lot more walking around than I normally do ( a good thing).
The buses have very small spaces between the seats, so my knees and legs end up cramped and 'sideways' to fit.
but the prices are good. To ride the bus from Panacan to Panabo was 24 pesos. A taxi is more like 250 pesos. Each ride into Davao went through a number of security checkpoints. about one in three rides into Davao resulted in all male passengers being asked to exit the bus while the bus is searched. the whole process is less than 5 minutes (bus stops, we are told to get out, get out, stand while the bus is searched, get back in, bus goes on).
I stayed at the Red Knight Gardens apartment/ hotel in Lanang part of Davao. It was a convenient location for the places I wanted to visit. Their prices are very reasonable.
I found the Victoria Mall and Gaisano Mall both interesting places. I also visited some furthur south (for me the wrong direction) and they look more like the 'usual' United States shopping mall (a bit boring).
I also looked at some housing options. There is a strong push from sales persons to buy into the 'international' neighborhoods / housing developments. In my 'opinion' I consider such places self imposed segregation, which I consider not a good idea. << this last may cause
I also found the prices higher than necessary. the combination land prices and the 'expected' size of house to be built meant I
considered these developments 'pricy'. Not pricy for american
neighborhoods, but pricy for filipino communities.
ok, to wrap up this long email:
1) Davao is a very safe place:
In the U S, when you are in a shopping mall, on the street etc, you don't let any packages out of your grasp. In Davao, I saw many occasions of packages sitting with no 'obvious' owner nearby.
This is a level of honesty I have not 'seen' in many years.
2) Davao is a very friendly place:
I know a few words of Tagalog (perhaps 1000 words), and each time I spit out one of them, I got great responses and help from all persons I met.
All persons were friendly, willing and able to smile, make jokes etc, even while doing 'serious' things (like banking).
3) Davao has a lot of traffic:
there are over a million persons in the Davao area, and not a single freeway. numerous and very convenient buses, jeepneys, tricycles, cars, trucks, etc means a lot of noisy and smoky traffic. Traffic moves very well considering the high volume of vehicles. There is also a lot of road construction.