Thursday, August 27, 2009

Kadayawan 2009: Arrival & Accommodations

Okay I went there, but what else can I tell when so many folks who attended the festival have posted this and that on the web?! I might as well just ramble about my specific encounters at the Kadayawan Sa Dabaw 2009. Here we go:

Flew in from Cebu via Cebu Pacific as I was roaming somewhere there. What a full flight! My ‘companions to be’ did so straight from Manila and they were supposed to wait for me at the airport since our arrivals were just a few minutes apart. Ah! They went straight to the hotel where I reserved rooms for all of us.

Hmm, this Davao International Airport is never too crowded during whatever season I arrive. Probably it is too spacious that I mistakenly think there are few well-wishers than at other cities; or probably too, people think it is too far from the city; or probably still, the stigma of a very ugly incident some years ago. Or better still, the reason/s could be: all of the above! So I like arriving at this airport. No hassle. Walked the few meters to that curbside where taxis load/unload passengers. Yep it is some 30 or so meters from the main building’s “real” curbside. Probably it’s because of that ugly incident years ago.

Anyway, as it was still early morning, I took my grand time watching passengers who arrived with me rush to their respective vehicles. Also watched people queue up at the taxi loading area. And I mused at how ugly most taxicabs in Davao nowadays are. I mean, compared to most taxis at Cebu, Bacolod or even Manila. These Davao cabs seem to have not been replaced by their operators since the early 90’s. At least I know (and I have seen them) that for once in the history of this country, the newest and tidiest of taxicabs in the country were those in Davao. That is of course some long years ago when Holiday Taxi was still a hit and when Avis launched their first “public taxicabs” (in Davao and ahead of Metro Manila) using all new Toyota Corollas. As for now, argh, most of the cabs in the city are dilapidating!

Alright, after a stick of my Marlboro Lights, I hopped into one (ugly) cab and asked the driver to zoom me through to my hotel. Whoa! The streets were rather cleaner than usual (its festival time, you know)! And too many “happy fiesta” greetings from so many politicians adorned every possible area where a banner or poster can be placed. Davao is progressing fast, every time I see the place there are changes here and there – esp the proliferation of sari-sari stores and videoke bars hehe!

Am not sure if it was due to the festivities or if it is a permanent arrangement. But I seemed to have liked the “going around” thing. The main streets were converted to one-way traffic – meaning you go down to an area on this street and come back via one of its parallels. It afforded me a nice fly-by along most of the city, though I know it had been more expensive as I was in a taxi. But I would rather circle around than be stuck in heavy traffic!

The Royale House
Making the long story short, I selected this place for one specific reason: the parade passes in front of it! Not that there are no other hotels on the parade route, but judging from my web searches, The Royale House emerged winner this time hehe. I did not know about this place until I searched on the web about a few days before the Kadayawan 2009! Whoa!

Time to reveal a naughty scheme: I reserved at two other places aside from The Royale House. I was apprehensive since the name of the place was new to my ears. Plus, the “house” is in CM Recto St.! If you have not gotten the hang of it, here is my observation: If a street in this country is named CM Recto or JP Rizal it is probably one of the busier (if not the busiest). That said, it usually also means the bad guys like pickpockets etc would frequent the area. So I was not so confident about my choosing The Royale House. I was wrong! My hunches were unfounded hehe!

On arrival, I smiled that the hotel’s façade looked newly refurbished. The lobby-cum-café is clean and daintily set-up. And OMG, my companions were done with breakfast! How dare them hehe! They were just there at their tables near the front desk telling jokes, tinkering with their cameras or planning things. When I joined them, it was as if they were the once who booked our rooms in this hotel and casually told me to order my breakfast! At least I had the advantage of them having tasted the food first. And they were unanimous in telling me that food was fine!

Oh alright, the rooms are so-so and nothing to call friends about. But they were clean and livable, definitely better than rooms at Alta Pension House where we stayed on a previous visit. Why do I say “rooms”? did we have so many? Well, some of us were initially given a room and later transferred to another as the hotel staff were wont on giving us the most comfortable accommodations possible. Plus, we got to see the fan rooms which the housekeeping dudes readily showed us when we asked about how they look like. The Royale House I discerned is not new. It has seen many years probably. But the lobby was spruced up and they were even in the process of improving the mezzanine area to become a banquet hall cum karaoke bar or something like that. And hey, there are two lobbies! Yes! The new air-conditioned and refurbished one is up front facing the street while the older hallway area with restaurant tables and chairs too is after you enter a door on your way to the rooms or the stairs going up. This latter area even has nice lounge seats AND is a “smoking area”! Yey!

Luxury is not the nickname of this place, but OMG how we liked it! The staff probably made all the difference. We knew it was a full house being Kadayawan Festival but the hotel staff were in their jolly best anytime or shift of day. They were all too eager to help us, showing real concern at whatever it was we asked of them. They were/are neither just cordial nor professional; they are just too personal treating you as if you were a guest in their very own homes. The waiters are rather aged but caring while the guards are too young to be true! Gosh, I even asked one guard if he was really more than 18 years old! And the housemaids act as if they were your very own househelp. Those fantastic ladies even remove their footwear as they enter your room! Whoa!

Oh let’s go back to the lobby-cum-restaurant! The whole area facing the street is mostly glass from ceiling to floor. So, if you wanted to watch anything happening outside, just sit where you are having your breakfast or lunch, everything will come by with you having an air-conditioned comfy place to watch! During the parade, when we would feel like the Mindanao heat was starting to be unbearable, we’d pop in to the lobby of The Royale House and stay there. We could even take pictures of the parade from inside. AND, the competing troops seemed to have known we would be holed at our lobby! They’d pose for us even if we were inside the comforts of the air-conditioned lobby! See that bird? He was posing for us while we were seated at our breakfast/lunch/merienda table! Yey!

The Royale House was truly a nice pick. Hey, on the web it is sometimes identified as The Royal House (without the “e” after “l”). It sits on a busy street (commercial area) just across a BPI branch and near the church. Its in the middle of town!

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