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Hello, Ciao,안녕하세요, Hallo, Hola, Selamat tengahari! My name is Rachael and I am a travel enthusiast. Ever since I can remember, my parents have taken my brother, sister and I on good ol' American road trips. It's safe to say that was where my interest in new places, people and experiences was ignited. As my parents always encouraged my siblings and I to explore and ask questions, I developed a sincere curiosity for new adventures. In addition to seeing much of the United States with my favorite travel companions (my family), I had the opportunity to spend a semester in Rome, Italy, as well as a semester in Seoul, South Korea during my college career. Now, I am honored to be taking part in a Fulbright ETA Scholarship to Malaysia for a year! My family's favorite motto is "Life is all about the journey, not the destination." I invite you to join along in my journey of cultural exchange and mutual understanding in Malaysia! After all, the more, the merrier.

Friday, February 1, 2013


The beautiful, signature rock of Boracay.
It houses a statue of the Virgin Mary.
I decided to go to the Philippines on a whim. In fact, it was never a place I imagined myself traveling to, but I am so glad I did. It all started when my friend and fellow Fulbrighter said, “My Korean friend is in the Philippines studying right now. Would you want to go there?” “Sure,” I replied, although I knew nothing about the Philippines.

In late August, my friend Julie and I set off to the Philippines. Although we started our journey in Malaysia, it was no easy trip to get there. In fact, it ended up being a 24-hour travel time to get from our villages in Malaysia to the island of Boracay, Philippines. But, it was so worth it!

One of the fire dancers swirling fire around his body, as well
as around people's faces.
In a nutshell, our trip to Boracay was filled with relaxing days, the bright sun and great people. In fact, I spent a great deal of time simply sitting in cafes with iced coffee beverages writing. I was perfectly content. During the day, Julie and I would often do our own things. In the evening, we would meet for dinner with her Korean friends. One afternoon, Julie and I went scuba diving. The colors made me feel as though I was swimming through some sort of stain glass window or collage! I could have sworn that I jumped into a perfect aquarium or the movie Finding Nemo. Every night, we enjoyed eating delicious food along the beach and listening to live music under the moonlight. One night, we even had fire dancers swing fire around our faces. I was horrified, but I made it out without burns or scratches- thank goodness. During our seven days on Boracay Island, we started getting to know the people there. In fact, by day three, we had made all sorts of new friends, such as Pamela and her family who ran the lodge we stayed at.

Boracay is an absolutely breathtaking place filled with a magical sunlight that literally makes everything shine brighter. While simply walking along the shore, I could see people in the distance parasailing, kite surfing, surfing and swimming. The water of Boracay is “azzurro” (sky blue), and the endless mountains in the background make it look like my idea of heaven. All along the sandy shore, there is an ocean walkway that is filled with kind people and adorable, quaint coffee shops. Most of all, the sunset of Boracay literally engulfs you with its arrangement of orange, pink and purple colors that nestles itself over the low-tide water. The atmosphere of Boracay literally motivated me to experience “il bel far niente” (the beauty of doing nothing).

Some of the children of Boracay Island! 
One late afternoon, I sat alone playing in the sand with my toes. Soon enough, a group of children came up to me that was selling bracelets. They begged me to buy one, and I sat and chatted with them for a while. I was so surprised that they could speak English so well. As the waves came rolling up onto the shore, we started playing hand games such as “rock, paper, scissors” and “guess how many fingers I am holding up.” It was so fun to simply hang out with the kids. I told them that I would be back the next day. So I was not surprised to find them searching for me on the shore the next day. One of the little girls, her English name was Princess, had a smile that could make anyone’s day brighter.

Fellow skim boarders! 
On another afternoon, I sat and watched a group of people who seemed to be surfing. However, instead of surfing on the water, they appeared to be surfing on the shore. It intrigued me, and I sat contently just watching and giggling when they wiped out. Soon enough, a young boy as well as a boy around my age asked me if I wanted to try. The technique was called ‘skim boarding.’ I was hesitant at first, but I went for it. The next four days, I met the group of skim boarders when the tide became low around 3:30pm. They would spend a couple hours teaching me skim boarding, until the sunset. When the wipeouts and bruises became too painful I would swim in the perfect water and let the waves roll over my head and back again. After skim boarding, we would sit and watch the sunset. On my last day, I brought the little kids, as well as my skim board instructors, Cheetos, Oreos and Sprite that I found in the store nearby. We had a picnic to celebrate a great week, a new hobby and most of all, new connections.

The Philippines was my favorite trip in Southeast Asia, hands-down. The Filipino people were so warm and welcoming. After a week exploring the island, as well as the local village, I felt as though I did not want to leave. Ever since that trip, when I see little kids playing and laughing, I think of the Filipino children of Boracay.

The boat ride from the mainland to Boracay Island.

The ride through Boracay island to White Beach, Boracay.

The streets into White Beach were really unique, and
the people never hesitated to smile at us!
My friends Julie and Owen hanging out with me and one of the little boys of Boracay, Island!
He taught us how to do some awesome sand art, and he loved Cheetos!

The sun of Boracay added a special kind of glow to everything!

One of my skim board instructors and his son! After practicing, we enjoyed snacks
on the shore during sunset with people!
Jhey, a skimboard creator, thought I would enjoy seeing this
"Happy Home!" It sat right on the beach, and it could bring a smile to
anyone's face!

Our cute and quant room at Trafalgar, White Beach.

Us girls enjoying the perfect sunset that could be seen on any given night!

Goats hung around our lodge at all hours of the day!
They were friendly goats!
Boracay had plenty of coffee to go
 around! After months without iced
espresso beverages, I was ecstatic to sip on one
in the Filipino sun!

Skim boarding is a very popular hobby in Boracay.
A new friend, Jhey, made the skim boards that are for sale at this store!

Discovering a turtle on the shore
with the locals!
The sunset of Boracay, Island.
The perfect blend of orange, pink and purple.
Julie and I were on a tight budget, but
we bought a bottle of the famous
Boracay Rum. Julie tried to bring an
empty bottle home as a souvenir. Sadly,
it was confiscated at customs!
While there, I got temporary henna on my foot.
It said 'attraversiamo.' It's the word
featured in the book Eat, Pray, Love. It means
'let's cross over together.'

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