So as I was packing my stuff a few nights ago, I told myself that I won't touch any materiaIs related to my research. I even promised myself that I won't bring my laptop just to work on my paper and the tons of journals that call review. Positively I stood by my decision and truly enjoyed my vacation. On another positive note (a blessing in disguise), since we're in an island, the slow signal (and unavailable most of the time) helped me to refrain from checking my FB, my work/school email, and my phone applications. Indeed, a reconnection to nature's freshness paired with socialization to a bunch of Filipino families and my co-scholars paved way for me to experience a fun-filled getaway at Fraser Island.
I am very happy about this trip because i am able to relax my mind and body. As you all know my schedule has been very hectic for the past days. If i am not reading a book or journal, I am writing or zumba-ing. Hence, this trip is truly a break for me. What's more special about this vacation, we stayed at Fraser Island Retreat nestled in the eastern end of Gippsland lakes. The 65- square homestead has 11 bedrooms, with accommodation for up to 38 people and extra accommodation for 12 people in a bunkhouse (Fraser, 2013). We were 37 (I guess) in the group. This wasn't a problem because each group was assigned with room with enough number of beds. The retreat house was also huge, cozy and fully furnished and so our stay was smooth and absolutely rejuvenating.
What I love about this trip is the evident Filipino culture.There were few Caucasians in the group but we were predominantly Filipinos. Actually prior to the trip I was hesistant to join because I was on a tight budget and I thought that I need to work hard (despite the stress). In the end, I decided to join because of the affordable fee and the realization that my body needs some "me" and "relaxing" time. In the end, I never regret joining the trip because it's absolutely fun-filled. One of my initial reactions was the hospitality in the group was very Filipino. You can't say no to left and right offers (especially food) from the parents or elders.
The four days and three nights vacation was budget friendly. Everyone paid 100 dollars per head. Since we're in an island, everyone brought their food to share. Undeniably, there were lots of food. Hence, we're fed with a range of scrumptious and well-prepared (ala-chef level) Filipino dishes. From breakfast, lunch and to dinner, it's always a feast! There was tapsilog, tuyo, tinapa, arroz caldo, mechado, adobo, humba, crabs, paksiw na isda, and a lot more. Nevertheless, eating while socializing with my co-scholars and with Filipino families ignited a big appetite. On the other hand, as students who are tight in budget, we just shared a couple of items for cooking. Primarily, our role was to assist in the kitchen and wash the dishes. We did those.
The 30 hectare island was filled with facilities including tennis courts, swimming pool, indoor game area (billiards, ping pong, etc.), 9-hole golf course, and hectares of lucious greens. We tried all of these facilities (which led to body pains at night). Meanwhile, with a sunny weekend weather, we toured the island with few goals: (1) Capture the beauty of the scenery, (2) Check out the lake, and (3) Spot a Kangaroo ( take a snapshot - priority!). All of these were achieved. It is the third goal that painted a big smile on my face, well, eveyone's.
|A Kangaroo behind me|
In a blow by blow account,the "apparition" of the Kangaroos was divided in three accounts. In one of the trails, we spotted one Kangaroo. On a few more steps, we spotted three Kangaroos. Eventually a group of Kangaroos from afar lined up and looked at us. In short, it was a "Kangaroo Festival!" and I was so delighted.
We also saw other jaw-dropping creatures in the island. In our attempt to swim in the lake (freezing water, FYI!), we ended up feeding two black swans. Meanwhile, I spotted some Pelicans in the dock on our way home.
Our stay in the island is blessed with a sunny and bright day. I can't remember how many times I said, "ang sarap ng araw" because I was amazed with the hot and cooperative Melbourne weather. Perhaps my amusement with the sunrays roots from my sun-deprived life. I've been always been inside my office since I've started my research. Hence, to experience everything about nature is absolutely a breather for me. Thanks to this vacation becausse I'm now ready and refreshed to work again
|Shorts and Sando despite the cold weather!|
|With Kumareng Janhart|
first "F" is the "Food." I can't deny that I there was overflowing dishes meticulously prepared and cooked by the women and men in the group. The kitchen never had the chance to rest as freshly caught fishes and crabs from the lake led to a series of cooking showdown. Meanwhile, we had full breakfast, lunch and dinner. We also threw in some snacks. And we had plenty of juice drinks and even wine, beers, and ciders.
The second "F" is the "Fun." A videoke will always be present in a Filipino gatherig such as this. Yours truly was (as usual) sang with few song selections and others as well. We also had a Zumba session (yours truly taught a few and easy moves). Meanwhile, I enjoyed drinking cider as I share my stories and listen to others.
|Picture courtesy of Darwin|
The third "F" is "Family." From the pick up point up to the island and departure, we never felt different or excluded from the group. Meanwhile, it's also a joy to see and experience the strong Filipino ties and values among Filipinos in Australia that despite the long years of being away from the Philippines they never forget to live by their "Filipinoness" - caring, happy, speaks Tagalog, and hospitable.
|With some families (photo from Darwin)|
|Happy group! (photo from Darwin)|
Bottomline, I enjoyed the Fraser Island Retreat getaway. Hence, I am looking forward to another exciting trip as my PhD research gets rough.
Stay tune for more!