the fail that was 2014’s resolutions

Happy New Year!

So I’m a sucker for a good resolution to break, and what better time to reflect on one’s broken promises than on the anniversary of when they were made?

Maybe that sounds a bit cynical; maybe I did better than I think? Last year I decided to make broader goals that focused on improving myself rather than overly-specific small things that were doomed to fail quickly. Before I make a set of new ones, here’s a little report on last year’s (which were made, drunk, on a beach in Madagascar having just become a ‘Mrs’ – in case you need some context).

Did I make a plan for my life and stick to it?

Yes and no. We achieved some big things, like buying our first home, quicker than we thought but then we also changed our minds and decided to start a family quicker too! So, while my ultimate “forever plan” to get married and start a family has been achieved, I haven’t sorted out any of the other details. In fact, I’ve made it harder because my career will now probably have to take a back-seat for a few years.

Did I learn to adapt to life changes?

Yes – see above for a prime example! Life is changing and is about to change again very quickly, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Did I have more GRIT?

Hmmm… yeah I don’t even know where to start with that one. FAIL!

Did I stop burying my head in the sand?

Let’s just say I improved, but didn’t stop completely. I do think I became more assertive when addressing issues and I procrastinated less, but this still requires work.

Did I exercise my brain?

FAIL. No I did not. Well, not in the way I meant to. I read a fair bit but there were definitely no French classes!

Did I exercise my body?

Another big fat FAIL. Actually, I did a bit by continuing volleyball but then I fell pregnant and that was the end of it. Does growing another human inside you count?

Business Class pyjamas: Bob Carr says yes!

There’s no doubt flying Business Class, or hell, First Class, affords you a certain set of luxuries. For most of us, we’ll take what we can get because we know anything’s better than cattle class and indeed, many of us can only dream of turning left instead of right when boarding.
Not Bob Carr. Let’s call him an aficionado, shall we? He knows what he likes, and he likes only the best. If you run an airline that doesn’t offer pyjamas in Business Class, Bob Carr doesn’t like you.
For my non-Australian friends, Bob Carr is our former Foreign Minister and he has recently released his memoirs, Diaries of a Foreign Minister, to… well, country-wide mockery I guess. I’m yet to see anything other than that.
Rather than focus on Bob Carr though, I’m going to address one very specific gripe he has with life: that there are no pyjamas offered in Business Class. Ummm…. That’s not actually true.
For the Bob Carr’s of the world, I’m going to help you out. I’m nice like that. So here’s a little list of airlines who will give you a set of PJs for your trouble.
  •           Qantas
  •           American Airlines
  •           Qatar Airways
  •           All Nippon Airways
  •           Virgin Atlantic

ten things I learned as a first-timer in Vietnam

The first time I ever left Australia was when I was 18. I had been itching to head to Vietnam after studying it’s history in School. My travelling companion said “can’t we just go to New Zealand?” but I was determined to try something a bit riskier. Well…

1.       Never watch Bangkok Hilton before backpacking through Asia
Thanks Mum for the terror it instilled, which led me to using five different kinds of padlocks PLUS those zip tags with the codes on them… then going through my stuff at the carousel to make sure there was nothing in my bags I needed to flush.
2.       Forget your personal boundaries
I walked into Bến Thành markets in Ho Chi Minh City, backpack still on, fresh off the plane, just killing time waiting to be able to check into my hotel. At the first t-shirt stall I looked at, a lady came up to me and grabbed my boobs while crying “WHY SO BIG?!” I thought it was a one-off, but no. It happened pretty much every day. By the end, I have to say I was flattered.
3.   Vietnam has weather, too
Just because the picture in the brochure shows Halong Bay as a sunny place with girls in bikinis jumping off the top of the junk boat into beautiful emerald-green water doesn’t mean that when you get there it won’t be 8 degrees with pea-soup fog. It’s called winter. It’s a thing that hapens sometimes. 
4.       Just close your eyes and GO!
If you wait for a break in the traffic, you’ll never get across the road. If you change pace as you walk, or try to dodge someone on a scooter, you will hit someone. Guaranteed. So just close your eyes, say your ‘hail mary’s, and walk.
5.       If you’re a clean freak, don’t travel during Tet
All the rooms were dirty, because you don’t want to sweep out all the good luck when you sweep out the dirt. So cleaning takes a back seat in the lead up to the Vietnamese New Year. BYO thongs/jandals/flip-flops.
6.       Look up and live
We have this saying in Australia, which basically means watch out for power lines, but never has this been more appropriate than on the streets of Hanoi. I have a nasty habit of watching my feet as I walk (probably because I trip so often!) and nearly walked in to several live power lines which were dangling at neck height. I’m 5’1 so… yeah, they were hanging pretty low.
7.       Just because a red sign says KFC, doesn’t mean it’s anything like back home.
Walks like a chicken, looks like a chicken… or not. Probably goes “woof”. And on that note…
8.       For the un-initiated, eating dog can make you sick.
And not just because the idea of it turns my stomach. Even when you think you’ve eaten beef (like me) you’ll still probably get sick.

9. Rice wine isn’t for everyone…
But it is for me! Party up, Vietnam style… Just don’t eat the scorpion at the bottom.
10.   There’s no place like home
After two weeks, I was ready to come home. I was exhausted and overwhelmed. Back in my own bed, I slept better than I ever had before. But after a few days, I regretted feeling that way and was dying to go back. I put my rose-coloured-glasses on, declared it the best place ever, and booked for the next journey.
Streets of Saigon, Vietnam 2008

quarter life crisis

After doing the shark cage dive in May, a certain mister hasn’t given up hope that I might some day become a big thrill-seeker like he is. It won’t happen. However, I’m at a point where I’ve started to realise I need to push myself a bit further out of my comfort zone. All of a sudden the idea of “growing up” has started to scare me – it’s happening so fast! Is this a quarter life crisis???

Anyway, here’s a list of things I’ve always wanted to try, plus a couple I have only just heard of but am really excited by.

1. Shotover jet, New Zealand (would we call this a soft launch?)

2. Hot air balloon over the “fairy chimneys” of Cappadocia, Turkey

3. Playing Bossaball on a tropical beach somewhere… Has it hit Rio yet? I’m thinking it could work.

4. Take part in the cheese rolling festival in Gloucester, England. I love cheese!

5. Swim in the Dead Sea

6. Take part in the Rickshaw Run, India (see here, and if you’re keen to join me, let me know)

7. Hike Torres Del Paine, Chile

Torres del Paine, Chile
Image courtesy of letsgochile.com

it’s our nature

As a massive nature lover, I gravitate towards travel experiences that allow me to explore parts of the world where humans are the minority. I’ve been lucky enough to swim in some at some of the world’s best reefs, dive with the great white sharks and view the big five up close, but here’s my list of the top nature travel experiences I’m dying to have. Note: I haven’t included Madagascar in this list because I will be there in four months’ time!

The Fish of Lake Malawi
Lake Malawi is home to over 1000 species of cichlid… a few of which I happen to have in my fish tank at home. To see them in their natural habitat, and to witness the incredible diversity of the lake’s ecosystem, is a major goal of mine. Here’s a bit of information about just how imporant this lake is, especially from an evolutionary standpoint.

Orcas in Alaska or New Zealand
I have a confession to make… since I was a kid, I’ve always been a bit scared of “killer whales. I have no idea where it comes from bt from time to time I’ve even had nightmares about them. That said, they are absolutely beautiful creatures and I would just love to see them in the wild. Where, I don’t know. There are populations of Orcas all over the world. However, I’m thinking either Alaska or southern New Zealand somehwere like Milford Sound – incredible!). It looks like a great spot to see them is in Kaikoura – find out more here.

Northern Lights – Scandinavia
Forgetting the incredible science behind this spectacle, I can’t think of anything more romantic than sitting and watching the Northern Lights. Forget stargazing, I’ll take aurora borealis any day! Visit Norway has some great information about the lights here.

Galapagos Islands
This has always been my number one dream. Charles Darwin is a hero of mine and many hours during my uni days were spent reading his work and I would love to be able to retrace his footsteps. Unfortunately Lonesome George is no longer around but his cousins are there to visit!

Sand Dunes of Sossuvlei, Namibia
Here you will find some of the highest sand dunes in the world, as well as petrified dunes and forests. I love the idea of how remote and inhospitable this place is; where the life cycle of a beautiful sand dune can be seen uninterrupted. There is also a surprising abundance of fauna here which highlights the fascinating survival instincts of many animals.

The Amazon Basin
The Victoria Water Lily. Yep, a water lily. Big deal you might say… but this water lily is massive and one of its leaves can support the weight of a child. Because I live in Adelaide, I’m lucky enough to live close to the beautiful Adelaide Botanic Gardens which has the Victoria Water Lily on display, and I’ve spent lots of time marvelling at them. But to travel through the backwaters of the Amazon in a little boat surrounded by the Victoria Lily… wow!

Pandas in China
China’s endangered Giant Panda population, mainly found in Sichuan Province, are becoming a big drawcard. Unfortunately, the tourism the pandas are bringing in doesn’t seem to be enough to stop things like this happening… so I’d like to head over to see them sooner rather than later.

Dunes of Sossuvlei, Namibia
(photo courtesy of amazingplacesonearth.com)

life in twenties

I saw this BuzzFeed video today; it’s a list of “10 Trips You NEED To Take In Your Twenties”. Some of the moments on the list I have been lucky enough to experience, but some I haven’t.

The video, though, is clearly American and I think that affects some of the points on the list. For example, here in Australia we don’t have Spring Break, but we do have Schoolies. It’s a different premise but something most teenagers are dying to experience.

On the flip side, the video includes “go camping in the middle of nowhere”. In Australia, this is a given and probably not something the average Aussie twenty-something would put on their list.

What would you put on your list? What are the 10 things you think you need to do before you turn 30? And for everyone all over the world, what part does your culture have to play in the different elements of your list?

Our taste of “camping in the middle of nowhere”
 Coffin Bay National Park, South Australia, April 2011