Vanuatu – Poppy’s on the lagoon

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Girl paddling canoe in lagoon

You know those really small regional towns? The ones cut in half by highways going somewhere good? The towns with a pub (maybe), a petrol station and a few aged folk sitting on balconies, suspiciously watching cars go by. I am currently riding my motorbike home from one of these towns in regional Victoria, Australia. Having spent the last two and a half weeks casting medicines upon the unsuspecting locals of Avoca, currently a few thoughts are rattling through my mind:

What a bunch of friendly folk! Why the hell do I ride a motorbike in winter? Will feeling return to my legs? What time was that flight? Stop daydreaming and look out for kangaroos you fool. Jette would kill me if I crashed the night before our honeymoon!

 28 hours later

I wake in Vanuatu in an unfamiliar bed. Like a dopey koala I follow Jette down to reception to plan our week. Jette has this freakish ability to shake off any length of commute faster than a politician forgets election promises. I let her do the talking as I sit there drooling, laughing randomly and generally needing caffeination.

grey Vanuatu   Poppys on the lagoon

Relaxing at Poppy’s on the Lagoon

We have decided to stay at Poppy’s on the Lagoon. My second impression of Poppy’s is that I could easily spend the whole time sitting next to the pool, reading and relaxing. My first impression was at 4am last night. That involved thoughts of bed then wishing that the rooster would shut the hell up. Our accommodation is a short ten minute walk, past the prison and down a hill, into town. Poppy’s is set amongst lush tropical gardens and faces a quiet lagoon. Maybe this is a sign that we are getting older but we never once considered staying in town near the ‘action‘, nor do we want to set foot in the Adult pool. I’ve seen the internet movies…

Jette and I wanted to have some time together before I go to Nepal for six weeks and she returns to Denmark to visit family and friends. As such we don’t want to spend the whole time running around trying to do everything. To that end we just book an overnight trip to see Mt Yasur (active volcano) and a day SCUBA diving on Tranquility Island. Tranquility Island … I’d visit there on the name alone.

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grey Vanuatu   Poppys on the lagoon grey Vanuatu   Poppys on the lagoon

Between a few days sitting on the beach and exploring town we rent a Quad bike and buzz off to see the blue lagoon. Interesting fact: The first movie I saw with boobs in it was called The Blue Lagoon. I had high expectations of this place. The main island of Vanuatu, called Efate, is bristling with blue lagoons where fresh meets salt water. We are assured that this one, is the Blue Lagoon. After a few frights involving me forgetting to drive on the right-hand side we make it safely to the lagoon. There is no one else here so I switch into my swimming shorts under a tree and dive right in. The visibility is amazing, even without goggles. Clear, warm, inviting water and my wife in a bikini = happy days! The lagoon is surrounded by lush jungle and rimmed by white sand. It is truly a scene taken from a postcard. We find a rope swing attached to a tall tropical tree and start swinging gleefully. Soon about eight other holiday makers show up and join in the fun.

The boys try to climb higher and higher in the tree before swinging. I may have started that game. You know when you get an idea, immediately think this will go wrong, but then do it anyway.

Yeah, that.

One time I swing my legs above my head and latch them onto the rope as I swoop over the lagoon. At the top of my arc I let go with my legs but my hands stay attached. The initial idea was to be facing down as I released my feet and to do a graceful dive into the water. The reality was that when my hands also slipped I hit the water from about 3 meters high flat on my side.


I bob to the surface with a surprised grimace and decide that It would be safer risking my life on the roads. Time to go.

Feeling like we have been on holidays for months we arrive back at Poppy’s to get an early night ready for a day of SCUBA diving.

Philosophical Bucketlist – Melanie Agustina

This has made my day! After ages of nagging my lovely sister to write and post her bucket list here she has sent me not one, but two lists, along with a very interesting letter explaining this rather philosophical bucketlist. It is so interesting to compare the different things that were important to Mel when she was leaving university and now, as she approaches ‘ahem’ the dreaded four zero. I would love to hear your take on the thought that maybe a bucket list is not ideal as there are so many spontaneous adventures which life throws at us, and some things that just never happen (for whatever reason). Anyway, enjoy this read coming all the way from Saudi Arabia where my sister lives and works:

I know you have been at me for ages about my ‘bucket list’ but after looking through the checklist (before the ‘Bucket List’ movie was made) I made with my best friend Jayne when I was at university I was really worried about how little I will/have achieved at this stage of my life (OMG I am nearly 40!).

When I sat down and began this I started thinking about all the amazing things that I have seen, experienced and worked towards that were never on my original checklist. This sparked a debate with Win (my husband), as he doesn’t think that a Bucket List is a good idea. His reasoning is that there is so much that happens during life’s journey that are incidental surprises, changes and choices we make when we get to that fork in the road, that if you have a list and don’t tick them all off you will not appreciate these other experiences and joys to the same extent as if you didn’t have a list. Win also said that he would find it hard to get to a point in life and look at the list and feel really disappointed. His views made me think about all the strange twists and turns in my own life journey and all the amazing things that I have experienced and done. I realise that this is not the place for a philosophical debate about Bucket Lists, but going through this reflection provided food for thought to me from different perspectives.

However, I love checklists and crossing things off. It provides such a sense of achievement and control. In my second bucket list, all the family items are not negotiable. They are things that I have an intrinsic desire to achieve and wish to do to give my children the best opportunities possible. Although I have made this Bucket List I am going to grab all positive opportunities as they come and if I am lucky enough to get to do the things in all other categories along the way I will be very excited.

Okay so I have attached some of the bits from my university checklist and then pasted on my Almost 40 Bucket-List.

University ‘Checklist’


  1. Travel the world for at least a year
  2. Raft down the Amazon
  3. Bike through NZ
  4. Adventure to follow Charles Darwin’s Journey
  5. Visit South America and places from ‘Children of the Sun’ (cartoon from childhood)
  6. Visit countries that I did projects on in High School and College (Laos, Amazon, Peru, Tibet)
  7. Australian Road Trip with JS (aka JC) and RK
  8. Swim in whales
  9. Learn to Cross Country Snow Ski
  10. Go walking in Nepal


  1. Write a book called, “Stories I couldn’t tell my mother”
  2. Work overseas
  3. See the Australian Deserts in Bloom (WA)
  4. Find the perfect tall, dark and handsome man to share my life
  5. Get a tattoo
  6. Own the perfect little house (near the ocean and close to the mountains)

Brain Food:

  1. Gain my AMus (Associate Diploma of Musical Performance)
  2. Get to wear the purple hat

Physical Challenges:

  1. Base Jump from cliffs in Pakistan
  2. Complete at least 10 triathlons
  3. Learn to surf
  4. Complete a free fall course
  5. Climb the highest mountains of three continents


Mel’s Almost 40 Bucket List


  1. Be there when my children/family need me
  2. Help my children find their passion
  3. Live to see my children enter their chosen careers that sparks passion and gives them fulfillment


  1. Write children’s books that promote intercultural understanding and respect
  2. Get to wear the purple hat
  3. Jointly celebrate 40th birthday JC and RK in STYLE
  4. See the Australian Deserts in Bloom (WA)
  5. Pass on the skills and knowledge of bushwalking and the outdoors (I have learnt from my mother and father) to my family
  6. Provide my children with opportunities to develop a strong ALs (Additional Languages)
  7. Go walking with my family in five continents
  8. Become ideal weight and fitness then maintain
  9. Be financially out of debt before I am 40!
  10. See the Southern Aurora
  11. Go star gazing in an Australian desert and Middle Eastern desert and compare
  12. Find somewhere that we can call home
  13. Own the perfect little ‘home’ that is environmentally sustainable
  14. Permanent Residency (as the word permanent really means forever) or Citizenship for Win
  15. Do a musical tour of Europe (concerts, places of birth of great composers, museums)

Brain Food:

  1. Lead 6 different IB workshops in EY (Early Years education – multiple times if possible to help refine my own skills and understanding)
  2. Do a Reggio Emilia Study Tour
  3. When retired…work for an NGO providing education and training for countries or areas of need
  4. Get to wear the purple hat
  5. Play in an orchestra


  1. Visit South America and places from ‘Children of the Sun’
  2. Visit countries that I did projects on in High School and College (Laos, Amazon, Peru, Tibet)
  3. Australian Road Trip with JS (aka JC) and RK
  4. Swim in whales
  5. Learn to Cross Country Snow Ski
  6. Go on an adventure holiday with Grandma and Grandpa
  7. Adventure to follow Charles Darwin’s Journey
  8. African Safari

Physical Challenges:

  1. Run a marathon before 40!
  2. Complete a full length triathlon
  3. Climb Mt Kilimanjaro
  4. Learn to surf (and manage to stay up for the whole ride)


  1. Change my diet to become more environmentally sustainable
  2. Win 5 games of ‘May I’ (card game) in a row against good competition (Butlers etc…)


Return to Your bucket list


Diana from d travels ’round – Bucket list

In her writing Diana from d travels ’round tries to answer the question “What happens when you turn 30, and realize the life you are living…is no longer the life you want to live?”  The answer which Diana keeps coming back to is simple, you travel…and blog…and travel…and…

On her way to answering this question Diana has had her stories appear in both print and online media around the globe and recently she picked up the Destinology Travel Bloggy Awards for travel writing. There are a few places and things on Diana’s hit list, not really a bucket list, which she has not gotten around to as yet , but I am sure, given time, that she will do all of them. So, reproduced here with kind permission is a summary of Diana’s list, read on and be inspired!

  1. Go back to Sweden and see the magical lights way up north.
  2. Abisko National Park.
  3. Stop seething with polite jealousy at others’ trips down there and go to Antarctica
  4. Mongol Rally. A car. A few people. And a trip from Europe to Mongolia to raise money for a charity.
  5. Cuba. There is something so incredibly romantic about the little country south of Florida. And, I want to experience it for myself.
  6. Varnasi, India. I’d go to India just to visit here. Take a month or so and gallivant around the rest of the country.
  7. Camino de Santiago. The pilgrimage in Spain – the Camino de Santiago – isn’t only a challenge but an incredible way to see the more untouched beauty the country has to offer.
  8. Camp outside of Area 51. I never made it near Area 51. And, I would have really liked to do so.
  9. Give Paris another chance
  10. Meditation Retreat at Doi Suthep
  11. Have meaningful experiences, this isn’t really a “place” or anything, but it is truly what I want from every moment of my life: meaningful experiences.

Return to Your bucket list


Adventure Underwear – stick your phone in your pants and smile

This week leading up to the big climb I was planning to write about the importance and logistics of getting to the start of the mountain in a healthy state. My plans changed, however, when an unassuming chap named Nigel emailed and kindly offered to show me his underpants, Adventure underpants no less!

Those of you who regularly read my blog know that I have no intention of monetizing this site and that the only sponsored post I have ever done was when Red Balloon offered me a free skydive last January, an offer too good to refuse…but when a a bloke offers to show me his undies.

grey Adventure Underwear   stick your phone in your pants and smileTo give you some background on this Nigel character, he is a chemist who loves to travel. Being a safety conscious soul, as he was preparing to explore South America he sewed a small pocket into his underpants to safely store some of his valuables. I imagine he spent a fair bit of time flashing his pocketed jocks to passersby as he returned home with a lot of people urging him to market the idea. Which he did. Nigel quit his job and threw himself into the world of underwear design, his labors resulting in the Adventure Underwear brand. This is a brand in the making and the 23rd of July is the official kick-starter launch. Nigel and his team are trying to raise enough interest through kick-starter to really fire off their band and I wish them all the best.

Let’s face it, money belts are dorky and uncomfortable. Money belts are easy to forget. However, most people wear underpants. You will have to take my word here as all attempts at verifying this statement resulted in guards chasing me out of the shopping mall.

As I said above, my history of reviewing stuff is limited to thoughtfully saying, “Nice coffee” or gleefully yelling “Free camping, winner!” I am winging it so please bear with me here. To use a completely inappropriate metaphor I will break this down into bite sized pieces.

grey Adventure Underwear   stick your phone in your pants and smileIdea

I think caching your valuables next to your most prized possession is a brilliant idea. When I was in Rio I stuck some money and a small map to my chest with a wound dressing as I figured that it would be a dedicated thief that searches inside scabby wounds for valuables. This worked, but, having a small pocket inside my underpants would have been much easier on my (only) chest hair when I retrieved my money later that night.
Both pockets in Adventure Underwear are waterproof to 60 meters. This is great for you water sports enthusiasts. no more leaving your keys under the wheel arch while surfing. The Adventure Underwear team are working on a females range so stay tuned.

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Sadly Nigel thought I was joking when I suggested he make a special ‘Brown-series’ for really scary adventure.



Usually you put your undies on in the morning and don’t think about them much after that. This would be the ideal situation for Adventure Underwear. When I first put mine on I noticed the plastic pocket (which is inside a merino pocket for comfort) being, well plasticy against my skin. This was not a huge issue as after five minutes or so I had all but forgotten they were there.
I wore them with my passport in a pocket for a whole day. I could feel that it was resting snugly against my thigh, this was not a nuisance. It would be somewhat comforting while traveling I imagine. The merino they use is the super fine type not that itchy-grandma-knitted-jumper stuff your parents made you wear as a kid.


I am ashamed to admit this, but my record for wearing a single pair of underpants is just over a week. One pair, no changing. Whilst on the summit attempt of Manaslu my priorities were elsewhere, I also forgot my toothbrush but I would rather not talk about this. It would have greatly aided the comfort of both myself and my tent mates if I had worn a pair of merino undies on this climb. Merino wool is the best fabric for both wicking away moisture and stopping body odours.

The seams are a flat, non-rubbing type, great for active people. Where the plastic security pocket attaches the stitching is starting to come a bit loose but I am assured that the second generation will have this fixed by attaching the plastic pocket with velcro rather than stitched. This will allow you to take out the plastic and just use the merino outer pocket if waterproofing is not needed.
The plastic pockets are 100% recyclable, they contain no BPA’s or bad chemicals and the FDA have given them a ‘food safe rating.’    Just in case you want to stuff a snickers bar down there…


I have never been a big fan of money belts but hate that feeling of paranoia when I just want to relax and enjoy exploring.

I will be wearing my adventure undies (sadly not available in brown, hint, hint Nigel) both in Katmandu and when I climb Ama Dablam this October and am sure that my valuables (and tent-buddies) will thank me for it!

For updates on Adventure Underwear through Twitter go here: @AdvntrUnderwear and through Facebook go here:


While this is my first proper product review I have been approached by various companies in the past but have passed on their offer. The reason is that I only want to review products which may be of interest (and useful) to my readers. The fact that I got free undies has in no way affected what I have written. If they were terrible I would tell you so. promise.


Samantha – student Bucket List

This week’s student bucket list comes from the heady world of an early twenties student, funny blog title then hey! Ooh, I remember when I was a student…anyways, Samantha runs a blog called Adventures of a 20-something where she records “everything from crazy nights out to incoherent ramblings about my everyday life to lessons I’ve learned the hard way.” There are a few posts called “Overheard on the hill” which are absolutely hilarious quotes overheard in Samantha’s ramblings, I spend way more time than I had planned chuckling at these. So below I am pleased to introduce the bucket list of my young and funny fellow blogger Samantha:

1. Learn to surf.

2. Learn to play guitar.

3. Win an Ivy League Championship and go to NCAAs.

4. Learn to drive stick shift.

5. Go skydiving.

6. Time’s Square on New Year’s Eve.

7. New Year’s kiss from a complete stranger.

8. Complete 161 things …or at least like 75%.

9. Backpack across Europe.

10. Learn family history/geneology/family tree.

11. Adopt a dog.

12. Go to the Super Bowl.

13. Go to Hawaii.

14. Cross-country road trip.

15. Go parasailing.

16. Go on a cruise.

17. Scuba dive.

18. Write and publish a book.

19. Own a Mustang.

20. Kiss in the rain.

21. Get a tattoo.

22. Go REAL camping.

23. Bowl a 300.

24. Ride a mechanical bull.

25. Go zip-lining.

26. Break a world record.

27. Have a book turned into a movie.

28. Do a Tough Mudder or a Warrior Dash or something along those lines.

29. Sing karaoke and not care what anyone thinks.

30. Be in 161 Faces of Cornell.

31. Have a book I’ve written become a New York Times Best Seller.

32. Go on a reality TV show (or at least appear on one).

33. Participate in Holi.

34. Run a marathon.

35. Visit all 30 MLB baseball stadiums.
Return to Your bucket list

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This business partnership has expired.” Ben has no idea what adventures are in store when he sets out to discover what lies over that next mountain.

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