19 November 2010

Is it really over?

It has been just 24 hours since the group dispersed. I'm sitting in a cafe eating delicious food, sipping a delicious iced coffee, and reading a delicious book. These are all things I was looking forward to the past few weeks but now that they have arrived, all I can think about is that night in Laos when we all slept on the hard floor with no blankets or pillows. Or that day when all 18 of us finished a massive 80km cycle in Cambodia. Or when Simon and Dani "sorted out" that chicken. Or Madonna yelling "Woohoo!" The list goes on and on.

No doubt every group - over time - becomes extremely close and extremely connected. The only difference this time is that it was my group; the one I was a part of.

We finished the adventure with a cyclo race through the streets of Hanoi and there are already about 11 reunions planned over the next few months. I can honestly say I have made some life-long friends. It's just a shame the trip had to end...

I guess it means we will need to get prepped for our next Inspired Adventure!!!

- Posted from my KyPhone

17 November 2010

I'm doing it for...

I'm doing it for...

Without question, this Race for a Cure has been life-changing for the entire group. We have cycled close to 200 kilometers, trekked nearly 100 kilometers, slept on two overnight trains, gotten up at 4am, sweated together, laughed together, and yes, even cried together. Every day has built on and grown from the day before.

Right from the start we dedicated different days to different aspects of our adventure. Our 80km cycling day was "doing it for Cure Cancer." The survival course and long hike in Thailand were "doing it for the team." Yesterday's intro trek through Sapa was "doing it for me" and our 20k, 6 hour trek today was "doing it for ______. I handed out a slip of paper in the morning and asked everyone to fill in the blank with whoever or whatever got them here, with the intention of really encouraging people to think about what this is all about.

We finished our trek at a small village deep in the never-ending terraced rice fields far away from anything even remotely familiar. After settling in for another night in this rustic but spectacular environment, we came together as a group and I asked everyone who felt comfortable to share who or what they were trekking for.

I started and fought back tears telling everyone about Laura, a close family friend who was diagnosed with breast cancer only recently. She had been on my mind this entire trip but today - sprained ankle, arthritic knees, cough, cold, and all - I was taking every step for her. I won't share everyones stories as they were really for us, but I will mention Ian, who asked me to include his photo and share that he was thinking about and dedicating his day to his brother. Emotions ran high and by the end, there wasn't a dry eye in the room.

I felt incredibly privileged to share in peoples stories and motivations and as Saxon pointed out, we have really become like a family. I guess that's the power of these Inspired Adventures - a life-changing experience that you are able to share with people as passionate and inspired as you while truly changing the world by supporting an amazing charity like Cure Cancer Australia.

Tomorrow we are doing it for the researcher who may very well find a cure to this awful disease. As a group we have raised $104,517! That's enough to fund a young, innovative person who very well may unlock the key to a cure; something everyone in our group deserves to be proud of.

As I always seem to say, GO TEAM!!!

-- Posted from my KyPhone

15 November 2010

Overnight trains and trekking pains

Overnight trains and trekking pains

After a much-needed half day off, we boarded our second Laos airlines flight to Hanoi. It was a bit of a mad dash once we arrived, as our flight was delayed ad we had to eat dinner downtown before heading to the train station.

I attempted to speed up the process by having everyone pay into a central pot so we could avoid individual bills. Naturally, they printed out individual bills, which meant this attempt actually further delayed our departure. Oh, and the power went out mid meal, which definitely added ambiance.

We reached the train station just in the knick of time, carrying our bags a good kilometer across train tracks, intersections, and little bridges. True to form, the train was brilliant. Air conditioning, duvets, and fluffy pillows meant I was asleep before we rolled away. The group - most of whom had never been on an overnight train before - were wildly surprised at the little luxuries (minus the underwater bathroom which smelled lovely). Regardless, not a single complaint.

We arrived in Sapa And transferred to the hotel. Since our rooms weren't ready, the whole group turned the lobby bathroom into our private changing facilities. Hans even brushed his teeth with orange juice!

It was straight out the door on a 3-hour trek through the terraced rice fields with lunch by a very flowing waterfall. Unfortunately, I somehow managed to really mess up my ankle. I skipped the morning hike and instead trawled the streets on the back of a motorbike in search of a doctor.

I found one, and a solid hour later of being poked, prodded, and flipped around, my ankle was feeling a bit better and I had made a lovely new friend who knew every octave I could wail while writhing in pain!

Off to karaoke now. It's an early night though. We have a very long ad very hard trek ahead of us tomorrow!

-- Posted from my KyPhone

13 November 2010



It's 3:32am right now. I'm sitting on a wooden bench inside a one-room hut on the top of a mountain in The Mong village of Poutao. All 17 of my now closest friends are asleep just meters from where I am perched - boys on one side and girls on the other.

We are in a village "guesthouse" and no doubt having a once-in-a-lifetime experience. I just used my head torch to slowly make my way to the toilet and back. Last night around 9 o'clock I slid myself in-between Ian And Peter using a rolled up sweater as a pillow with just a plastic sheet separating me from the raised wooden sleeping board.

I managed to sleep for 6 hours before the cold of the night (and the symphony of snoring) woke me. The rest of the group is still somehow out like a light, which is refreshing for this tour leader. I must say that the entire group really came together this evening. Not a single person stirred as our guide Tong outlined the sleeping arrangements: limited pillows and blankets, limited space, and limited room for discussion. After 30km of cycling and a solid 10km trek almost entirely uphill, they had earned a good night of sleep and have done brilliantly considering our circumstances.

The theme of our day was doing it for the team and I can easily say that's exactly what everyone did. The first people are beginning to stir. Time to get prepped for our 6-hour trek back down the mountain!

-- Posted from my KyPhone



That means hello in Laotian.

For me, arriving in Laos feels like Christmas morning when you are 8 years old. It's nothing but pure and utter bliss.

Everything about Laos is adorable. We arrived on our tiny plane to the tiny airport ere the tiny people at border control issued our tiny visas before we got into tiny vans to be taken to our tiny hotel, which was followed by a tiny dinner, tiny coffee, and email check using the tiny internet connection.

I had arranged for everyone to have their laundry washed - 50 kilos in a matter of 8 hours, all to be run through just one tiny washer and dryer. After a tiny sleep I shuffled across the road at 6am to pick up the entire lot's luggage to find roughly 30 of the 50 kilos unsorted, an army of socks waiting patiently to be matched. "oh sorry, we don't know whose is whose." the remainder of the morning was spent sorting this snafu (by literally sorting everyone's socks and underwear - a great team-building activity) before setting off to pick up our bikes.

The morning cycle was a solid 30km of seriously undulating terrain complete with washed out paths, red clay, and the occasional passing vehicle. The fact that we got through it with seemingly so much ease is a testament to the group's energy and ability. Special shout out to Connie, who went head first over the handle bars and completed what was hands down the best stack of the trip.

Our path ended at a small village, where we had lunch and changed before starting our ascent. I'm not going to lie - the path was steep and the sun was hot. It felt like we were literally walking directly up the side of the mountain (perhaps because we were). Fortunately there were no major tumbles, but there was one person who officially earned their "rock star" status. At 71 years old, Hans has quickly become the most beloved man in Asia. He has completed every single challenge and done it with a smile on his face. His motto: "I'll get there - just slowly slowly."

As he and I caught up with the group at the base of the village, everyone erupted in cheers. Go Hans! Go Hans! Go Hans! Now for dinner and stories around the fire with the newest addition to the team - about 50 kids who just love watching out every move. Cynthia has already made plans to bring about 10 of them home with her...

-- Posted from my KyPhone

11 November 2010

Over the handle bars

Over the handle bars

We awoke ready for the next leg of our cycling adventure to keep our "Race for a Cure" energy sky high. Our proposed itinerary:

"16 km on fairly flat, mostly paved roads through charming villages and countryside."

Our actual journey:

20 km on extremely hilly, mostly unpaved roads through the jungle and 6-foot tall uncleared grass.

Needless to say, it was an adventure! After carrying our cycles on our backs across a small stream and into a clearing, Simon somehow managed to dislodge his bike chain and get it jammed in the spokes of his back wheel, which meant three of us got to play mechanic and troubleshoot by banging wrenches and pulling on things.

It was quite fortunate that we got stuck because it meant we had front row seats for both Ian and Greg's over the handle bars face plant after their front wheels got lodged in a pot hole. I only joke because both of them were completely fine, which makes it alright to discuss the fantastic imagery of two 6-foot 2 men flying through the air like human cannonballs set against the backdrop of Thai rice paddies.

We finished with yet another divine meal at a gorgeous lodge also set against rice paddies that stretched for miles. What was really great about today is that everyone went with the flow. It's Asia, it's the jungle, and it's fluid. Part of the adventure is leaving your schedules, diaries, outlook notifications, and routines at home; genuinely letting go of control and doing something outside your comfort zone in support of charity. The sooner you embrace the excitement, the more you will get out of the entire experience.

As for us, we are about to board a near private Laos airlines flight to Luang Prabang, where will be start the third leg of the first ever Race for a Cure. As I say quite often, GO TEAM!

-- Posted from my KyPhone

I'm a survivor

I'm a survivor

Our arrival in Chiangmai Mai, Thailand took everyone by surprise. It had only been 3 days and we were already in country number two! New currency, new language, and new challenges!

We were whisked away to Pang Soon Lodge, which is nestled deep in the rainforest an hour north of the city and just 40 kilometers from the Burma border and wasted no time, diving right into our survival challenge.

The group was divided into two teams of 8. After a brief overview the bell was rung, giving each team 90 minutes to build a shelter, start a fire, make dining utensils, and prepare dinner. In our leader briefing it was explained that each team would also need to catch, kill, prepare, and cook a chicken. For some reason I thought he was kidding. False. We approached to find two penned chickens waiting to be turned into supper.

As one might imagine, this task - a real challenge for an all non-veg group to confront what they eat - proved to be rather overwhelming.

While one team zoomed right in while the other - facing major internal debate - decided to go vegetarian, placing their bird in a cage that it would later escape from and flee into the woods.

With 30 minutes remaining, the tension mounted. It was a perfect example of what happens when you get 16 high-functioning individuals together in a small space: 16 chiefs and no Indians. That almost became a metaphorical lesson in and of itself. That is, what happens when I can't be in absolute control - something people diagnosed with cancer must consider each and every day.

With just five minutes left both teams had fully united around a common cause: WINNING. After having our local guides grade all elements on a scale of 1 to 10, the teams miraculously TIED (which meant I had to come up with twice as many prizes!)

This camp survival challenge was coupled with an emergency procedures challenge this morning. Each team had to build a stretcher and then race their injured group member 200 meters down a jagged winding path. It was fast paced and exciting to say the least! We finished the day with a 10km trek through some extremely varied terrain, arriving at a zipline center called the Flight of the Gibbons where we proceeded to race along the canopy from platform to platform by zipline, suspension bridge and absaling. It was death defying and absolutely incredible! Very special shout out to Madonna and Jen, who faced their very real fear of heights and powered through every portion. You go ladies!

In terms of our leader board, Ian and Peter are in 1st, with both Renee and Madonna and Greg and Fiona rounding out the top three.

More to come!!!

-- Posted from my KyPhone

Location:Taphul Rd,Siem Reap,Cambodia

08 November 2010

Pass on the bracelet

Every evening we reward our bard work with an absolutely brilliant dinner. It is at dinner that we recount the day, with Saxon - the other social leader - and I handing out several honourable mentions for exceptional performance. They are given in 8 categories:

Speed, teamwork, courage, energy, strength, kindness, style, and grace

Afterward, one of us usually tells the story of the day that no doubt involves some fairly hilarious moments.

Then, to end the day on a genuine high note, two team members "pass on the bracelet." It is important in any group to empower everyone to notice and recognize hard work. The Inspired Bracelets do just that by asking each day's recipients to nominate the awarded for the following day.

This is a phenomenal group of people. We already feel like a posse and it's only day three...

-- Posted from my KyPhone

Location:Taphul Rd,Siem Reap,Cambodia


"I'm not stopping now." Fiona announced. We had a 6am start to beat the heat but a few snafus - bus connections, tickets, and folks getting lost - meant our cycling didn't get going until just after 9. The group was a bit disjointed and we decided a solid cheer - Go Team! - was just what we needed to change course and get back on track.

Somehow during our 20k warm up before the 10k sprint race we lost 2 participants. They had missed a turn and the safety crew at the back veered off with them. 10k later they realized they were on the wrong road, loaded up and rejoined us at the rest point.

After Sam and Madonna claimed the titles of queen and king of the bikes it was off the beaten path to continue our journey. This was post lunch and the heat was pounding down on us. The burn-off smoke left everything under a slight haze.

By now the team had split into a few different groups. I was hanging back with Fiona, Frank, and Jennifer. We stopped for water. I looked over at Jennifer and tears were streaming down her face. "I don't know if I can go on." A discussion pursued as to whether or not we should take a break. We were about 10 seconds away from hopping on the bus and emotions were running high.

"You know what I think," Fiona - a cancer survivor began. "I think this is nothing compared to chemotherapy. I reckon' we can do this," she exclaimed. "if Fiona is in I'm in, Jen said, now holding back a second round of tears. "Well then me too," added Frank. With that they saddled up and rode off.

75 kilometers later all three of them reached the end of the day's cycling, proud smiles in tow.

They did it for themselves. They did it for the team. They did it for Cure Cancer. Now that is one Inspired Adventure.

-- Posted from my KyPhone

Location:Taphul Rd,Siem Reap,Cambodia

07 November 2010

A little bit of everything

5am felt pretty early for our group, as bed didn't happen until at least 11pm last night. But there was no whimpering and everyone was on time! The team mantra is: don't drink tap water and don't be late!

Today was just the right amount of everything. Can you imagine a better way to start than sunrise over Angkor Wat? Then it was the first challenge! Teams ripped open envelopes to find their first temple photo challenge and darted off to get started! Ian an Peter slammed the competition, winning by over 10 minutes!

A good 20km cycling later we were at our second temple and second photo challenge. This time it wasn't so easy for Ian and Peter, as Greg and Fiona managed to fin the relief at the same time! Unfortunately for Peter, Gregs long legs found him leaping past the finish line just 5 seconds ahead of Peter to claim first place!

From there it was onward to our boat connection for an afternoon tour of the floating villages and mangroves before lunch with Sasa and her family!

As these adventures are ALWAYS an adventure, our boat ground to a hault on the way back due to shrinking river levels, which meant we had to wade to shore and hitch a ride in the back of a truck. Woohoo!

80km cycling tomorrow! Finally, special shout out to Jennifer, who faced her fear and did brilliantly on the bike today. You rock!!!

-- Posted from my KyPhone

Location:Taphul Rd,Siem Reap,Cambodia

06 November 2010

Good Morning From Angkor!

Not a bad site to wake up to, is it?

-- Posted from my KyPhone

Location:Taphul Rd,Siem Reap,Cambodia

The Gang Is All Here!

We started this morning just the two of us Saxon and Kyle. By 9pm we were 20! For the first time since everyone signed up to a part of this big adventure, all 16 team members plus two social leaders and two local guides have assembled for the adventure of a lifetime. We went to a beautiful dinner at Siem Reaps premier French/Khmer fusion restaurant, where we did a round robin intro and I introduced the BIG RACE!!! Needless to say, people were pumped!

Saxon and I gave away the first "person of the day" awards to Madonna and Renee for braving an extra day of travel to be here. Tomorrow they will have the honor of passing those on to who they decide is the person of the day! Frank already stole the team idol, so we will see who nabs it from him in the morning!

All in all, we are off to a great start and it's all for Cure Cancer! 5am meet-up for Angkor Wat at sunrise. Better get to bed!

-- Posted from my KyPhone

Location:Taphul Rd,Siem Reap,Cambodia

Just go with the SE Asia Flow!

It has been just 18 hours but we have breakfasted in Australia, lunched in the air, and dinnered in Saigon! True to form, we have already had a few go with the flow moments. Our connecting flights were mixed up, our hotel "couldn't find our booking," and there were no maps to be found anywhere, leaving us caught in a torrential downpour while hunting for an a and a sim card. Once again, my use of charades is going phenomenally well! But hey, if it was easy it wouldn't be an Inspired Adventure! Off tomorrow to Siem Reap to meet the rest of the group!

-- Posted from my KyPhone

Location:Lê Thánh Tôn,Ho Chi Minh City,Vietnam

04 November 2010


We are at the airport waiting to check our bags and the four of us assembled so far have that brilliant pre-departure dash of explosive excitement that inevitably comes with travel. What are we going to see? What are we going to eat? What will the weather be like? What what what!!! There is no feeling quite like it, and it's no wonder I'm a bit addicted to travel.

The added bonus this time is that it's all for good. This group has raised more than $100,000 for Cure Cancer Australia. I imagine this may be a very emotional few weeks. I'll be dedicating my trip to a close family friend - Laura - who was recently diagnosed with breast cancer and had surgery a few days ago. Laura, I'll be thinking of you lots!!!


-- Posted from my KyPhone

Location:Departure Plaza,Sydney International Airport,Australia

03 November 2010

Testing posting from my phone

Just testing to see if I can blog from my phone while I am away. How cool would that be? Departing in 24 hours!!!

-- Posted from my KyPhone

Location:Goulburn St,Sydney,Australia