Karryn Wheelans

TITS … Will Travel!!

Yep attention grabbing!!
But also thoroughly professional and factual.  It is the acronym for “Ten in Tasmania.” TITS
Of course all ten of us had them…in fact there were 20 TITS in total that travelled to Tassie.
And here’s the bum steer.
The glossy brochures featured fit and beautiful outdoorsy people smiling, enjoying a relaxing walk through the beauty of Tasmania’s sunny and plateau-like walkways.
Of course it’s all in the sell.
If we had been told (or if there were pictures showing) that we would have to pee in the bushes with no toilet paper, listen to endless wilderness waffle, (who can remember what a taxus-laxa-folia leaf is) walk in torrential rain (with no hair dryer in tow), traipse through knee-deep mud, slide in snow, brave blood-sucking insects the size of toads (ok just big insect-sized) and find pure unfettered joy in a pack of cards then the 10 of us would not have formed the TITS and tackled Cradle Mountain.
Cradle Mt


Room by Emma Donoghue

Like an exercise addict- starting is the challenge but once you have, it’s enjoyable, makes you feel breathless but exhilarated and suddenly you’re obsessed – such is ROOM.

It’s a profound and wondrous story told through the eyes and words of a child born to a woman held hostage by her abductor (and the child’s father) in a small room for years.

Author Emma Donoghue unwraps her story like a child who’s afraid of a present:  slowly, timidly then faster and more furiously until you’re left wide-eyed and amazed.

This is one of those books, that while you may find it a bit bemusing in the beginning will have you thoroughly and completely hooked before you realise and you’ll be putting off dinner and even talking to others until you’ve finished. It will also make you have pause about a the power of motherhood.

A stunning, provoking but entertaining book.


The Mother of all Travel

DON’T leave your mother’s at home….take them with you…..just be prepared!
“You’re brave, I’d never do that!”
By far, the most often-uttered reply when informing friends, I had just returned from a holiday to Vietnam with my 66 year old mother(M ) and my 72 year old mother-in-law. (M)
Before heading off I never doubted spending time on an exotic holiday with 2 wonderful women, but let’s just say some degree of courage is required.

The Shelly Beach Writers’ Group

The Shelly Beach Writers’ Group by June Loves.

So sweet and simple to read- chick lit for the little bit older chick.
Gina, a newly divorced, barely 50 something woman loses her affluent life when her husband takes up with the cliched younger woman and the business she’s sunk her inheritance into goes belly up.
In a sort of sea change by necessity, she accepts a gig as a house / dog sitter in Shelly Beach, where she finds herself,  not relaxing and regrouping,  but rather running a writer’s group, organizing a writer’s festival, baby sitting, baking, bridesmaiding and having a delicious fling with a man young enough to be her son.
She also re- discovers a relationship with her daughter somewhat neglected during a high flying, time-consuming career.
Absorbing and entertaining.
4/5 big bubbles!

The Truth About Boracay


One of the first things you face when you get off the “Banca” (a wooden, double-armed outrigger boat) onto the tiny port built on the beach at BORACAY is an old, off-white, rusted-through sign, imploring visitors to be “honest and trust-worthy”.

So to take this quaint island motto to heart, I’m telling you truthfully, for a quick time-out tropical escape, it took such an effort to get here, I initially thought it might not be worth it.
A snap street poll of the most popular and prolific paradise island holiday spots, probably wouldn’t place Boracay higher up the list than say the Maldives, Fiji, Phuket, Hawaii or Vanuatu and it’s not a relative of Tahiti’s Bora Bora.  For the island-uninitiated like me, it is a small, yet stunningly beautiful bit of beach 3 kilometres south of Manila.

Countdown to France!

A few dilemmas. Not huge problems just topics of travel conundrums. Can you change into pj pants for the sleep-leg flight? Is it etiquette for my husband to be wearing long-legged boxers in a public cabin even if it is late? He will still probably have to walk to the toilet at some stage. Maybe if they are designer?
Also a 32 kg limit for business class means you can pack that extra pair of undies…but for the last flight from Nice to Rome it’s a 20kg limit. Will it mean I shop less to save the luggage calories or do I bury my head in sand over paying extra weight?
I’m sure more problems will pop up to be solved..


Magic and mayhem on the bay for our 3rd lesson. Again our instructor was Mike who, as we learned this week, is about to split with his long-time partner and sell his house. Not that, that information had much to do with our lesson but I think I have retained more about our teacher than I have about how to sail. The day was a beauty, almost cloudless, a light breeze that picked up out of the harbour, pretty much what you’d imagine when you picture perfect sailing conditions, if you weren’t actually a sailor. This week J almost capsized us. She was on the till or tiller (can’t remember the correct term) and was in charge of a jibe. She turned the boat, slipped and kept the boat turning instead of correcting and we were up on the side almost vertically. Mike launched himself to the other side of the boat to put some weigh on the up side and we laughed hysterically. It was even funnier when he screamed at us to “stop laughing”. Apparently you can’t laugh until the situation is balanced again. I don’t know if that one is in the rule books though. But I reckon I’ll remember it even if I forget to follow it. Soon after lunch J became sea sick and we headed in. So all in all a memorable day.
This week was also my last french lesson for the year…I am for the first time in my life going to repeat a year. Maybe I could follow in school’s footsteps and request same sex class next year to see if I improve.

Reading at the moment…FREEDOM by Jonathen Franzen…A look at modern day love marriage and relationships apparently. It’s a bit of a bizarre take on that compared to my experiences but I am really enjoying it. Maybe because it makes me think my life is blessed!
Drinking ….usual sav blanc


The highlight of the entire trip for me…The Cu chi tunnels..the labyrinth designed by the vietcong to fight, initially the french, then later in the vietnam war, the americans. The tunnels were tiny, so small that the united states had to recruit the smallest soldiers to fit and then fight in them..those GI’s became known as the tunnel rats, trying to ferret out the enemy. The design of the tunnels and bunkers with air pockets and kitchens and meeting rooms and arms assembly bunkers all completely underground, was astonishing. The ingenuity of the boobie traps to maim and kill was inspirational, horrible, but fascinating.
The city of Saigon, which is what the locals still call Ho Chi Minh, is ridiculously fabulous. I loved it. While there was so much more traffic than Hanoi, there were at least a few road rules and for the most part people stayed on the right side of the road. It’s clean and cosmopolitian and yet still developing and simple at the same time. The markets have fixed price tags, but after buying the same things in other vietnamese cities, the haggle still reigns supreme. I would definitely return and explore more of Saigon. Mum celebrated her 66th birthday there and we did so in style with lunch at the Inter Continental Saigon. Anne was able to withdraw a few more dollars and buy a few more things she didn’t really need or particularly like that much, but sure had fun doing it. Greeting me at the airport, my beautiful daughter just returned from 5 weeks camp and her 2 younger sisters. Not to mention a gorgeous husband..happy to be home..


From Hoi An we flew to Siem Reap in Cambodia. I was expecting it to be a poorer version of Hanoi, but was pleasantly suprised. There is lots of foreign investment starting to take place and the resorts look like some of the best I’ve seen anywhere. There is lots of poverty and I thought the shopping was pretty average. The market items are all same same and Loretta, Mum and Anne have bought up big. I’m sure all those $3 handbags, table runners and wooden elephants are going to be real handy. Today we went on a boat to Tonle Sap Lake…but the river life along the way was eye boggling. Floating homes made of bamboo, straw and whatever else is handy line the canals, where whole villages with hundreds of people live. Even dogs and cats live on board. Some are tiny. There are even floating basketball courts and small schools and when the dry season approaches the entire village is towed further out into the lake to keep afloat. Yound kids draped in pythons motor up beside our boats to entertain the tourists..sticking the snake’s heads in the mouth and waving at us. We had to pay $1 for the pleasure of taking their photo or to make them go away. This afternoon we visited an orphanage where a Brisbane woman is heavily involved. The children were so cute but so poor. Some were dumped as babies or some are still with their mums whio work as prostitues…It was so incredible. Loretta could do an Angelina and adopt a couple. Now at the

Halong Bay to Hoi An

Halong Bay is beautiful. We spent a night on board a junk cruising the bay which is dotted with over a 1000 rock formations …some as big as tiny islands, some as small as jetties…it is a piece of beauty in such a populated country where there is so much poverty and pollution. The junk was recently made but a reminder of ancient Vietnamese water travel. We spent time on the deck just relaxing after a whirlwind couple of days in Hanoi. Hoi An had a more villagey feel, there were less scooters and people, and hundreds of tailors. I got some clothes made which are brilliant and so cheap. The food is great and the locals are so friendly but of course love to haggle. I really liked Hoi An compared to Hanoi and would go back there again.

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