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16 December 2006


The Cook Islands are spread out over a vast area of the central Pacific.  It takes six hours to fly from one side to the other.  But, twenty years ago, John Roberts fell in love with the islands when he read a book entitled How to Get Lost and Found in the Cook Islands.  He is now well on his way to visiting all fifteen islands which can be quite a challenge as some can only be accessed by boat once or twice year.

Neville Shulman is an explorer and mountaineer whose interest in climbing has taken him up the mountains in Indonesia, Africa and South America and on the last expedition to climb the Three Gorges in China before they were flooded to form a reservoir.  He has travelled to both the North Pole and the South Pole and to the jungles of Ecuador and New Guinea.

Sandi Toksvig discovers why the Cook Islands are one of the least known travel destinations in the world and finds out how Zen philosophy enabled Neville Shulman to go that extra mile.

Presented by Sandi Toksvig

Penrhyn, one of the 15 pieces of paradise that make up the Cook Islands

Photo:  Penrhyn - one of the 15 pieces of paradise that make up the Cook Islands (courtesy/copyright: John Roberts)

This week's guests: 

Neville Shulman CBE, is a novelist and writer on travel, exploration and Zen philosophy as well as a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society, Fellow of the Explorers Club, member of the Scientific Exploration Society and of the Bhutan Society.

Neville has travelled extensively throughout the world, including India, China, Outer Mongolia, Tibet, Russia, Ecuador, Venezuela, Peru, Brazil, Argentina, Costa Rica, Nepal, Kenya, Tanzania, Israel, Egypt, Jordan and Libya.

In 1989, Neville journeyed to the Arctic and the North Pole in an expedition organized through the Tate Gallery.  Seven years later he embarked on an expedition to Antarctica and the South Pole to raise funds for the Red Cross.  Every year Neville undertakes one or two expeditions and explorations to raise funds for a number of charities.

Climbing the Equator - Adventure in the Jungles and Mountains of Ecuador
Publisher: Summersdale Publishers Ltd
ISBN 1 84024 450

Some like it cold - Arctic and Antarctic Expeditions
Publishers: The Lyons Press
ISBN 1 59228 146

John Roberts is a former journalist who now works in IT for one of the UK’s leading banks.  A few years ago a friend lent him an out of print book about the Cook Islands.  One of its authors wrote “You take pride in the human race when you are blessed with the friendship of the Polynesians in the Cook Islands…… It is the forgotten sweetness of unaffected people.”  This quote struck him so much that John decided to find out for himself.  He went to visit the Islands in 2004 and 2005 and hopes to return many times.

How to Get Lost and Found in the Cook Islands
by John McDermott and Bobbye McDermott
Publisher: Hunter Pub Inc
ISBN: 0912273038

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Sandi ToksvigSandi Toksvig:
The daughter of a foreign correspondent, Sandi has been travelling all her life more info

John McCarthy John McCarthy is a widely travelled journalist and presenter with a particular interest in the Middle East.
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