Everest Base Camp and the Annapurna Circuit: journey to these two Nepali trekking routes in this one episode of Travel Tape, the third installment in the Leaving Bhutan mini-series. Joshua Cook, the itinerant English lit teacher, is my guest once again and he speaks to me from a village near Base Camp about his recent experiences on these legendary treks.
In the UNESCO Heritage town of Malacca, Malaysia, a Good Friday evening procession that began in the 16th century continues to this day. This Travel Tape podcast uses live recording from the 2016 event, and interviews with local historian Colin Goh, to immerse you in the walk and its complex history.
At the centre of the story is St. Peter's Church, founded by Portuguese immigrants to Malacca, and a fraternity of Augustinian monks. The monks are credited with keeping the procession's traditions alive century after century even during periods where it was forced to go underground.
Joshua Cook is now in a village at the start of the Annapurna Circuit, one of the Himalayas' most famous hiking routes. In this second part of Travel Tape's interview series with the itinerant literature teacher, we talk about missing life and friendships in Bhutan, the trials of teaching in a poor community, avoiding faux pas at a local wedding, preparing for a month-long hiking, and reflect on the wisdom for modern nomads in the Robert Service poem "The Men Who Don't Fit In."
Joshua Cook travels the world one teaching gig at a time. He's just finished a year in Bhutan, the reclusive, exclusive Buddhist kingdom, and has set off on a 6-month motorcycle journey across the Himalayas.
In this first interview with Travel Tape, Joshua is in Nepal reflecting on the rare experience of living for a year in Bhutan. He explains how he saw traditional culture, from clothing to religious faith, so well preserved. He answers at length the question "is Bhutan really the happiest place on Earth?" He talks about the dream origins of his desire to travel the region by motorcycle, and then opens up at the end to reflect on his life as a wanderer with no fixed address.
If you've ever wanted to travel the Himalayas, this interview is also a fount of practical advice on both navigating it by motorcycle, and also planning hikes across some of the region's great circuits.
Some borders are walls; others are just lines on a map. In the Xishuangbanna region of Yunnan Province, China, it's the latter. Burma's to the south, and about the only things demarcating the boundary are forests and jungle rivers, which the locals on either side cross whenever they want.
In this episode of Travel Tape, journalist David Eimer looks at how Xishuangbanna's fluid border affects its minority culture, famed throughout China. And he doesn't just look. He settles into the region's capital, witnesses how genuine ethnic culture is preserved in the shadows of mass tourism, and in a superb example of participatory journalism, imitates his neighbors in an illegal river crossing into Burma. Smuggling is one of the major economic activities in Banna, and David's destination is the notorious Golden Triangle, one of the world's centers of opium and methamphetamine production.
Garrett Martin and his team are almost halfway through their filming and backpacking adventure in Chile along the Greater Patagonia Trail. And what a journey it has been!
In part three of Travel Tape's extended interview series with @UnboundedFilm, Garrett talks about being stuck in town as forest fires rage nearby; learning to pack raft frigid rivers and lakes; retracing steps as a branch trail proves utterly impassible (and filled with hornets and tarantulas, to boot); and about working with a slightly mad but completely dependable team.
Garrett Martin, a young filmmaker from the US, is still on an ambitious trek down the Greater Patagonia Trail, in Chile, but he's now he much wiser about both the hiking and the filming he has to do. In this second interview with Travel Tape, he talks about staying at gaucho ranches, sleeping under the gaze of volcanoes, waiting in town for new boots, and learning that a hiking documentary should be more than just "landscape porn."
An obscure Wiki Travel entry leads a young filmmaker to plan a 4-month trek down the Chilean Andes to document a linked route known as the Greater Patagonia Trail (GPT).
In this interview, the first of a new series in which I follow adventurers and regularly chat with them while they are on the road, I speak to Garrett Martin in Chile. Garrett has just finished the first 10-day section of the GPT and we talk about the origins of this new trail (now reputedly the longest in South America), the rigors of trekking with film equipment, and ambitions to capture both the landscapes and the stories of the people living in this remote, wild and bewitching region of the world.
If you fell in love with a new country and thought you might want to become a citizen, just how much would you sacrifice to make that a reality? In 1989, TC Lin (born TC Locke), a freshman in the US, went to Taiwan on an exchange program and felt such an affinity with the people and culture that he decided this is where he belonged. After finishing his studies, he moved to Taiwan, became a citizen, and then waited for the day he would be called up to do two years of military service like every other male in the country.
As one of very few non-Asians to have served in the Taiwan (ROC) armed forces, and the only one I know to have written about the experience, TC has a unique perspective on the country's military culture -- and as you'd expect some good stories to tell. But this podcast is also about how the experience of serving helped him in the process of mentally and emotionally becoming Taiwanese. When you talk about cultural immersion, of becoming someone new, somewhere new, TC Lin's story is truly one of the standard bearers for the term.
Everywhere in the world, people enjoy sharing stories about their encounters with wild animals. In this episode of Travel Tape, Kenyans Josphat Mako and Kyle Ray, Tanzanian Lenganasa Tombo, and UK-born guidebook writer Stuart Butler swap fables, legends, and true tales that include being lunged at by an 18-foot (6m) python, chased by a rampaging elephant, and losing out on an interview with a king when he turned into a bird.
For fans of history there's also some speculation on whether the great fabulist Aesop was himself an African.
Once again the audio for this show was recorded live in Kenya and once again I've used it to create some very lush and immersive soundscapes. You may find yourself booking a flight to Nairobi by the time the final credits start to roll.
There's more about this episode, including photos at: www.robertscottkelly.com/traveltape