Interviews

Meeting adventurer and TV presenter Simon Reeve


Simon Reeve is an adventurer, TV presenter and New York Times bestselling author with a passion for travel, wildlife, history, current affairs, conservation and the environment. Simon is the presenter of the BBC TV series Indian Ocean and has been around the world three times for the epic BBC series Equator, Tropic of Capricorn, and Tropic of Cancer. He has travelled extensively in more than 110 countries.

TV adventurer and presenter Simon Reeve

TV adventurer and presenter Simon Reeve

When luxury travel agent Kuoni called me recently and asked if I wanted to meet Simon, I was intrigued. Really quite intrigued. I had heard of Simon, but hadn’t seen any of the TV programmes that he is known for. Luckily for me, the BBC just started showing his latest series – Indian Ocean – and I was able to get to know Simon’s work. I was really quite impressed – I liked him on camera, and was wowed (not quite sure if this is a word!) by the way he travels and why he does so. I was really looking forward to meeting him in real life, which I did at a private event held to celebrate the launch of Kuoni at John Lewis department store in the UK.

Before the official event, myself and 2 other bloggers were given the opportunity to have a one to one (or a 4 to 1, really) with the man himself. It was refreshing to see how “normal” Simon was, and he did make me laugh…

I really wish I could tell you what Simon said to make me laugh like this!

I really wish I could tell you what Simon said to make me laugh like this!

 

So, you have been around the world a good 3 times (or so I have read). Which were your favourite and least favourite places?

Hello and thanks for the questions..! Faves for me include Botswana, Bangladesh and Denmark, for all sorts of different reasons, but mainly Botswana for wildlife, Bangladesh for inspiring locals, and Denmark for being a fantastically well-run country.

Plus my wife is half-Danish, so I’m biased. Least favourite? I’m far too diplomatic to risk offending anyone, but I’ll stick my neck out and say I’m not a great fan of Dubai. I don’t like fake states or places where everyone uses air-conditioning to survive.

What is the most unusual custom you have ever come across or been asked to take part in? (this was the winning question)

A quick trawl of the brain suggests it’s probably kokpar, which is a weird custom masquerading as a sport in Kazakhstan. It involves playing polo with the corpse of a headless goat. It’s mad and wrong on many levels, but the locals love it and I was forced to have a go. Other unusual customs would include being smeared with blood and adopted by a tribe of former headhunters in Borneo. That was a strange day.

Seriously, have you been to Portugal? What did you think of it?

Yes! Why would I lie about such a thing? I didn’t get out of Lisbon, but still: I’ve been, and loved it. I was significantly younger and spent most of the time drinking and dancing.

Simon Reeve shares his tales with an exclusive audience at John Lewis

Simon Reeve shares his tales with an exclusive audience at John Lewis

 

Apart from your passport and money, what can’t you travel without?

Torches, knife, flapjacks and/or shortbread. And tea bags. I need a brew in the afternoon.

Tell us about luggage.. you don’t travel light, do you?

Not really. I’ve tried, but then I curse myself when I need whatever it is I’ve left behind. We have to be ready for anything on the journeys I do – which is part of the fascination, of course. But that does mean lots of bits and bags.

Airplanes, trains, boats and cars – what is your favourite mode of transportation? Any least favourites?

Favourite is definitely by train. For all the clichéd reasons and more. We’ve all got into a mindset that a holiday or adventure is all about the destination, when in fact, it needs to be about the journey as well.

Easy for me to say, perhaps, but I just think people who jet off without even looking at where they’re going on a map are missing out on a huge part of the experience. One of my best journeys was going from London to Istanbul by train with my brother a few years back. The landscape evolves and changes around you when you’re on a train in a completely memorable way. You don’t get that at 35,000 feet. My least favourite mode? Camel. They really don’t like me.

Fiona Harris had a lot of questions for Simon Reeve

Fiona Harris had a lot of questions for Simon Reeve

 

You cover such enormous distances in your television programmes, and you must be filming for a considerable amount of time, so how flexible do you need to be about what goes into the episodes? To what extent is the content of the series determined before you leave? Do you have a fixed idea of the story you want to tell, or do you set out with a loose outline of what you want to look at, but decide on the narrative direction of the filming once you’re on location?

Yep, we cover huge distances, and we’re spending other people’s money of course, so it would be outrageous if we didn’t plan what we’re doing in advance. I know roughly what I want to do and the stories I want to tell, but I rarely know exactly how we’ll do it. Unlike most other TV shows we don’t have a script or a ‘recce’ – so nobody goes out ahead of me to plan it all like some Hollywood movie. That means we generally arrive somewhere and then we quickly have to assess the best way of us filming a shantytown, a magnificent view, a shocking story, an elusive threatened animal, or whatever it is, and then we have to get on with it. Generally we’re making it up as we go along, which is more challenging but also more fun and interesting than following a script.

What has been your favourite street food and has there been anything you’ve been too squeamish to eat?

Vietnamese street food is amazing and would get my vote. There’s been a few times when we’ve stopped on a long car journey in different parts of the world and the team have spotted that grilled squirrel / fried caterpillars are being sold by the road. Of course my ‘friends’ then start rubbing their hands in glee because it’s part of my daft job description to sample the exotic local grub.

Usually it’s not too bad, although in Laos our driver ordered a plate of steaming buffalo poo, which was awful. The only time I remember turning my nose up was in Borneo many years ago when I was offered monkey by a tribe. That’s like eating my cousin. But you try explaining to famished villagers that they need to preserve their local wildlife.

Apparently we both like blue

Apparently we both like blue

How do you balance travel impact with the need for conservation? This goes both for environmental impact, but also one could imagine that places you show in your TV show, could face an influx of tourists that exceeds their capacity.

Well, I try to tell stories about issues that matter in my programmes, and hopefully there’s a conservation benefit to Brits and viewers globally learning about environmental threats to the Indian Ocean, for example.

I also try to travel with my eyes open, so I learn about the places and countries I’m visiting. It’s really important we do that. And I’m trying to encourage viewers to make a difference when they’re on their foreign adventures by doing things like visiting National Parks and Marine Protected Areas. When we pay our entrance fee and have a memorable day in a protected bit of the planet we’re helping to pay for its upkeep – we’re actually playing a vital role in stopping a forest, for example, from being turned into a palm oil plantation. Or when tourists go out snorkeling with guides who used to be fishermen they’re helping to protect life on our vital coral reefs. So tourism has a crucial role to play in protecting and conserving life on our planet. Yes, of course, there’s an environmental impact to our travels, and we should all do our utmost to mitigate and reduce the damage we cause, but then every aspect of our modern lives impacts on the planet.

 

Any obvious places you haven’t been to yet? Where are you off to next?

I’m blessed and hugely privileged to have been to more than 110 countries. But there’s lots of places I haven’t been that I’d love to visit: Russia, Japan, New Zealand, Senegal, Benin, Iceland, Canada. I’m not just off to somewhere next, I’m already there: I’m in Australia, filming a new telly series. It’s hot here, and it’s beautiful. Happy travels.

Simon and a special friend during the shooting of Indian Ocean

Simon and a special friend during the shooting of Indian Ocean

And there you go! Something a little bit different on mrsoaroundtheworld.com. This is also a special week, as this little blog turns a year old.. so expect a few surprises!
If you want to find out more about Simon’s TV programmes and adventures, please visit his blog.
xo
Mrs. O

 

 


View Comments (49)

49 Comments

  1. Anthony The Travel Tart

    December 3, 2012 at 6:11 am

    Great post. I haven’t met Simon, but would like to. I’ve only managed to interview him via email ;). You can check it out here: http://www.thetraveltart.com/simon-reeve-interview-equator-tropic-of-cancer-capricorn-indian-ocean/
    Anthony The Travel Tart recently posted..Camel Jockeys – Racing Robots in Dubai United Arab EmiratesMy Profile

    • @mrsoaroundworld

      December 3, 2012 at 8:29 am

      Still great, though!! Will read your interview asap! Thanks Anthony!

  2. Venicia Gaul

    December 2, 2012 at 3:53 pm

    Very informative piece. Refreshing candor..
    Venicia Gaul recently posted..V-Lust News – November 2012My Profile

    • @mrsoaroundworld

      December 3, 2012 at 8:29 am

      Thank you, Venicia!

  3. D.J. - The World of Deej

    November 16, 2012 at 12:28 am

    Great interview and clearly a great guy…need to try and pull up some of his work myself!
    D.J. – The World of Deej recently posted..Adventures on the San Francisco Cable CarMy Profile

    • @mrsoaroundworld

      November 16, 2012 at 9:30 am

      Wouldn’t we all like that? 😉 He was great!

  4. Gavin Haines

    November 15, 2012 at 7:17 pm

    Nice interview with a thoroughly nice chap. I also had the pleasure of interviewing him a few years ago, although I hated him a bit for having a much better job than me!

    • @mrsoaroundworld

      November 15, 2012 at 7:21 pm

      I can imagine – he was lovely and great to meet him!!

  5. Leah Travels

    November 14, 2012 at 8:29 am

    Did you mention to Simon that there’s a certain Texan that would like to meet him, perhaps in NOLA over the holidays?
    Leah Travels recently posted..Talking Texas with @LeeAbbamonteMy Profile

    • @mrsoaroundworld

      November 14, 2012 at 8:35 am

      He is in Australia now.. a tad far.. but maybe we could make the trek?

  6. Traveling Ted

    November 14, 2012 at 2:45 am

    When you listed his interests you could have easily been talking about me although you would have to substitute adventure or hiking for current affairs. Love that he is out there showcasing the world with a special emphasis on the environment.
    Traveling Ted recently posted..Porcupine Mountains Wilderness backcountry photo essayMy Profile

    • @mrsoaroundworld

      November 14, 2012 at 8:36 am

      I think you would really enjoy meeting him, Ted! You’d have a lot in common!

  7. Becky Padmore

    November 13, 2012 at 9:36 pm

    Great write up, he was such an interesting guy. Got to do mine soon eek 😉
    Becky Padmore recently posted..A photographic journey through BostonMy Profile

    • @mrsoaroundworld

      November 13, 2012 at 11:19 pm

      Can’t wait to read it 😉 thanks, Becky!

  8. John

    November 13, 2012 at 2:35 pm

    I appreciate the candor about Dubai. Couldn’t agree more.
    John recently posted..A Weekend In Hawaii: What To Do With 48 Hours On OahuMy Profile

    • @mrsoaroundworld

      November 13, 2012 at 2:52 pm

      Me too! thanks, John!

  9. Miret

    November 13, 2012 at 1:33 pm

    Cool interview!

    I agree with him about Dubai. However, since I grew up in Kuwait in the eighties when everything was literally under construction and where you indeed needed air conditioning to survive, I love those places. They have a special place in my heart 😉
    Miret recently posted..Slow Food Market, ZurichMy Profile

    • @mrsoaroundworld

      November 13, 2012 at 2:21 pm

      How interesting, had no idea! I haven’t ventured to that part of the world yet!

  10. Arjan Tupan

    November 13, 2012 at 10:11 am

    Mrs O, I love how you’ve crowd sourced your questions and put a big effort in to ask them. Great interview with a big diversity in questions and answers. Loved it.
    Arjan Tupan recently posted..Lighting a candleMy Profile

    • @mrsoaroundworld

      November 13, 2012 at 2:20 pm

      Thank you! I promised I would 😉 some really interesting answers too!

  11. Kiersten

    November 13, 2012 at 9:28 am

    Great interview! Very entertaining!
    Kiersten recently posted..What’s in my travel makeup bag?My Profile

    • @mrsoaroundworld

      November 13, 2012 at 9:29 am

      Thank you, Kiersten! 🙂 And thank you for stopping by!

  12. Johanna Bradley

    November 13, 2012 at 8:14 am

    Seems like a nice guy (and oh, so lucky!) Congratulations on a year of a beautiful blog.
    Johanna Bradley recently posted..Sunday Post : SurroundingsMy Profile

    • @mrsoaroundworld

      November 13, 2012 at 9:28 am

      He was indeed! And thank you so much, Jo!

  13. Pola (@jettingaround)

    November 13, 2012 at 6:16 am

    It’s always nice to read about a true explorer’s life and travels. Nice interview!

    And as much as I like train travel and seeing the landscape along the way, I love flying and will pretend I didn’t see that one paragraph. ;)) One does not always have enough time to go on long train journeys, although I admit it would be fascinating.

    I love the comment about traveling with your eyes open. Nicely put.
    Pola (@jettingaround) recently posted..Photo of the Week: Love padlocks in SevilleMy Profile

    • @mrsoaroundworld

      November 13, 2012 at 8:12 am

      High speed trains is something I am very keen to try, Pola. Reading Tom Chesshyre’s book – Europe at 186mph has inspired me to try it. The argument is that in some cases, it can be quicker. London to Paris certainly is. It was lovely to meet Simon!

  14. Craig Zabransky

    November 13, 2012 at 3:11 am

    i watched a few episodes of his tropic of cancer… loved the concept… but I had no idea of all he has done… plus, I’ll admit I am impressed with this blog, I can’t believe it is not even a year old?

    stay famous, Craig
    Craig Zabransky recently posted..Sunset Sunday – The View from the Copper Canyon at SunsetMy Profile

    • @mrsoaroundworld

      November 13, 2012 at 8:12 am

      Oh thank you, Craig! And thank you for being part of it too! I haven’t watched Tropic of Cancer, but will!

  15. Francesca

    November 13, 2012 at 12:26 am

    Ugh, kokpar… I’ve read about it and seen pictures. Can’t get the gruesome images out of my head. I can’t imagine witnessing it in person. True adventurer he is, Mr. Reeve. How cool that you got to meet and interview him! Seeing as I’m American, I had NO idea who he was beforehand. But I’m interested now; to the interwebs!
    Francesca recently posted..Alamo Car Rental Free Class Upgrade (and $100 AmEx gift card giveaway!)My Profile

    • @mrsoaroundworld

      November 13, 2012 at 8:14 am

      Kokpar must be awful. I think I asked Simon if he had gone pre or post Borat (Sasha Baron Cohen) and apparently it was before. That guy did something for the country’s worldwide reputation. Go and investigate a bit about Simon. Borat, possibly not so much!

  16. Raul (@ilivetotravel)

    November 12, 2012 at 11:25 pm

    I liked his quote about not liking places where people need A/C to survive. Wondering what he thinks about places where people need umbrellas to survive! 😉
    Raul (@ilivetotravel) recently posted..Interview with the Ultimate Global Explorer: Len StanmoreMy Profile

    • @mrsoaroundworld

      November 13, 2012 at 8:14 am

      That would be interesting and surely he wouldn’t disappoint 🙂

  17. Lynsey

    November 12, 2012 at 11:23 pm

    Love the photos, you look like you we’re having heaps of fun?

    • @mrsoaroundworld

      November 13, 2012 at 8:14 am

      We did 🙂 and thanks for being there on the day as well!

  18. the lazy travelers

    November 12, 2012 at 10:55 pm

    …i think we’re in love.
    the lazy travelers recently posted..no travel requiredMy Profile

    • @mrsoaroundworld

      November 13, 2012 at 8:14 am

      LOL 🙂

  19. Fiona

    November 12, 2012 at 9:31 pm

    Wow, how amazing that you got to meet a real -life explorer (and a handsome one at that)!! Great interview, love how honest the answers are too! 🙂
    Fiona recently posted..The Bed Edit: The Independente Hostel and Suites LisbonMy Profile

    • @mrsoaroundworld

      November 12, 2012 at 10:27 pm

      I thought he was great. And super honest. And he made me laugh. A great evening indeed!

  20. Anisha

    November 12, 2012 at 9:30 pm

    So pleased he’s as grounded as he comes across on-screen. I must drop him a line on the internal BBC messaging system to ask if he fancies a job swap for a day! My role’s not all bad reporting daily News (far from exotic, however!)

    Good questions Ana, I’m impressed. I concur on his next destinations & travelling with your eyes open. Glad you enjoyed!

    • @mrsoaroundworld

      November 12, 2012 at 10:26 pm

      How about a job swap for a week? I could totally go to the Maldives or anywhere! He was a really nice guy!

  21. Suzanne (Travelbunny)

    November 12, 2012 at 6:54 pm

    Great interview and he answered my question about street food and gave the same answer as I would have (Vietnamese – love it!)

    Happy blog birthday 🙂
    Suzanne (Travelbunny) recently posted..A walk in Battle Great WoodMy Profile

    • @mrsoaroundworld

      November 12, 2012 at 7:40 pm

      I need to try it!!

  22. Mrs D

    November 12, 2012 at 6:11 pm

    Lovely, he seems like a very interesting person indeed!

    Hugs xx

    • @mrsoaroundworld

      November 12, 2012 at 6:43 pm

      He was indeed 🙂

  23. Tiny Girl with Big Bag

    November 12, 2012 at 3:55 pm

    Interesting one! Thanks for sharing 🙂

    • @mrsoaroundworld

      November 12, 2012 at 3:56 pm

      Pleasure! Something different indeed 🙂

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

CommentLuv badge

More in Interviews

Tom on a local ferry

Gatecrashing Paradise (The Maldives) with Tom Chesshyre @tchesshyre

@mrsoaroundworldJanuary 6, 2015
Tom Chesshyre by the pyramids at Giza, Egypt

Tom Chesshyre, a Tourist in the Arab Spring

@mrsoaroundworldApril 3, 2013
%d bloggers like this: