September 6, 2020

The Call to Adventure Podcast - Episode 7 - Olie Hunter Smart

Olie Hunter Smart is an adventure lover, long distance human powered traveller, and film maker
Podcast Guest
Olie Hunter Smart


Guest links


Show Notes

Editor credit: A big thank you to our editor Jakub Marzec (Kuba) for his work on this!

  • The link below gives the Call to Adventure community 50% off Olie's film, The Road to Independence
  • Watch The Road to Independence now with 50% off - use this link or enter the code 'CTA50'
  • Lockdown
  • Self funded adventures and expeditions
  • Ultra long distance cycling
  • The purity of adventure
  • Sponsorship ’Never take funding unless you really need it'
  • Olie’s Amazon Adventure - sea kayaking from source to sea
  • Rowing around Great Britain
  • How to plan a big trip / a big adventure
  • The Red Zone and narco-traffickers
  • Training for a big expeditions (to not)
  • The altitude training centre in London
  • What to look for in an adventure partner
  • Deserted by their guide in the pirate zone
  • Getting shot at by pirates
  • Finding a drone
  • Getting shot at by a drunk in Mexico
  • The kindness of strangers
  • WarmShowers
  • Couchsurfing
  • Walking the length of India
  • The importance of travelling with purpose
  • The Adventure Travel Film Festival
  • The story of British occupation and independence of India
  • Ghandi and his role in independence
  • The benefits and exploitation of India
  • The beautiful chaos of India
  • Easing into India via Kashmir and Leh
  • A typical day for Olie when walking India
  • 7 hours in wellies
  • Olie’s kit and clothing
  • Oli’s filming equipment
  • Canon XF105
  • Zoom H4N - I also use this and rate it highly!

Full Transcript

Olie Hunter Smart  0:00
We've sort of heard this cheering and shouting going on. And we hadn't really come across that sort of thing before. And so we moved further into the middle of the river. And then we saw this boat coming past load of guys screaming and shouting, and then all of a sudden, they they fired off two shots, which went straight over our heads.

George Beesley  0:32
Hey, it's George, and welcome to the call to adventure podcast. We're on a mission to help create happier people and a healthier planet. So let's get after it.

Hello, hello, and welcome to another episode of the call to adventure podcast with me founder of adventure George Beesley. I'm currently in Sweden and traveling around a little bit doing the whole van life thing to scout out some new trips for you guys, and it's been awesome. The weather has been great. I've been doing a lot of swimming and hiking and trail running. So yeah, lots of exciting things coming up. So keep an eye out on the site or join the newsletter to see when those new trips are ready. Speaking of trips, we've still got a few spaces left on are guided hiking on wild camping in Snowdonia trip and there's a few going for the hiking and scrambling trip to both explore the lesser trodden parts of the Snowdonia National Park, my local playground and I absolutely love that place. Hopefully, you'll get treated to a beautiful Starry Night Sky too, but it should be a great trip either way, in light of COVID were offering you three options so you can book in complete confidence. If the trip can't go ahead due to COVID. You can either move to later dates change to a different trip or just get a full refund. No questions asked. But now on to today's pot. Today we're chatting with a mate of mine, Olie hunter smart. We kind of know each other from the London adventure scene. Ali's most recent adventure involves him walking the length of India which has over 4000 kilometres By the way, retracing Ghandi steps exploring the theme of India's road to independence from Britain, but he's also traveled the length of the Amazon River, first tracking 400 miles through the Peruvian Andes before hopping in a kayak for the next 3600 miles finishing up at the Atlantic Ocean becoming the first to complete the journey unsupported is also cycled juggle, which is john o'Groats to Land's End, you might know it as a joke, but it's just the other way around. And he also loves a good micro adventure. So without further ado, Olie, welcome to the show.

Olie Hunter Smart  2:43
Hello, George. Thank you very much pleasure to be on.

George Beesley  2:46
So how's how's things been? I don't think I've seen you since lockdown.

Olie Hunter Smart  2:51
Yeah, it's all good. I mean, I work in advertising, and I was freelancing when lockdown actually came into effect, and I lost my job pretty quickly. So I had a really nice six week holiday enjoying the weather. Not that I could really go anywhere. But I came down to Dorset where my parents live. And that meant I could get out paddleboarding very frequently, which is fantastic. And then I managed to land a job, you know, it's a great thing. really enjoy working. And it's a very interesting project. But yet sort of put a bit of a, some brakes on the on the travels and adventure around the UK, that a lot of people are doing at the moment. Because you've done all of your trips, self funded, right? Yeah, absolutely. And I think you know, that's a really important thing. For me. It's not about trying to do these massive expeditions that need a huge amount of funding. It's very much about you know, going off and doing a trip and enjoying yourself. And, you know, the reason I'm doing it is because I want to do it not because it's a world record breaking thing or, you know, an ego thing. It's very much about the journey and the enjoyment of it. Yeah, I really like that.

George Beesley  4:00
I think there's something about doing it for the purity of the experience, as opposed to? Well, I was I was gonna say, not just a big debt contest. But, you know, this is not all shows, that's fine. But yeah, it's it's nice, nice when people do it really for the experience. And if what you want to do is great records, then that's great. If that if that's your thing, then then that's cool. And I really admire that too, like seeing some of the distances that people are putting out on ultra long distance cycling, or whatever it is. It does give you an appreciation for that kind of will and determination. But I think I'm mainly on kind of your wavelength of just doing the trip because you want to have a great adventure. Absolutely. Yeah. And I think you'll get a lot more out of it as well. You know, if that is your goal is just to have a great time and meet some interesting people or go to a very different environment and challenge yourself in different ways, then you're going to get exactly what you want out of it. Whereas if you've got funding behind you or something else, there's

Unknown Speaker  5:00
That little thing in the back of your mind that is, well, I've got to be delivering this code piece of content to that sponsor or, you know, I've got to be doing these things. And that ultimately changes your, your journey, that some really good advice that I had from somebody and the adventure scene is they said, Never take funding unless you really, really need it. It's very simple. But I think a very wise thing to say, because it comes with all of these constraints. It's extremely hard to get sponsorship, because there's lots of people fighting for a few places, and like you say, it does change the trip dynamic. So yeah, I thought that was a really good piece of advice. Ah, Olie. I was thinking about When was the first time that we met each other? Was it Yes, double. Or was it a campout? It was on Dave Cornthwaite boat. Yeah. And we both signed up to a kind of a workshop thing with Dave to explore what we wanted to try and do in the adventure world and sort of change our our work life balance.

Unknown Speaker  6:00
And yeah, it was how to get into the world of adventure or something like that. And yeah, there was only a couple of us on the boat and we hit it off. I think you started talking about your Amazon adventure, which sounded amazing. And I've never really had a chance to dig into it with you. So let's tee that one up next. But yeah, I think then we saw each other at a few different things, didn't we in the London based adventure scene, the adventure travel Film Festival, and I think it was 2016. So it was before I went to India. Yeah, I remember you saying I'm going to walk India and I was thinking that sounds awesome. What a good project. And I I love that you had a really strong idea behind why you were doing it as well. But yeah, we'll get into that soon. So can you spill the beans and tell me to up the Amazon journey, then talk a bit about the Genesis behind the trip. I had been working in a job that I wasn't particularly enjoying, and I was looking for a way out and I decided I was going to go to

Unknown Speaker  7:00
traveling around the world and thoroughly enjoyed myself for a whole year, came back and obviously broke needed to get a job fast and so managed to get into the freelance advertising world. And at the same time as I started that job, I was like, you know, I don't want to lose that adventurous spirit. And so I was looking for something to do. And I went to a talk by Alastair Humphreys. And as you do you go to the pub after with a couple of other people that were there, and we just started chatting. Initially, we were looking to roll around Great Britain as a mixed crew to try and break a world record. We started training for it and planning for it and so on, but the team dynamic wasn't quite right. And things started to fall apart and people were getting injured and so on. And so it sort of collapsed pretty quickly. And that was when I met Taryn, the guy that I did the Amazon journey with, and he'd already started planning this trip but was looking for a teammate that was 100% going to commit and I haven't been to the Amazon on my

Unknown Speaker  8:00
round the world trip, I was like, you know, that is an environment I want to go back to. And in fact, jungles are my favorite environment to be in. And so I thought, you know what, this is the opportunity that I've been looking for. And we had a couple of face to face meetings. And within about a month, you know, he said, I found two kayaks, I need to put the money down to you in and that was really where it started. You know, I put that money down and was like, right, I'm, I'm fully invested in this. And we did about four and a half months of planning upfront. I was still working through till about April, and we set off in June. So I was doing it at weekends in the evenings. And then eventually I stopped that to sort of focus on the planning full time and we set off Yeah, June 2015. In terms of like planning, what did you actually have to do? So it was a great question, because obviously you want to go on an adventure. And in order to have an adventure, you don't want to plan every single eventuality but I do think a level of planning is

Unknown Speaker  9:00
Important. Now obviously we had to source kayaks, which are in the tourist, it's hard to find in South America, certainly sea kayak. So that was kind of one big thing. We wanted to have a guide with us for certainly part of the way, we were traveling through an area called the red zone, which is known for being incredibly dangerous. It's controlled by sort of narco traffickers. A lot of cocaine production happens in that region. So we wanted someone that could guide us through that region, speak the local language. And I think that's really important because if you're going, putting yourself in danger like that, you you need a local who can read body signals that you can't necessarily read if you're trying to converse in sort of brokens, Spanish, Spanglish, whatever so we had to source a guide and make sure we got on with him. Then there was things like you know, that the food and equipment that we were going to take, so we had to think about our evacuation procedures, how we would get out of being in the middle of nowhere if one of us got injured or something happened. Think about things like satellite phones.

Unknown Speaker  10:00
And that sort of thing. You know, and neither of us had really done anything like this before, certainly on this scale. So it's it's a case of sort of navigating your way through it and speaking to people, other people have done similar expeditions, people that know the kinds of environments you're traveling through. And that really helps build up a picture of what you actually need to do. So I guess yeah, and you know, it takes time to do all of that sort of stuff. And how is your training? What did you do beforehand, I'm sure that you were just very diligent spreadsheets, measuring everything, getting vo to max up doing drills in the kayak, all that kind of stuff. I mean, I think training is really important, if you have the time, but it tends to be the first thing that goes and you know, if you're too busy planning or packing or looking at equipment and that sort of stuff, and the training does sort of seem to drop off, but if you are physically fit and mentally fit before you go

Unknown Speaker  11:00
You aren't going to have a much more enjoyable experience while you're away. And I always plan to do a whole load of, you know, fitness routines beforehand, making sure I'm as fit as I can be. But inevitably, it just doesn't work like that.

Unknown Speaker  11:14
It never happens, does it? No,

Unknown Speaker  11:17
shave, shave, because I know I would enjoy it more if I did focus on those bits. But one day, I like that. And I think with the type of trips that really appeal to us, it's not about performance. So as long as you have the option to take it a bit slower, then you've got kind of a long time to train in the journey itself. Yeah, as long as you can have the option to kind of tap out after a fairly normal sized day and not get injured. I think that's good way to go. One of the things that you really can't train for in the UK is the altitude and we started our journey in the Amazon. Four and a half thousand meters up right in the top of the Andes. And, you know, there's no way I could get altitude training in Ben Nevis

Unknown Speaker  12:00
Exactly, yeah, you know, it's just you're not going to get the put yourself through that similar sort of environment. Unless you go to the you know, the altitude center in London, which is probably frightfully expensive and would take quite a long time to get to that level of fitness not on the bag. adventurers can do list unfortunately, right? Unless they're going to sponsor me.

Unknown Speaker  12:25
So, you said that you met your your teammate? Terran. So how did you actually meet him? And how was the dynamic between you guys because you must have gone into a you went into a kind of very stressful, intense situation, mentally and physically and you basically stuck together for months. So how was that? So I met him through a mutual friend, someone I'd sort of met through the London adventure scene. We'd been on a couple of wild camps before and we were at an event I got introduced to Terran then I'd actually heard

Unknown Speaker  13:00
About his journey beforehand and thought that's a really cool journey. I'd love to be part of that. And then the following week I got introduced to him. So it was sort of fate that that actually happened. And we got on really well, while while planning, you know, we we put a lot of time and effort in and we met up probably once or twice a week, while we were going through that planning stage. And then, once we were sort of underway, as with, with any expedition, you sort of get you have your highs and your lows, and you're both feeling different things at different times. But yeah, broadly speaking, you know, the relationship was pretty good. I think we, we sort of realized partway through we were on slightly different agendas. He was sort of wanting to get to the end quickly. And I was more about the culture and interested in meeting the people and so on. But actually, you know, we made it work and we got through to the Atlantic Ocean together, which is the main thing and it really enjoyed ourselves. What do you think's important now, when you if you're going to do something again and look for a partner or there's other people listening who are potentially

Unknown Speaker  14:00
looking for somebody to join them on their epic? What do you think they should be looking for? Or what would you look for, again, in somebody that you're going to travel with, I mean, you've really got to be on the same agenda. So you've got to have the same objectives, overall objectives. And we had talked about wanting to make a film and so on. But I think I was possibly more interested in that. And if you're on a different agenda, then there can be sort of conflicts and so on. If I was to try and look for a new partner, I'd absolutely make sure that they were interested in filmmaking and as committed as I was, and I am to my my projects, but you know, you also need to be able to rely on them trust them, to get you out of a situation. They've got to have their head screwed on, you know, from a safety perspective. If the shit hits the fan, then you need to know that they are going to get you out of that situation. You can rely on them. So you have this guide who accompanied you for parts of it. Did you encounter any sketchy situations or did you manage to sail through

Unknown Speaker  15:00
Fairly unencumbered. We certainly had our fair share sketchy situations. So our guide says he'd done the journey before we'd got hold of him through a guy called West Hansen, who had done a similar journey back in 2013 says, I've seemed like the right guy, sort of contracted him, met up with him. When we we'd already walked that 400 miles down to where the river flattens out. That was where we were going to launch our sea kayaks. And we met says out there, and we got on really well with him, he helped sort out all of the permits for that for that red zone. And we had a really awesome sort of week, which says a, and we've got through the red zone, the worst of the danger, but we'd actually entered an area which they called the pirate zone, much more unruly, you know, sort of free, shall we say? And it says, One morning just absolutely vanished. And we had no idea where he was I was paddling next to him. One minute and five minutes later, there was no

Unknown Speaker  16:00
side of him. And it was a really weird situation. And so Taryn and I sort of pulled over onto the riverbank. And we sat there and waited for him for a bit. We thought, well, he can't be too far away. So I then paddled back upstream Terran paddle downstream to see if he could find him. And there was no sign of him. And Ivan, you know, went back down, met met up with Taryn, we sort of sat on the riverbank and waited for a bit longer. And there was still no sign of obsessor. And it was four hours later, before we decided we had to move further downstream, that he must have just continued and we missed him. And so it was about three days later that we found out that he'd caught a boat downstream, he'd had enough of the journey. And he wasn't going to join us for the for the full month that he committed to he was only going to do the week that he did and so he sort of left us a little bit in the lurch there. So we we did have some experiences in the in the pirate zone. We got shot at but yeah, broadly speaking, that was kind of fine. You know, we

Unknown Speaker  17:00
If we felt like we were in control, we just did it as we did before you know, which says are we just kind of made sure we were off the river as the sun was starting to set we made sure that we were away from the communities and and so on and so forth. And but yeah, it was pretty terrifying losing your guide for three days and not knowing where he was or whether he was safe you know, that was that that was the main concern is his safety. Yeah, I can imagine that was pretty terrifying. You glossed over getting shot out before. Let's revisit that on so what what happened her it was a really weird situation. So we both Taryn and I were were on the inside of a band riverbend. And we sort of heard this cheering and shouting going on, and we hadn't really come across that sort of thing before. And so we moved further into the middle of the river. And then we saw this boat coming past load of guys screaming and shouting, and then all of a sudden, they they fired off two shots, which went straight over our heads, and it was much closer together.

Unknown Speaker  18:00
And then it was close to me. And we suddenly sort of froze, we didn't really know what to do. So we thought the best thing to do is to get as far away from the from the gunfire in the boat as possible paddled rapidly across to the other side of the river. And at this stage, the rivers probably 200 meters wide. So it's, you know, it's really actually not very wide, and the boat just continued to pass they continue to sort of cheer and shout and everything, and I think they just done it as a sort of, you know, a threat but in a in a very joking way. But it absolutely terrified us. And that was after says our had gone, so we didn't really know the situation. Yeah, I'm sure it's, there is definitely another set of rules for life in terms of like culture and what people are used to and they're because things are so much more dangerous. I've not spent time on the Amazon but in kind of other similar environments, we're in rural Mexico and a friend lost his drone and we went looking for

Unknown Speaker  19:00
It into some pretty thick jungle and probably an hour or something into it. It was unbelievably coincidental actually, the drone gives a kind of signal of where it is within about a something like a 25 meter squared radius. So we went looking for it but it was so thick you couldn't even get through the brush at one point. So the guy whose drone it was just said, Look, we're not going to find it. Let's let's just head back and I was actually flying it when it went down, even though that it just stopped responding. So he said, It's not your fault. I think it said they said that there was some kind of interference with the signal and it just wouldn't come back but I felt terrible for losing this guy's Maverick Pro. So I kept looking and just kept going for another 20 minutes or something and it was dark. It was nighttime just as I was about to bail thinking I'm just never gonna find this. This is properly a needle in a haystack times 100. And as I turned around, not actually near where the dots said it was on the on the phone, there was a reflection that I caught on the floor and it was the

Unknown Speaker  20:00
It was the drone. I just picked it up and I shouted the bloke alive. I found it and he was just like, No, no, you definitely haven't come on, stop fucking around. So we, I was like, No, no, I genuinely got it in my hand. And after a long time clambering up back up this mountain, we were walking back to our hostel really, really happy with ourselves. And yeah, was it been dark for a couple hours at this point, and then this bloke comes out with comes towards us. And then we heard what we thought was a flare. And I thought I told my girlfriend, I've we've gone for more than an hour, then something's probably happened. So you should maybe start to worry a little bit. We'll try and get back by then. And it'd been maybe two and a half hours or something. And then we heard this flare, I thought, Oh shit, she's called Mountain Rescue or whatever. I mean, there isn't Mountain Rescue there, but something they didn't have. And I was just thinking are no, we're gonna have to pay for this. We've called these guys out. This is awful. And then this bloke appears and he's got just got a shotgun and he's shooting at us. And we were just in his garden and he wasn't very happy. And yeah, I think he thought that there's kind of a dispute.

Unknown Speaker  21:00
Tribal zones so there's a lot of people like lighting fires to different patches and that kind of thing. So I think he thought we were some local guys trying to light up his back garden that was absolutely massive in the middle of the jungle. So that kind of thing just doesn't happen on the streets of London. It doesn't really like it's no but you do find I mean those stories there's kind of always at least one of those aren't there were shit nearly hits the fan, but then makes it great. Yeah, hub story. Absolutely. But I also think it's

Unknown Speaker  21:31
it's, it's people that are more dangerous than the environment or the animals that you're in. Because they're so unpredictable. You know, both of us there have got stories where it's to do with people with guns, and what neither of us had any idea what the city you know, how the situation would play out, whereas at least in the environment, or the animals and so on, you have an element of control of it, I think on the other side of the coin, then a kind of other common theme that people have on the

Unknown Speaker  22:00
Big adventures is the kindness of strangers Did you encounter that? Was that something that you experienced a number of times, in fact, it was the whole way along the river, you know, even even when we were walking, we would walk into communities and ask where we could put up our tents. And they would say, I'll just, you know, stay inside. And they shuffled their kids around into different bedrooms to give us a room. And that continued all the way down the river. And it was it was particularly important, the further we got towards the end, because you've got the tides that start having a big influence on the river and the mangrove area just floods every six hours the tide is up and there is no land at all. So you need to find somewhere to pull over and rest and you know, eat your food and that sort of thing. Otherwise you are sitting in your kayak for the next six hours until the tide turns and you can actually paddle again. So yeah, we we absolutely relied on that the kindness of strangers down through the mangroves and out to the Atlantic Ocean. Definitely something that makes

Unknown Speaker  23:00
The journey I think when you realize how good 99% of people are, restores that faith in humanity and gives you that kind of overwhelming feeling of well being when you realize that people are just so nice, especially who don't owe you anything, but they just want to help you anyway. And yeah, I think that really changed me as a person that changes your outlook after you've experienced that you I think you look at everything in it. Yeah, absolutely. And I think that's why platforms like warm showers and so on. couchsurfer and that sort of thing work is because you're meeting and staying with like minded people that have experienced the kindness of strangers themselves, and therefore they're willing to let people into their house and stay for you know, whatever, huh. It's definitely something in it but sort of pulls on the heartstrings. Yeah, I guess it's that sense of community and kind of tribalism that deep rooted within us, like wanting to belong to a group and, and also it just feels good to help other people. So it's always an amazing experience and it never gets tiring. Absolutely not. So

Unknown Speaker  24:00
India, the biggie, I don't think we've really talked about how you came up with the idea because I think the idea is great and and a bit more interesting than just doing it because it's hard or because it's a long way, but you're not of Indian heritage. So what kind of spurred that trip after I came back from the Amazon, you know, I went back into my freelance advertising job. And I was always looking for that sort of next thing. But I wanted to make sure that I came back with something else to kind of show for my time away. And so I wanted, I really did want to make a film. And I'm still frustrated that I never actually made a film about the Emerson trip. But I felt like in order to make a film, it needed a bit more of a story and a bit more purpose. And I mentioned it before, you know, traveling with purpose is such an important thing. And as I was traveling to work one day I read this article, in fact, this was actually before I did the Amazon trip, I read an article about protests

Unknown Speaker  25:00
It talks about all these different kinds of protests that happened around the world. But there was one that really stuck out. And it was the salt March. And it stuck out for two reasons. It was it was a peaceful protest, but also the fact that, you know, Gandhi was protesting for like, 20 years before India gained independence from Britain. And that is a, you know, hell of a long time to be campaigning for one cause. And it gave me that idea of wanting to do a bit more research. And the more research I did, I just thought, there were no stories from the people that actually experienced it. Everything was from a very British perspective, history is typically written by the victors. And so I thought, you know what, you know, there are two sides to this story. And there's only one way I'm going to be able to find and hear those stories is by actually traveling to India and asking those questions myself. So I thought that's exactly what I'm going to do. And the adventure travel film festival that we went to in 2016 with myself

Unknown Speaker  26:00
Sort of first opportunity to speak to someone about how to make a film. And I spoke to Austin, the founder of the festival in a workshop that I did. And he 100% got behind my idea. He thought it was amazing, and offered to mentor me to make sure that I came back and made the film that I wanted to, and then had the opportunity to show it at his Festival, which I did in 2018. Can you just summarize the story of British occupation and independence? Just kind of a cliff note version? Yeah. So Britain have been ruling India since the sort of 17th century, mid 17th century. So we've been there a long time. And I think ultimately, you know, the Indians wanted to take back control. They wanted to get rid of the British ruling powers and start ruling the country themselves. And Britain had in you know, it was just post war, the First World War they impose this sort tax and the tax was

Unknown Speaker  27:00
Basically on the production of salt, and Ghandi, which is where he really started getting involved in the campaign, he just thought this is ridiculous. You know, everybody needs salt, all the animals, everything. And it's a naturally occurring mineral. So why should we be taxed on on the production of it, but it was obviously a way for the British and money. And so he thought now I'm going to protest against this. And it wasn't really the fact that, you know, he was protesting about the salt tax, it was more that he was protesting against the British occupation. And he did this the salt March, which was a 240 mile routes from his hometown to the Arabian Sea, where he then harvested salts on the beach and therefore broke that sort of law. And yeah, so that that was kind of a defining moment. And Ghandi got a lot of media coverage. He got a lot of interest in his campaign, and I think it really united India behind that single idea about taking back

Unknown Speaker  28:00
Trouble of their own country. It wasn't until 1948. So after the British left, the salt tax was actually reprieved. They were still paying the taxes right up until that point. But yeah, that that really started kick started the independence movement, and it really rallied the nation behind that single idea of getting independence from Britain. What about Gandhi? EQs. Tell us a bit more about him as a person. And you've talked a little bit about a couple of things that he did, but what was his background? And why was he so powerful and able to move so many people he was actually a trained lawyer at Cambridge in the UK. So he was sent over to to England for his education. He lived in London for a while and one of his first jobs he actually got posted to South Africa. And it was while he was traveling on a train through South Africa that he experienced some racial hatred towards non white people and he was a sort of an upper class Indian. He paid

Unknown Speaker  29:00
For a first class ticket on that train, and the conductor of the train, said, No, it's only white people in this in this first class carriage. And so he got thrown off the train. He couldn't believe that he was experiencing that that sort of hatred that the Indians, an Indian person had been put in that same category as the blacks. And so he did a similar thing in South Africa, where he protested against the scenario that he'd been presented with. And he actually then moved back to to India and fundamentally didn't like the sort of the British occupation there, and so did get the same. It's something that you brought out in your film that was quite interesting was that it wasn't necessarily the whole country united around getting rid of Britain. And I think people felt differently about it. And now looking back at it, it's probably even more different. There's a range of opinions as to how good the British occupation is.

Unknown Speaker  30:00
Was I mean, it always sounds like an occupation should be bad when you phrase it like that. But there it was, it was interesting when you're talking to people, and they were kind of saying that it was beneficial in lots of ways for India. Yeah, absolutely. You know, rhythm is incredibly organized, we'd had our industrial revolution, and could bring some of that technology out to our colonies. Now, that's not to say that we didn't exploit them either. You know, we would have used labor, Indian labor to build railways throughout the world, in all of our colonial nations. But yeah, you know, we were able to help set up infrastructure, education systems, legal systems, and that is something that they are actually incredibly proud to have been given that opportunity, one that I didn't really think about, actually was the fact that they had English as a language. And that is now such an important language and it's put them on a global platform to be able to trade and so on with so many nations around the world, whereas if they just

Unknown Speaker  31:00
stuck with Indian and Hindu and the state languages. I think they would sort of feel as if they had less opportunities presented to them. Yeah, I guess even now with work and remote work, I work with a lot of people in India, especially doing like kind of tech stuff behind the scenes. And it's very accessible because they talk English. So I suppose that's one of the benefits, but like you say, certainly wasn't plain sailing, and a lot of people that hated it. And you mentioned a little bit about how ordered England was. And from the time that I spent in India, one of the words I would use to describe it, I mean, I absolutely love that country have spent a good few months traveling around and it was just wonderful. But one of the words that I would use to describe it is chaos, or maybe controlled chaos is a better way to think about it. And I remember even touching down I think it was in Delhi. I was going there for knee surgery. Actually a friend of mine when I used to do a lot of Thai boxing. I wanted to go out to Thailand, but then I couldn't have had a lot

Unknown Speaker  32:00
Distance flight and then flown within two or three months or something so we said Oh, my sister's a surgeon at one of the top hospitals in Delhi you should head out there and everybody thought it was a little bit unusual and that I was going to wake up with a great story but it was fine actually and and it was really good and cost a lot less than doing it privately in the UK. But the the experience that I had I heard all these crazy things about how wild and a kind of assault on the senses you experience when you're in India and I remember taking I needed to get some transport from the airport to my hotel. And this guy ended up taking me in the took took for a ridiculously long ride like I don't think it took took should go that far. I don't know how far it was, but it was I seem to be in it for forever. over an hour. I thought he had a taxi that and he was like doing it for half the price of everybody else. So I was like oh, great deal and many other tips. And yeah, just potholes galore. And on that one journey. I think it was about four o'clock in the morning. I was just so interesting.

Unknown Speaker  33:00
To look around and see how different this country looked, and there was still quite a lot going on. And I remember going over this motorway, and the guy just kind of like pulled over right over to the side and start going on, on the walkway. And in the middle were a load of street kids just playing cricket. And they were siphoning the traffic round the side of the motorway just because it was flat so they can play there that happened within the first kind of half of the journey. And then we saw an elephant just going through another part of the motorway. And you know, I never I'd never seen that before. And I got dropped off at my hotel. And it was what half five or six o'clock or something by this point, and I was pretty hungry. So I just dropped my bags at the hotel and I said to the guy, is there any way that I can just buy a few snacks? And he said, Yeah, there's a little shop just down the road. So I walked down there and we're starting to get bright and I was looking around and started to see like the trades people coming out and all the bright colored clothes and just thinking like Wow, this is so different. I walked into the store and it was tiny. It was like a little box. It was really it was like

Unknown Speaker  34:00
Smaller than a London apartment. There was a bloke sitting down there who worked there behind the tail with his feet on the table, just looking at his newspaper and in the kind of eight feet that the shop spanned, and probably six foot wide, there was a cow eating a poster, just like licking out the side of his mouth and just eating this poster and this guy gave zero shits about it. And I was trying to go round the cow to kind of grab some crisps. And I was like, does he know that there's a cow in here? And he obviously did, but it's just such a different way of life. And like that was such a great introduction to what India is like you would never see that back home. How did you deal with it for such a long time having such a different pace of life and so many people crammed into? I mean, it's not even a small area. There's just so many people there. How was it for you? I mean, I think you're totally right. It is I call it organized chaos. It's a way that India works and only India knows

Unknown Speaker  35:00
Here's how it works. And it does take a lot of getting used to, you know, there are a lot of frustrations, you're trying to make things happen at, you know, at your speed, the speed, you know, we're used to here in the UK, and it just doesn't work like that. You just have to get into that rhythm. And once you do, you suddenly realize that actually it does work, and you can kind of fit in with it. But if you try and change it in any way, it just you're going to fight against it and, and it's going to kind of come back and bite you really. Yeah, I think that's that's a great way to think about it. And exactly the same realization that I had. I mean, I didn't go to the north though. I'd love to go up to Kashmir and lay How was it there? I mean, there's a pretty hot spot. How was your experience around there? I mean, it was it was really good. I feel like you flew into Delhi. Within 48 hours. I'd actually flown up to LA to kind of start my journey up in the north, which I felt was a almost an easing into it.

Unknown Speaker  36:00
Yeah, it's a it's a really small mountainous city. And through through the areas that I was walking through is really, you know, walking through small villages and so on. Everyone was in that same rhythm. It wasn't chaotic. It wasn't hectic or anything like that. And I found that it was kind of a, an ease into what the rest of India was going to be like, absolutely stunning scenery all around. And I I'd hired some guides and Porter, a guide and supporters to sort of help me through the mountains, particularly on longer trails that I was going to be taking, because there was no way I could know where I could restock with food. And also I had no experience in you know, ice climbing or proper mountaineering, proper mountaineering. Yeah, I had no experience in that. I'm not entirely sure they did either. But

Unknown Speaker  36:51
they sort of seemed confident in that, you know, they were walking along these steep icy slopes in their wellies. Wow. And I was just like, I don't know how you're

Unknown Speaker  37:00
laying up right on that, but I was sliding all over the place. It was it was mad. Yeah. Amazing. I mean the the scenery in your film and having seen we have a couple of trips out there and it just looks stunning the rest of the Himalaya and not many people there. So yeah, I was in all when I saw you walking around there, it looked incredible. I guess it always changed. But what was the kind of typical day like maybe there was just it was different in different regions. But uh, what was your experience? Like? How did you think about a day? How did you structure things? What did you do with my guide and porters, it was kind of pretty set. They only wanted to walk about seven hours at the most in a day. And quite often, you know, we we would start early. So we'd started we get up at six, we'd be off by seven 730 and then we'd be pretty much done by lunchtime. And I was sort of thinking, Oh, you know, this is a bit weird. We could keep on walking for another two, three hours. We've got enough light and everything.

Unknown Speaker  38:00
But no, they were, that was their kind of rhythm, they would get up, they would do their work carrying equipment, so on through the morning, and then they'd have a good afternoon rest, you know, again, I couldn't find that there was no way to convince them that we could go further and faster, seven hours is a long way in wellies.

Unknown Speaker  38:19
That's a very good point. That is a very good point. And then once I'd hit menolly, that was where I said goodbye to my guide and porters. I actually felt like I had gained control of my expedition again, you know, I could set my own rhythm and kind of do what I wanted to, the way I would normally operate is I get up at like seven, something like that. I always had this intention of getting up really early and avoiding the worst of the heat, but that never in reality happened. So I'd get up at sort of seven 730 sometimes eight o'clock, I'd have my breakfast. And quite often I'd got two patties made from the night before, which I, you know, kept in my room and I would have those with banana and then I would set up

Unknown Speaker  39:00
off on my day and I pretty much walk through the whole day, I wouldn't really stop for arrest every couple of hours, make sure I was drinking enough water. I wouldn't really eat lunch, I felt that it was just too hot to really eat. But also there wasn't really any kind of lunchtime snacking food, I didn't then feel sluggish in the afternoon, having eaten. So I wouldn't sit down first, you know, big lunchtime meal, I would just graze on anything fruit biscuits, that sort of thing. And biscuits You know, when you go on expeditions, they become a very much a staple. And then at about five o'clock, I would try and find somewhere to stay and I would normally have aimed for a town or city or village or community that I knew that I could then walk into, and at least I would be safe. I could ask them if there was any anywhere to stay. And then if I was staying with with a family, which happens so frequently, way more than I was anticipating I kind of lost my evening but I would walk into

Olie Hunter Smart  40:00
To these communities and say, you know, is there somewhere I can put up my tent, and they would just say, I'll come and have a drink. You know, two hours later, I'm saying, it's now dark come, I put my tent up somewhere. And they would say, Oh, don't worry about it, just stay here tonight. And so I would then spend the evening with them, they would feed me as much as I wanted, really, which I didn't really realize to start with. I obviously had having not had lunch, I was eating a lot. And I suddenly realized that we're in a couple of places that the women don't eat until the men have eaten. And so I was being given all this food and they kept on saying, you know, eat, eat, eat, but whatever I was eating meant less for the women that would then eat later. So I sort of had to have to control my food consumption when I was staying. But the evening was very much spent, with them chatting away, I may get an interview done, you know if there was someone interesting to speak to, and that would go through till you know, 11 o'clock midnight, and then they would quite often wake me up at 5am to start the conversation again

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George just bloody loves a bit of adventure! Imagine someone who not only hikes up mountains for breakfast but also bikes across continents. Got a case of wanderlust? This guy's been to over 50 countries and comes back with stories that'll make your grandma want to go bungee jumping.

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