In this episode of the World Nomads Podcast, we continue taking a look back at 2018 with some of our favorite chats including James Barkman who road tripped across the Pacific Northwest of America in an orange beaten up VW camper van and find out where the World Nomads team plan to travel in 2019.
01:17 Off to a bad start
03:46 James Barkman and his beloved VW
06:00 Just go west
09:10 Sarah Davis is paddling the entire length of the Nile
13:32 The prep
14:42 Where are the World Nomad's team traveling in 2019?
17:25 Going from a man to a snack
20:42 Whoops Kim
21:44 Inuit tourism
24:47 Buku, a Mongolian Throat Singer
28:50 Buku's performance
33:32 The original World Nomad
Sarah Davis was the first of Amazing Nomads who is currently attempting to be the first woman to paddle the entire length of the Nile. Sarah’s full story here.
There are plenty of places and opportunities to check on Sarah’s progress including the Paddle the Nile website.
On Instagram @paddlethenile and Facebook Paddle the Nile.
Mike Carter, is a journalist who wrote a brilliant story on an Inuit-led adventure in Canada’s far north. Hear about his frightening toilet stop when he suddenly goes from man to snack.
Scholarships Newsletter: Sign up for scholarships news and see what opportunities are live here.
"Where is the Wiki: How do you prepare for something that has never been done before?" By Sarah Davis in our Explore section.
Next Episode: The man who started it all Simon Monk the original World Nomad.
About World Nomads & the Podcast
Explore your boundaries and discover your next adventure with The World Nomads Podcast. Hosted by Podcast Producer Kim Napier and World Nomads Phil Sylvester, each episode will take you around the world with insights into destinations from travelers and experts. They’ll share the latest in travel news, answer your travel questions and fill you in on what World Nomads is up to, including the latest scholarships and guides.
World Nomads is a fast-growing online travel company that provides inspiration, advice, safety tips and specialized travel insurance for independent, volunteer and student travelers traveling and studying most anywhere in the world. Our online global travel insurance covers travelers from more than 135 countries and allows you to buy and claim online, 24/7, even while already traveling.
The World Nomads Podcast is not your usual travel Podcast. It’s everything for the adventurous, independent traveler. Don’t miss out. Subscribe today.
Speaker 1: [00:00:00] Welcome to the World Nomads Podcast, delivered by World Nomads. The traveling lifestyle and insurance brand.
Speaker 2: [00:00:06] It's something about the islands here that touches people's Souls.
Speaker 3: [00:00:11] Hopefully we make an impact in the world that people will stop killing and culling sharks.
Speaker 4: [00:00:15] It looked like snot and it smelled bad, but don't let that put you off it was good for you.
Speaker 5: [00:00:19] Where else in the world are you going to see a condor three meters right in front of you?
Phil: [00:00:22] No, absolutely not.
Speaker 6: [00:00:23] Not sure if I want to see the condor three meters in front of me.
Speaker 7: [00:00:26] So many things in our society that are throw away and we see those things on our beaches, on our coastlines.
Speaker 8: [00:00:33] Does anyone even poop themselves?
Speaker 9: [00:00:36] Sometimes the Germans can come off as, cold?
Speaker 10: [00:00:40] I think it's important to remember what has happened, but also look forward to the future and be positive about it. And that's the thing with Germans.
Speaker 11: [inaudible 00:00:47] travel is the opportunity to teach English to children and experience the [crosstalk 00:00:53] Panama Canal.
Phil: [00:00:58] We were all told that you can't take a leak into the river. You can't urinate into the river because there's a parasite that will swim up your urine stream.
Speaker 12: [00:01:06] Yeah Phil, you, are-
Speaker 11: [00:01:09] an idiot?
Speaker 1: It's not your usual travel podcast. It's everything for the adventurous, independent traveler.
Phil: [00:01:17] Sorry guys. Sorry. Sorry. Sorry. Can we stop? Sorry gonna have to go again. Sorry. My fault. Complete pros here, you know? Alright, hang on. Here we go again. Sorry, take 300.
Speaker 11: Yep. That's what it's like behind this well-oiled machine that is the World Nomads Podcast. Welcome to the best of, part 2. We're looking back at not
Phil: And with celebrating as well, look, just over a year and the thing I think I like best about the podcast is how well it's been received. I've been given some really lovely compliments from people about how it's inspired them to do more travel and go further and go to places that they would never have contemplated previously and for me, that's job done, tick.
In December, I like to brag a little bit here. We hit a record of 11,000 listens for the month, which is really pleasing because if anybody knows anything about podcasting it's kind of the long game. It takes a long time to grow an audience and it's a slow build. So I'm really happy that so many of you find the podcast interesting and entertaining enough to keep coming back and please do keep telling your friends about it.
Okay, I'm a member of a couple of podcast Facebook groups and recently another member asks, 'who have you been able to speak to through the podcast that you wouldn't normally be able to meet?' and people were naming all sorts of famous people they have spoken to and I chimed in I went all of them.
Speaker 11: Yeah.
Phil: Yeah, absolutely every one of. I may have bumped into some of them at, you know a conference or through the World Nomads content creation process, but I really do feel very lucky to have been able to have a conversation with so many fabulous knowledgeable and downright vivacious people. It's, It's been fantastic. And by the way, if you ever do meet me out at a conference, or you have a dinner party with me. That's what I'm like, I'm gonna ask all those questions. It's... and being able to do that as part of your job is just unbelievably lucky.
Speaker 11: Couldn't agree more. Now, one of your favorite interviews was James Barkman, who incidentally was one of our amazing Nomads the bonus episode that we launched this year featuring... or last year, sorry. Featuring travelers who demonstrate discovery, connection, transformation, fear, and love.
Phil: James is a documentary and editorial photographer. This year he lived off his 1996 Suzuki DR650 on the road from Alaska to Patagonia, but he's also previously road tripped across the Pacific Northwest of America in an orange beaten up VW camper van, and I loved the fact that he gave it a name.
James Barkman: I named it Melody and that's her first name and her last name is
Speaker 11: Beautiful, you found it on Craigslist but I've got a girlfriend who has one that she's named Gidget and Gidget is always breaking down. What about Melody?
James Barkman: I would say the same for Melody for sure when I actually bought her on Craigslist. She broke down on the way home. I had about a three and a half hour drive and at the time I really knew nothing about vans. I wanted to learn of course, but I had no experience and she broke down and let me set for quite a few hours and I no idea what to do, but I think I kind of. It was only it was only right that she broke down right away because there have been countless others.
Phil: Seriously, if you want to learn about motor vehicle maintenance get a VW camper van
Speaker 11: Yeah, and learn very quickly.
James Barkman: I call it zen in the art of Volkswagen maintenance-
James Barkman: because I mean, I'm sure we're all familiar with the books and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, but it really teaches you so much more about you know, the actual mechanics it teaches you patience and you know, just kind of ingenuity and all of that so I'm grateful for that-
Phil: And how to swear.
James Barkman: Absolutely. I've had quite a few frustrating times with her.
Phil: Alright now, let's can we just leap back a bit in the story about you and Melody so you're living in Pennsylvania when you when you bought the camper van and you had this idea of going over to the West Coast of America just tell us about that. Where did that idea come from? Why were you motivated to do that?
James Barkman: I think it's kind of growing up in the states and like a small rural area Pennsylvania. It's kind of like the American dream to just go west, you know and do and do a big road trip and I think as long as I can remember I was like, 'I'm going to grow up and I'm going to you know, grab a whole bunch of buddies and buy an old rickety van or something and just Drive West and see what happens.' And as I got older I found the van, you know got interested in Volkswagen's got the van and all of a sudden I was like, 'wait, I can actually do this and not just keep talking about it, but I could hop in and drive west.' So that's more or less what I did and I think yeah, there's kind of like... when growing up on the east coast of the states, there's kind of this allure to the west coast and it definitely attracted me and yeah, I kind of picked up and left off and have been living out there ever since for the most part.
Speaker 11: We've watched a video of you driving Melody and there are some pretty challenging weather conditions as well. But I know that in the book Phil, he's come overcome those. James. You got a potbelly stove inside Melody.
James Barkman: Yes, I do.
Speaker 11: Is that not dangerous?
Phil: [crosstalk 00:07:06] No, no, no, no, no, he's also got it. Tell us how you adapt it, but you've got an exhaust so the smoke goes outside [crosstalk 00:07:13]
Speaker 11: Look, the smoke is going directly back into his van. Is that the case?
James Barkman: Yes, it is. I don't actually know if it's legal. I never really found out. I've been stopped a couple times by cops and they were kind of always surprised by it. But I've never gotten in trouble. So as far as legality goes, I guess I think it's legal but as practically speaking. I mean it's kind of just started as an idea when I moved into my van. It was just... I mean the east coast winters get really cold and I didn't want to deal with propane heat because it's a little dangerous with like the poisoning-
James Barkman: and I didn't have electricity or anything like that. So I was like, 'man, I'll just get a wood stove, that would work perfectly.' And it kind of just started from there. So I found the wood stove on Craigslist as well, only fitting that I did and kind of just put it in and it's been there ever since so. It's kept me warm many a cold night.
Phil: But listen, tell us a bit about that. I mean, you know, you had a regular job in a mechanical workshop, but you decided that wasn't the life for you.
James Barkman: Yes. Absolutely. I think it's important to have... yeah in different seasons of life to have stability and you know financial stability and things like that. And at the time I was working the job. I knew it was valuable and I wanted to save money and learn different skills and things like that, but I knew that wasn't really what I wanted to do. It was kind of more of a means to a next step and so I worked that job for a few years... quite a few years and then when I had saved a lot of money and kind of had it more of an idea of what I wanted to do when I quit, I kind of just put in my notice and quit and drove west.
Speaker 11: So cool for the full interview with James and all of our guests actually in this episode check out show notes. Now coincidentally one of my favorite chats in 2018 was also an amazing nomad. Sarah Davis, she's currently paddling the entire length of the Nile. You can follow her on Instagram, she posts daily including videos at paddle the Nile. We were lucky enough to catch her before she jetted off to Uganda. And obviously, the first question is why?
Sarah Davis: Look, it was something... I've seen a couple of people who've done some firsts and I was at this point where I was really happy with life and life was great, but it was just that still something missing and that fulfillment and that sort of need for more. Anyway, so saw a couple of people who do... the first one was Damien Rider who paddled a prone board from Coolangatta to Bondi and was the first to do it. Yeah, and then I Helen Skelton, she's a kids or a TV presenter in the UK and she kayaked the Amazon and neither of them was sort of... that wasn't the primary sports or anything like that and it just gave me this sort of feeling, like, 'Wow, How cool would that be to do a first and because they want, you know, they want your classic sort of adventurers and it's just like well, maybe I could do something like this. So then I started researching as to what it could be... a really wanted it to be paddling base because that's my-
Speaker 11: Yeah
Sarah Davis: my sport-
Speaker 11: We can tell by your arms... nicely defined.
Speaker 12: Yeah. I used to say when I was going to the gym a few years ago and they'd say, 'what's your goal?' I want arms like Lisa Curry Kitty.
Speaker 11: Let's um, let's go back then to why... these great arms. What do you... you're a kayaker? Or?
Sarah Davis: Yeah.
Speaker 11: So but you've competed around the world?
Sarah Davis: Yeah, so I started getting... I got into kayaking through the surf club. So I joined North Bondi Surf Club and I've been a member there and I started getting into the competing side. Started on the boards and then got onto the surf skis. Running used to be my sport but found out I've got arthritis in the hip then I blend my Meniscus and it was like, okay. I need something else and that's when I really got into the kayaking and the surf skis and went from doing all the
Speaker 11: Competitive girl too.
Sarah Davis: I'm really competitive sometimes, not always. So yeah, and I just I love it. It's the band that doing it here in Sydney, you know out on the Ocean, in the harbor. It's just the most spectacular place to go and try and... so it doesn't make it too difficult.
Speaker 11: And none of the obstacles that you would expect in the Nile Phil.
Phil: Fair enough, can I just say for people listening? Not an abstract? What a clubby is. We have surf lifesaving clubs here. These are volunteer surf lifesavers. Many would of you would have seen the TV program Bondi rescue. The guys in the blue things, they're the professionals the blokes in the... the women as well in the yellow and red there the volunteer surf lifesavers. Because they're in a surf life-saving club, they're known as
Sarah Davis: Yeah, it is very part of Australian culture, isn't it?
Phil: It is, I'm a Clubby of Maroubra. Yep.
Speaker 11: So you've got you're... so you're a competitive kayaker. About to Paddle the Nile and the first woman to do so.
Sarah Davis: Yes. Yeah,
Speaker 11: But you'll be with a team.
Sarah Davis: Yeah, look there'll be people with me all the way. I'll be the only one doing it from start to finish and the teams will mix partly dependent on the kind of waters that were going through. So you've got some big rapids through Rwanda and Tanzania and then also in Uganda so we'll be rafting through those you've got a team of people in your raft. Then once you get through there... Well, you got Lake Victoria in between which we'll be kayaking and then through South Sudan and Egypt it's then kayaking all the way there and there I'll have... it will be either, you know guides with me, security, or local paddlers as well. So when I went to Sudan and Egypt last year, I got to meet some of the kayaker there because there and went out... they took me out paddling they were amazing and quite a few of them are keen to be part of it, which I really want to have local people involved with it all the way, you know, it's very much a shared experience.
Speaker 11: But for. People listening, how many kilometers?
Sarah Davis: 6853. Yeah.
Speaker 11: So the prep.
Sarah Davis: The prep... actually surprising that a lot of the prep is
Speaker 11: Yeah.
Sarah Davis: It's not going to be worth the value. So Physical preparation is probably more around the gym and making sure building up the muscle which will no doubt carbolize during the trip. And then it's all the other skills. So I've done remote first aid. I had two days of remote first aid training, three days of swift water rescue technician. My Easter was spent on a four day Wilderness survival course, Krav Maga self-defense training. Yeah. It's been a lot of that sort of [inaudible 00:14:24] where I'm really focusing on my preparation.
Speaker 11: Awesome. I can report Sarah is halfway through her effort and while she's had some tough times, she has equally had exhilarating moments and she breathes a sigh of relief paddling through a Rwanda and Tanzania when she sees fishermen because that means there are fewer hungry hippos.
Phil: Yeah, most dangerous animal in Africa. Look, I'm not sure if any of the world Nomads are planning anything quite as audacious as that in 2019, but let's find out where they do plan to travel.
Chris Noble: Hi. I'm Chris Noble. I'm the general manager of WorldNomads.com. I have a couple of destinations I want to go to - Colombia and Greenland.
Brandon: Hi, I'm Brandon and I'm an editor working at World Nomads, I want to go to Scandinavia in May. Yeah, gonna go to Norway, touchdown in Oslo and then drive all the way through to Bergen.
Beck: Hi, I'm Beck. I work for World Nomads and I work on the scholarships and marketing campaigns. I'm going to go visit a few friends in London who are over there working holiday visa and then I'm definitely want to check out a bit of Eastern Europe while I'm over that way too, maybe Albania or Montenegro.
Pierce: Hi, I'm Pierce from World Nomads, I'm the campaign marketing manager. I'm actually going over to work in Cork in Ireland for six months in March. So I'm looking forward to that.
Anne: Hi, I'm Anne from Wold Nomads. I work on CMS Development, write all the nice website things you see. hopefully, for Christmas or after Christmas, we're heading down to Tasmania to take the kids around there and top plans for 2019, I'm planning to go to Easter Island again and take the kids with us.
Diane: Hi, I'm Diane from World Nomads looking after your lovely emails that we send out to our lovely customers. Home sweet home, going home twice in the year for the family events.
Speaker 11: You can't work in the travel industry and not have a love for travel. My aspiration in 2019 is to explore Scotland and Ireland.
Phil: Beautiful. It's great. And actually, parts of it remind me of Australia because, it's you know, the Heather and what have you this low vegetation and it's quite barren with rounded hills and it reminds me a bit of some of the Australian countryside.
Speaker 11: Cool. Now, what about you? You were planning at one point Disneyland because there was pressure from the kids.
Phil: Yeah. Now we've managed to talk them out of that, which is great. But I have a birthday coming up next year which has a zero in it. So I'm not revealing which one, and I'm a huge Italophile, I love Italy so I think we might find ourselves, you know a nice villa or something on Sardinia. I've never been to Sardinia. I think I might try that out because it's-
Speaker 11: Yeah, that sounds nice, but what's the compromise with the kids?
Phil: Shut up, we're taking you.
Speaker 11: All right, let's get back into it. Another of your favorite interviews. This is you Phil was one of our first with Mike Carter who undertook an Inuit Adventure in Canada's far north.
Phil: Yeah, I like this chat for a couple of reasons. The first being his description of heading to the toilet and going from a man to a snack.
Mike Carter: Well, I think the very fact that your little [inaudible 00:17:29] and you're immediately surrounded by heavily armed men is... and you're actually in the middle of nowhere is a sure sign that something's rather worrying and we'd been in this little plane and I kind of needed to go to the toilet and I asked one of the guides, 'is there anywhere I could go?' and they're all these disused old Cold War hangers there and they said, .oh you can go behind the building. and he said, 'but I need to come with you.' With this huge gun, you know? And he was saying you can't take your eye off the horizon or the landscape for a second there because the bears, not just the polar bears, but these barren ground black bears that have adapted to survive there, they're ambush animals because there are no trees... because it's above 55 degrees and there are no trees.
There's no hiding place for them or very, you know, their traditional methods of stalking animals. So they have to hide behind a rock and they're very opportunistic and they're very patient. So, you know, I wasn't terrified because I was with these extremely competent highly trained people who know what to do. But you quickly begin to realize that you're not in a benign... you're not in your Sydney apartment, you're not in your kind of London apartment here. It really contextualizes man's place in the grand scheme of things when you realize you're a kind of insignificant speck. As I said in the piece, I'd gone from being a man to a snack.
Speaker 11: A really great opportunity to relieve yourself quickly or just decide that you can hang on.
Mike Carter: Exactly, but it wasn't terrifying. It's that thing that okay. You know, I don't live here. This isn't me. I'm not familiar with this place. I'm quite helpless, you know, you look at these magnificent mountains and you see polar bears and black bears running everywhere. And then when you finally get to the camp, there's a 10,000-volt electric fence around the camp and you realize that this is not really a joke. You know that you. You know if you stray out... and one of the first things they do when you get to the base camp in Saglec Field [inaudible 00:19:59] water is they sit you down and show you a film of polar bears and how to tell if a polar bear is agitated, just merely curious, or hungry. You're sort of studying all these different films of polar bears to try and judge their behavior, and what you should do if a polar bear approaches you and what you should do to avoid encountering a polar bear. And that's literally the first thing they do when you get off the boat, you need to watch this film. It's a bit like, you know, it's a bit like getting on an airplane and going through the kind of safety talk by the cabin crew. But the consequences being slightly
Speaker 11: That was scary, scary. Now, sometimes we have to do interviews at home because of the time difference in the availability of our guests who we value and love thank you and respect and I did that with Mike but it can go wrong particularly at 11 o'clock at night after a few wines Phil
Phil: You can certainly keep on going.
Speaker 11: Awesome. But what about Albania?
Phil: All of my Journeys and all of my expeditions have been routed.
Speaker 11: Around Albania [crosstalk 00:21:10]. How on earth did I think that was ever going to get through?
Phil: You actually sent that off to be edited didn't you?
Speaker 11: Well, I was half, I was half gone. And then Nigel who puts it all together for us.
Phil: 'You may want to rethink this one Kim
Speaker 11: He messages, 'mmm, have a listen.' I'm listening, Albania, what? This is really interesting and then I get to that I think no I have to do it again, that's just what's so bad.
No issues though with Mike Mike as we discussed Inuit tourism in Canada's far north
Mike Carter: My experience is
But I do see a move, you know, people such as Jared Diamond who, you know are writing fabulous books like The World Until Yesterday. That look at the way traditional people organize themselves and see that we have forgotten so much about how humans as a species organized and learn and thrive. You know, far from kind of cultural imperialism. I just see these people as a much better version of us really, you know their respect for the land and... so it's simultaneously quite depressing, but very, very uplifting.
Speaker 11: Do you see Inuit developing an income stream from tourism in Canada?
Mike Carter: According to people I spoke to on the ground there, Inuit. Yes!
Speaker 11: Great to hear Mike and Phil we couldn't do a best of without Buku.
Phil: Ahh, I know this was my favorite. I think out of all of them because not only did we have him... this incredible musician and throat singer in the studio with us, but we got to hear his amazing story. So he was actually a professional musician in Mongolia
Speaker 11: Philharmonic level wasn't he?
Phil: Yeah, and he moved to Australia to be with his wife who wanted to learn English. She later went on to university and she's an accountant while he stayed at home playing music until some sage advice from his English teacher.
Buku: My teacher actually told me if you play your music anywhere, everywhere. You have food.
Buku: And then it's stuck in my mind. That's actually yeah, I could play straight and I don't find a spot in your town. It's very noisy. But first-time people hear Mongolian music. They're really interested. Every people just stopping listening to asking so many questions. Then I really don't understand what they're talking about
Speaker 11: Just smile.
Buku: Just smile and then what should I say now? Yes or no? Yes or no, maybe yes. Yeah, just yeah, I just feel really, really hard.
Speaker 11: So it's a big part of your culture music?
Speaker 11: Give us a taste of the history.
Buku: In Mongolia, there are lots of different ethnic groups. All ethnic groups have beautiful melodies and the main instrument in Mongolia, it's called the Morin khuur. Morin means horse, horse means fiddle. Horse fiddle or horse head fiddle. There are two strings made up from horsetail.
Buku: The bow is horsetail, which may play both horsetails with horsetail only one instrument in the world. And there's a lot of singing, different types of different ethnic groups singing styles. And also throat singing was one of the biggest things in Mongolia
Speaker 11: So, do you train to be a throat singer or? Is it some... I mean, Phil can you sing? Not throat sing, but can you sing generally?
Phil: Yes, but my children tell me to shut up all the time.
Speaker 11: Yeah, so I'm totally tone deaf. So is it the case that you are naturally able to use your throat to create music?
Buku: Yes, but you need lots of practice for when you start to learn throat singing.
Phil: Some of the songs, some of the throat singing goes on quite a long time. So obviously it doesn't hurt
Buku: Depends on a song. But mostly it's very relaxing but you have to balance every holy body. Lots of tightness, lots of do not blood pressure happening here. I have to balance it the same time as your control like 10 things and then you make it like tuna. [inaudible 00:28:08] two chords.
Speaker 11: That must be pretty exhausting.
Phil: Listening to it. It can be quite meditative is it meditative to the performer?
Buku: Yes, it's because the oldest throat singing styles mostly we [inaudible 00:28:24] Mongolians they brought from their nature all the stars look like a waterhole, or like nice mountains, or river sounds. All come from there and then most of the herders when they herding their animals they heard lots of beautiful nature. It's a spiritual thing.
Speaker 11: Well, you've been so kind enough to not only come in educating us on throat singing but you're going to demonstrate it for us with your I call it a horse head fiddle and we'll be able to show a picture, it literally does have a horse head on it.
Phil: It does, it's beautiful. It's gorgeous.
Speaker 11: What do you call it?
Buku: Morin khuur. M, o, r, i, n morin. K, h, u, u, r Khuur.
Speaker 11: Best if I don't try [crosstalk 00:29:13] All right, well let's let you get you ten steps together and, yeah it'd be thrilling to hear you perform for us.
Take it away one. One, two, one, two, three. go for it.
Buku: You ready?
Speaker 11: Yes. Absolutely. We're ready. Yeah.
Buku: (playing music)
Speaker 11: Wow.
Phil: It's just, being in the room with that was just unbelievable wasn't it?
Speaker 11: We've got some video of it actually. Can you put that in the show notes?
Phil: Yeah, we'll pull that up again. No problem.
Speaker 11: Good, next week. We leave our best of's behind and launch into the year seriously. Not that this wasn't serious Phil. looking at women in travel.
Phil: Okay, don't forget you can subscribe to us on iTunes. You can download the Google Play app and you can also yell out at Alexa and Google home to play the World Nomads podcast and that's exactly what they'll do.
Speaker 11: Bye
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