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Simon Reeve: Why I Roam The Globe

Interview with star guest at Destinations: The Holiday & Travel Show

Written by . Published on December 6th 2014.

Simon Reeve: Why I Roam The Globe

SIMON Reeve is one of the star guests at the upcoming Destinations: The Holiday & Travel Show, the North’s biggest travel exhibition, which takes place 15-18 January 2015 at Manchester’s EventCity.

Reeve’s recent three part BBC2 series Sacred Rivers charted the influence the Ganges, Nile and  Yangtze have on the countries they flow through. It is the latest in a succession of globetrotting adventures on the box for the personable 42 year old, who has also written  essential books on modern history and international terrorism, including The New Jackals, the first book on Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda. So what propels this wanderlust, we asked him ahead of his appearance in Manchester...

What destination surprised you the most?
I’m surprised by almost everywhere I visit. That’s one of the many great things about travel! If I was forced to give just the one example then I’d go for the Maldives. I thought all those pictures in the brochures are photo-shopped, but the colours really are that strong, and the sea really is that amazing. I was blown away by the place. And the treasures in the sea there are incredible. I was in the water as a dozen manta rays came flying through the sea towards me. That was a priceless experience.
What is the most unusual souvenir you have in your home?
I was travelling across the island of Borneo for a TV series and went to stay with a family of indigenous former headhunters. They said they wanted to adopt me. I could hardly say no. So they smeared me with blood and presented me with a short fighting sword. It’s got a series of notches along the blade, which apparently equals the number of heads it’s been used to chop. I’ve got it hanging from a hook, out of reach of my young son.
What has been your scariest travelling experience?
We’re always warned how dangerous it is beyond Dover, but I’ve always been amazed how safe and welcoming most of the world really is. That’s probably been the biggest surprise for me since I started travelling. But obviously for TV we’re required to go off the beaten track and to some pretty dodgy places. I’ve been shot at and I’ve found myself in minefields. I was scared to death in Mogadishu, Somalia, when I was being guarded by a group of stoned local mercenaries and our makeshift local tank encountered another gang. Everyone screamed and turned their weapons on each other. I was stuck in the middle and thought I was toast. Travelling covertly into a dangerous area of Burma was also frightening. And so are Indian roads.
What has been your most memorable travel experience?
I feel like I’ve been pretty blessed by a lifetime of incredible travel memories. That’s what I love about going on a trip or adventure. You rack-up experiences that will linger in the mind forever. The most memorable are those moments when you really connect with somebody who is living a completely different life in a completely different world. I’ve drunk tea with the Masai in Africa, shared a laugh and a piece of goat with a remote tribe in South America, and heard incredible tales while hunting with the Bushmen of the Kalahari. I never take those experiences for granted. I know how lucky I am.
In your opinion, what’s going to be big in travel for 2015?
I think people are looking for more exciting and memorable experiences while they’re on their travels. Whether they’re off on holiday to a resort, or going on a backpacking adventure, people want to do things, taste things and experience things that they’ll remember long after their tan has faded. The market for ‘adventure tourism’ is growing rapidly, and I think that covers a huge range of experiences. It’s not just people bombing down a hill on a mountain bike. It’s doing things that encourage you out of your comfort zone so that your senses can be tweaked and teased. That’s the way to rack up some great memories.

HERE’S your chance to plan your own worldwide adventures. Manchester Confidential readers can claim two complimentary tickets to Destinations, worth £19, by visiting their online box office and quoting MANC. £1.50 booking fee per ticket applies. (These tickets do not include free entry to the co-located Caravan & Motorhome Show).

This will give you admission to this fourth and biggest show yet with more than 150 exhibitors, including more than 40 new arrivals such as Trailfinders, Great Rail Journeys, Trafalgar and Bali Getaway and tourist boards from around the world – Cuba, Cyprus, Egypt, India, Malta and many more. Other celebrities booked to appear include Charley Boorman and Martin Dorey.

Visitors to the show can get a flavour for different cultures and exotic cuisine at the Food & Travel Stage, where travel celebrities will prepare their favourite dishes. Other exciting attractions include the Meet the Experts Theatre which will play host to travel personalities and experts offering advice and information in an intimate setting, and the new Visit USA Pavilion packed with tourist boards from the United States.

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