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Ash dykes (extreme athlete)

On today’s Podcast, we have Ash Dykes. Ash Dykes is an explorer, extreme athlete, motivational speaker and 3x World First Record Holder.

Ash recently head-lined global news by becoming the first person to hike the entire length of the Yangtze River in China. A 4,000-mile journey that took him 352 days to complete, he faced bears, altitude, wolves, landslides, blizzards and had to send 10 of the 16 team members (that joined him for short stints at different locations) home, due to altitude sickness, fear of wildlife and/or injury.

Today on the podcast, we talk about his life growing up and how he got in these incredible adventures as well as the stories of his trips, been chased by Wolves and alone in the Mongolian Desert. Enjoy!!

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Transcript of our Conversation

Ash Dykes

[00:00:00] Ash Dykes: Hello, and welcome to the modern adventurer podcast coming up, we realized we’re in such a sensitive area that we needed to escape and we needed to walk fast and get out of there cause we were in Shanghai, but the problem was there’s, you know, the China map says it’s chin high. That’s a button that says I’m into that.

And so it was very sensitive and we had to evade the locals because we learned that the locals in their little white felt tense their goods, as amazing as they were super hospitable. And I loved my time with them. We came to learn that we have to do our utmost to avoid them because they would sort of radio to the next girl to the next group until eventually there was signal that they could call the police and the police would be on their way.

It take them seven hours or so to get to us. And they wouldn’t rock upon our tent until three, four o’clock in the morning. Oh, my word, that just sounds unbelievable. And that’s minus the bears, the wolves, the minus 20 degrees Celsius the stove. My next [00:01:00] guest is an adventurer and an extreme athlete. He has pursued some incredible expeditions over the years and has covered a wide range of trips.

He recently made global news by becoming the first person to hike the entire length of the Yeti river in China, 4,000 mile journey that took him 352 days to complete. He faced bears, altitude wolves, landslide, blizzards, you name it to which he had to send 10 out of the 16 team members that joined him for short stints home.

So he had to cover so much ground with all these obstacles in his way today on the podcast, we talk about that trip along with his first big expedition across Mongolia, where in the Gabey desert, it was so isolated with no sound that he says you can actually hear your body. So I am delighted to introduce Ash dykes to the podcast.

Good to be a job. Thanks Robin Lee. I said, absolutely pleasure to have you on, and I cannot [00:02:00] thank you enough. I mean, some of the trips that you’ve done over the years have been absolutely incredible. We’ll get into some of your absolutely epic trips from Mongolia to Madagascar, to China, but probably the best place to start is at the beginning.

Cause you grew up in the Welsh Hills. I say north Wales here. So old Cohen, nice place, you know, quiet place. Not, not so exciting, not a lot of stuff happening, but you’ve got the sea, you’ve got the mountains. It’s a, it’s a good place, especially for the outdoors, you know, Snowden, which I’m sure many of your listeners will know.

It’s probably about 30 to 40 minute drive from where I’m based. So yeah, it’s a good place to be. Well, I mean, it must have been absolutely incredible growing up in that sort of area and, you know, having the space to sort of reign where did this sort of love of adventure sort of come from? It’s a good one.

It’s a good one. I think it’s probably [00:03:00] just being surrounded by nature growing up, but it took a weird turn because in school I was very much the sporty type, not necessarily adventure, so I wouldn’t be necessarily camping. I’d be on the school football team or doing athletics or, or boxing or, you know, I was very active.

I was very competitive. But then, you know, I’d seen photos or like magazines or the internet, like different places around the world. I would, I would hear epic stories of, you know, how people would test themselves for extreme environments and, you know, sort of what they would achieve. Being deemed possible.

I would hear stories from one of my old uncles was with south African and he told me some crazy stories. What went on in, in Zimbabwe. Also my granddad lived in Pakistan for a good 21 years, overstayed his visa by [00:04:00] his and now lives in India. And I think there’s probably a little bit of everything.

Even documentaries, you know, David that’s in Rochelle was on, on TV and I just didn’t want to watch, I want it to be out there amongst it all. And so I guess sort of. Competitive and active side sort of net the sort of curious and wanted to go travel side which led onto me doing these expeditions.

But I, I finished college. I did a two year outdoor course a two year course in outdoor education. It was probably then that I realized I was more of a kinesthetic learner, you know, sort of learning from hands-on practical experience. And I wanted to pursue a more active career active lifestyle where I could learn through getting myself far out there, learning through my mistakes effectively through experience, getting up, trying again, and never trying to make the same mistakes.

[00:05:00] So where, so what was the first one? What was the first one where you decided, right, this is it. This is where I’m going. How did it all start? It was, it was when me and my friend, Matt, we had worked at an, a how many hours to 40 hours a month as lifeguards for a good year and a half solid. We’re very strict with our cash.

Minimize nights out, I sold my cheap little cough or a little bicycle cycle to, and from work. We then eventually set up. Go into China. First, we were in China for two weeks. We then left China for Southeast Asia. And I remember being in Cambodia, you know, me and my friends soaking on the meek on riverbank.

We’d spent way more money than we anticipated. You know, we were 19. So we were just teenagers affectively. And I said, you know, this is all great driving around, but we’re very much on the beaten track. You know, say photos, stories, experiences as all of the rest of the tourists, which was great. You know, we met people from all [00:06:00] over the world, but it’s not what we went traveling for.

You know, we wanted our own unique experiences and an adventure. You know, we didn’t want to be traveling over land on a coach. We want it to, you know, hike or cycle audience and meet the locals, not go to the typical tourist sort of lunch breaks that the cultures would take you. And so, you know, I decided let’s get a bicycle and let’s cycle the entire length of Vietnam and Cambodia, you know, 1,100 plus miles.

We were on a very tight budget. So we had 10 pounds to spend on the bike. Each we spend about two pound, 50 each on a non waterproof tent. We didn’t get no pump, no puncture a packet. There was no helmet. The bike had no gears, no suspension. We had no electronics. We had no lap. It was reckless, you know, but we were again, low budget.

It was sort of foolhardy, but it was that Vietnam cycle. That was the catalyst we would chase by dogs. We [00:07:00] were hit by mopeds. We were dodged by law, lorries and trucks. You know, the bikes broke over 17 times until they just couldn’t hack the mountains. These were bikes made for short distance for pretty much old ladies going to and from work, they weren’t made to feel such a distance, you know, but we really hammered on those bikes and they paid the price and, but we made it, we made after two and a half weeks and I was like, that was in sane.

I found my passion and my love for adventure and I wanted to continue doing it. So I would say that that was the catalyst for sure. Were you happy that you sort of skimmed on the pump and the tires and everything? Yeah, I, you know, I was because it taught us great lessons. But it also brought us closer to the locals.

I remember one time we cycled through the night. You know, the last day we cycled 39 hours continuously all the way through the day through the night, through the following day, over 45 hours with no [00:08:00] sleep. You know, I posted a photo on my Instagram actually the other day where like faces just, you know, bags under my eyes and my skins of mass it’s actually blue because the mosquito spray mixed with the sunscreen we were on a bad day of just noodles is that it was super cheap.

And you know, the times that we got punches, for example, and we didn’t have a puncture packet or bunk, we would literally rock up on like the local sort of community or hurt that’s on the side of the road. And, you know, these, they never really see, we always seem to be awake and they would welcome us in, you know, and so we would get inside, they would feed us up, give us some tea as the guy would like very kindly saw the bicycle and we’d offer them small bit of cash fables and interested.

He just kind of said, enjoy your cycle. We cracked on. So it was really great to, to be pulled aside for an hour or two, or how long, you know, two o’clock in the morning. I remember not being as well. And getting closer with the locals we [00:09:00] were in such remote places. I remember the locals coming over, sent around as was me and Matt were eating on noodles and they were pulling our leg.

You know, we were tied, you know, frustrated. We were hungry, these locals that come around and, you know, the pulling, pulling our hairs and especially on the lakes. And we know it’s not that Vietnamese men don’t have hairs on the legs and stuff like were quite fascinated with the sort of blonde hair they bleach now in the sun, just at all interactions were great.

And if it wasn’t for the bunker back and we might have missed many of those interactions. So it’s interesting. I, I think when you go off the sort of beaten track, those sorts of things happen, people are sort of shocked to see you. And it creates such an amazing experience because I remember when I sort of gained not quite the same, but through America.

And again went very skimpy on certain aspects, like the what was it, the bicycle seat, which. [00:10:00] Turned out to be big, big mistake. If you’re cycling long distances, get a good seat. You suddenly pay the price in pain. And I just remember him like sort of these sort of tiny, tiny towns when I sort of rock up, they’d always be like, what, why are you here?

What, how did you get here? I mean the me mental thing, right? That’s what it’s about. Isn’t it. I love that. I love the human selection and curiosity of getting out there and we interview people. It’s a, that’s probably first and foremost, what really pushed me to do these adventures was, you know, me in the meeting, the locals and just experienced in that country for what it is rather than what the lonely planet says.

It is. For example, you know, we were against that. We didn’t say no lonely planet books. Now let’s make our own. If we, if we rock up, if we choose a bad restaurant to eat. So be it we’ll pay the price. We did many things. But we didn’t want to follow the typical, you know, but the only planet recommends this [00:11:00] place.

So we should go there where we meet lots of other tourists. We were just sort of, yeah, that is helpful. Now I’ve changed. I’ve matured a lot more. I’m not that stupid when it comes to a decent recommendations and I get, if you’re on a gap year for, or even if you’re traveling for a month, you want to visit the best you want to spend your time there, go into the poxy places.

You know, you want to, you want to get the best. And so the lonely planet is good for that, but at that point in time, we were just against it. And, you know, just, just doing our own thing as we went. So I suppose that was the sort of catalyst that you said for your big trip to Mongolia. Not necessarily someone Golia or just okay.

So it was sort of more. More adventures of Mongolia yet. And if I had attended Mongolia at age 19, with the blood coming out of Vietnam, I would have easily died. I would say it was the catalyst to actually seeking adventure fully. You know, after [00:12:00] the Vietnam cycle, we crossed into Thailand where there north of Thailand and a place called PI.

And we crossed illegally into the across the border into main mall fight, a jungle bus, 2010. You know, we were invited by a local to teachers’ sort of jungle survival. And if we can walk a good number of days, we’ll arrive at a Burmese hill tribe community and now teachers how to survive as well.

And it was sorta like berries that act as mosquito repellent. They would teach us how to gather, how to build sort of rafts and Shelties and natural resources, another amazing experience. And that led onto that. Go into Australia and taken on adventures. We were cycling the south of Australia. We were hitchhiking the north after a breakdown.

I was fruit picking, trying to build up the cash. And then Australia was just too expensive. So we moved back to Asia, we just missed it. And we were then trekking the Himalayas with no permit, just sort of avoiding any Pakistan military that we may come [00:13:00] across on the border there. And then money starts to run low, but we had a plan in Wales before we left for traveling which was to gain our scuba dive and qualifications so that we can top up the funds as we travel.

And it was now time to act on that plan. We had already worked in Wales to get ourselves to a certain level within scuba diving. We just need to finish off the courses in Thailand. And then, yeah, for the next two years, I was, I was living out in Thailand as a scuba diving instructor, a more Thai fighter.

I loved it. You know, I probably should have been fully satisfied. It was during those two years that the Vietnam cycle, the Himalayan Trek, the survival with the Burmese hill chart, there were just constant playing on my mind. And I was really hungry for adventure. I was only 21, 22, and I was like, you know, I’m not done yet.

I’m still young. It’s still lots to be done, lots to be seen. And, you know, lots of new ways [00:14:00] to push myself, to see what I’m capable of, but also to, you know, go to countries that I’m completely unfamiliar with to mix and mingle with more locals, you know, so it was sort of all at best that was playing on my mind.

And it’s at that point, Mongolia came to mind, you know, sort of looking through the map, looking for some harsh country that is extreme enough, completely unfamiliar with. And I’d been on the travel route now for two years, teaching tourists, sort of how to scuba dive, tick it off the bucket list. It was a great lifestyle.

I loved it, but I hadn’t come across any, any tourists. And I were, I met thousands at this point that had said that they’ve been all plan on going to Mongolia. And so I’d hear all of the other places that they would go there seems to be this typical sort of route that people, you know, favor to travel, but Mongolia hadn’t had been popped up.

And I was just curious, and it was home to the Alto mountains, to the [00:15:00] Gobi desert, you know, second or third, most sparsely populated country in the world. You’ve got the Eagle hunters in the west. It’s a, it’s a wild, wild place. And my brain was ticking. I was like, imagine doing a 100 mile track instead of the cycle.

Cause when there’s a cycle. Great fun, proper adventure. But if you’re saying when you were on predominantly on a road and whether it’s road, that’s people at there’s people, there’s food, there’s water. So you’re always relatively safe. And so I wanted to do a walk to get me off that even off the road. Oh, it’s, you know, I was, I was willing to sort of rely solely on myself to survive whatever, till rains and wetness systems I was, I was coming across in Mongolia, struck me as one of those harsh countries where I would need to rely solely on myself only coming across locals every week, every other week.

And so, but it quickly jumped up from maybe a 100 mile track in Mongolia to maybe south to north. And so I decided [00:16:00] less walk the entire length. No one wanted to join me. My friend was like, yes, that this you on your own, it’s too dangerous. And it turned into a solo and unsupported track. I didn’t know who was a world first.

I, you know, I wasn’t interested. In the world record, I just wanted to do it cause it was proper adventure. You know, when I started research and gather up as much sort of information and local knowledge as possible and realize I couldn’t find anyone who had done it, I started to expand on the teams. I bought more teams involved to actively search for me as well.

Then we came across this guy who claims to be the first person ever to attempt solo and support Trek, but was evacuated on all three occasions. I think it was just before or just after the half week. You know, this guy was a Navy soldier at desert Explorer had already crossed the Sahara desert. You know, he was, he was a tough guy fully experienced as well.

I think he was late thirties or early forties, and [00:17:00] I was a scuba diver living on at night if would have no military bike on. And I was kinda like, I don’t stand a chance. And so I put Mongolia to the side. I started looking at, you know, more populated countries, safer places to track, or to at least build up my experience.

But then I realized, you know, just cause no one’s found a way to do it, which he hadn’t doesn’t mean it we’ve done that. So I start to really, you know, grind with the train and grind with the logistics and knew it needed proper preparation and like the Vietnam cycle. I only had two, 200 pounds to my name.

I had to move back to north Wales and moved in with my parents. I didn’t even have no. Finance for gym membership. I had my uncle dropped me off at sledgehammer. So all of the training I did for that first was in my backyard, just in the winter, you know, building myself physically and mentally, I’d say it’s 70% mindset, 30% physical.

I was [00:18:00] shit scared. I was terrified as everything. I didn’t know what it would be like being alone. I didn’t know. I’d never faced a pack of wolves before. I’d never been to a desert before. I didn’t know if I, I didn’t know my mentality. I didn’t know if I was the type to cool. Yeah, everything else I had previously done, I, you know, pride myself of certain things like dehydration, sleep deprivation on stop myself and previous adventures.

I’d direct these dangerous ones, but they’d always been with a friend and they’d never really pushed me to them, to my physical limits and my mental limits. And so I was just unsure at the tender age of 22. I was just unsure if I had what it took and that scared me because I started to build hype around it.

You know, nightmares of me just quitting one weekend, like, fuck this, this is not for me. This is terrifying. I can hear pack of wolves, howling, you know, and, and, and getting out of there and quitting. And then, you know, having come back home, people pat me on the back are you tried your best. [00:19:00] And I did not want that.

I was terrified of that too. And So, yeah, I’d say that’s what sort of led me into, into Mongolia. Wow. And so I imagine when you were dropped off in Mongolia, started the trip, knowing that you’ve got all those miles cover on your own for how many days? Like 72 months. Three months. Yeah, it was yes, 78 day try, anticipate to take a hundred days.

But there was just lots of daylight hours, you know, 16 hours of daylight. So I tried to make the most of that and most dude, 78 days. Wow. And so what was the feeling like when you at the start, looking ahead, you must’ve just been. Oh, my word, the Marine in the back of your mind, feeling like he nearly had to be evacuated three times.

Yeah, exactly. Yeah. Yeah, I was shit scared, but I tried telling myself that I was ready. [00:20:00] Cause you know, I was trying to hype myself up as much as I could, you know, I’m the guy to deal it and what I’m going to do in this situation or that scenario. But the truth is I just never knew how I would react to any situations that I was about to face because you never know until it’s staring you in the face.

And I remember when I was here in Wales, I remember being scared of the whole idea of Mongolia, but I was sat just in the living room, sort of a cup of tea, belly, full of food shelter, warm, very positive. And I remembered this side to me. I’m going to lose when I’m on the go. Well, the outside Manson space in the snow blizzard or whatever, you know, I’m not going to be this positive year.

I’ve got this. And so I actually left a voice note in my, in my phone and voice memo of sort of positive ne talking to negative me and the Gobi. And I told myself that I would, I would definitely not listen to that voice memo unless I really needed to. [00:21:00] And I did really need to, at one point and I press play and I’m sort of, it’s me giving myself a students or consider about the pros and cons.

What happens if I make it compared to what happens if I don’t make it, you know, career wise, future wise. And so I, you know, got myself to this stop point. I just about managed to scrape in enough finance to make it happen. It was still low, low budget when insurance was invalid because they don’t support any sort of journeys in, in Mongolia.

Cause it’s just so wild and. I was in the outside mountains in a place called Olga. It’s already about three, three and a half thousand meters high. And are there with this 18 stone trailer or 120 kilograms, 260 pounds, you know, same way as probably Tyson fury, you know, a world heavyweight box in the back of the trailer that I was about to load for almost a hundred days over the outside mines across the Gobi desert and 40 plus degrees Celsius [00:22:00] and through the Mongolian step.

So I was, I was daunted and be unbelief, but I was excited to get going. You know, I told myself, break it down day by day. Don’t look at this 78 day magnitude. Just look at, look at the days that I’ve got break it down. Yeah, I, I went for it for people listening. They probably, it’s hard to imagine what the sort of landscape is like.

Can you sort of describe what it’s like being out in the middle of the Gabey desert alone? Well, no one in this sort of hundred mile radius of you. Yeah. So the Gobi was, it was a tough one going to be desert. I remember finishing the outside mountains and I I’d taken a beaten, you know, as an altitude. I was told by the locals, I’m going to be eaten alive by the wolves or eat hand gestures because we can actually communicate my lips have blistered up completely.

They were like bleeding, [00:23:00] sort of the scalps were sticking together. So I’d had to plan them open each morning and just like drinking my ration pack in the morning. And when I would put the pouch back down, there would be a flow of person blood into my Russian. So I was, you know, I was very windswept. I was very cold taking a beat and it was probably slightly dehydrated and I lost a lot of weight put on the trailer over the mountains.

And you know, I got to the Gobi desert for the first time. It doesn’t happen straight away. It’s co it’s quite gradual breaking from the mountains into the desert. It’s like a process of a week walk wise. And I remember being excited by the wounds because I’d faced, you know, the cold temperatures of the outside, but whilst it was warm, I just got a pasted from sand storm after sound storm for a solid week and a half or so.

And all of a sudden would just get in like chat lips, you know, and I was just in a, in a lot of pain, but then it did eventually subside, you know, the weather and it, you know, became calm, you know, little did I realize that that it’s [00:24:00] actually even more dangerous, I’d be facing, you know, a much bigger threat, not only to the expeditions, but to my life.

And sort of, you can imagine the scenes Mongolia is known as the London, maternal blue sky guy, so that the sky is just pure dark blue. For many weeks, there was just not a cloud in sight. The sun was just beating down on 16 hours a day, you know, 40 plus degrees Celsius. The terrain is a mix of soft sand and gravel.

So the gravel was always welcoming because the trailer, it was on wheels, thin wheels. And I was able to the trader over the gravel you know, not great difficulty, but when it came to the soft sand that the ties would sink in the soft sand and I’d have to lean 90 degrees forward and really use both my legs and my arms use it and walk and polls to support the trailer for.

But it’s rugged. You see nothing? I think I went over [00:25:00] eight days without seeing a single human, you know it was still, I came to a point where, yeah, it was so silent and, you know, I remember my logistics manager mentioned him to me before I set off for this year. ’cause I, I said to him, you know, can you imagine how silent it’s going to be in the Gobi?

There’s going to be no noise pollution, no nothing. And he said, well, when you, at that point, you’ll realize that there’s no such thing as silence. Last one, I laughed. And I said, what do you mean? They’ve got panic rooms. They’ve got like silent rooms and stuff. You know, I’m sure it was a torture back in the day.

And he was like, well, when he gets to that point, you’ll know what I mean, say, okay, he didn’t actually tell me, but I did get to that point. And I got to the point where there was no insects. There was no noise. There was no shifting sounds. Cause normally the sand dunes, you can, you know, Hey shit, the sun shifting no wind, no humans, no noise, pollution, nothing.

And I could hear this faint sort of deep humming noise. And I assumed that something coming from my trailer, maybe my water [00:26:00] container. So I left my trailer behind walking a few hundred meters away and I could still hear it. There was nothing on me and the holding my breath and everything took me about 15 minutes to figure it out.

And it clicked, you know, it was at that point, it was so silent that I could actually hear my own body functioning. And that’s what he meant by. There’s no such thing as silence because as long as you’re still functioning and you’re still alive, you will always hear your body ticking over, but you just never hear it because there’s always some sort of noise, whether it’s the, you know, the plumbing, electric wires, or, you know, the wind or insects or rustling somewhere.

I never heard it before that. I’ve never heard it since even my future expeditions, you know? So that sort of puts into context of sort of what the Gobi desert was like vast empty, quiet apart from the occasional sun storms. It was a very wild, very remote, hostile place to be. Wow. God, that just [00:27:00] sounds absolutely amazing.

Like actually hearing your own body function. Is that something you’d be like, ah, do I want to go back and feel it again? Or was it just like, that’s the weirdest experience? Never again, I can’t, I hope I do experience that again in the future, for sure. Whether it’s the Gobi desert or not. And I do remember I was trying not to panic for all of this.

You know, if we’re not seeing humans for so many days, bear in mind, I was still covering a lot of mileage 20 to 30 miles a day and still not see people in eight days. But I remember thinking, you know, don’t panic. This is very rare that you can travel this far in a country. And not see a human. So I remember thinking I may be seeing a little bit daunting or a little bit freaky to me right now, but you know, I might not ever experience this again.

So enjoy, whilst it lasts, did you have a set phone or anything to communicate to the outside world or in the Gobi desert? Were you a hundred percent lane unable to communicate? Yeah. So w with [00:28:00] the, I had like an inReach, so it’s a satellite phone. It’s a text only sort of tracking device if you like, because I needed to track the whole journey and it sends off a ping every five minutes, 24 7 for the 78 days.

So it marks my whole route. Like it checks your speed, it checks your altitude coordinates you name it. And yeah. And so it was text only. So I, because it was also low budget, I think I could only send up matchup three. Three texts no more than three texts per day. Which some days I wouldn’t need to send any text what that included to social media as well.

So there was no phone call. And my evacuation plan, the previous, this guy, I think he had a rush, he made a jokes. I asked him about evacuation. I was like, you know, what do I need to do? And he was like Maria Russia. Because by Mariana Russian or because his wife was Russian, I think he has certain access to the military [00:29:00] and was able to get evacuated.

Well was with myself. It would be text only to my under just ex manager based in the capital city. And if I’m in the middle of the Gobi desert, it would take them at least three to four days to get to me if it got to me on time and follow me. Okay. And if I was to stand on the back end of the snake, for example, three to four days is just too long ago.

So I was very much out there alone, completely solo and, and support. On my pickup, sort of my evacuation plan was, was potentially a four day evacuation plan which, you know, three days without water when you’re dead. And so that was my biggest concern. And that’s what scared me most being alone for that long.

I remember hearing a story of ad Stafford, who, you know, walk the Ammons and river for two and a half years. But he said the worst was actually when he was marooned on an island for 30 days without human contact or [00:30:00] human communication. He said that was far worse because when he was walking in, walk in the Amazon, he had someone there to talk, even if they could barely communicate.

And he was seeing people. What does that mean alone with no communication for so long sort of due to your mental state? I think it will all depend on. That individual, I would say like a lot of people will cope a lot better at being completely alone than others. Others will freak out spending, you know, two hours without their phone, for example, you know, and in the Gobi, I, I, you know, it was, it wasn’t how long was it alone for, for, it must have been eight, nine days.

And then over than that, I was in the desert for five weeks walking through the desert, but it wasn’t five weeks of not coming across anyone, you know, I would come across locals temporarily every now and then. So maybe that did something, just seeing, seeing people. [00:31:00] Otherwise I felt like I was, I remember counting the days and that the breaking it down and the map helps, you know, I’ve only got this many days until I reached the Mongolia step, for example, which would be sort of more lush green grass.

That’d be moved vegetation. There’ll be more wildlife, more locals, more water. And so I think I just kept that as my main goal. And as long as you stay focused and realize that this isn’t forever, it’s only four, five weeks or four weeks or three weeks or whatever you’re working towards. And that’s what I did.

I just kept breaking the goals down and saying at nighttime, tomorrow is another day. And then come on in time. I was like, right tomorrow at the end of today, I’m going to be closer to my main goal than I, than I am right now. And so I think it was just breaking down the goals, staying focused, not losing your head too much, not panicking and getting by day by [00:32:00] day.

Otherwise I, I think, yeah, if you think, if you’re in the Gobi desert within the first day or two, your lips or chart will be buttered by some visits you’re already dehydrated. And then you realize you’ve got five weeks of this. It’s going to get to you psychologically. It will break you down. And it did break me down in many ways, but I just stayed disciplined and, and stuck it out day by day.

And it was all those days that added up to the big five weeks of making it out of the car. So I would think I started because I was on for, you know, stay focused and realized it wasn’t, it wasn’t here forever, but I did almost lose my life. I almost came close to Dinah and to GOBHI, which was, which was terrifying as well.

Well so I came across an uncomf, so we marked on the map confirmed and unconfirmed water sources. And that was mainly in the fall of well, however, some of these Wells might [00:33:00] be locked. They might be dry, they might be stagnant. And I came across an uncom unconfirmed water source. And it, there was no, there was no.

And you would always plan whereby you’ve got enough water to last past the unconfirmed water source and to the confirmed water source, but you’re in the desert and you’re hot. You need fluids. And so I had gone through a lot of my water arrived at that unconfirmed water source realized I had a long way to get to the next confirmed water source, sort of rationing my last remaining dribbles of water.

I was a little bit like, oh shit. I was already in a bad way. I was already delirious. I was already hallucinating. You know, really dehydrated very quickly coming into heat exhaustion, which is usually fatal. And I, my worst, I remember thinking I [00:34:00] have four days and the four days stands out the most because four days I kind of missed the point of backup.

I didn’t believe I could survive five or six days. If my logistics manager came to me, say, if he gets to me, gets to me within four days and it’ll take him in a day or two to get me, you know, to shelter, to get me out of the heat of the Gobi desert. And I just couldn’t see myself some vibing that many days, you know, people, if they get heat exhaustion, they can die with it day.

I’m sure you watched was it the nail would love ward his photographer 24 hours. I think he was dead from heat exhaustion. You know, it can take you and there’s be many stories like that, where it happens fast. And so I was terrified with that prospect. And I remember being out in the Gobi, you know, hallucinating, incomplete, agony, almost feeling my organs, drawing up, hiding under my trailer.

Cause that was the only shots I could find for good an hour at a time. And sort of realizing that if I don’t keep getting up from the train and I’m pushing on, [00:35:00] I’m going to, I’m going to die if I keep resting for too long under the trailer as well. And if I rest under the trailer and rely on my logistics manager to get me in time, and if he does.

So all of the old stat to me getting up and walking out in order to survive. And I remember I couldn’t visualize four days before based who was agonizing. But what I did was, again, something that I use all the time as I broke my goals down, I focused on hundred meters that I could see in front of me.

And, and no more than five minutes under the trailer. And so after five minutes I get up, I shut the trailer to me, you know, dragged out through the soft sound. It felt like 500 kilograms covered a hundred meters, 200 meters. If I was lucky and then rest for another five minutes. And this went on for four days, rationing, I had this big 20 liter water container, and I kind of had about this much at the bottom, maybe an inch or two stuck at the bottom.

And I needed to make that last minute [00:36:00] the four days. And so I still had fluids, but nowhere near enough. And you know, when I eventually got to the community, yeah. Pretty much collapsed. It was a community, it was confirmed. There was water. They took me inside and it took me about eight days to recover.

That’s all right. Pick myself up and crack on, you know, not just physically, but mentally too, you know, the, the desert had scarred me. I was scared of the certain and how quick that can take you. I believe I got very lucky, you know, full extra days in that heat. I dunno how I survive it. It was maybe a little bit of lady luck was on my side.

I like to put it down to the trailer load preparation, but you know, maybe and yeah, I made it, but I booked up the courage again and was able to push on through finishing off the Gobi desert. And then the last remaining three weeks of the Mongolian step to [00:37:00] finish the journey. Wow. And God, that must how did it sort of feel at the end is, and, you know, I loved the last week of the Trek where it was the realization that one of the toughest is now behind me now is just, and then the G in the Mongolian step it’s cooler temperatures.

There’s a lot of storms and scary storms cause it was for cleaning. And I was pulling a metal trailer behind me, you know, but cooler, a lot of water, like just remember just thinking, yes, I passed that there was that section that I guess that the previous guy was evacuated on. And I was just happy that I was able to push on and maybe if I had good evacuation, maybe I would have pressed that button who knows maybe if I didn’t weigh up the alts and realize that my only option is to walk in order to survive.

Maybe I would have, you know, pressed the SOS in. And it got picked up if it was there within a day, you know, who [00:38:00] knows? And so I kind of think I almost needed that needed the lack of funds to have such crappy and such a bad evacuation plan in order to achieve that expedition, perhaps. And I was now I’m walking this last week.

She still had this big smile on my face and crossed that finish line. I was just a happy guy and I couldn’t believe it had been achieved, can believe I’d completed it. And that was my first major sort of Wolf first record. Yeah. That’s an interesting sort of point to sort of say is you, you had such bad constant contingency plans that the idea of something going wrong meant that you really were on your own.

Whereas I imagine if you had a little tracking beaker and they said, oh, we’ll be there in six hours. You could have very easily that temptation to be like, I’m really suffering here. This is terrible. But to know that you have four days, so [00:39:00] it’s almost a matter of life and death for this, you just had to keep, keep pushing forward.

Yeah. Yeah. I almost had that option taken away from me. And the enormous bill that would probably come your way. Yeah, you’re exactly right. I definitely couldn’t afford at that time,

get you a in pretty good stead for your sort of latest expedition that you’ve just done mission yet. I see. Yeah. Can you tell us a bit about that and how that will came to? Yeah, so, you know, after Mongolia, I was, I’m always planning ahead. You know, one step ahead, whilst I was on the Mongolian journey, I was planning gas.

And before I set out for Madagascar, that was my second world record. I was already looking at two expeditions on completion of Madagascar and what this would do. It would [00:40:00] motivate me to complete the expedition. Madagascar was a tougher journey again on Mongolia with just 155 days. I don’t think one of those days was a pleasant days walk.

It was just challenged after after challenge. And so planning the next expedition almost motivated me to get the job done in Madagascar. And I was planning to, I was looking at the Congo river and others looking at the Yangtze river. And I had to look at it at a smaller way to, you know, look what makes sense business wise, finance wise.

And for me, China made most sense. And so I, I, yeah, I took two years. This was very difficult planning and I needed to make many connections on the ground in China. I needed to be on buses for certain organizations I needed to have the government stamp and sign certain documents. I needed to have authority covering my back or at least on my side.

[00:41:00] In order to get food such sensitivities and they even needed to make me a temporary doctor for you. It got insane. It got ridiculous. I think along the journey I was carrying well over 13 stunted signed documents, legal documents from governments, officials, or Ortiz out that let alone the logistical nightmare of actually planning a journey, which most of the locals were saying, you can’t do this.

Or what, what, when you get to this section, how are you going to navigate that? Or the V-shaped valley is, you know, what are you going to do? The bears, the wolves, the bladder, you name it, you name it. And it took two years, but this was my third world record. It was my most ambitious. It was a 4,000 mile journey taken 352 days of pretty much a year to complete walking from the true and scientific source at the Yangtze river, out of a 5,000 meters altitude to better plateau.

So [00:42:00] then following it across east, south, Southeast, Northeast, and then fully east to Shanghai where the Yangtze river pours out into the east China sea. And so at the beginning, you know, it’s just a small trickle higher per altitude that you can step over. And by the end, as it pours into the east China sea, it’s almost 10 miles wide and you’ve got multiple cruise liners sailing along the MC it feeds almost half a billion people goes through major cities along the way.

We were filming for a national geographic documentary called walk in the Yangtze. We made it, or we try to make it one of the most interactive world firsts where we. We literally shared blogs, blogs, live updates, photos, and videos. And then we even opened it up for people to join. We had Chinese celebrities, organizations, brands, memes of public, and it was just a very special journey.

[00:43:00] I loved it. And of course there were environmental angles as there is with every expedition there was with Mongolia was with Madagascar with this Yangtze one, we pointed out with the WWF raising awareness for single plastics single use plastic, sorry, environmental protection, sustainability do a free tool to schools along the way, handing up filtration bottles.

And I’m working with the real unsung heroes, doing their utmost to protect and preserve the unique biodiversity of, of all, all these three countries really trying to Madagascar. But yeah, special journey, special journey for sure. God. So how did that all start? Because Tibet, so quite a sort of what’s the word contentious area, especially in the sort of Chinese region going down, did you have much trouble with that?

Yeah, constant, constant trouble with that. I was pulled in by the police, but five times [00:44:00] one has pulled me over into, to that, into the government offices and questioned questioned me. They were threatening to deport me. And I knew I anticipated all of this. I knew that this was a huge possibility you know, and, and would happen.

That is what the whole two year planning was all about. You know, it was to make sure it was all legit or legal, but also to make sure that I have such good backing that. Your authority is in Tibet would have no choice, but to drop me off exactly where they picked me up. If it wasn’t for the documents and preparation, they would have just got rid of me easy work for them.

And it’s so strict. They don’t care. You know, even if I offered a certain amount of money, you know, they’ve they worked broad pets. These are often they have declined Orlando blue, they’ve canceled all Katy Perry’s sort of concerts across China. Cause she was [00:45:00] wearing a dress that is that is I think the logo on the dress represented a certain sign that was against their religion.

So boom just asked how they don’t care how big you are, how much money you have. They buy the books and. And I had a solid team. Well, many teams are in China and they were shortening, you know, telling me this. And we worked hard and, and, you know, when they took me across the today and were threatening to deport me, it was just a call to the government.

They would speak with the, with the guys and chin high province, and they had no choice, but to, so that they were like, God darn it. But it was great, great preparation, unlike some of the rest, which were very reckless, logistically, very dangerous. This one, I feel I had got down to T you know, I was even able to take out satellite communications, which is heavily illegal.

But again, with the right permission, I wish I was able to as able to take that. And that’s why we were [00:46:00] able to make it so interactive online. Otherwise there’s no way I could have been posted, especially in what Instagram and is banned in China. So that sensitivities, for sure, got to a point where we even are to avoid the locals.

It went from mission yang, C to mission, escape, and evade. We realized we were in such a sensitive area that we needed to escape and we needed to walk fast and get out of that. Because we were in Shanghai, but the problem was, you know, the Chinese, the map says it’s chin high. That’s a button that says I’m into that.

And so it was very sensitive and we had to evade the locals because we learned that the locals in their little white felt tense their goodness, as amazing as they weren’t super hospitable. And I loved my time with them. You came to learn that we have to do our utmost to avoid them. Cause they would sort of radial to the next girl to the next girl, until eventually there was signal that they could call the police and the police would be on their way.

It take them seven hours or so to get to us. And they wouldn’t rock upon our 10 and 2, 3, [00:47:00] 4 o’clock in the morning. You just see it sort of headlights on your tent and you are in the wild and you’re like, shit, here we go again. An absolute nightmare. I had the gun threatening to leave because of the police.

Yeah, we had a lot of issues and it was only LD really stopped when we then got into situations. You’ve got chin high province for the first sort of three to five weeks, and then you’ve got situation and the Yangtze river is a clear border that goes directly south of China. And it separates situation from Tibet.

So as long as you remain on the east side of the river, you you’re absolutely not in Tibet and we could stop worrying. We still have many police encounters, but we could stop worrying about being deported. Oh, my word, that just sounds unbelievable. And that’s minus the bears, the wolves, the minus 20 degrees Celsius, the stove, lizards.

It always [00:48:00] a lot. I was a lot, I think even before we got to the source of the Yangtze river, it took us two attempts to get there. And I was already four members down. My guide got altitude sickness. And three of my film crew, one of them was just shit scared of the bears and just abundant the trip completely.

One of them got altitude sickness and the other one was just hit by the harsh reality of this. Isn’t fun. This is, this is hard work and he just left. And so already, you know, we didn’t even get to day one. We’re talking 352 days before we reached day. Number one, I’m already 14 members down and having to take my guide off the mountains because he’s got altitude sickness regroup in a nearby city.

I say nearby it’s like a whole day or so away. But regroup with a new team and try again, to finally get to the source at the end and see river. Well, how high is the source of the Yangtze river [00:49:00] sources? Just over 5,100 meters. Similar, yeah, Altitude’s aerospace company. Oh, wow. you had enough trouble just before they even started your expedition.

Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. I think, you know, even four months in, I had lost 10 of the 16 different people that joined me at different science. 10 had to be evacuated or just straight up abandoned the wolves that, you know, fear of wildlife landslides, or the UK photographer who flew out to join me for three weeks.

And he had to leave after six hours and day number one, cause it was a landslide that just, you know, he wasn’t comfortable navigating over. Which was fair enough, you know, he’s a photographer, that’s not his expertise, but that taught me a lot of lessons as well. Like, you know, I kept opening it up. Not yet come and join me.

It will be a wild adventure, but you know, a lot of people’s mindset and the training, they specialize in different things. And sometimes I forget that I’ve been doing this for [00:50:00] a decade now. Yeah. I kind of think, oh yeah, anyone can do it. You know, come and join. It would be great. And I almost forget what I’ve learned or it’s been so gradual that I’ve not really felt like I’ve learned anything, even though I have.

And so when you’re faced by, you know, still buy a pack of wolves when you got a pack of wolves on your tail, or when you’ve got like a landslide and yet one wrong foot foothold in you, you’ve gone you know, kind of, for me in that adversity, I deal with it a lot better. And I’m just like, that’s fine. I just, I just want for, you know, I feel capable and confident with my abilities, but then when there’s someone out there who doesn’t really do this stuff and that face with her, with a landslide and they don’t know if they can navigate over it, cause they haven’t done this before he, you know, he made the right choice and I gave him your options because you can’t, it’s not a game.

It’s not like football or whatever. You can’t motivate your team. So, you know, come on, we can do this because one wrong slip, [00:51:00] their dad that, that falls down. For trying to motivate them to do something that they clearly couldn’t do. So I gave them the two options. We can either navigate it this way or that way.

I said, you know, forget ego, forget pride. It doesn’t belong out here. You know, I need you to be honest and tell me if you can, or can’t manage that and make the right decision. And he looked in and yeah, he was honest and like Yana, I don’t think I can’t. So we, you know, sent him home the other family back at home, but the risks were worth it for, yeah.

I think a lot of people sort of, they sort of have, what’s the word glamorous idea sometimes of what these expeditions can be like, and they sort of imagine it sort of. Quite heavily with rose tinted glasses, let’s say. And suddenly the realities of most of it’s just trudging for 16, 18 hours a day, again and again, seeing some amazing [00:52:00] things, but it is just hard graph again, day after day, day after day.

Yeah. Toenails fallen off blisters, rubs from the rucksack. You know that you’re not eating that day. You’ve got to come soon as you’re not eating that day, you’ve got water. You don’t know where you’re sleeping. You know, you want to try to find some fencing because they’re all bears activity on the hump because it’s tall pore season.

It’s minus 20. So you’re going to have to try to set up on this month or your tent with the guide, take an intern. You’ve got to like literally woman at a time. I’ll go do work on the tent and then I’ll have to escape. Literally start warming my hands up. What’s my guides then working on it and then wait.

And here’s Tibet and his heart. And he lasts one minute before he is, then he ended up his hands and then giving it a crack. And now you’ve got all of this and the niggles and the worries and the doubts and the unexpected things that happen along the way, or people letting you down straight up saying, I’m going, wow.

Okay. So I’m back solo again. So sometimes, you know, I think 70% of that I was alone. [00:53:00] And I think a lot of people joined me, you know, and kind of was see my Instagram and being like, wow, that’s a cool video, beautiful shots. And, you know, I think they were just stung by the harsh reality of, of actually this isn’t as pleasant as it looks on, on the ground of a candy.

Like I’m off. Good luck. I think that’s always the case. It’s a chaise DNA, the beautiful pictures of beautiful mountains, but very rarely shaves the sort of effort that’s gone into getting up to that point. Yeah. And I’m bad at that as well. You know, I remember being. Effectively told off by my speaking agent, Jordan Madagascar, because I’m talking about malaria that I had right before I was held up at gunpoint by the military.

And as I’m talking about what a base and the shit that’s gone wrong, I’m doing it like with a smile on my face. And so it’s about like that. And he’s like, no one gets it. You’re smiling. And you’re laughing. Like people think it’s a doddle. Like [00:54:00] it’s a walk in the park, you know, can you not like fake cry?

No. Cause that’s the positive mindset that you need to, to complete these expeditions in the first place you’ve got to smile. Otherwise you will cry, you know, you gotta laugh. And so to try to portray how difficult the young he was, I guess, I guess there’s lots of people out there who will be able to do it very well.

And I think there’s a lot of people out there who will also exaggerate and I don’t want to do, I don’t want to dramatize, I don’t want to exaggerate And you know, I want to I’m more of a positive guy. I want to show the positives. So if I, if there’s a beautiful sunset, I prefer to show a photo of a beautiful sunset, rather than all of my toenails hanging off my toes.

Even though that photo of my toenails hanging off my toes would show the real light of what the expedition is about, you know, but I don’t know. Maybe I’ll just start sharing some dark times with the [00:55:00] expeditions in the future. Did you come into sort of contact with the bears and wolves? Because I imagine people listening might sort of think, oh my God you know, you feel stalked by bears or wolves.

I mean, how was that? I mean, it sounds horrific because if, if some, most of it quite a lot of your crew Bailey left right. And center, it sounds like probably what you’ve just said. It sounded like, oh yeah, they were just that. I actually, it probably was quite Harry. Oh, yeah, it was it was never you know, before my two film crew, when this is about three days before we made it to the source of the Yangtze, we were camping in this remote location.

And we saw a local and the local came right over to a campsite and he said, I saw a bear right where you’re camping this morning. So as little stuff like that, I think the locals played a part. [00:56:00] In really terrifying and you could see the footprints, you could tell that this had been there that morning.

And we were about to camp there that night. You know, it was pretty freaky, but kind of, I knew in our big numbers, you know, we had a horse with us. There was no three of us we’ll be okay. But, but still, you know, it was cold. It was apart minus 10 degree, that degree Celsius that night pretty chilly. They woke up the next morning and that was a, you know, they were like, we’re not ready for this.

It’s too cold. You know, we’ve not even been tracking yet. And we’re already being warned about the bears and, and they went. I kind of, I kind of started the journey with a healthy mindset of the bears are going to leave me alone. If I leave them at them, no, they don’t want anything to do with me. But the locals Katz Helen goes and show because otherwise, and I, I do always believe there is no better knowledge than local knowledge.

And I do listen to them. They live there, they face these [00:57:00] struggles on a daily basis. And I would try to ignore, but they said, you know, and I didn’t have any weaponry. I had an air horn and a whistle. And you know, you’re supposed to blow the whistle so that the bears know that you come in so they can make themselves scarce.

Cause I don’t, they never really want to attack you for food. What will happen is you. Walk up on them by accident. They weren’t aware that you were coming. You didn’t, you know, you get to a top of the hill and there’s a bear. It freaks out it’s going to attack you because it’s panicking. Self-defense almost however there’s a particular season or season, which is effectively like hibernation.

And that’s the season. You don’t want to be up at the mountains up, but due to the two and a half month delay that I had, I was up in the mountains during the tour policies. And so the locals are like, this is, this is stupid. What you’re doing, you’re here at the wrong time. And Jose, I know, I know that, but you know, this is the only time before the window closes in and it drops to minus [00:58:00] 40 degrees Celsius.

So I’m trying to get off the mountains as fast as I could. And they will show me photos of bear attacks. People that have been more by bears, they will show me videos of bears coming into communities and killing families, chasing people up trucks. I posted one on my Instagram as well, actually. And so once you see this, and one of the locals that we were with said that he had to lock himself in his, and this wasn’t a good, this was an actual concrete hot, and he had a steel door and this Tibet and brown bay walked straight past this to better must’ve was scratching his steel door for an hour.

And I’m like, I’m in at 10. So what it is, they’re coming off the mountains because it’s too cold for them. And they’re looking for those extra calories before they go into hibernation. So that’s the season you want to avoid because they’re going to be on the search for food. And so all of this was happening.

We were seeing barefoot prints and, you know, we were gifted nice by the locals saying that there’s been an attack in the village, you know, [00:59:00] two days hike from, from here. And, you know, each night that I’m in my tent, I’m working it, you know, making sure that I’ve got no food, neighboring 10, making sure I’m eating away from my tenant.

I’m that plays a huge part. You’re not doing anything to the bear. You’re not doing anything. And that’s all I kept thinking of if that walks upon like 10. What am I going to do to a big hungry brown bear? And then you’ve got the wolves as well. And the wolves didn’t phase me as much. They’re not like the Mongolian gray walls, you know, the ball’s in Mongolia that big these are on that well sized, but they do Roman PACS.

And it’s funny because we actually filmed this and we’ve got it. It’s an ad on the Nat geo documentary, but we could, we film these Tibetan guys trying to warn us of something, trying to tell us, but we didn’t really know what they were saying. Anyway, we just kind of said, yeah, thank you. Buh-bye. And we carried on walking for the next two days.

We were followed by a pack of wolves and they were only have a really on one [01:00:00] side of the mountain following us for two days. They usually come a lot more distance than us, and they were certainly scouting us out, looking for any injuries, looking at limping and looking for a right time to approach as closely.

And anyway, they disappeared after two days, no biggie. We cracked on. And you know, that footage that we filmed at the local was sent back to my Beijing team, my production team. And one of the girls going through the footage speaks to that. And then she called us up, well, she called me up and said, you know, you have no idea what to say.

And I was like, no, clearly not. She was like, well, he said down that valley, there only yesterday, a local lady was killed by a pack of wolves avoid going down there and we were there. Oh, okay. Thank you. Bye-bye we carried on walking down that valley. And that’s what he was trying to warn us. So whether it was the same pack that killed that lady or not, I’m not sure.

But I would have thought so, and that’s quite eerie and I’m kind of glad, I didn’t know. And so the walls weren’t [01:01:00] as big of an issue. Cause I think there were definitely ways that we could scare them off, but say that there was a local that had recently been eaten. Then, you know, you just know.

That’s just sounds absolutely horrific. I’d say that, that trip to just, just under, just over a year, just under yeah, 352 days in total. It wasn’t 352 days of solid walking. You know, that were times in communities where I really want it to soak up their way, their way of life. I didn’t want to make it just about walking every day.

And you know, it wasn’t a speed record. It was a world first. I wanted to gain as much local knowledge and I want it to film and, and capture them. Cause I wanted the documentary to be not about one man in his mission. I wanted it to be about the protection of the environment, the locals, their way of life, their views, their opinions, their sort of local [01:02:00] delicacies.

And I think we done a great job of portraying that even the older generation and their sort of old traditions dine out on what they think of the younger generation and modern day technology and whatnot and vice versa. So I would stop off at cities along the way too, and tried to do as much as I could and meet as many people as I can.

And so, yeah, and we would do presentations and I was working with the WWF and it was a great journey. And it was like split up into two, the first six months I closed off, I say, I stopped people, people from joining, it was just too dangerous. So it was very wild. It was very survival based, but it was wonderful.

Lots of locals sort of live in their weird light, high up in the mountains. And then the second, six months almost felt like a different expedition. It was now hotter. There was more vegetation, there were major cities. I was coming across. We were able to open it up. So it was really interactive. Which was, which was great.

Part of that journey sort of out of that sort of year. What was the [01:03:00] one thing walking across walk, basically walking across China. Did you learn, do you fell? What was the one thing you sort of took away from it? How big, vast and diverse the country is? It felt like I walked through multiple different country.

You know, we’re talking up on the Tibetan plateau. It was minus 20, it was high mountain peaks, snowy conditions, bears, and wolves. But then down south of China, still on the Yangtze river, it’s really tropical. It’s like you in Thailand, you’ve got, you’ve traded your bears and wolves for your snakes and spiders.

You’ve got your plant plantations, your vegetation, you’ve got your spicy food now, not your high carb, horrific sort of Noma diet. And then, you know, you keep walking again and you’ve got more urban life, city life, and it’s just always forever treat change. Even the dialect saying, you know, as learning a little bit of Mandarin, but it was almost no, [01:04:00] no help at all because the dialects kept changing almost every week.

There’d be a new dialect which was insane. And so I would say, yeah, it was just how incredible the locals are, how misunderstood China. How wild it is when you think of China, you think of the big cities, but for a good six months, I was in the wilderness is a very wild, wild place. And you know, they’re doing a lot, the news doesn’t talk about it, but they’re doing a lot of the biggest polluter, of course, you know, but they, they’re doing a lot to combat that.

They done a plastic bag ban. They ban fishing from the Yangtze river deaths, throwing up solar panels and wind farms at a huge rate. They sent like 19,000 soldiers out to plant trees, you know, rapidly sort of fighting climate change as well. So I learned a lot along [01:05:00] the way and yeah, I love it.

I love it as a place I could, you know, I hope to be more, more adventurous because although I’ve done 4,000 miles, there’s so much, it’s a big country. Wow. It just sounds absolutely incredible. And as you say, you went through such incredible diverse landscapes and culture along the way, and it just sounds like, as you say, quite quite the adventure.

Yeah, yeah, man. It was wild. It was so good. So good. I loved it. And I suppose I imagine people are listening, but you you’ve put yourself in quite a lot of difficult situations and you, you sort of have the perseverance to sort of push through to the end where a lot of people sort of give up. What do you think it is in the back of your head that always keeps you going?

I think there’s multiple things that keep me going. I think it’s, you know, one of them is that I [01:06:00] visualized the whole sort of group you know, I’m a big believer in visualization. But when I talk about visualizing, what a lot of people do is they’ll visualize the positives. Now visualize the end, which is great.

You know, it’s still, it’s still important. But what I try to do is visualize the bad shit that’s going to happen, you know, visualize all the worst case scenarios and so that when they do occur, it doesn’t come by surprise or by shock. So it doesn’t lead me into panic. It leads me to believe that I expected it.

So just, just tackle it. And so I may be able to tackle challenges a little bit better with the fact that I pre-visualize them, if you like. I think it’s that. I think another one is sort of, I shout about it. I tell the world what I’m going to do. And the last thing that I want to do is fail at it, come back home and have people in the line of tapped me on the shoulder.

You’re trying to do. And they don’t don’t want that. And the third is I believe each and every challenge [01:07:00] does you learn from that you learn so much about yourself. And whether that’s, you know, a team expedition in Madagascar, where I had a guide and I’m learning more about myself, you know, working as a team and how to be better leader or whether that’s completely solo and how to sort of manage my mood and how to manage decision-making and how to motivate myself.

I learned so much on these trips that even the hardships where I’m, when I asked myself, what on earth am I doing? I know that if I continue, I’m going to learn so much about how I continued, why I continued on the rewards would be much greater rather than asking myself, what am I doing? That’s just stop.

And then quitting. And then coming home thinking I would still be out there, you know, an extra 200 miles further than where I was. And so I think it’s multiple different things. And I know that people that have gone through fighting through much worse. And so [01:08:00] that’s always inspiring to know that, you know, much, much great things have been achieved, much, many more people doing far more difficult things.

And so that plays a part on the mindset too. Yeah, I think, I think that’s very true. Very true. Ashley. It’s been absolutely incredible hearing your stories. And I, there’s a part of the show where we asked the same five questions to each guest each week. So the first is what’s the one gadget that you always take with you.

It’s the water to go filtration bottle. So it’s this bowl. So effectively on the mission Yangtze by carrying this one bottle, that’s got a built-in filter. It gets rid of like 99.9% of all contaminants and bacteria. By using that one bowl that stopped me from using almost 1,500 half liter single use plastic bottles.

So it’s good for the environment. And it also stops you from using the chlorine tablets, [01:09:00] but also you don’t need to boil the water as well. And so you can literally just scoop up any water. I think I have drunken for, I have jumped through like a puddle on a dirt track. That vehicles go down. So a mud puddle scooped it up, you know, a scoop of the little rocks and mud as well.

And I was able to filter out the water that I needed during that time. And so that’s one thing that I’m always taken with me. Wow. Yeah. It’s very useful. That little thing. What about your favorite adventure or travel book? I’m not a big reader, you know, I’m not a big reader. I don’t, I wouldn’t say I have one, but I would say my favorite book or two of them is sapiens and the secret law of attraction.

I have heard that book, he’s at, by, I forgot who it was by. [01:10:00] It is years ago that I read it and I just loved it. And I’m like, yes, that’s the one. So homo sapiens and yeah, the secret. Okay. The secret law of attraction or the secret. The secret is the main title. And then the subtitle is, is the law of it.

Okay. Ah, I’ll check that one out. Why, why are adventures important to you? I think for me, it’s, you’re kind of feeding your curiosity and curiosity covers absolutely everything. Every human is curious to some extent. And for me getting out, exploring the world, you know, in this one life that we have meeting different people, I learned from so many people along the way.

So I can’t say, I said, I didn’t have no military background in order to learn how to survive. And I’m no expert by all means in survival, but I have survived on my journeys and that’s probably really thanks to the people and [01:11:00] the locals that I’ve met that shared their knowledge with me. And so I’ve learned a lot about the world, a lot about people that I meet along the way, a lot about my, a lot about myself, that I.

Bring back, you know, to civilization, to the corporate world, you know, the whole breaking goals down the whole, we can’t always be motivated, but we can be disciplined. And the whole realization that we are so much more capable than we give ourselves credit for. So for me, adventure is everything and I really do get everything for, from adventure.

Yeah. It’s very true. It’s just, it just brings so much more to life. Yeah. What about your favorite quote or motivational quote? I would say it’s is the biggest danger in life is not doing what you want to do now in the bet that you can buy yourself the freedom to do it later. I think that one is a lot of people do it.

A lot of people sort of, I can do that later or work [01:12:00] hard now save up the finance. And when I’m retired and I travel the world, you know, you’re never guaranteed tomorrow. And even if you. Your whole mindset has changed. Like if I was to leave traveling for the first time now at age 30, instead of when I was age 19, there’s certain things that I just wouldn’t be asked about now, you know crossing borders illegally.

Wouldn’t, you know, I wouldn’t be doing that now. It’d be too reckless go and venturing into a jungle with a madman, with a machete and a bandana around his head. I would be thinking, well, that sounds suicidal. But when I was 19, I did it. And that, you know, I was able to get so much from that. And so, you know, when you’re, if you retire, let’s say age 50, 55, you’re not going to be honest about doing the world’s highest bungee jump.

You know, your whole mindset will change. That’s why I do say, yeah, I, I love that saying the biggest danger in life is not doing what you want to do now in the bet that you can buy yourself the freedom to do it later. Yeah. I think that was a really interesting Ted talk. And the guy speaking was talking about [01:13:00] how.

It was basically along the lines of that quite. And he sort of said, you know, when we were younger, I dad wanted to retire at 55 and used to get up before we got up and be home late. And we’d always be like, yeah, . And then he had a heart attack when he was like two years away from retiring. And as you say, I think that quite sort of rings so true to so many people.

Hmm. Yeah. People listening are always keen to travel and go on these sort of grand adventures for themselves. What’s the one thing you would recommend for people wanting to get started? I would say I would say don’t over plan and don’t overcomplicate. I think the biggest sort of failing to people, planning and organizing travel is they bombard themselves with too much info with too many things that they think they need.

When the most important thing is just taking the first step. Like [01:14:00] now with my expeditions, there’s an awful lot of planning because it is a matter of life and death. But when I look towards school towards my earlier trips, you know, for example, me and Matt soaking on the when we made the decision to cycle Vietnam, when the cycle and the next day we had no kit, then within a day, we went to having the kit and cycling, no map, no puncture pack, as I mentioned nothing.

And I think that’s the way to do it because that changed everything. If then we really start to plan it, like, okay, where can we buy a pump? Where can we get this? Or, you know, let’s go to some sort of library and purchase a map. And yeah, it would a delayed time. And by delaying it, our mindset would have changed and we would have come up with thought of a different idea, or we would have just been like, oh, this is too much to deal with for you.

It’d be fun, but now it’s not fun, so let’s not do it. And so I, my biggest recommended recommendation is just, just do it. Don’t hold back. Don’t over-plan just get it done. Amazing. Finally, what are you doing now? And how can people follow you? In the future. [01:15:00] Yeah. So I am still planning. I still see this as just the beginning.

Mission Yangtze was the warmup. But we all were working on more projects working with TV, the teams sort of expanding. So it’s very exciting times right now. I’m still training and yeah, if you want to find out more, we’re interested in, in following them on the Instagram, which is just Ash dikes as the website, Twitter, YouTube.

And yeah. Hope to announce what’s next too. So we have to wait three.

Well, actually it’s been an absolutely pleasure listening to your stories and questions. They were John. Appreciate that. Yeah, no worries. And I cannot thank you enough for coming on today. Really, really, really, really interesting. And we’ll take it easy. Appreciate that, mate. All the best. Well, that is it for today.

Thank you so much for listening and I hope you got something out of it. If you did hit that like button [01:16:00] and subscribe, if you haven’t already, and I will see you in the next video.

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