Travel Tales: Tim Charody
Occupation: Traveller, Film-Maker, Presenter, Adventurer
Favourite travel destination? Papua New Guinea because it is a seriously wild place with more cultural diversity than anywhere else on the planet. There are over 800 separate languages spoken in a country of 6.25 million. While travelling around PNG, we would regularly travel around a bend in a river or from one mountain to the next and find an entirely separate cultural group living there with their own language, culture, traditions and beliefs. Most of the population still live in grass shacks and rely entirely on the land for their survival – it’s a culture fanatic’s paradise!
Worst travel experience? What happened? I don’t know if this is my worst experience, but probably one of the weirdest and funniest ones. While I was travelling through Laos in South East Asia, we had crashed out for a few days in a small bamboo hut on the Mekong River. My bed consisted of a plank of wood and a surprisingly comfortable pillow which helped me get at least a few hours sleep each night. One night however, after going to sleep on my hard bed and fluffy pillow I woke up early the next morning with a sore neck and my pillow missing. Assuming it fell off my bed in the night, I felt around and discovered the pillow case still under my head and the stuffing from the inside of the pillow strewn all over my small hut. After a quick inspection of this strange scene, I noticed a hole ripped into the side of my pillow case and a trail of stuffing that lead out of the hole and down onto the floor of my hut. I got up and followed the trail to a large pile of the pillow stuffing in the corner of the room and gave it a little nudge with my foot. The pile started to rustle and I jumped back as a cat-sized rat emerged and started running around my room at full pace. Still in my underwear I jumped out the front door and ran down to the river to find the old lady who owned the hut doubled over and cackling uncontrollably through her beetle-nut stained teeth. After she pulled herself together, the old lady shot me a huge grin, as if to say ‘no worries, this happens all the time’, and marched of into my room, reed broom in hand. After ten minutes of thudding and crashing around my hut, she emerged victorious with the huge, bloodied body of the rat dangling from one hand and in a single movement, chucked it over my head and into the river behind me. I don’t know if I was more shocked at the sight of the smashed up rat and blood-soaked broom or the thought that I had just used a live rat as a pillow all night.
Best tips for beating jetlag? Party all night.
What is the one thing you don’t leave home without? My camera
Do you stay in touch with people while you’re travelling? I tend to go by the minimal contact method. A message or an occasional phone call to let my mum and dad know I’m alive tends to cut it. Although some of the places we go, there is no internet, phone lines or post office, so unless you travel with a small flock of homing pigeons there is no way of contacting anyone anyway.
Best meal you’ve ever had while travelling? In the Trobriand Islands, after a day of spear-fishing on the reef with the local islanders, we returned with a huge array of reef fish and lobster. I also found out that the local people don’t really dig the taste of mud crabs (which literally swarm in the mangroves of the island) so we managed to pay about $4 to some local kids to catch us another ten juicy mud crabs for dessert. All washed down with a few fresh coconuts and we were in heaven.
Best kiss? You really can’t beat a big, sloppy, hairy pash from a 220Kg sea-lion.
Best/scariest/funniest drive? Driving from Deniliquin to Hay in a $160,000 van (which wasn’t ours) we hit a kangaroo at what felt like a million kilometres an hour. The van was an instant write-off and we were stuck in the dessert with no phone reception. After an hour, I managed to hitch a ride on a road-train back into town, but found myself back inside our ruined van in the desert two hours later having completely wasted my time looking for help. The following two days seemed like a script out of a low-budget comedy as we leap-frogged to the smallest town on the map, spending the night in the van hitched to the back of another truck in a wreckers’ yard and then hitching another ride in a truck for 12 hours back to Sydney. What we do for television!
What has been the big WOW moment of your travelling life? Though it might not compare to scaling a massive mountain or surfing pipeline, probably the biggest ‘wow’ moment of my travelling life came to me when I was backpacking around Laos at 18 years of age. On a mission to lose the drunken, sunburnt crowds of European travellers surging in and out of bars in Thailand, we found ourselves on the Mekong River in the south of Laos. Having swum out to the middle of the river, I remember diving deep underwater and holding on to a submerged rock. It was there, with the Mekong river surging around me, that I felt complete freedom for the first time. I hadn’t contacted home in weeks, no one even knew I was in Laos and I was there underwater with my only possessions sitting on the riverbank – it felt seriously amazing.
What has taken your breath away? Circling Uluru in a helicopter with no doors and nothing but a small belt around my waist to hold me in.
For further information about Tim Charody, please visit www.elsewhereproductions.com
Stay tuned for the other Tim – Tim Doyle’s – Travel Tales next week …