66. Biker and Producer Antonia Bollingbroke-Kent; Tuk Tuk from Bangkok to Brighton, Motor-Biking Frozen Siberian Rivers and Silk Road Adventures with Joanna Lumley - The Big Travel Podcast

Episode 66
May 21 , 2019

66. Biker and Producer Antonia Bollingbroke-Kent; Tuk Tuk from Bangkok to Brighton, Motor-Biking Frozen Siberian Rivers and Silk Road Adventures with Joanna Lumley

Antonia Bollingbroke-Kent balances a life of – big adventures with producing wonderful TV shows such as Joanna Lumley’s Silk Road Adventures. She once drove a bright pink Tuk Tuk from Bangkok to Brighton, did battle with 1000 semi-wild Mongolian horses in the footsteps of Ghengis Khan and nearly froze to death attempting to drive a motorbike and sidecar to the Russian Arctic. Often guided by her Granny’s mantra of ‘Do nothing, say nothing, until the police arrive’ Silk Road Adventures Antonia regales some brilliant travel tales over a cup of tea in her Bristol Kitchen.


On this episode we cover:


‘Tuk Tuk to the Road’ – Antonia’s epic overland journey from Bangkok to Brighton

Her friend Jo’s mental health problems leading to the trip

Wanting to raise awareness and money for mental health

Giving up her job as a producer at ITV to go on the journey

The intense planning that went into the trip

Starting the journey in hospital in Bangkok

Crossing China being very scary (and taking a very long time)

Having to drive on dirt tracks and dangerous mountain roads

The late night storm they didn’t know whether they’d survive

Driving from Thailand across the border to Laos

A month in China and into Kazakhstan

12 countries, 12,561 miles

Crying all night the day before they got home

The surprise greeting from the guards at the remote border between China and Kazakhstan

Cheap hotels, camping and staying with families

Trying to hide the bright pink Tuk Tuk in the middle of the Kazak steppe

The shocked reaction to them in the middle of nowhere

Being driven off the road by curious locals

Driving across the Gobi Desert

Being trapped by an earthquake and turning it into one big party

Doing karaoke with lorry drivers

Sleeping under the Tuk Tuk for two days

Ted Simon, Jupiter’s Travels ‘the interruptions are the journey’

Breaking down in Crimea and having to stay there for a week

Hanging out with the descendants of Genghis Khan

The marked transition in character and culture when crossing Europe on the Ukraine-Poland border

McDonald’s, Tesco disappointment

Poland, Czech Republic, Germany, Belgium

The brilliant journey on Eurostar with a Tuk Tuk

Driving around the M25 in the freezing cold in the Tuk Tuk

Her Granny’s saying ‘Do nothing, say nothing, until the police arrive’.

Her adventurous childhood in Norfolk

Travelling Thailand aged 18 and coming back with bright green hair

How once you’ve tasted big overland travel journeys it changes you

How if you don’t have the time to take months off you can take smaller adventures

Setting up extreme adventures with The Adventurists

The Mongol Rally horserace following in Genghis Khan’s footsteps

Finding and training 1000 semi-wild horses in Mongolia

Her midwinter Siberian motorbike adventure in minus 36 degrees

Tom Morgan and Buddy Munro Channel 4

Trying to get a Ural motorbike and sidecar up the frozen river Ob

Wearing tweed and thinking they were going to die

Being given a huge frozen fish to take on the motorbike

How regular breakdowns of the Ural bike actually kept them alive

The Khanty–Mansia living in wooden houses by the river

No running water or sanitation but plenty of vodka

Returning to TV work to fund her adventures

Producing World’s Most Dangerous Roads for the BBC

Travelling with Joanna Lumley Silk Road Adventure series

Filming a series with Tom Hardy on elephant and rhino Poaching Wars

‘No comment’ on what Tom Hardy was like!

Her book ‘A Short Ride in the Jungle’ on her solo journey down the Ho Chi Minh Trail on motorbike

The military supply route used during the Vietnam War

How a single footpath became a 12,000 mile network through the jungle

The trail still being heavily contaminated with unexploded devices

A dangerous and remote experience

Having ‘a few near misses with cluster bombs’

The Americans bombing Laos every 8 minutes for a decade

The millions of millions of UXO dropped

The remote tribal areas where ‘the war is still everywhere’

Two American former pilots she went off track with

Finding an unexploded live bomb at her feet

400 people still being killed in Laos a year

Meeting people who had lost sons, husbands, wives when ploughing the land

Driving the Pink Panther – a 25 year old motorbike

Every day being so exciting and scary and unknown and making her feel alive

How a very curious person has led to her exploration

The human urge to see what’s around the next corner and over the mountain

Trying to have adventures in every day life and look at the world with fresh eyes

Alastair Humphrey’s on The Big Travel Podcast and #microadventures

Silk Road Adventures – the company she runs with her boyfriend Marley

Building a portable sauna and tugging it around techno festivals in Europe

Starting by doing motorbike trips in Tajikistan

A passion for travelling in places where there aren’t many travellers

Specialising in Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Kirgizstan, Northern Afghanistan, Pakistan, Jordan, Palestine, Iran and the Caucuses

Her book about travelling through Arunachal Pradesh in North East India- the Land of the Dawn Lit Mountains in the Himalayas

A three month solo journey across remote lands with restricted access

The invisible fold no one goes to

The most ethnically diverse place in South Asia, 30 different tribes

The local animists who worship hundreds of different gods

Constantly trying to appease this pantheon of spirits

Meeting the first local girl to climb Everest

Being trapped for 3 days in a festival of animal sacrifice and shamanic chanting in a tiny village on the Tibetan border

Massive opium bongs, and tripping over the guts of oxen and pigs to the background of Shamanic chanting

Eating leaves instead of animal guts

Just like Glastonbury

Not wanting to spend five days vomiting under the Shaman’s hut

Being 18 and trying opium in Thailand

How people get the wrong idea about The Royal Geographical Society

Their amazing map rooms and libraries

Winning a grant to do an expedition to remote North East India and Burma travelling through the lands inhabited by tribal head hunters

The Naga tribe who fought for the British

Ursula Graham Bower – still the only female commander in the history of the British army

How head hunting happened until comparatively recently

Lisa’s head-shrinkers in the family (!)

Lisa’s granddad and the hallucinogenic drugs

How places ‘at the edge of the map’ telling stories that haven’t been told before

Wanting to explore Northern Pakistan and Lebanon

The Baalbek ruins in Lebanon

Staying in the Palmyra Hotel in the footsteps of Nureyev

The song that makes her get off her motorbike and dance