86. Foreign Correspondent Humphrey Hawksley; Expelled from Sri Lanka, Death Threats in the Philippines and Cold War Espionage Thrillers - The Big Travel Podcast

Episode 86
January 29 , 2020

86. Foreign Correspondent Humphrey Hawksley; Expelled from Sri Lanka, Death Threats in the Philippines and Cold War Espionage Thrillers

Humphrey Hawksley’s work as a BBC foreign correspondent has taken him to crises on every continent. He been expelled from Sri Lanka, had death threats from several extreme regimes and traced Graham Greene’s footsteps in Sierra Leone . His passion for borders has influenced his writing with the Cold War and espionage prominent themes in his popular thrillers. On this episode we talk war zones, politics, the EU, Trump, guns, Russia, Iraq, Afghanistan and the pain of accidently tipping a well-known country music star on the streets of Nashville.


On this episode we cover:


Victorian Grandeur at The National Liberal Club, founded by William Gladstone

The UKIP leader with his mistress who darkened the Liberal Club’s door

Paddy Ashdown, Charles Kennedy, Menzies Campbell

The worldwide locations for his books – Man On Ice and Man on Edge

His first BBC assignment to Sri Lanka

His first exclusion from a country

The Tamil population initially being repressed by the government

Then turning into ‘the most brutal terrorist group in the world’

The dire situation in Hong Kong

Being at a turning point in world politics

The rise of the far right

As a journalist he likes a good story

30 years since the fall of the Berlin Wall

The cycle has turned – a generation forgetting what has happened before it

The EU being incremental in preventing war

Japan versus South Korea

Brexit not being unique around the world

The post 9/11 war on terror

If he wasn’t a journalist he would be worried!

The current movement not having a Blowin’ in the Wind yet

John Simpson thinking the threat of Russia is overestimated

The power of online meddling

Could the third world war be online?

Russia wanting to re-create a significant zone of influence

Political changes after the Tiananmen Square massacre and fall of the Berlin wall

The Orwellian rise of Russian and Chinese enemies

Death threats on answer machines in Sri Lanka

Death threats by phone in the Philippines

The BBC being wrongly accused of paying insurgents to blow people up

The British Embassy versus the American Embassy

Whether he’s been afraid in war zones

Lisa’s Nan giving birth during an air raid on the Wirral

More shootings and bombings in Iraq and Afghanistan

Being confused about what people want to achieve

The West not planning what would happen next after Saddam and Gaddafi

Questioning the West’s reaction

Tracing Graham Greene’s steps in Sierra Leone

The bleakness of the US/Russian border where two super powers meet

Little Diomedes and Big Diomedes

Roman Abramovich being governor of Chukotka

Writing thrillers based on borders

Cold being cold – whether you have the right clothes or not

Hair freezing competitions in Canada

Trump’s wall in Colorado

The plan to build a tunnel or a bridge from Alaska to Russia

Greta Thunberg speaking to the whole world and being listened to

Should we off-set our travel miles

Addis Ababa being special – or are we just off our heads due to altitude

Dervla Murphy and how both Lisa and Humphrey are big fans

How eco-travel is out of reach for your average family holiday

How travel changes with young children

Dog sledding to see the Northern Lights

Walking the Pacific Crest Trail – Mexico Border to US/Canada border

Struggling with ‘walking on the underclass’ in places like India

Trump, guns and healthcare in the USA

Doing the music trail in Mississippi

Johnny Cash songs on Nashville’s famous strip

10,000 people in 10,000 garages writing songs

How great art, culture and music springs from times of conflict

Hitching hiking through Thailand in 1974

A Whiter Shade of Pale wafting through the night skies over rice paddies