Presenter of BBC 2’s latest travel documentary, Indian Ocean, Simon Reeves is one man who loves a good adventure. His C.V is likely to consist of hunting down terrorists, visiting the most dangerous place on earth as well as finding places that don’t exist on maps. After giving him Twitter tips we were lucky enough to hear some of his exciting stories and bizarre events, that quite frankly left us in awe.
Simon’s first big trip in his career was to the not so exotic northern city of Newcastle where he was investigating the smuggling of nuclear weapons as a journalist. However his first big break was his book on terrorism, The New Jackals: Ramzi Yousef, Osama bin Laden and the future on Terrorism. This book was published before the 9/11 terrorist attacks and was the first book in the world on Bin Laden and Al Qaeda, which become hugely popular only after 9/11. From there Simon was invited to television discussions on terrorism and eventually someone noticed he was under 40 and has good hair and teeth and invited him to make his first program, ‘Meet the Stan’s’ where he went around Central Asia to the Stan countries showing people what it’s really like.
Besides the usual reasons for wanting to travel Simon’s motivation comes from his belief that there is a huge value in informing people about what’s going on in the world and in developing countries besides when there is a natural disaster. Some of the reasons for filming this series is to show people the beauty of the Indian Ocean as well as the dark side. He hopes to inform people on the wildlife, the different cultures the Indian Ocean has to offer and environment impacts on places that are visited. Places which we may not think of to visit such as Bangladesh he tries to normalise and show that if he can go there so can everyone else. Bangladesh for example is home to the world’s longest beach which he describes as looking a bit like Baywatch, with the watch towers and surf school. Throughout his travels Simon’s most memorable moment is a very touching and devastating moment. On the boarder of Somalia he met a young girl in a refugee camp who had never been 4 km outside of the camp, purely because it is too dangerous. She was well educated by aid workers and spoke very good English but through just being born into that world she is trapped in dessert prison. Simon commented, “It was one of those moments where you realise how lucky you are. I could just fly in and out of the camp through an accident of birth really.”
In his new series Indian Ocean, Simon walks along the exotic beaches and travels on the glorious ocean, however he did say, “There are a lot of dark tales to be told there as well, it’s my most extreme journey in the sense that it takes me from the beautiful
Maldives to Somalia which is the most devastated country on the planet.” The Indian Ocean takes him to Somalia’s capital Mogadishu, which is the most dangerous place on the planet for a western and is the centre of the piracy epidemic. He compared Somalia to images from Stalingrad during the second world war, Somalia’s devastation is so extreme that there isn’t a single building that isn’t pockmarked or riddled with bullets, helmets and armour had to worn during filming including armoured underwear to protect from shrapnel. It is difficult to image a place like this on earth which is one of reasons for telling Somalia’s story, to bring reality to screen rather than showing just beautiful images of Australia and the Maldives.
Out of the 110 places Simon has visited surprising his top three places are within Europe; Denmark, Greece and Britain. Denmark is his favourite as it has the lowest corruption and best quality of life, Greece for the history, culture and sunshine and Britain because the country has so much to offer which we do often take for granted.
For those going travelling Simon offers some tips; do thing your parents wouldn’t approve of, get of the sun bed and explore and read up about places you are visiting so you don’t miss anything. The most unexpected places have hidden gems.
Indian ocean is now showing on BBC 2, Sunday nights at 8pm. To catch up with Indian Ocean’s past episodes visit BBC iplayer or to find out more information on Simon Reeves visit his website.