Dom Joly

Outspoken comedian and travel writer, Dom Joly, lets rip with his views on the world of travel

The World According To …
14 February 2011

Mountain/desert/ocean/jungle… which are you?

Desert. I was brought up in Lebanon and made regular trips into the Syrian desert. I feel incredibly at peace there, I’m not quite sure why.

What was your first great travel experience?

I love road trips – driving from Dallas to New York in search of assassination sites for the book was awesome.

Which are your top five places worldwide?

Muskoka, Canada; Palmyra, Syria; Phnom Penh, Cambodia; northern California, USA; Coln Valley, Gloucestershire.

Which passport stamp are you proudest of?

Probably my North Korean one, for bragging rights.

Which passport stamp would you most like to have?

Libya, but they’ve banned me: I’ve supposedly written something that annoyed them. If Gaddafi (or whoever is in charge) is reading this, come on, let me in…

Where or what is your guilty travel pleasure?

Hotel laundry. When I come home I want my wife to present my pants wrapped in muslin paper, in a basket. It never goes down well.

Ideal travelling companion?

I like travelling on my own. I know that sounds really terrible but I’m very selfish when I travel. Sometimes I spend five hours doing something and sometimes I can spend one minute. I like to travel on a whim.

Worst travelling companion?

The kind of person that doesn’t think shit smells outside of England and that everywhere you travel is all mystical and fantastic.

Worst meal?

Turd-shaped omelettes in North Korea. I had a bet with my wife that I could be a vegetarian for a year and unfortunately that coincided with going to North Korea where their idea of vegetarian was omelette. It was a fairly decent omelette but it was just every single day.

Most memorable meal?

Ginseng chicken, in North Korea again. It was set on a whole table with loads and loads of gold cups and in the middle there was this slightly mangy looking chicken that had been boiled in ginseng. The chicken itself was very horrible but all this stuff around it was the most opulent thing I’d seen in all of North Korea. Because I’d been so starved of colour and opulence it was amazing, it was like a feast.

Who or what inspired you to travel?

Probably my parents. Every three months we’d go on a horse back expedition across the mountains of Lebanon or exploring caves in Syria. As a kid it was so exciting to be exposed to those kinds of things. Very Boy’s Own.

What do you always pack?

My iPhone and computer are the main thing. But I’m old enough now to visit Millets and I found these t-shirts that are synthetic and don’t sweat. You can just scrumple them up and chuck them in your pack.

Is there a song that reminds you a particular time and place?

The Cure – who I really love – now remind me of North Korea. I had a really weird evening where there was a power cut. Someone in the group had little mini-speakers and we ended up playing The Cure in darkness. I guess there’s a slightly similar aesthetic of Goth and North Korea!

What inspires you to visit a particular place?

Usually From Our Own Correspondent on the BBC World Service. I listen to it when I’m walking my dog. You always hear stuff from really odd parts of the world. Once the guy in Saigon said that when he first visited it was a city of bicycles, and now, three years later it was a city of mopeds. He said, literally, within the next three years it’s going to be a city of cars, like all other cities. Literally, I went there a week later!

Want to read more from Dom Joly? Read Peter Moore’s interview with him about Dark Tourism here

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