You probably didn't see Julian and Camilla's World Odyssey first time around. This is because, despite being bloody good, New Zealand-made and not yer usual travel show, it was consigned by TVNZ to deadly weekday afternoon timeslots (because all the hipsters are glued to the telly at 1pm on a Thursday). It's back with a better bunch of slots from Wednesday*, and to celebrate, we asked producer-presenter Camilla Andersen to write a little something for Real Times ...
Julian and Camilla's World Odyssey
Documentary Channel (Sky 49) 7pm, Wed Nov 22
Julian and Camilla’s World Odyssey is a very real travel series. It is not a holiday series with slo-mo spa shots of washed up boob jobs or ear to ear grinning presenters sipping sticky. Julian and I could not be “presenters” as he is not hot enough and I am not stupid enough. There are no sharks or nazi’s but there are plenty of local characters, and not just the pool attendants and safari guides. The series is a real journey, an odyssey, not a week’s dip into the best hotel rooms and duty free shops. We start on Kuta beach in Bali and end up drinking ayahuasca deep in the Amazon in Peru. Julian is a lovable cheapskate rogue, with a penchant for bbb’s (blonde british backpackers). I am an inquisitive (Julian would say “nosey”) pseudo-journalist with a weakness for black men plying cocaine.
Ever since I can remember I have always had to win. Not just that I like to but I need to win. Luckily for me, I am also aware that this competitive nature has meant that I can embarrass myself with my shameless efforts to triumph and my obvious disappointment at the rare event of defeat.
Before Julian and I embarked on our odyssey, I never realised that there was a competitive edge to being a traveller. Who had been to the best places first, who had eaten the hottest or most disgusting food, who had found the cheapest room and who could tell the best travel stories. I had also finally met my match in terms of someone as competitive as I was. When Julian and I (and two others) took off on our world odyssey, he had the advantage. He was a well seasoned traveller having been to India, south East Asia and the USA many times and he seemed to take great pleasure in “advising” me on what to pack, what to eat and that I should never fear because he would know what to do in every situation. He was, according to him, the best “bargainer”, the best navigator, the best packer, just the best fuckin traveller this world had ever seen. Despite my constant reminders of how I had spent the first 14 years of my life in Africa he was convinced I would be inflicted with “culture shock” that would leave me reeling as he came to my rescue with all his experienced traveller knowledge. Hmmmm.
As we left Auckland and headed for Indonesia I was about to be thrust into the world of the “backpacker” subculture! Goodbye drum and bass scene, hello new tribe and I had my friend Julian to show me how to do it. As we checked into our flight to Bali, Julian told me he hated Indonesia because last time he was in Bali customs had managed to bribe him of $5. He had arrived without a ticket out of Indonesia, and we were about to do the same. We had flights booked further along the way, but Julian-the-worlds-best-traveller said we could get a cheaper flight by getting it in Jakarta. As I nervously shuffled up to the customs officer expecting to have to try deal with my first bribery attempt I was very disappointed as he accepted my explanation that I intended to buy my ticket out in Jakarta. Not even an attempt to help me increase my traveller kudos. Julian however seemed to be adding a notch to his “cool traveller” bedpost and slid a bill surreptitiously over to his customs officer. Fuck he is a cooler traveller than me I cursed. Aren’t young females meant to look like drug mules?! Suspect me please.
Julian came over, strangely not sporting his usual pre travel-wank gloat. “Fucker got me for 50 bucks” he cried. Ha ha…nothing worse for a seasoned traveller than actually getting ripped off. Getting bribed for 5 bucks is worthy of kudos but 50 bucks could last tight-wad Julian for a week in Indonesia. He had reached into his pocket to where he had a $5 bill waiting, forgetting he had put his emergency $50 in there too. Wrong bill! Camilla 1, Julian 0.
We set down our bags at the cheapest hovel we could find and headed out to be real travellers and not two honkys from New Zealand. My lesson from Julian in bargaining as he bought a cheap souvenir hat (Camilla 1, Julian 1) was very quickly forgotten as I sat down on Kuta beach for a pedicure only to be besieged by three more women each grabbing a limb, massaging it and demanding payment for unsolicited services (Camilla 1, Julian 2). I was losing this competition and it was only 1 day into the year’s journey.
A couple weeks later as Julian and I wandered the streets of Jakarta, dodging sex tourists and transvestites we pondered the bubbling filth masquerading as one of the city’s rivers and I suggested this was not my kind of place.
“Its culture shock, Camilla” he squealed at me with triumphant glee.
No, Julian, its not.
You will see both Julian and I change as the year and our experience alters us. The series though is more about the locals than Julian and I, despite what I have penned here. Indonesia was our baptism of fire into the year that was Camilla and Julian’s World Odyssey and it certainly doesn’t stop there. Things get more interesting as we are less concerned with getting our backpacker badge. It was the journey of a lifetime that took us into sex-change operating theatres in Thailand, abandoned Indian ashrams haunted by the Beatles, the mausoleums of masked Mexican wrestlers, Cuban Cabaret clubs, Jamaican swingers’ resorts, Peruvian alien cults and Noam Chomsky’s office.
Join us on the Doco channel for a series too good for TVNZ to screen in primetime …
* NB: The vagaries of launch scheduling mean that Julian and Camilla's World Odyssey will take the 7pm slot on Wednesday, before dropping back to 4pm Wednesdays, then getting a better run in a 7pm or 9pm slot in January and February. We'll keep you posted - The Doctor.
Crikey! Niche programming on a niche channel. Just what this programme deserved. From the segments on two different episodes I had the misfortune of stumbling on, it seemed to be all about Camilla and her jolly holiday capers. Someone give me a handicam and then I'll complain when my surfing holiday to Ngawi isn't broadcast in primetime...
Really? I thought it kicked the sorry arse of most other travel programmes, not least because it was about something other than the sponsor.
Haven't seen it, but depending on quality of doco and quality of holiday experience, I have absolutely no problems with people taking their digital cameras on their holiday with them, and making their travelogue into a doco.
Hell, I'd pay good money to see some of my own misspent backpacking adventures from decades ago on video, and now that I am not in a position to do it quite so readily myself, I'm happy to watch someone else try and define the difference between a tourist and a traveller and suffer in the name of my entertainment.
So Johnno, exactly how good is your surf trip to Ngawi anyway? Worth watching?
I remember catching only one of the series and thinking how good it was first time around. Of course my mental note to record and tell others went the way of all mental notes..but I just knew somehow it would be repeated. Pretty good as I recall.
"From the segments on two different episodes I had the misfortune of stumbling on, it seemed to be all about Camilla and her jolly holiday capers. Someone give me a handicam and then I'll complain when my surfing holiday to Ngawi isn't broadcast in primetime..."
Johnno - Im sure with my World Odyssey researcher/writer, cameraman and director I could make your surfing holiday into something interesting and get you an off peak slot.
Its unfortunate that you stumbled onto only the more "traveller" segments of the show. I am sure if you get the chance to view a full episode you will find, as most people do, that most of the subject matter is far more interesing than me e.g The Secret War in Laos, Child Labour Ashrams in India, Zapatista's in Mexico, Rastafarian political movements in Jamaica etc
I was over Charlotte's jolly holiday capers so attempted to create a travel show that was more than that...hope you watch the series.
You no longer need an onward ticket to get into Indonesia simply the funds to buy one. And the immigration at Ngarrah Rai Airport have, for the past couple of years been largely unbribeable..I know people that have tried. There has been an ongoing crackdown there for quite some time and they are all filmed all the time. I doubt if $5 would work either. I suspect either the guy was so surprised he didn't know what to do, or it was about the right amount to cover the Visa-on-Demand...
this documentary is better where it is on the documentary channel , what a score, TVNZ is not the place for this doco its too good, the back packer subculture , wankers all they do is get wasted and argue over one upmanship how cool they are, so it was a good expose on them haha. what happened to Camilla her hair is blonde was that for TVNZ, STICK TO YOUR BRUNETTE OK.. this doco gave good service to the Thais and showed the xtreme differences to them and europeans who are overprivledged pleasure seeking wankers ..
I watched most of this series when it played in the dead of the night on TVNZ, it really is an excellent example of how the 'tv travel genre' should work, a very real travellers' experience & far from the handicam 'holiday caper' that the top poster suggested... chomsky on a surf trip? top marks to the doco channel for picking this up.
I would love to hear Julian's take on this, he seemed more passionate about travel than camilla, I'm sorry to say and his observations both intelligent & hillarious. Although accused of being more of the "cool traveller" of the duo here, I reckon Camilla tried a lot harder with her own attempts.
Are their plans for a reunion? please say yes.