Explorers Connect

Explorer of the Month - Ants Bolingbroke-Kent

EC CommunityJames Hipkiss

EXPLORER OF THE MONTH Ever wanted to know how to become an explorer or maybe how to find the perfect GT and mobile reception in the back of beyond?

Each month Explorers Connect interviews one of its members to find out everything you need to know - and there's never a pith helmet to be seen. This month, the wonderful, the inspiring: ANTS BOLINGBROKE-KENT. 

What are you working on right now?

At the moment I'm working on a hotch potch of projects. I've just come back from Georgia, where I was producing an episode of BBC2s Worlds Most Dangerous Roads. It was pretty epic what a totally brilliant country! Now I'm working on a new anti-poaching show for ITV and also.most excitingly working on a new book. I'm writing the book for Summersdale publishers and its going to be about a journey down the legendary Ho Chi Minh Trail in Laos, Vietnam and Cambodia. Ill be doing this trip in Jan-Feb next year, on my own, on a Honda C90 moped. The book will be out in early 2014. Very exciting, but also a little scary.

How did you become an explorer?

I've always loved travel but sort of fell into the adventure game by accident. My best friend from school, Jo, had the ridiculous idea to drive a pink tuk tuk from Bangkok to Brighton. And it all went sideways from there. I wouldn't ever term myself an explorer though. More a part-time adventurer with a penchant for Very long Trips in Very Silly Vehicles.

Why do you do it?

Because its fun. Because it satisfies my perpetually itchy feet. And because I cant bear the thought of getting to the end of my life and regretting I didn't do more with it.

What scares you the most?

Sharks. Spiders. The dark. Ghosts. No seriously, there are quite a few things about my upcoming book that make me rather nervous. Parts of the Laos jungle I'm going through are extremely remote and allegedly full of all the above (excluding sharks of course). The Ho Chi Minh Trail is the most bombed place on the planet, and there are many tales of the jungle being haunted by all the soldiers and people who died there in the 580,000 bombing missions the USA flew over the area. Oh, and someone got eaten by a tiger there less than a decade ago.

What is your greatest moment so far?

Raising 50,000 for the mental health charity Mind, through our tuk tuk trip. My friend Jo had suffered severe mental health problems as a teenager, hence our decision to raise money for Mind. So many people were so inspired by Jo's story and her amazing recovery, it was really fantastic. What's the most dangerous situation you've ever been in? I hate to be disappointing but I've never been in a Shit I'm going to die situation. I'm just not hardcore enough for that! Probably the time I've felt closest to it was when three of us were testing a new adventure for The Adventurists in February 2011. In temperatures of -40, we attempted to drive an old Ural motorbike up the frozen River Ob to the Russian Arctic Circle. On one particularly cold night the bike kept breaking down, there wasn't a whiff of civilisation in sight, and things got a little spicy. I got to that point of extreme cold when I didn't really care what happened, and the other two were having to force me to move. If we hadn't come across a tiny town and a warm bed, I dread to think what would have happened.

What makes you smile?

Open roads, feeling free, new places, dancing, very loud electronic music, tea made over a camp fire, a Large GT at the end of a long day, the hum of a motorbike engine, (winning) Boggle, words, unexpected adventures, achieving something you didn't think you could do.

What are the biggest obstacles to expedition success?

Your own mind. Even if you don't have the best equipment and haven't spent months planning something, if you're determined enough, you can make it happen.

What's the worst injury you've ever had?

Nothing really (loads of broken bones as a child but they don't really count here!)

What's your nickname?

I have a few, they're all animal related make what you will of that! Ants, Ferret and Skunk are the main ones. Long stories.

How do you balance the adventurous life with your home life?

That's the hardest thing about what I do. I try and make sure I'm not away for more than 3 months of the year. Doing this sort of job is awesome and I feel very lucky, but home life is also incredibly important. As much as I adore travel and adventure, I also adore being at home in Somerset. People often say Wow your life sounds so exciting. But I also spend a lot of time at home talking to the dog and hanging up my boyfriends washing - its not all rock and roll!

What's the one thing you do better than anyone else you know?

I'm pretty good at drinking hard liquor in odd places. Whether its vodka up a Mongolian mountain, Siberian moonshine or chacha in Georgia. A dubious quality I know. I think I'm also pretty good at avoiding potholes in a tuk tuk.

What one thing couldn't you live without on expedition?

Wirral. My grubby little teddy bear dragon thing. He comes everywhere with me. Hell definitely be riding the Ho Chi Minh Trail.

What is the best advice you've been given in your career?

Someone said to me years ago The first rule of life is to turn up. He was a film producer who a friend of a friend had said I should go and meet, as he might be able to help me get my first job in TV. I remember thinking Whats the point, hows he going to help me? But that meeting got me a brilliant job at ITV and led to so many doors opening. As I left the producer said to me The first rule of life is to turn up. And I've never forgotten it. It applies to so many situations.

Is there anything left to explore?

Of course. Your mind. Your own back garden I really don't subscribe to all that rubbish about there being nothing left to explore. It depends who you are, what your past experiences are and how you look at things.

If you could only do one more expedition what would it be and why?

Something in Russia, but I'm not quite sure what. What's your life time ambition? To be the next Dervla Murphy.

How can readers learn more about you?

Check out my website www.theitinerant.co.uk and also follow me on Twitter @AntsBK.

Ants Bolingbroke-Kent was interviewed and edited by Frank Coles, a writer and broadcaster with a taste for adventure.

You can find out more about him on Explorers Connect or at www.frankcoles.com."