Best life in the world

Ben And Sophee with  Col Mustard
Ben And Sophee with Col Mustard

Journey is their destination and yet it is not, for they want to be in London for the Christmas lunch with family. Ben and Sophee – a couple on a road trip in a Land Rover from Singapore to London talk about their journey

  • Tell us about your current expedition from Singapore to London? What inspired you and your wife Sophee to undertake this expedition?

Sophee and I started talking about our Best Life Adventure around 2 years ago, only a year after we got married. I’d travelled extensviely in the Land Rover before, having circumnavigated Africa in 2008 and thought it was about time we took the old boy on another overland trip. The route is a historic one, that was originally taken in 1955 by a group of students from Cambridge and Oxford university in two Land Rovers, except they did it the opposite way to us – from London to Singapore.

The couple in Singapore
The couple in Singapore
  • Why do you call it your ‘Best Life Adventure’?

I won the Best Job in the World in 2009, a worldwide competition hosted by Tourism Queensland in Australia to find a ‘Island Caretaker’. The experience really threw me into the media spotlight and I wanted to use this to propel this expedition forwards. It follows on from my Best Expedition in the World in 2011 – a 1600km kayak adventure along the Great Barrier Reef. I think I like something about the BEST things in life that’s all!

  • What does your itinerary look like for the entire journey?

It seems to chop and change at the moment but we do know we’ll be back in the UK in time for Christmas lunch with mum and dad at the end of December. Until a week ago we were going from India into Pakistan through Iran and into Europe but my visa has just been denied for Iran unfortunately. We’ll probably head north from Pakistan now through China and into the Stans before looping south to Turkey where we’d have ended up originally! Life on the road is never that easy!

  • Which all places have you been to in India during this expedition? What do you feel about India as a tourist destination?

We’ve been in and out of India now three times so far, originally arriving in the north-east through Manipur after crossing the Myanmar border. We spent a couple of weeks in Assam before leaving for a week in Bhutan. Next we came back into the Darjeeling area and explored the foothills of the Himalayas before we crossed into Nepal and drove to Kathmandu, just in time for the second earthquake!

After a month of trekking and wildlife spotting, we then started our long drive in and around India. Varanasi, Nagpur, Hyderabad, Khajuraho, Hampi, a fortnight in Goa and most recently we’ve tracked up the coast to Udaipur. India has got an incredible amount of diversity as a tourism destination. I also think the longer you spend here the more the country grows on you. For someone travelling for the first time it’d definitely be confronting but once you get past the difficult parts of India (which for outsiders would be the sanitation, litter, staring etc) the country is a very warm and welcoming place.

Ben trying gol gappas (Indian street food)
Ben trying gol gappas (Indian street food)
  • Is food a challenge on such a long expedition, especially in India?

Surprisingly no. We’ve really had no major issues with food since leaving Singapore over four months ago. There are definitely areas where the choices on the menu are more limited but generally there are restaurants everywhere and if you have the guts, can walk and order what the locals are eating.

  • What would be the one thing that you learnt about India on this journey?

The Indian people really are some of the most friendly and welcoming on earth. We’ve been invited into people’s houses, for meals and for more photos than I care to remember.

  • You have named your Land Rover Colonel Mustard. That’s interesting. How did that happen?

There’s a board game in the UK called Cluedo, one of the characters is called Colonel Mustard and as the Land Rover is a mustard yellow it seemed fitting!

  • Do you and Sophee always travel together? What are your common interests and what is that you like to do individually?

It’s the first time that Sophee and I have embarked on a long journey like this together. Previously it was only really 2 – 3 week holidays rather then life in each others pockets. We’ve both got very different loves in life. I’m a nature lover and want to wild camp anywhere remote and beautiful, whereas Sophee loves the hustle and bustle of city life and people. It throws up some interesting discussions but we learn a heck of a lot about another side of life we didn’t know so much about I suppose.

  • You are also the author of ‘Best Life in the World’? Tell us something about this experience of yours.

I wrote a book called The Best Job in the World on the back of winning a global search for an Island Caretaker in 2009. Since then I’ve gone on to create my own lifestyle – one of adventure, travel and pushing my physical limits with world-record setting expeditions. People always say how lucky I am, but by writing the book I wanted to show that it wasn’t really luck that got me here – more of a lot of hard work!

Paro Taktsang Monastery in Bhutan
Paro Taktsang Monastery in Bhutan
  • You both are travellers and have visited many countries and met many people. We all are different yet we all are the same. What do you have to say on that?

The longer you spend travelling the world meeting new people, understanding new cultures and opening your mind to them, the more you realise we’re all pretty much the same.In most ways we have the same routines, desires and goals – to be better, to earn more and to look after our family wherever possible.

Travelling the world can help break down the barriers that we’re taught by listening soley to what the world’s media tells us; what to expect from a country or people and how we’ll be treated when we get there.

I firmly believe that the best classroom in the world….is the world.

Pics courtesy: Ben and Sophee

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