MANILA -- Canadian adventurer Ryan Pyle hopes that his new travel show will help fuel people's wanderlust amid quarantines imposed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Pyle is the host of "Expedition Asia," a 10-episode series that will premiere on Discovery Channel (SD Channel 39 and HD 180 for Skycable subscribers, and SD Channel 28 for Skydirect subscribers) at 9:50 p.m. on June 2.
In an interview with ABS-CBN News, Pyle said he considers his visit to Mt. Apo in Mindanao as one of the highlights of the show as he was wowed by the Philippines' highest mountain.
"Our Philippine episode was actually the first episode we filmed for the whole series, all 10 episodes," he said. "So it was a great way to kind of start our momentum for just trying to get 10 expeditions done in 10 months, which was an incredibly challenging schedule."
"I had no idea that the Philippines had a 3,000-meter mountain," he added. "The Philippines is mainly marketed as a beach and holiday destination, at least that's the kind of media that I've seen over the last decade or so while I was living in China for 16 years... But when I found out that you can climb a mountain and there's a 3,000-plus meter mountain in Mindanao near Davao, I was super excited. I was like, wow!"
Pyle went on to heap praise on the Filipino brand of hospitality: "The people are just so warm and welcoming and hospitable. And the people that we climbed the mountain with, Albert and his team, were wonderful. So we just had, you know, the greatest experience."
Aside from the Philippines, "Expedition Asia" will also feature China, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Kyrgyzstan, Malaysia, Mongolia, Taiwan, and Thailand.
Pyle hopes that his show will "brighten perspectives" amid a bleak future painted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
"I hope that this show fuels people's wanderlust and gets people excited to travel around in Asia again when it's possible. I think that this is the show that people need now," he said.
"I really wish that the pandemic had never happened, and I'd still be working... But the fact that everyone's home right now and now they get to watch a show like 'Expedition Asia,' I feel it's going to show people why we love traveling, and hopefully get people really excited about what's possible."
Get to know Pyle more through these excerpts from his interview with ABS-CBN News:
Q: When did your love for travel start? What was the one trip or experience that changed everything for you?
A: "In 2001, I graduated from the University of Toronto and I had the opportunity to travel to China. That was really my first trip to Asia and my first trip right after university. I think I did a three-month trip all around China backpacking and travelling around on public transportation. That journey really changed my life and made me want to become a storyteller, want to be someone who travelled often. I met lots of new people, experienced lots of new things, and then that journey got me into writing and photography. From there, I moved now into television. So that initial trip to China in 2001 was really really special for me and my development."
Q: How, in your opinion, can travel affect a person's life? Why do you think a person should travel at least once? What's the most important lesson you've learned in your travels?
A: "I think travelling allows people to grow and gives them a greater sense of who they are and also how they fit in the world. Travelling is really important and I think people should travel much more than just once. I think when you travel, you learn how other people live, and I also think you also learn a lot about yourself. I think these two things are really important for us to be just better human beings because, obviously, if we go through life and we only understand our way of life, or the things that are familiar to us, then we're missing out. And also, we don't understand the way other people live, and then maybe that will cause some misjudgments. This is how things like racism pop up, and I think this kind of stuff is terrible. I hope we can all travel a lot more and have a greater understanding for the way other people live, and hopefully make us all a nicer planet."
"I think you should go to countries that you don't know or understand. I mean, yeah, you can go and have a beach holiday, that's fine. But, you know, I think you should try to engage in learning things when you travel. I think it can be much more rewarding. That's how I use my television shows. I go to countries I don't understand or I want to learn more about, or I've seen something once and I want to know more. I have a very curious mind. My mind is always interested in new things, so that's how I see it. Everyone sees it differently. A lot of people hate traveling, they find it very stressful. They find going to the airport and being in an airplane and traveling and landing in a country where they don't speak the language -- they find that all very stressful. I love it. New challenges, new opportunities, new problem solving skills, these are all things that keep me interested in waking up every day."
Q: What have you been doing lately given the lockdown and other travel restrictions in place?
A: "I was filming another television series in Ethiopia in East Africa when the world kind of all closed its borders. I was able to get out of Ethiopia and I ended up here in Istanbul because my home in Dubai, the United Arab Emirates, had closed their borders and I was not able to go home. So, I'm here in Istanbul. I've been here for eight weeks. I was staying in a hotel but now I've rented an apartment 'cause I feel like I'm gonna be here a while longer until the world starts to open up again. It's very sad not to travel but, obviously, it's not safe to travel at the moment so I understand."
"What have I been doing to stay busy? Well, I started this Instagram live series called 'The COVID Calls,' and I do them every day. Sometimes one, sometimes two. I talk with my friends, I talk with academics, I talk with other creative people in film and television. I just chat with my friends, and I do that once or twice a day for an hour on Instagram Live. That's just a way of keeping me busy. Then I put those interviews on my YouTube channel. I've also just launched a podcast, which can be found on Apple Podcast and Spotify... I'm a content creator. I love talking to my audience, and I love trying to do
as much as I can, learn as much as I can. While I can't travel, I've just been using social media to do that and to keep people entertained."
Q: What do you think is the future of travel given the pandemic?
"This is actually really scary because no one really knows what's going on or how long it's gonna last. But I think the one thing that's very clear is I think that travel's going to get a lot more expensive. Because I don't think we're all going to be able to sit next to each other on airplanes. We're all going to need more space, and I think when people need more space, everything gets more expensive. I'm very fearful that air tickets will increase significantly. I'm very fearful that hotels will increase significantly because they might have less guests. With all these prices increasing, it's just going to put travel out of many people's reach 'cause they just won't be able to afford it."
"Yeah, I think that this is going to affect the way we travel, this is going to affect the way we live. I don't know how it's going to be, but I don't think it's going to be as free and fun as 2019 was. I'm trying to stay positive and I'm staying busy, but the future is going to be different and I don't see it being a 'better' different. Maybe the earth will be much cleaner and the environment will be more protected if we're less busy, and that could be the one great thing that comes out of this. Just better appreciation and less environmental destruction."
Q: Can you invite your viewers in the Philippines to watch your show?
"For all my friends in the Philippines and everyone, tune in to 'Expedition Asia' with me, your host, Ryan Pyle. We'll get to see some of the best overland treks that Asia offers. I miss all my friends in the Philippines and I hope everyone is safe and healthy during these challenging times."