Travel shows that show you the world


Was about to ask what was the name of that show Michael Palin did, I always loved that but mainly I just love Michael Palin. But then I scrolled up and saw you guys had it covered. Then I saw I had posted here earlier badmouthing Anthony Bourdain and now I feel bad.


Apparently a new Michael Palin one has come out since my post. This one is called Michael Palin in North Korea, and apparently aired in 2018. I have no idea how to track this down though. I watched all the others on my local PBS stations in various places. I guess I’ll just have to keep an eye out on PBS and hope they air it soon.


I hear the Kimchi in N. Korea is to die for.


I know this is going to sound weird, but Ewan McGregor did a book and a BBC show about going around the world on motorcycles with his best friend, Charley Boorman (son of John Boorman, who directed such things as Excalibur and Hope and Glory). I first read the book, and was really taken by it. And then I watched the doc series as well.

It’s called “Long Way Round” and I just find it so engaging. I return to it every so often.

For recent shows, I really do love watching the YouTube videos of a guy named Mark Wiens. The specific focus of his show is on trying food as an aspect of travel, which really works for me. So it’s both food and travel porn.



Yeah, there are a number of travel/food YouTube channels. They really give you a sense of place due to their very low production values, usually the host’s wife or girlfriend filming him and that’s pretty much it.

Wiens is excellent, he’s the foodgasm guy. Everything he eats, he has la petit mort. I like him, but find his new buddy with the earring annoying as hell.

There’s also Mikey Chen (Strictly Dumpling), Luke Martin (Chopstick travel), DavidsBeenHere (another annoying friend, and the host is a bit douchey with travel tattoos), and probably my favorite is The Food Ranger, who largely does mainland China but also lives there and speaks Chinese.


I weirdly know about all three of these, because for a little bit I watched a twitch streamer (former pro gamer) who would watch these three in-between games and talk about his fantasy of transitioning to a travel/food guy later on in life. Mikey Chen is my favorite of the three, Trevor James always seems over the top, but his ability to speak fluently seems to get him inside kitchens that he probably wouldn’t otherwise see.


I like The Food Ranger a lot too. I just find his voice grating at times. But I find that thing you say about Mark Wiens where he has a lean-to-the-side orgasm every time he likes something to be somewhat grating as well. Addicting and grating at the same time.

I’ll check out the others you suggest. I like “Strictly Dumpling” a lot; didn’t remember that one. I love food+travel shows, because I can’t do that. This is why I bug my friends to send me food pictures when they are abroad. They usually say, “Uh. Whatever. If you want.” And then usually they’ll say, “Oh, now I get it,” once they start sharing.



I love this point, @espressojim. You reminded me that he does this thing I really like. I suppose it’s cultural. When he speaks another language, most specifically a Chinese language, he may get a compliment on how well he speaks the language. His response, almost invariably, is something along the lines of, “I’m so-so.”

They usually nod approvingly. It is a respectful acknowledgment going both ways, and I really like that but of back and forth.



My parents actually introduced me to Mark Wiens last year. A lot of times when I go to visit them, they’re watching him in some other new country. I really like him a lot as well. I love that he uses a drone to do aerial shots that make his shows look fairly professional, even though most of the time it’s just him holding the camera on himself.

I’ll have to check out those other three @stusser, I’ve never heard of Strictly Dumpling, Luke Martin or The Food Ranger.


They’re all extremely popular, their videos can get millions of views. I think the one common thread is that they’re unfailingly positive at all times. Wiens has orgasms with everything he eats, he takes it to an extreme, but Mikey Chen goes crazy over a bowl of noodles, and Trevor always looks around to find the cook and give him a thumbs up. He picked up his catchphrase “tao hao le”, awesome in Mandarin, because he says everything is awesome. Now he sells T-shirts with it.

Luke Martin and his girlfriend are newcomers, just starting out, but they are also very positive about pretty much everything they eat.


I actually love that aerial drone stuff too. I brought it up while doing the movie podcast, although somewhat cryptically. I wondered what the permit requirements were now that filmmakers are using drones for what used to be really expensive helicopter and crane shots more and more. I was thinking of the high-overhead shots in a lot of his videos when I was talking about that.



That’s a really good point, @stusser. It takes a helluva a lot for one of them to flinch even the slightest bit. I remember one episode of The Food Ranger where Trevor tried some kind of innards that had obviously not been cleaned enough. To be blunt, they were poopy. And he tried to power through, but he could not. It takes a lot for these guys to go negative.

Mark Wiens usually tries to indicate when he’s reviewing something that he’s sponsored to review. Like the World’s Most Amazing Buffet at some hotel somewhere. That’s okay with me if it pays his bills.



I feel sad that I’m nearing the end of episodes for Anthony Bourdain’s Parts Unknown.

One interesting tidbit that I keep thinking about in the Berlin episode I saw from Season 11 is the fact that unlike other big cities around the world, they don’t have an affordable housing problem. You can still be a starving artists who goes to find himself by going to Berlin and live on very little, at least according to the episode. Apparently food is still very cheap there, and rent is still very cheap. If that’s the case, I wonder how Berlin avoided the fate of so many other cities around the world where affordable housing is a huge problem, and with it now, homelessness is also becoming a problem in some of those cities.


Berlin is kind of cheap because Berlin is kind of poor, at least relative to other German (and those in other wealthy countries) cities. Remember that prior to industrialization, it was port cities like Hamburg that had the money, not provincial towns like Berlin. During the industrial revolution, it as the Rhine-Ruhr Valley that had the iron and coal deposits, not Berlin. West Germany’s economy recovered rapidly during the decades following World War II, while Berlin was divided and isolated. Frankfurt, owing to its spot near the center of Europe and thus its trade routes, has as far as I know basically always been the major economic hub of Germany, from the Holy Roman days to its being one of the world’s major banking centers in modern times. Berlin’s got a bunch of artists and cool museums, but not much of an obvious way to make money. I don’t know how tenable this is in the long run given how trendy it is, but then it’s not like Berlin being popular for artists is a recent phenomenon. It admittedly seems completely foreign to me as an American for a place like Berlin to stay cheap forever given how US neighborhoods gentrify when they get hip. I imagine that Germany having a much stronger safety net than the US helps a lot too.

Caveat that I’m not a German but did study German history for more years than I recommend anyone study anything (except maybe medicine I guess).


I think the grand tour on amazon works here. It doesn’t really do a deep dive into culture per se, but it’s masterfully shot, and the host play off of each other really well if you are into their brand of humor.
It’s the original guys from the BBC show Top Gear. It’s a car show but my wife doesn’t like cars that much and still enjoys it.