Travel without travelling – Part 2: Woe Britannia
With 2020-2021 full of products to direct, divorces to divorce and the Virus going viral, saying the period has been eventful is both an understatement, a bit depressing but also just a tad bit misleading. It’s been eventful for all the wrong reasons while at the same time restricting most movement and thwarting any grandiose life plans like friends and travel. A great way to actually get out of your head and seeing some parts of the world, both geographical and cultural is consuming some choice Youtube content. Read on for three great channels dealing with wildly different things like Japanese hairdressers, Korean BBQ and Horology.
aBROAD IN JAPAN
When it comes to the land of the Rising Sun, The Big Nippon also known as Japan, being partly Japanese, I never knew the way I needed to experience Japan in all it’s ambivalent splendour was through the lens of a Brit from Maidstone (stones throw to the south of the satellite towns of London).
By British standards a “southern poof”, Chris, the Vlogger/Host of the Abroad in Japan channel mixes classic British sarcasm and dropped H’s with a genuine love for the country that he originally travelled to on a whim to teach English to Japanese teenagers. A place where he’s stayed for one and a half decade.
Abroad in Japan mixes 10-20 minute segments with some really ambitious documentary styled productions as well as the calamitous series called “A journey Across Japan” – with the host Chris biking across most of Japan accompanied by several other Vloggers as well as regular Abroad in Japan participators.
Chris’ best of breed Brit humour and dour pessimism is also available as a podcast with hipster Pete Donaldsson of English radio fame who, incidentally also looks like a Northern English version of a young James Dean Bradfield of Manic Street Preachers fame. I highly recommend the podcast because of the typical British pissiness and the great chemistry of Chris and Pete. Pete, besides being Chris’s foil in the Abroad in Japan podcast, also sometimes participates in the Youtube content.
Other participants are the two fairly untypical Japanese sidekicks Natsuki and Ryotaro. Chris, the southern English git that he is, of course consistently calls Japanese businessman Ryotaro: “Rissotoro” – I believe in reference to some Youtube comment, but obviously also because of the English speaking impediment to his Japanese pronunciation and the pun on Risotto, something that’s fairly consistent with both Chris and Ryotaros interest in eating. Ryotaro also speaks very good English (especially considering he is Japanese) being very well travelled and having worked in various western arenas and hence consistently heckles Chris.
Chris and “Rissotoro” have a great relationship based on threats of murder and British one upmanship.
Natsuki on the other hand is the uncharacteristically curious Japanese hairdresser/aged punk rocker with a not so masterful grasp of the English language but an indomitable will to to make himself understood in English. Both Ryotaro and Natsuki are a great part of the Abroad in Japan experience and the actual camaraderie shines through the hazing and constant sarcasms.
Korean Englishman is Josh and Ollie (of Jolly channel notoriety) two Brits with Youtube channels. Josh being the Korean Englishman with a high fluency in Korean and Ollie the enthusiastic sidekick and sometimes off-camera assistant. There are several really entertaining options with this channel and while I have to say I really haven’t watched that much regular travel content from this channel – my favourite format being the one where the Korean Englishman sits down with celebrities and eat Korean food. Every time I watch this I get giddy with endorphins and gleeful but unrealistic plans of installing Korean barbecue infrastructure in my home or on my balcony. But I digress. One of the recurring themes of The Korean Englishman is to snag high profile actors and artist and sit them down to sample the fine points of Korean cuisine.
The concentrated format and the combination of genuine interest and a choice of celebrities that are both funny and, quite obviously, foodies combined with the pragmatically satisfying Korean cuisine is just a sure shot and a consistent winner to me.
building a korean bbq setup
One of my favourite videos in longer format is when the Koreans Englishman and Ollie over a day, with the help of a parent with obvious carpentry skills and a knack for assembling cool stuff, build an outdoor Korean barbecue setup, complete with coal grill, accompanying table and a meaty assortment of meat. And as the day becomes evening they, immediately on completion, enthusiastically try the new facilities out, at first by themselves and later with their partners. The excitement and joy at the clearly successful project is incredibly disarming and the end results looks really great.
The sequel with Josh and Ollie taking their newly created Korean Barbecue to an Essex football team is also very entertaining with the wry musings of footballers seeing the light of Korean Barbecue for the first time counterposed to the toffee sucking enthusiasm of the hosts.
The Korean Englishmans’ regular format of celebrity Mukbangs is also highly recommended with the combination of great participants and delicious Korean food with the likes of Ryan Reynolds and David Beckham as examples of mainstream westerners participants, combined with some well known faces from the South Korean entertainment scene like Running Man Ha Ha, coming together over numerous Korean dishes and soju. These are all well executed and entertaining pieces that are highly recommended.
korean Fried chicken & food interventions
Out of the the miscellaneous category my favourite is when the hosts invite British friends to try Korean Fried chicken. This is followed up by a video of my favourite participant from the fried chicken instalment going all in at a Korean restaurant in London. Both episodes are hilarious mostly because of the consistently charming hosting combined with the ginger participants life changing food epiphanies. The reactions don’t come across as over the top considering the difference between standard English food compared to the South Korean stunning equivalents.
Just imagine having eaten typical British food like curry and pies and by some miracle having managed to maintain a functioning palate. Then over two segments, first being introduced to one of the arguably best incarnations of deep fried chicken there is and then for the next segment being treated to a full spectrum Korean dinner.
No more boiled vegetables. No more pies.
The protagonist of the segments has progressive matrix moments as he, much like a frog being confronted by the sea, comes to grips with the wondrous marvel of Korean cuisine and consequently re-evaluates life, existence and death. Highly recommended stuff.
TGV, Horology & The Urban Gentry
Ah… the wonderful world of watches, wristwatches in particular. For the longest time I managed to avoid what I knew was most certainly a dangerous pitfall to me personally, an obsessive compulsive collector of everything from Common Projects sneakers to Lego Architecture sets and with a notoriously massive walk-in closet constantly in need of purging. Even with a few friends deeply into the darkest netherworlds of collecting wrist watches it took three new parameters for me to go from gateway drug usage to full addiction: the pandemic, a sociable watch enthusiast colleague/office pal and The Urban Gentry channel. The channel hosted, directed and produced by geezer-in-residence, the Italo-Brit TGV, is focused on horology – the history of timepieces, with a few of TGVs other interests thrown in for good measure. The channel is something of a phenomena in the small pool that is contemporary watch media, and is very popular in watch enthusiast circles.
BRomance & Watch talk with TGV and Marc
Some of the content is what you’d expect from a watch enthusiast channel, reviews and some exposition into the history of interesting watchmakers. Some of the content I enjoy the most though, are the long form talks with Marc (of Long Island Watches channel and website). These longer talks are very enjoyable with the East London parlare of TGV counterposed against the US East coast sensibilities of Marc.
The differences between the two couldn’t be greater, Marc, an engineer turned watch seller (now with his own range of watches) fond of nerdy t-shirts and with the ability to explain the technical ins and outs of watch production to TGV, expat Londoner living in Philly and working as a creative, with his penchant for the traditional sides of British culture as well as the more subcultural (wearing quite a few staple brands popular with current British casuals like Stone Island and Private White). Besides being obsessed by watches, Seiko in particular, the two couldn’t be more different. This is the dynamic making these episodes so enjoyable and easy to recommend. I can’t remember how many late evenings during the pandemic I’ve watched a short episode, 25-30 minute or so, detailing a top 10 of aviators watches or a longer form meandering discussion between TGV and Marc on something like the current years’ watch controversies or a joint imaginary watch collection building exercise.
A horologist and his t-rex
The host TGVs creative side also comes out in the intros and editing of the Youtube content – favourites obviously featuring the posh T-rex, Hugo Mountbatten, who’s smile, for a plastic dinosaur that is, has a striking similarity to TGVs. The humour and effort poured into the intros is obvious and the intros are quite often highly enjoyable and a great accompaniment to the passionate journey into the intricate world of wristwatches.
TGV and the Urban Gentry have been instrumental in getting me into the world of wristwatches, something that for now at least limits itself to picking watches to match what I want to wear instead of the other way around, making for an additional interest I may not have needed. The positive effects of the content still outweighs any negatives as it has provided hours of relief from pandemic stress, work tension and the guilty conscience of being a parent.
So there you have it – three British Youtubers you quite possibly haven’t watched who will help you travel without movement while travelling is still tricky. Let me know if you recommend any content creators who helps you escape!
Links and Stuff
Abroad in Japan: