My Life In Travel: Rob Da Bank
'Going to India isn't so much a holiday – it's a change of life'
Saturday 08 August 2009
First holiday memory?
Going to the South of France in the back of my mum and dad's battered Bedford van. I have very 1970s memories of sunburn, French girls and sandy beaches. We went to the same place every year until I was 16 and camped in a pine forest near Cannes.
Rajasthan, about five years ago. It's the most incredibly vibrant and colourful place. Going to India isn't so much of a holiday – it's a change of life entirely; everything is a huge adventure. We went to Jaipur and Udaipur where my wife bought lots of things for our festival, Bestival.
Favourite place in the British Isles?
Definitely the Isle of Wight, where we run Bestival. We bought a house down there and fell in love all over again with the island. I like the fact that a lot of people who come to the festival are visiting for the first time since they were kids and they really rediscover it. It's got everything: chalk cliffs, marsh lands and beautiful sandy beaches. It's so beautiful and it feels like a proper holiday. There's also an incredibly energy; I think it's a very creative place.
What have you learnt from your travels?
That I've got quite a sensitive stomach! I've fallen ill quite a few times travelling in Asia. Apart from that, I think the more you travel, the more creative and imaginative you become.
Ideal travelling companion?
My wife Josie. We've been together since we were 18 so we've done all of our travelling together. We can live in each other's pockets without winding each other up.
Beach bum, culture vulture or adrenalin junkie?
I'm a mixture of all three. However I've learnt that I'm not that great at sunbathing for three weeks; I like to be stimulated, whether it's hang-gliding in Rio, noseying around museums or just swimming in the sea. That's why places like India and Thailand appeal, because there's amazing coastline plus all that culture.
Greatest travel luxury?
Travelling without my kids. They're one and three and lately we've done a couple of short trips to Ibiza or festivals without them and flying can actually be quite relaxing. Saying that, I only really want to do it once or twice a year.
I normally have three or four books on the go – lots of travel writing and fiction.
Where has seduced you?
India. Goa has been tainted by the tie-dye and rave crew but there are beautiful places like Palolem, too. We'd get up at six in the morning and do yoga with a proper yogi and live a very healthy lifestyle when we were there. It's not all burgers and ecstasy. At the time I thought I could live there.
Better to travel or arrive?
If we're with our kids, I want to get there because travelling long distances is pretty stressful. We took our son to Thailand when he was one and a half and he got a bit of a sniffle when he was there. We took him to a doctor who got very over excited saying he had double pneumonia, but thankfully he was ok. It was worrying though.
Worst travel experience?
Taking a rickshaw from Mumbai train station in the middle of the night. The driver smiled sweetly when we got in then whisked us off through all these back streets and refused to talk to us. We thought we were for it – it was quite hairy but eventually we persuaded him to let us out.
When we were kids my parents drove us to Berlin just after the wall had come down – to see that poverty was a real eye-opener. The grey landscapes really stuck with me.
I can't remember the name of it but it was in Warsaw. I'd been DJ-ing and I had missed the flight and had to get the train there, which was a relic from the Second World War, with sandwiches made out of cardboard. I couldn't speak the language then ended up in a flea pit. It was just grim; I remember setting traps around the bedroom door.
The Oberoi Udaivilas in Udaipur. It's set on the banks of a lake and is real five- star luxury, but still very Indian. It is the most relaxing place I've ever been too. Nothing was too much trouble.
Sailing down the river Yar on the Isle of Wight. It's only about a mile long and is beautifully picturesque. It's like the Norfolk Broads but really tranquil and unspoilt. If I've been having a hard time London I have a little sail down it and I instantly feel better.
Best meal abroad?
In Capri, just before Josie and I got married. We went swimming in the sea and got out of the water at a beach café. The waiter asked if we wanted lobster and spaghetti. It ended up costing about £30 each, which at that time was probably half our budget. However it was amazing.
First thing you do when you arrive somewhere new?
Open the mini bar. Or, if there isn't one, try and find a bar. Josie swears by gin and tonic to relax.
The Himalayas, Bali, Greek islands, Chile and Peru.
Barcelona. It hasn't always been my favourite city but I think it has really come into itself. The general vibe is great; the fact you can have a beach in a city with all the culture and history thrown in too is fantastic.
Hopefully the Ile de Ré with my family. The kids are just the right age to go camping now.
Rob da Bank is a presenter on BBC Radio 1, Mondays midnight-4am. Bestival takes place on the Isle of Wight from 11-13 September ( bestival.net)
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