73 minutes | Jan 27th 2021

Signs of Life: a 53,000-mile Bike Ride Around the World with Doctor Stephen Fabes

Follow travel author and doctor Stephen Fabes on a six year, 53,000-mile journey from his home in London across Europe, Africa, The Americas, Australia and Asia. He will cross deserts, jungles and the highest mountain ranges in the world; he will face the freezing winds of a Mongolian winter and the stifling heat of an Indonesian summer. In Peru, he is held up at gunpoint; in Nepal, a deadly blizzard strikes; in Kenya, he dodges shifta bandits; in Portland, he joins a naked rave. It's an incredible adventure. But it’s also more than that. It’s also a story about us. Stephen had a good job as an emergency room doctor, working at a prestigious hospital in London. His many years of training had just finished, his career was poised to take off. But he saw the years of his life unfolding before him, and though he was proud of what that life would be, it felt too predictable, too safe. So, he left. He cycled away from the hospital he worked at and didn’t return for six long years. He traded a comfortable city lifestyle for a $10 per day budget, wild camping by the side of the road. And guess what: he loved every minute of it. But the more he travelled, the more the doctor in him began to resurface. He visited medical clinics, mental health facilities and refugee slums. He volunteered at some of the poorest, and most war-torn regions on the planet. And the more he did, the more he began to realise that health is more complex than simply what’s happening inside the body. It is part of an intricate web of social and political forces; it is influenced by everything from geography and climate to belief and economics. By seeing the world through the eyes of a doctor, he shows us humanity at its most cruel, but also its most compassionate. He shows us that we are inextricably bound together, that we affect each other no matter how different or distant we may seem. In the margins of the world, he finds our common humanity, our Signs of Life.Highlights include:·      Cycle around six continents, a whirlwind journey through some of the planet’s harshest, most beautiful and awe-inspiring places.·      Ride across the Alps in winter, dodge lions in Botswana, sleep out on the salt flats of Bolivia, cycle frozen lakes in Mongolia,  pedal through a war zone in Afghanistan and more·      Visit some of the most vulnerable and marginalised communities on Earth, hear their stories of cruelty and compassion, desperation and hope·      See the world through a doctor’s eyes,  learning about the broader forces at work that affect global healthcare, from politics to climate change.·      Be inspired to break out of the mould and set off on your own big adventure, wherever that may beWho’s the Guest?Stephen Fabes is a medical doctor with a bad case of wanderlust and no sense of direction. His writing has appeared in The Guardian, the Telegraph, CNN and the BBC among others. He is a fellow of the Royal Geographical Society, an inspiring public speaker and a regular at live storytelling nights. He currently works in the Emergency Department at St Thomas’ Hospital in London. Signs of Life is his first book.  www.stephenfabes.com, @stephenfaves (Instagram), @drstephenfabes (twitter), @cyclingthe6 (Facebook)Thank you to The Great Courses Plus for sponsoring this episode. Go to www.thegreatcoursesplus.com/armchair to get a free one-month trial with access to unlimited streaming of thousands of videos and audio content taught by the world’s best professors. It’s like Netflix for your brain. Find out more about the show  www.armchair-explorer.com,  @armchairexplorerpodcast 
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