Eight Countries in Six Weeks: The Journey of Making The Web Series

“Go travel and bring a GoPro with you to document your travel and share it on YouTube,” said my dear friend who apparently was hinting that I should consider my next career as a YouTube star, after finding out that I now had some free time from my food trends research profession which I had been doing for a while. My first reaction was to laugh off his idea (the part about taping my travels). I was indeed planning to take this free time to add more countries to the list of countries I had already traveled to which was bordering 80.

The next morning, I woke up and still had my friend’s suggestion in my mind. I no longer had to write reports and present trends on food consumption in a professional setting, but I was a storyteller at heart and needed to tell my story in one platform or another. Recording my travels and telling my stories on YouTube would be my new avenue of communication. I have always been passionate about telling a fascinating food story (I had graduated with a Food Studies graduate degree from NYU and had written countless papers on topics such as Jewish Americans’ affinity with Chinese food or Malaysian food being the forefather of all fusion cuisine). Now I could also tell stories about my travels with visual aid in the form of recorded clips to help make them more fascinating. So I went online and ordered myself a refurbished GoPro, and accessories like stabilizer stick.

My flight path to the eight countries.

I was taking off to eight countries covering Africa, Asia and Europe over the span of six weeks. I would go to Malaysia (where I was born) first, followed by South Africa, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Mongolia, Japan, South Korea and France. I decided to call my series “8 Countries in 6 Weeks”. As for the name of my YouTube channel, it would be tied to the goal of my uploads which would be to encourage viewers to eat something they had yet tried before or see a place they had yet visited before. With my last name being LIM, I thought it would be cute (or corny to some of my friends) that I call it “Go Out On A LIM”. I would plan to use that phrase as a greeting in the beginning of every clip- “Hi. This is Andrew Lim inviting you to go out on a LIM,”-which I thought would make a great tagline.

Content wise, I would record my flight experiences including the use of the airline lounges. I would also record memorable places that I would visit and mouthwatering food that I would eat. I did not plan to tape every food and beverage item I ingested however. I cannot imagine that my viewers would be interested in seeing me down a bottle of non-sparkling water on the humid street of Narita.

Eating wild boar ribs in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia

Despite the use of stabilizer stick, the initial clips I had recorded still came out a tad shaky. Good thing I could fix them in post production- a skill set I picked up thanks to editing software that you can pay and download that will enable you to edit clips (without going to proper film production schools). I am sure my end products would look amateur compared to the work of those who have paid thousands of dollars in tuition to get a proper education on editing and production, but at least they will not look like the results of someone secretly taping a crush with his/her hair blocking half the screen (I hope).

Every country I visited left taping moments that were highly memorable. In Malaysia, when I was taping for the episode on the culture and cuisine of the Peranakan (Straits-born Chinese), I met the server at this Peranakan restaurant who took the time and patience to show me and explain to me the origin of almost every Peranakan antique that was on display at the restaurant. In Botswana, I patiently waited in the jeep with my safari guide for a leopard to come out from under a fallen tree. This leopard had just finished eating his prey and decided to take a rather long nap. In South Africa, the strong wind not only ruined my hairstyle but also the recordings with my voice in them. In France, I taped where Van Gogh used to stand and paint, and it was truly a surreal moment. In Mongolia, I nearly tripped over a herd of goats while talking to the camera with my back against them, nearly unleashing a torrent of angry goats coming after me with their horns. In Japan, my friend had captured on tape the ecstatic and relieved expression that I had on my face when I saw the fancy Japanese toilets. I had arrived in Japan after spending a few days in Central Mongolia where the toilet was simply a hole on the ground. So please forgive me for not being able to contain my excitement.

L-R: Van Gogh’s bedroom, sharks-infested False Bay

I had to edit the clips myself on almost every evening during my travel. When I was not out collecting new materials, I would lock myself up in my hotel room or even at my ger camp (during my stay in Mongolia) editing. There were a lot of materials to comb through for sure.

Each episode of the series will not be long. It will average 3–7 minutes depending on the subject. The 32 episodes (an estimate for now as I am still cutting them) are meant to entertain with bits of key information injected here and there. I am not giving a history lesson with every episode lest viewers leaving me within 2 seconds of viewing. There are way too many digital distractions these days and frankly, we all suffer from a mild case of ADD.

6 of the 32 episodes from the series.

I remember during my second week of taping, I had learned about the suicide of the great Anthony Bourdain. As a fan of not only his shows but also his traveling philosophy, and also his generosity of always wanting to help out the underdog in the culinary field, I was deeply saddened to learn of his passing. I live by many of his quotes (including some lengthy ones) but the simple quote below really resonates with my web series which contain all the elements mentioned in Tony’s quote. I simply cannot wait to share these episodes with you.

“I think food, culture, people and landscape are all absolutely inseparable.” — Anthony Bourdain 1956–2018

For the 10-minute trailer of “8 Countries in 6 Weeks”, please click on: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SaJe58H3Q4g&t=6s