Expedition Asia host Ryan Pyle at the peak of Mt. Apo with his local guide Albert Gabriel: It's a magical experience, most memorable during my visit to the Philippines
The Canadian explorer who climbed Mt. Apo
FUNFARE - Ricky Lo (The Philippine Star) - May 20, 2020 - 12:00am

I’m not sure how many people have reached the peak of Mt. Apo, said to be the highest mountain in the Philippines at 2,939 meters/9,639 feet above sea level and located in Mindanao. One of them is Canadian explorer Ryan Pyle, host of Expedition Asia which premieres on Discovery Channel on June 2 (Tuesday).

“It was magical,” Pyle said in an e-mail interview with The STAR. “My guide Albert and I were lucky because it didn’t rain when we did it.”

Born in Toronto, Canada, Pyle holds an International Politics degree from the University of Toronto. In 2001, he traveled to China on an exploratory mission. In 2002, he moved to China permanently. He became a regular contributor to the New York Times. This year, Pyle began working full time on television and documentary film production, and has produced and presented several multi-episode TV series for major networks in the US, Canada, UK, Asia, China and Continental Asia.

You have a very exciting and interesting job. What have you learned from the different cultures you have discovered and how do you use the knowledge to enrich your own?

“Constantly traveling and filming and exploring the world is magical and it’s a great job to have. The most important thing that I learn about all the different cultures I get to interact with is tolerance. I love to experience different religions and different ways of life and it’s always important to be respectful of everyone’s different opinions and always remember that when I travel, I am a guest in someone else’s country, and a traveler should always be respectful.”

What were your expectations when you accepted the job?

“It’s a dream to film a television series like Expedition Asia and be able to work with a broadcaster like Discovery Channel. It was such a wonderful opportunity to explore the very best adventure locations that Asia has to offer as we had such an amazing time filming in the Philippines, China, Indonesia, Malaysia, Mongolia, Taiwan, Kyrgyzstan, Thailand, India and Hong Kong.”

How do you prepare before visiting a country (research, etc.)?

“We do a lot of pre-production research about each country, its culture and history, and we work hard to explore and understand the more remote regions, what their landscapes are like, and what the potential dangers and rewards of travel might be.

“In every episode, I always work with a local guide who leads me on a great adventure. While I am a frequent traveler, I am not always familiar with the local environment. So, working with a local guide is very important, not only for our safety, but also to help us properly understand where we are traveling and what we are seeing.”

Which country have you found most mystifying so far?

“Every country we visit is very special. It’s hard to say that I find one country more exciting or more beautiful than another country. I can say that our journey climbing Mt. Apo with my guide Albert was really educational and amazing as I had no idea that the Philippines had such an amazing high mountain environment. I hope I can come back to the Philippines and explore more of the country and connect with more of its amazing people.”

Do you stay in a country long enough to imbibe its culture?

“Not always. This is a problem that every frequent traveler has: it’s that every visit feels too short. For Expedition Asia, we mainly stay for about seven to 10 days in a country for filming, and that is always too short. We would love to stay for months, but we always have to move on and film the next episode.”

Tell us about your visit to the Philippines and what interesting discoveries did you find?

“Every time I visit and explore the Philippines, I have an amazing time, and it’s always because of the warmth and hospitality of the local people. My mountain guide Albert and his local team of guides and porters were amazing partners on our climb up Mt. Apo - the highest mountain in the Philippines. What we found most magical is that we didn’t have any rain, which is very common in that region during February, when we were filming there.”

Have you always been curious and fascinated about the culture of countries other than your own?

“No. Not at all. In my early years, I played basketball. I was a good player and I even played for my university’s  basketball team. So, from the age of eight to 22 years old, I was mostly just concerned with playing basketball at the highest level possible. Once I ended my basketball career, I wasn’t good enough to play professional, that is when I started to get very interested in traveling and exploring. From my first visit to China in 2001, I have never really stopped.”

What are your three most fantastic adventures so far?

“My three most fantastic adventures all happened this season while filming Expedition Asia. They were: crossing the Badain Jaran Desert in western China on foot, climbing Mt. Apo in the Philippines, and trekking the Maclehose Trail and climbing Lion Rock in Hong Kong.”

(E-mail reactions at rickylophilstar@gmail.com. For more updates, photos and videos, visit www.philstar.com/funfare or follow me on Instagram @therealrickylo.)

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