Tag Archives: documentary

Journey of a Lifetime – a travel grant

I received an email, inviting talented travellers to participate in this travel grant organised by the Royal Geographical Society (UK) and BBC radio 4.

The catch is you have to fly to London should you be shortlisted for an interview. The Deadline is on Friday 26 September 2008. The chosen applicant would get £4,000 for their dream journey and a chance to make a radio documentary of it.

Great opportunity for those who would love to get their hands on some travel funding on their next dream trip. Go for it!

Journey of a Lifetime – A Grant

For those with a genuine curiosity about the world around them, the Journey of a Lifetime is a grant of £4,000 for an original and inspiring journey anywhere in the world. The winner will receive training in radio broadcasting from the BBC and will record their experiences for a BBC Radio 4 documentary.

The aim of the award is to inspire an interest in the people and places of the world
and to discover new radio broadcasting talent.

About the award

The Royal Geographical Society (with IBG), in partnership with BBC Radio 4, offers you the chance to make a journey of a lifetime and to tell the world about it in a memorable piece of radio documentary-making. Each year the RGS-IBG and the BBC support the best idea for an original, exciting, and exceptional journey. It is important that the project takes you somewhere fresh, different and original. Therefore it is a good idea to bear in mind where the previous winners have been (Egypt in 2006, Kenya in 2007). For further details please see our website.

Your journey needs really to matter to you: we need to feel your passion and enthusiasm and Radio 4 listeners need to be fascinated. The BBC already broadcasts a lot of documentaries about faraway places. When developing your idea, make sure it is the sort of thing journalists rarely have the time to cover. Most reporters can only afford the time and money to make short visits to meet important people and do not get immersed in the local society.

The programme you will be making needs to tell your story – and that of the journey and the place you will be visiting – in a graphic and attractive way.

Think of all the audio potential in the idea – not just indigenous music and sounds, but how you are going to find interesting sounds within the substance of the journey (by keeping an audiodiary, for example). Radio is very good on atmospherics and imaginative pictures, but you need to think about what your journey and your destination offer to create those pictures.

In terms of where you choose to go –anywhere you can think of is potentially an interesting destination.

Eligibility guidelines

  • You will be travelling between February and July 2009
  • Applicants must be aged 18 or over
  • BBC, RGS-IBC staff and their close relatives are not eligible to apply for grants
  • The BBC will retain editorial control over any programme it may make. It cannot guarantee that any programme it may make will be broadcasted.
  • Interviews will be held, in London. You must be able to attend these interviews in person
  • Applications from small teams rather than solo travellers are accepted, but please make it clear in your application if this is the case
  • The award is for independent travel. We will NOT consider any journey joining a commercial expedition or pre-paid tour, including organised charity fundraising tours

Application process

Applications may be submitted electronically in word format, by mail, or by fax by 26 September 2008.

Initial Proposal

Applying to the Journey of a Lifetime Award is easy. We are only looking for the ‘pitch’ of your
idea at this stage- the core idea that makes this your Journey of a Lifetime. Your pitch should be
no longer than 550 words and should provide;

  1. A Two line summary- A very brief description of your planned journey. Think of this as what Journey of a Lifetime £4,000 and a BBC Radio 4 documentary for an inspiring and original journey would appear as your headline in the Radio Times.
  2. A 250-300 word description of the journey in more detail. You do not have to include everything listed here, but it may help you to consider;
  • Why is this a journey of a lifetime
  • Why will this make a good radio broadcast – Why is this of interest to the audience
  • How will you achieve the journey – What will you get out of it
  • What will the audience get out of it
  • Why you and not somebody else
  • How did you hear about the award

Please remember to keep this brief. At this stage we are not looking for detailed route plans and

Applications should be submitted by email, mail, or fax to the grants officer at the society by 26
September 2008. From the initial proposals, up to ten projects will be shortlisted by a panel of
judges. Those selected will be asked to prepare a detailed proposal.

Detailed Proposal
Applications should be submitted electronically in word format, by mail, or by fax and must contain the following information:

  • Title and short abstract (max 100 words)
  • Full contact details
  • A description of your journey. This might include your motivation for the journey, a description of the aspects of the journey that would make interesting radio, your aspirations following the journey and your previous travel experience. (1,000 words)
  • A breakdown of the budget for the different aspects of the journey.
  • An outline timetable for the journey.
  • A risk assessment and safety management plan (max 300 words).
  • Please include the latitude and longitude of your destination (These are used by the RGS-IBG to geocode information about our grants programme in GIS)
  • Please indicate how you heard about the Journey of a Lifetime Award.


  • Interviews will be held at the RGS-IBG in December 2008.
  • After the interviews two of the applicants will be asked to attend a training day at the BBC. A final decision regarding the winner will be made following this training day. This training day is part of the evaluation.


  • Within a month of your return you should submit a 1000 word report detailing your journey and including three to five digital images that capture the spirit of the project.
  • The award winner may be asked to present a lecture on the project work at the RGS-IBG at a mutually convenient date
  • The Society’s support should be acknowledged in all publications and outputs. Copies of any such publications and outputs should be submitted to the Society
  • Award details may be published in the Society’s publications and on the website
  • The RGS-IBG requires that the projects it funds be conducted in an ethical and responsible manner and that recipients fulfil all their institution’s health and safety requirements and ethical approvals.
  • Full details of the Society’s ethical guidelines for research can be found at http://www.rgs.org/OurWork/Grants/Grants.htm

Note: Digital photographs should be in JPEG or TIFF format and at a quality of 300 dpi or more in A5 size.

Contact/ Applications
Grants Officer
Royal Geographical Society (with IBG)
1 Kensington Gore
T: (0) 20 7591 3073
F: (0) 20 7591 3031
E: grants@rgs.org
W: http://www.rgs.org/grants

The Royal Geographical Society (with IBG) offers many other grants for different areas of geographical research at different career stages.
Full details of all grants can be found at http://www.rgs.org/grant

Please note: an application may only be made for one grant per project, with the exception of the Henrietta Hutton Research Grants and the Gilchrist Fieldwork Award.


Swaziland best known for its King and his many wives

“Without the King, there will be no culture”, shares Swaziland Princess Sikhanyiso. She hosted at the annual Reef Dance.

Umhlanga festival commonly known as the Reef dance where young women from all over the country comes together to celebrate their chastity of being virgins, dancing topless.

This is also where the King of Swaziland comes to choose his next wife. Last count with 13 wives and 3 fiances although 2 of his wives left him by running away.

The polygamous King took a new wife at the festival who was 2 years younger than the Princess in 2006.

Last weekend, I watched a documentary “Without the King” about Swaziland. The documentary directed by Michael Skolnik gives a subtle view of the country without vomiting its western judgements onto the viewer.

Skolnik’s documentary follows Princess Sikhanyiso, eldest child of the Swaziland ruler from her country to her first year of christian college in California and the plight of Swaziland people.

The documentary contrast the lavish lifestyle of the royal family, the multiple palaces to house each of the king’s wives and his offsprings to the disparity of the Swazi people living in impoverished shacks. There are glimpses of the growing political revolt and mis-content of its starving people. One shocking scene at the beginning shows a Swazi village where people cook raw animal intestines that they ravage a garbage dump and the mis-management of the government who fail to provide running water to an agriculturally fertile land.

Swaziland is a tiny country nestled between South Africa and Mozambique, is the last remaining functioning monarchy of the African Nations. Ruled by King Mswait III, the last absolute African monarch, Swaziland has one of the highest rate of HIV/AIDS in the world, about 35-40% of its population. Swazi people face a startling life expectancy around 31 years of age.

It is also one of the poorest country in Africa where people face starvation and poverty, GDP per capita was $5,500 (estimated in 2005), 34 per cent of the population are unemployed. 69% of its Swazi people live with less than us$1 a day.

Politically, there is a constitution. the King has a nominal government with the prime minster, cabinet and legislative body chosen by him. Opposition parties are banned, any protest or rallies for a more constitutional democracy is often squashed by the police. The country’s human rights record is also one of the worst in the world which is largely ignored by the International Media.

The documentary also shows while the King becomes more oblivious to the dire situation plaguing the country, the Princess self-indulgent views of her country slowly falters. She gives a hint of insight about the monarchy troubled by its internal power struggles between the royal family, about her mother Queen LaMbikiza, often anointed as the Rebel queen. Sidenote what the documentary didn’t mention and soap opera potential: The Queen received a law education via a correspondence degree from a South African University. Married at age of 16 when she met the King at an annual reef dance. She was once accused by the royal family of attempting to poison the king and had fled to London before returning to the country upon the king’s request.

In the last scene of the film, the Princess shows her concern and ponders about the possibility of having a revolution in her lifetime while she visits a AIDS children orphanage casting a little hope of a monarchy reform and political consciousness.

A high task for her if she ever tries to reform her country against the wills and political aspirations of a large royal family filled with 200 of the King’s own siblings and their families, 25 children of the King and his growing number of wives. A more likely scenario would be a civil war and the abolishment of the monarchy altogether. An optimist would prefer a monarchy reform, but if history has proven over centuries, power corrupts and for those in power throughout history of mankind, who has ever gave up their wealth and riches for poverty and obscurity?

Update : Apparently this documentary is banned in Swaziland for being seditious.

Bookmark https://ihavetravellust.wordpress.com/2008/08/18/swaziland-best-known-for-its-king-and-his-many-wives/

Phuket Vegetarian Festival

A festival I have wanted to visited for the longest time.

I’m planning a trip to Phuket, Thailand for the Vegetarian Festival which starts from 29Sept – 7 October 2008. Update : Bought my airticket via AirAsia, I’m finally going!

The festival’s actual name, the Nine Emperor God (Kiu Ong Lah) festival is held annually in the ninth month of the Chinese Lunar Calendar is unique to the Chinese community here in Phuket. The locals, observe a 10 day vegetarian diet along with spiritual cleansing similar in style like the Indians worshippers of Lord Murugan Thaipusam Festival.

Many sacred rituals are performed during this period involves fire-walking, self mutilations and torture, divine posssesions, body/face piercings.

Gruesome Video on the piercings and procession

National Geographic Taboo Documentary – not very detailed and more related to the ritual understandings and cultural aspects.

If you understand Cantonese or read Mandarin, here’s a brief detailed documentary on what the ceremony is all about.

Bookmark https://ihavetravellust.wordpress.com/2008/04/11/phuket-vegetarian-festival-october-2008/