New Caledonia (S3.05)

New Caledonia Audio

In this episode we’ll be talking about the New Caledonia, a French unique collectivity in the southwestern Pacific Ocean, about 900 miles (1,500 km) east of Australia. It includes the island of New Caledonia, where the capital, Nouméa, is located; the Loyalty Islands; the Bélep Islands; and the Isle of Pines as well as a number of far-flung uninhabited islets.

The main island is by far the largest and contains about nine-tenths of the population. It is surrounded by a coral reef, which encloses a large number of lagoons. These lagoons, with their diverse reefs and associated ecosystems, were designated a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2008. Sighted and named by Captain James Cook in 1774, it was later colonised by the French and turned into a penal colony.

New Caledonia has a land area of around 18,000 km2 (or 7,000 sq mi), making it just slightly smaller than Israel or the US state of New Jersey. Its population of around 270,000 consists mostly of a mix of Kanak people (the original inhabitants of New Caledonia), other Melanisians and people of European descent.

Your hosts are Luke Kelly in Hong Kong (@thelukejkelly), Joe Byrne in Bern, Switzerland (@anbeirneach), Mark Boyle in Surrey in the UK (@markboyle86) and our guest John Killeen (@johnkilleen90), who visited New Caledonia last year. Theme music by Thomas O’Boyle (@thatthomasfella)

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Map of New Caledonia

Here are a few handy links for learning more about New Caledonia;

  • You can learn more about the New Caledonian upcoming independence referendum here on Wikipedia. The referendum is due to take place on November 4th, 2018, although according to a recent report by Radio New Zealand, support for independence is waning.
  • There’s a handy map of Captain Cook’s voyages around the world on Encyclopedia Britannica. He’s a man worth knowing about!
  • Here’s an image of the weird forked flagpole we described in this episode.
  • More info on the delicious-sounding New Caledonian dish Bougna can be found here.
  • The US government film used in this episode is entitled ‘Our Troops in New Caledonia’ and can be found on Archive.org
  • Find more on the ridiculously easy to hunt Kagu bird here.
  • You can view the photos that are described in this episode (courtesy of our friend John Killeen) below. None of John in the bath just yet, unfortunately.

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The music you heard in this episode was from the following sources;

A massive thanks to all of our patrons on Patreon who are supporting season 3. If you’d like to join them and see what rewards are available for supporters, and get a peek behind the curtain check out www.patreon.com/80dayspodcast. We really appreciate every penny!

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80 Days shortlisted for the Podcast Awards

We’re absolutely delighted to have been shortlisted in the People’s Choice Podcast Awards this year for the first time. We are nominated in the Education Category, alongside shows we respect, like The History of Witchcraft and Dig.

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Our fate is in the hands of the listener-judges now, so fingers crossed that we’ll have good news when the winner is announced!

S02E09: Liechtenstein

S02E09 Liechtenstein Audio

In this episode of 80 Days: an exploration podcast,  we’ll be talking about Liechtenstein,  a tiny European principality, sandwiched between Switzerland and Austria that is still ruled by the same family since the early 18th century. In a small valley towards the beginning of the mighty Rhine river, it was frequented by the Romans and incorporated into the empire before that all went sideways and the Vandals earned their name. After passing through the infuential spheres of central Europe through the centuries they were eventually taken over by the Liechtenstein family in a bid to get more favor with the Austro-Hungarian Empire (which worked a treat as it happened.) They side-stepped the devastation of World War 2 and spent the latter half of the 20th century becoming a financial services powerhouse, while also making a surprisingly successful go of manufacturing – dentures and drills in particular. Builders drills. Not dentists drills. Though there’s a business plan in there somewhere.

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Liechtenstein – strong contender for the nicest place we’ve profiled. Apologies to Liberia…

Your hosts are Luke Kelly @thelukejkelly in Hong Kong, Mark Boyle @markboyle86 in the UK, and Joe Byrne @anbeirneach in Switzerland/Liechtenstein. (Theme music by Thomas O’Boyle)

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In a break from our normal desktop research, we sent the intrepid Joe Byrne into the field with the savage Liechtensteiners to risk his life in doing some field research. Turns out it’s super safe and lovely. Who knew? Well you did if you listened in, as well as the chilled out nature of the locals and how normal it is to just run into some royalty if you live there.

Proof of Joe’s expedition below-

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That’s Joe there, showcasing the Liechtenstein flag like a boss.

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Above are a selection of photos from Liechtenstein, including the Roman ruins and the bronze Celtic figurines discussed in the episode. More photos can be seen here.

Here are some HOTLINKS (guitar solo here) to give you all the extra background you apparently weren’t sufficed with in our mega-bumper podcast, you info-hungry maniac:

Some music associated with Liechtenstein:

Thanks to Sarah O’Farrell and Niall O’Leary for your support on Kickstarter and Sinéad Dowling who helped our man on the ground Joe Byrne with his visit and research. Thanks too to Martin Meier for a useful conversation and Donat Büchel, curator of the Liechtensteinische Landesmuseum for some assistance. Special thanks to students Julia and Sebbi from the Liechtensteinische Gymnasium (High School) for a long and informative interview – they make videos that can be found on YouTube.

Thanks too to our sponsor Hairy Baby, who in addition to making the funniest Irish-themed t-shirts, have also produced the official 80 Days shirt for our supporters. Find it by clicking here. You can get 10% off anything on www.hairybaby.com by using our promo code “80DAYS”.

Welcome to Hairy Baby: our Season 2 Sponsor

Hairy Baby Clothing CompanyWe are delighted to announce that Season 2 of 80 Days: an exploration podcast is being sponsored by Hairy Baby, the home of the funniest and most uniquely Irish t-shirts. The three of us enjoy their sense of humour, from Irish takes on iconic historical and pop-culture images to unique phrases from our childhood, so we’re very happy that they are supporting us. While Hairy Baby sell t-shirts (and mugs, among other things) and we produce a history podcast of small and often overlooked countries around the world, our missions are related – we both want to give creativity with an Irish accent a global reach. As 80 Days strives to tell the story of the whole world, one place at a time, Hairy Baby are launching a campaign to sell a t-shirt to every country in the world before St Patrick’s Day 2018 to celebrate their 10th birthday (The Round the World Challenge). We hope our loyal listeners, as far-flung as Brunei, Alaska, Panama and the Isle of Man, who have tuned in so far, can help them out as a thank-you for their assistance in making Season 2 possible.

Daragh Murphy, founder of Hairy Baby said;

“In the last three years alone we have exported our Irish humour Tees ‘n’ Things to over 70 countries, which is a reflection of how far and wide the Irish Diaspora has travelled. We believe the Irish have landed up everywhere so we thought it would be cool to highlight that fact by challenging ourselves to ship to every country in the world by Paddy’s Day 2018. When we were researching the challenge, we came across 80 Days and thought it was the perfect fit to compliment our own goal. Joe, Luke and Mark are typical of their generation and have a quality product in the 80 Days podcasts. We want to ship to every country in the world and the lads want to tell everyone about those them, especially the more unusual places.”

Hairy Baby will print the official 80 Days t-shirts for those who backed our recent Kickstarter campaign. You can also purchase our exclusive 80 Days t-shirt here throughout Season 2 and part of the proceeds will contribute to our costs this year. We have also secured a special 10% OFF coupon code on Hairy Baby for our listeners throughout Season 2. Use the Coupon Code “80days” on hairybaby.com and get 10% off anything your purchase.

Season 2 is going to be more detailed and better than what’s gone before thanks to the incredible support we’ve gotten through our Christmas Kickstarter Campaign. This has made it realistic to upgrade equipment, carry out some interviews with experts from a number of countries and even do some on-site recording for a few of the episodes. This wouldn’t have been possible without Hairy Baby and the dozens of listeners who chipped in. And you can still make a contribution if you purchase our exclusive 80 Days t-shirt during Season 2.

Season 2 is nearing the end of production and will be released before Easter 2017.

Listeners can look forward to stories from a wide range of places, including areas with heavy Irish links, like Newfoundland, to less familiar countries including the Gambia and Uruguay. We’re very excited.

General information: 80 Days: an exploration podcast is dedicated to exploring the history, geography and culture of little known countries, territories and cities from around the world. It is brought to you by three self-proclaimed history and geography nerds, Luke, Joe and Mark, broadcasting from Hong Kong, Switzerland and the UK, respectively. The podcast, details of how to subscribe and much more information about the places already explored in Season 1 can be found on www.80dayspodcast.com. Feedback, suggestions and comments are always welcome, no matter where in the world you come from.

Kickstarter Campaign fully funded… and then some!

We are delighted with the response we got to our Christmas Kickstarter Campaign! The drive closed today, and we raised 300% of our target, ending with over €1000 in support to help us make Season 2 of the podcast in the coming months. Thank you to all of our dedicated backers; a list of their names will appear on the site soon, and you will hear many of them thanked by name on-air in Season 2.

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We’re also very excited to announce that we will be welcome a season-long sponsor aboard for the next batch of ten countries – more details on that soon.

We want our listeners to be involved in making a great show, and were so happy to have so many people step up to make that happen. You can always get involved too, by letting us know what you think of the show, recommending locations, sending us unique trivia, leaving us a review on iTunes (or wherever you get your podcasts), sending us sounds from interesting places around the world, or even just telling a friend about the podcast.

Once more, thank you toall of our backers – you are making Season 2 possible.

Christmas Special: Lapland (“Sápmi”)

Christmas Special: Lapland audio

For the festive season, 80 Days brings you a Christmas special on the most appropriate place we could think of, complete with reindeer and Santa Claus: Lapland, or – as the native Sami people prefer to call it – Sápmi. This is a large region of Fennoscandanavia, north of the Arctic Circle, with its territory spanning parts of Finland, Norway, Sweden and Russia (see map). This episode will touch on all areas of Lapland, but will focus primarily on the Finnish and Norwegian sides. The area is named for the indigenous people (and their specific language grouping), who have sparsely inhabited the region for several thousand years. 

In Lapland, winter lasts from early October to early May, with temperatures well below freezing throughout the region and up to 60 cm or 23 inches of snow during midwinter. However, in summer the sun does not set on the region for several weeks at a time.  Population has declined quite significantly since 1990, and the region is now home to approximately 180,000 people. Residents are spread across a total area of just over 100,000 square kilometers, or 38,000 square miles, and there are as many reindeer here as there are people. Your hosts are Luke Kelly @thelukejkelly, Mark Boyle @markboyle86 and Joe Byrne @anbeirneach, in Hong Kong, the UK and Switzerland, respectively. (Theme music by Thomas O’Boyle)

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Some things you might like to know more about:

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  • A lot has been written about Lapland’s most famous resident and how he came to be here. Most of it is mysterious and people make some wild guesses (often not true), but here, in no particular order, are a few resources that might be useful about Santa Claus and his village near Rovaniemi, Finnish Lapland. Who is St. Nicholas (about his early years in Myra); Andrea McDonald’s account of visitingHistory of Santa Claus (on the-north-pole.com), Santa Claus and His Works (New York Times piece describing the contributions of artist Thomas Nast to the image of Santa’s snowy abode); Head to Finnish Lapland… (a 2009 article in the Independent, including descriptions of Santa’s village); Checking Out Santa’s Workshop in Lapland (a 1988 article in the LA Times describing visiting Santa in Rovaniemi). For the more cynical, a stuffy article on postmodernism and Finnish tourism policy can be found here (for all the Scrooges out there!).
  • You can often watch people visiting Santa live (or look back at earlier recordings) at this website, which is wonderfully magic

We hope you have a happy Christmas and a wonderful new year and that you are looking forward to joining us for Season 2 in the coming months. As always, please get in touch if you are enjoying what you are hearing or have anything to share with us!

 

Find out about our Christmas Kickstarter campaign by clicking here. With your help we can make Season 2 even better than Season 1!
(https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/80dayspodcast/80-days-podcast-season-2)

S01E10: Kowloon Walled City (Season Finale)

S01E10 Kowloon Walled City audio

For the Season Finale of the first season of 80 Days, we’re going to do something a little different and look at a place that no longer exists: Kowloon Walled CityOnce the most densely populated place in the planet, this unique, untamable settlement existed in Hong Kong, growing up from a military settlement which was originally built to demarcate the border between the British and Chinese controlled areas in the territory. It grew in size and scope to become a tightly-packed labyrinth of illegal activity and squalor, unregulated by either the Chinese or British governments. At its peak, over 30,000 people lived in the Walled City, resulting in a population density of approximately 1,255,000 inhabitants per square kilometre (3,250,000/sq mi). It was demolished in 1994, shortly before China retook control of Hong Kong, but has since become a cultural touchstone,  a fascinating example of what humanity can become when allowed to run unchecked. Your hosts are Luke Kelly @thelukejkelly, Mark Boyle @markboyle86 and Joe Byrne@anbeirneach, in Hong Kong, the UK and Switzerland, respectively. (Theme music byThomas O’Boyle)

A large solid block of ramshackle buildings varying in height, with many taller buildings and some mountains in the background.

Some things you might like to know more about:

  • The name Kowloon, given to the peninsula north of Hong Kong Island, comes from the Cantonese pronunciation of 九龍, Chinese for “Nine Dragons” (gau lung, or in Madarin Jiǔ ng); the name was given to it by the last Song Emporer, the 8-year-old Bing (), who saw the 8 mountains surrounding the place as “dragons”. A clever courtier pointed out that the Emperor was also a “dragon”, and hence there were 9. The story is told here in HK Magazine
  • We drew a few quotes and a lot of insight from Elizabeth Sinn’s article Kowloon Walled City: Its Origins and Early History” (Journal of the Hong Kong Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society, 1987, vol 27, p 30); for a more detailed account of this era, this article is recommended reading
  • When the Fortified City was built in 1846,  giant stone name plaques decorated the main gate to the city (reading , translated as Kowloon Walled City); they were excavated and can still be seen on the site today
  • The Opium Wars led to dramatic changes in this region of Qing China, with Hong Kong and later Kowloon falling into British hands through the  Peking Convention. Read further information about the wars from Julia Lovell (Birbeck, University of London) or Encyclopaedia Britannica
  • Mark came across a cannon from the ship Nemesis (the British East India Company’s first iron-clad warship) in the gardens of Windsor Castle; it is pictured below. More on the Nemesis from Victorian Web.

A cannon from the ship

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  • Finally, here is some handheld camera footage by Rob Frost from the early 1990s inside the City:

We hope you enjoyed listening to Season 1. We’ll be taking a break for a couple of months to get production of Season 2 under way, but you may hear from us occasionally during the break. If you’ve been entertained by what you heard, then let us know – leave a review on iTunes (or wherever you listen), or get in touch on Facebook or Twitter. We also really welcome feedback about places we’ve explored and recommendations for where we should go next season.