10 Travel Questions with 'Whale Wars' Peter Jay Brown
Peter Jay Brown is a traveler, filmmaker, ocean activist, unwitting star of Animal Planet’s Whale Wars — which is maybe where you’d know him from, ramming illegal whalers onboard The Sea Shepherd. He directed the 2012 documentary Confessions of an Eco-Terrorist. And he was one of the original directors on Entertainment Tonight. You know that show!
Currently he’s working on Confessions II – We Have Met The Enemy and campaigning against Salmon Farms.
“The farming of salmon has been sold to the public as a good thing, but it is a huge threat to the oceans, and is lousy food. Most farmed fish are fed GMO food, loads of antibiotics and pesticides. These “farms” are destroying ecosystems and are causing the extinction of wild salmon and the bears, eagles, and indigenous cultures they support. Why? So we humans can eat contaminated fake food in sushi bars. I am trying to educate the masses. If people knew what they were eating… they would not eat it.”
What has been your worst travel experience?
To me often travel is much more fun when you talk about it later, after the bug bites have healed. The worse the situation and you survive, the better the experience and story later. My one I really remember, I was in a crowded Indian airport with 30 cases of film gear. One minute it was there, the next it all disappeared in a crowd. I did get it all back, but it was quite an experience.
What’s the most stunning place you’ve been to?
Band-e-Amir in Afghanistan, about half a day above Bamiyan, where the famous Buddhist statues were blown up by the Taliban. You proceed over a dirt track up a mountain. I hitched a ride on “Afghan truck” seated next to a half a dozen sheep. After the first hour the sheep were looking good (for warmth, we’re hoping…) as the temperatures plummeted. I have no idea the elevation, [almost 10,000 ft, FYI] but seated on a high plateau are a number of volcano-like cones with deep blue water cascading down over bright yellow sulfur rocks. Nomads and caravans linger around the pools at the bottom of the falls. I had never seen anything like it. I reached down and took a handful of water. It was blue… really blue like someone had dyed it. I made friends with a nomad kid and we watched the sunset together. Thank God I had a guide down the sulfur walls to the plateau. The kid caught me a ride on another truck down the mountain.
Where are you never allowed to go again?
I am really not allowed into Japan without legal hassle. There have been times in my life that countries with whom I have tangled, over issues like whaling, sealing, basic ocean mayhem… have issued interpol warrants against me. For the record these all turned out to be “political warrants” and have been dropped. I did get my visa in Ireland revoked recently for work I was doing against salmon farms in Galway Bay. But other than that, I have an American Express card, so I’m ultimately welcome most places
The friendliest place you’ve been to?
I usually find everywhere friendly. The Afghans make the best friends and worst enemies. Indigenous tribes are usually very structured and welcoming, and believe it or not, genuinely happy. When one is open to others, they will be open to you.
The best place (hotel) you’ve ever stayed, and why?
I’ve stayed in a number of real shitholes, but I’ve stayed in some really nice hotels too. I spent 30 days on tour with Diana Ross throughout Europe doing the tour film. She, and therefore me, stayed in the nicest places in Europe.
I love the old African game hotels and got the best service and treatment with a safari company called Tropical Ice.
The thing you have to take everywhere with you. What is it?
I always take a mosquito net, and toothbrush.
Your favorite city, what are your favorite spots in your favorite city?
I love the small parts of Rome… I like the seedy parts of town best. I love real Italian food and the way they eat and enjoy a meal.
What inspires you?
I try to leave the world a little better when I leave than it was when I came.
You need to think the absurd to accomplish the impossible. Someone else said that, but I try to live it. 65 and still having fun!
What’s your most useful travel advice?
Go places with an open mind. Every place is not America, thank god, and if there are lots of local people there, their way of life probably won’t kill you.
Get out of your bubble and experience life of the real people where you are. Be open and interested and it will make all the difference in the world.
What’s the best discovery you’ve made recently?
I found that it is useful and interesting to be a member of The Explorers Club. I travel so much my mail never caught up with me.