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The world’s best – known extreme tourist and his holidays in hell


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Drury has become the world’s best-known extreme tourist

Drury has grow to be the world’s best-known excessive vacationer (Picture: Adam Gerrard)

Andrew Drury left college at 16 with common {qualifications} and a obscure ambition that he would possibly grow to be a painter and decorator. It was an ambition he fulfilled, after which some. He now runs his personal profitable constructing agency using 40 folks. Which isn’t why the Day by day Specific is interviewing the father-of-four immediately.

It’s what he has accomplished in his spare time that has proved most notable. Due to his eccentric wanderlust and a thirst for hazard, Drury has grow to be the world’s best-known excessive vacationer.

Whereas journey hunters go off-piste within the Alps or take a canoe up the Amazon, Drury prefers an altogether extra adrenaline-inducing expertise.

A vacation for him could be a visit to the frontline in opposition to ISIS in Iraq; travelling to North Korea; visiting the positioning of the notorious US ‘Black Hawk Down’ battle in Mogadishu, Somalia; or just hanging out with jihadi bride Shamima Begum in her Syrian refugee camp.

Frankly the thoughts boggles, however every to their very own. The visits have over time morphed right into a type of citizen journalism, of which extra later.

However one factor has remained a continuing. The hazard which, it have to be stated, by no means appears that far-off throughout Drury’s adventures.

“I used to be in Erbil in northern Iraq in 2004 when ISIS suicide bombers blew up some authorities buildings simply as we had been checking in to the the Erbil Towers Lodge,” he remembers.

“As we had been about to examine in and get our room keys, the home windows of the lodge blew out, showering us in glass. I brushed the glass out of my hair with my hand, put our luggage down and went to see what injury had been accomplished.”

Andrew Drury at the crash site of one of the American Black Hawk helicopters in Mogadishu, Somalia

Andrew Drury on the crash web site of one of many American Black Hawk helicopters in Mogadishu, Somalia (Picture: Andrew Drury / Journey Hazard)

Regular vacationers would have run a mile, however Drury and his cousin and journey associate Nigel Inexperienced had been staying within the war-torn capital of Iraqi Kurdistan as a part of a journey from Turkey, by Iraq, and into Iran to go to the outdated American embassy there.

“A lorry pushed by a suicide bomber was detonated, destroying many Iraqi buildings and killing 55 folks,” he continues. “Some US troopers visited us later to say ISIS had been conscious of our presence and our video work and had put a $100,000 greenback reward on our heads as a result of they needed to make use of us as hostages. There should not many excessive vacationers. I’ve met one or two People however they solely did it a few times. I’m a little bit of a one-off.”

Briton Ken Bigley, 62, had been murdered by Islamic extremists in Baghdad in October 2004, so the 2 males knew they needed to get out quick and headed for the Iranian border. However they had been denied admission and needed to drive again by Iraq to Turkey.

Which did completely nothing to dissuade Drury from taking extra barely bonkers journeys within the intervening years. Does he really feel in any method irresponsible?

“Trying again it was egocentric and irresponsible, however I actually didn’t anticipate anybody to return and rescue me [if I got into trouble] and put their lives in danger,” he says.

“I taken care of myself. I put a jam underneath my door at evening so no one might get in my room. I did my homework, checked out maps and the roads and labored out an escape route. Getting killed or wounded by no means entered my head. You possibly can’t suppose like that.

“I solely go along with broadcasters now and so they have safety. I wouldn’t let my son be an excessive vacationer. I needed to expertise the feelings and emotions of the locals who discover themselves embroiled in horrendous conditions by no fault of their very own,

“Once I went again to Erbil in 2017 I used to be a modified man. I wasn’t going there for bragging rights. I had met so many journalists in peril spots, I needed to get a narrative to elucidate to folks what the combating was all about.”

Andrew in Iraq

Andrew in Iraq (Picture: Andrew Drury / Journey Hazard)

This time spherical, Drury attached with a Turkish TV workforce for a visit to the close by metropolis of Kirkuk throughout a lull within the combating.

There he bought speaking to an Iraqi common with the pro-government Abbas Militia.

“I assumed there was an quaint brown soccer mendacity by the highway and pointed it out. However he stated it was the abdomen of an ISIS suicide bomber from the evening earlier than and he casually kicked it into the bushes.”

A firefight began and Drury and his Turkish companions took cowl.

“An ISIS drone flew over, adopted by heavy machine gun fireplace,” he remembers. “The bullets had been whistling previous my head.”

The incident, recounted in his memoir, Journey Hazard,ended with 25 fatalities, among the many ISIS fighters.

Drury, who lives with main instructor spouse Rachel and their 4 youngsters, Holly, 23, Charlie, 22, Ruby, 11, and Bobby,14, in a quiet former farmhouse in Guildford, Surrey, says his household has grow to be used to his struggle zone travels. Rachel, he admits, prefers regular household holidays at seashore resorts in Cyprus, Dubai and Turkey, the place she has the issue of making an attempt to get her husband to simply lie on the seashore and absorb the solar.

Evidently, the Iraq firefight and suicide bombing weren’t Drury’s solely brush with dying.

Andrew with some heavily armed entourage of the Sikander Shah drug lord and gun runner in Pakistan

Andrew with some closely armed entourage of the Sikander Shah drug lord and gun runner in Pakistan (Picture: Andrew Drury / Journey Hazard)

“The Abbas troopers had been at all times taking the mickey out of me,” he smiles.

“They thought I used to be an eccentric Englishman and couldn’t imagine I used to be strolling round in a vest and no physique armour. There have been wires in all places linked to small explosive gadgets in no man’s land in Iraq. I’m fairly clumsy so each every so often there can be a small explosion someplace in no man’s land when a small bomb went off.”

Drury says he obtained the same response – disbelief and astonishment – when he travelled to North Korea as a vacationer with cousin Nigel in 2008.

“For some barmy motive the North Koreans cherished Norman Knowledge, the comedian with the humorous stroll, and so they anticipated British folks to behave like him,” he remembers. “We had minders who took us to all these statues of the Kim household, together with seeing the physique of Kim Jong-il mendacity in state.

“Earlier than we went into the room we needed to stand in entrance of large drying machines which blew mud and germs off us. I struggled to cease laughing as a result of I assumed there was no method he was going to catch any bugs from us as he’d been useless for fairly some time.

“One night they took us to a magic present. The magician put a large sheet over a full sized navy helicopter and stated he would make it disappear just like the American magician David Blaine. You can see and listen to the chains of a crane transferring the helicopter away. Even so, everybody clapped, even us.”

Drury with ISIS bride Shamima Begum in June 2022

Drury with ISIS bride Shamima Begum in June 2022 (Picture: Iraq)

The next day, they had been taken for a picnic in a forest outdoors the capital Pyongyang. Locals and guests alike bought drunk on rice wine. “It was one of many weirdest afternoons of my life, however we had fun,” Drury remembers.

“It was the one time we really noticed folks consuming usually and laughing. Everybody else we noticed appeared as if they had been half starved.”

In 2010, he took a a lot larger threat by going to Somalia to go to the positioning of the notorious 1993 Black Hawk Down incident when an American helicopter was shot down over Mogadishu, sparking a livid 18-hour firefight which pitted US forces in opposition to Somali militants and value 18 American lives.

“We discovered the stays of the helicopter within the backyard of a home within the capital Mogadishu,” he says. “It was smashed up however you can make out the rotor blades. We did have a bushy second after we visited a harmful market space. Our safety man stated we had 20 seconds to go away as we had aroused suspicion. They had been blockading roads to seal us in.”

Drury was born within the military city of Aldershot, Hampshire, the place his father Brian labored for the council as a contracts supervisor and mom Barbara taken care of an outdated folks’s house. Early household holidays had been spent at Hayling Island, Southsea and Cornwall if that they had the cash – a far cry from his later adventures.

After leaving an area complete at 16 with some O-levels and CSEs, Drury grew to become an apprentice painter and decorator together with his uncle, Ray. Aged 22 he arrange his personal constructing agency, which now employs 40 folks from its base at Fleet, Hants, specialising in insurance coverage associated initiatives and infrequently rebuilding houses broken by flood and fireplace.

With a North Korean soldier standing by the US Navy ship, the USS Peublo which was seized in 1968

With a North Korean soldier standing by the US Navy ship, the USS Peublo which was seized in 1968 (Picture: Andrew Drury / Journey Hazard)

His youthful brother Robert died when he was simply ten from leukaemia, which badly affected Drury – the pair shared a bed room – and his sisters Susan and Hayley.

“I used to be 11 when Robert died and located it very arduous to cope with,” he admits. Immediately he believes a part of the need to journey to harmful spots is a response to Robert’s loss.

“I felt his presence and nonetheless do. I used to be, in case you like, taking him with me on these adventures.”

His very first “excessive” journey was to see silverback gorillas in Uganda whereas dictator Idi Amin was nonetheless in energy and ruling with an iron first.

“I went with Nigel to see silverback gorillas within the mountains,” he remembers. “It was very organised. The tree huggers had been getting on our nerves, so we left them to their gorillas and cleared off into Zaire the place there was a civil struggle happening.

“We walked by a banana plantation to get to a village the place we had been the centre of consideration and everybody was very pleasant. As we walked again a person got here working after us with a machete, threatening to chop us up. Effectively we weren’t hanging round to have an argument.

“That second was the delivery of our travels as a result of we each bought an enormous buzz out of it.”

Having escaped again into Uganda, the pair discovered themselves helpless with laughter – presumably from shock, although Drury doesn’t put it that method.

“In some way these run-ins with harmful folks at all times led to laughter,” he says.

Later, they went to Ukraine to go to the Chernobyl nuclear reactor web site, the primary identified vacationers to make that journey. In Afghanistan and Pakistan, they met heroin sellers and arms smugglers.

In Chechnya they visited the Beslan college the place 186 youngsters died when Islamist ‘Black Widow’ terrorists went on a rampage of hostage taking and homicide in 2004.

“Once I noticed the bullet holes and the faces of the kids in photographs one thing occurred,” Drury admits. “I finished desirous to be a voyeur of horror and needed to get tales out about what was actually happening within the far corners of the world.”

When the most recent Ukraine invasion occurred final 12 months, he discovered himself volunteering to rescue a circus bear from close to the northern metropolis of Lviv and take it to Romania.

“Masha was closely sedated however as we had been transferring her into the again of a transit van with a particular cage, she awoke, which gave us all a little bit of a shock,” he says. “We dropped her and ran after which somebody darted her once more. It’s the closest I’ve ever come to a bear.”

Sadly, the bear died three weeks later on the Romanian bear sanctuary.

“I attempt to assist folks now, relatively than simply observing as an excessive vacationer, however that comes with its issues,” Drury admits.

Andrew in Mogadishu, Somalia, in 2020

Andrew in Mogadishu, Somalia, in 2020 (Picture: Andrew Drury / Journey Hazard)

In 2021 he travelled to Northern Syria to make a movie known as Hazard Zones for Starz, a Disney pay per view channel. On a time without work from filming, Drury discovered himself by the Al Roj camp, the place ISIS brides had been being held. He determined to attempt to interview Shamima Begum, the British schoolgirl who fled the nation aged 15 to grow to be a jihadi bride.

“I had been anticipating a hard-nosed terrorist however met a frightened rabbit who instructed me her favorite TV present was Buddies and he or she had a crush on Chandler,” Drury remembers. “I wasn’t an Oxbridge journalist, only a child from a council property making some excessive tourism movies, and he or she favored that. On the finish of the interview she hugged me, which to at the present time I discover unsettling.

“I took a number of broadcast journalists again to Syria to interview her and I admit I purchased some clothes from Primark for her at her request. I used to have blended emotions about her and at one time felt sorry for her.”

Immediately, he believes he was being “groomed by a really intelligent, manipulative girl, who had reminiscence lapses about ISIS atrocities”.

“My final message to her was… ‘You offered your nation out’.”

So the place is he planning to go subsequent, I ponder? Because it seems, it’s Ukraine.

“I’m going to fulfill the mayor of Kiev, Vitali Klitschko, and can spend a number of days there. I may take a broadcaster to fulfill President Zelensky. It would solely be a brief journey. I’m trying ahead to a break.”

  • Journey Hazard by Andew Drury (Sweet Jar Books, £9.99) is out now

Pavan Kumar
Pavan Kumarhttps://site.viagracc.com
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