Drew Binsky (@drewbinsky) has been to 194 countries (probably more by the time you’re done reading this sentence), shares his prolific adventures on YouTube, and hopes to inspire us all to become better world travelers. Take in the vicarious trips and travel tips with him here!
What We Discuss with Drew Binsky:
- What it’s like to spend 24 hours with an isolated tribe of pygmies in the middle of a forest in Africa.
- The story of Zablon Simintov, the last and only remaining Afghan Jew in the country of Afghanistan.
- What Drew considers to be the most dangerous country in the world (without even a close second), and how he fared during his six days there.
- Why the most expensive countries in the world are ones you’ve probably never heard of.
- How Drew protects himself when he’s traveling in war zones and countries that are particularly hostile toward journalists.
- And much more…
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During a year of pandemic lockdowns that have put the kibosh on travel plans for most of us, we’ve been relying on the good work of wanderlust-driven YouTuber Drew Binsky to show us the world vicariously. If you were to spin a globe and throw a dart at it, Drew has probably been where it lands. He’s seen nearly every country, and has managed to document and share his adventures with over 7.5 million social media followers while making new friends, sampling fresh experiences, and breaking world records.
On this episode, Drew and Jordan share stories of their excursions to places like the Gaza Strip, Syria, Lebanon, Somalia, Eritrea, Yemen, Angola, Turkmenistan (aka the North Korea of Central Asia), visiting the pygmies in Africa, hanging out with the last single Jewish guy in Afghanistan, and more. They even dip into their scariest border crossings and talk about what it’s like to travel through war zones. Listen, learn, and enjoy!
Please Scroll Down for Featured Resources and Transcript!
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Miss our conversation with controversial film director, producer, veteran, and writer Oliver Stone? Catch up with episode 411: Oliver Stone | Writing, Directing, and Surviving the Movie Game here!
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THANKS, DREW BINSKY!
If you enjoyed this session with Drew Binsky, let him know by clicking on the link below and sending him a quick shout out at Twitter:
And if you want us to answer your questions on one of our upcoming weekly Feedback Friday episodes, drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Resources from This Episode:
- Drew Binsky | Website
- Drew Binsky | YouTube
- Drew Binsky | Instagram
- Drew Binsky | Facebook
- Drew Binsky | Twitter
- World’s Shortest Tribe (Pygmies of Central Africa) | Drew Binsky
- Pygmy Peoples | Wikipedia
- Fight for the Forgotten
- Justin Wren | Twitter
- He’s the Last Jew in Afghanistan | Drew Binsky
- What is the Difference Between Kosher and Halal? | Chowhound
- She’s a Turkmen Jew | Drew Binsky
- The Forgotten Jews of Ethiopia | Drew Binsky
- Afghanistan: Targeted Killings of Civilians Escalate | Human Rights Watch
- US May Miss Deadline for Withdrawing Troops from Afghanistan, Biden Says | NPR
- Myanmar Has Changed (So Happy to Be Back!!!) | Drew Binsky
- Myanmar Authorities Declare Martial Law in Parts of Country’s Largest City | The New York Times
- Going to North Korea: Part One | Stereo Sunday | Jordan Harbinger
- Going to North Korea: Part Two | Stereo Sunday | Jordan Harbinger
- This Video Will Change Your Perception of North Korea | Drew Binsky
- What It’s Like to Hitchhike in Bosnia | Drew Binsky
- I Made It to Yemen (First Impressions) | Drew Binsky
- Israel-Palestinian Conflict: Life in the Gaza Strip | BBC News
- What Is Hezbollah? | Council on Foreign Relations
- Eating on the Floor with No Forks! (Mauritania) | Drew Binsky
- Why He Chose Islam (USA to Egypt) | Drew Binsky
- What It’s Like Visiting Somalia (Mogadishu) | Drew Binsky
- Lee Abbamonte | Twitter
- Peace Hotels | Mogadishu, Somalia
- A MacBook Pro for $4,200?! World’s Most Expensive City | Drew Binsky
- What Is Equatorial Guinea? (They Speak Spanish) | Drew Binsky
- This Is Libya (I Can’t Believe I Am Here…) | Drew Binsky
- Michael Scott Moore | What It’s Really Like to Be a Pirate Hostage | Jordan Harbinger
- Kidnap Me Once, Shame on You | Stereo Sunday | Jordan Harbinger
- Jordan & Gabe | Kidnap Me Twice, Shame on Me | Jordan Harbinger
- S What Is Eritrea? (Italy in Africa?) | Drew Binsky
- My Favorite African Countries! (Top 5) | Drew Binsky
- World’s Hardest Visas (Which One Cost $3,000?!) | Drew Binsky
- The History of Coffee | National Coffee Association
- This Country’s Name Makes Them $5 Million a Year | Drew Binsky
- 2020 World Press Freedom Index | RSF
- Traveling with the World’s Worst Passport (Iraq) | Drew Binsky
- 10 Wacky Things About Turkmenistan | Drew Binsky
- World’s Strangest City (Ashgabat, Turkmenistan) | Drew Binsky
- Macedonia is Fun! | Drew Binsky
- The Gates of Hell, Turkmenistan | Atlas Obscura
- I Almost Died Today. Twice. | Drew Binsky
- Why I Don’t Like This Country | Drew Binsky
- Our Troubles in Guinea (Conakry) | Drew Binsky
- We Got Scammed (Sierra Leone) | Drew Binsky
- What Can $10 Get in Cairo, Egypt? (10 Items!) | Drew Binsky
- The World’s 2 Most Addictive Drugs? | Drew Binsky
- My 10 Favorite Cities in the World! | Drew Binsky
Drew Binsky | Vicarious Trips and Travel Tips (Episode 483)
Jordan Harbinger: Coming up on The Jordan Harbinger Show.
[00:00:02] Drew Binsky: Some of the scariest moments are hiding the fact that I'm a journalist at these checkpoints in Afghanistan, Libya, Somalia, Yemen, even in Mauritania where I just was. I have a decoy SD cards always. I just press one button on my camera and it goes through the slot number two. I was like going into villages and filming women who gave me permission. And if they would've seen that, dude, they would've cut my head off on the spot. So I have two iPhones for the same reason I showed them my decoy iPhone, but they essentially thought I was a spy. I have a camera right now on my chest. I wasn't wearing this mic, but if I was, man, I would not be right here doing this interview.
[00:00:38] Jordan Harbinger: Welcome to the show. I'm Jordan Harbinger. On The Jordan Harbinger Show, we decode the stories, secrets, and skills of the world's most fascinating people. We have in-depth conversations with people at the top of their game, astronauts and entrepreneurs, spies and psychologists, even the occasional organized crime figure, economic hitman, or neuroscientist. Each episode turns our guests' wisdom into practical advice that you can use to build a deeper understanding of how the world works and become a better critical thinker.
[00:01:06] If you're new to the show or you're looking for a handy way to tell your friends about it, we now have episodes starter packs. And these starter packs, these are collections of your favorite episodes organized by popular topics to help new listeners or just old listeners are looking for something new in a new category here, looking to get a taste of everything we do here on the show. Just visit jordanharbinger.com/start to get started or to help somebody else get started which, of course, we always appreciate.
[00:01:33] Today, on the show, more of a storytime-type podcast, which means no homework for you as a listener. Yay, right? I know a lot of our shows are a little intense. You've got to go grab the worksheets and download those and make time to apply this stuff. This is just you enjoying a little bit of FOMO from a guy who's traveled a lot. Drew Binsky, he is a YouTuber that is just killing it with his travel videos. I was introduced to him through a fan of the show, which again, I always appreciate when y'all do that. Drew has been to nearly every country in the world. He's managed to make a great living out of travel and making new friends and new places. Some of these places are pretty sketchy.
[00:02:07] Today, we'll share stories of our own travels, especially in off the beaten path, places like the Gaza Strip in Palestine, Syria, Lebanon, visiting the Pygmies in Africa, Somalia hanging out with the last single Jewish guy. Not that he's single, it's just, there's only one Jew in Afghanistan. Eritrea, Somalia, Turkmenistan, aka the North Korea of Central Asia, and more. We even dip into traveling through war zones, our scariest border crossings, and more. This was a fun one for me. And if you're looking for some light listening that doesn't involve our usual brain science or psychology elements, this is a great episode for you.
[00:02:42] And if you're wondering how I managed to book all of these authors, thinkers, creators every single week, it's because of the network. You got to dig the well before you get thirsty folks. I'm teaching you how to do this for free. You don't have to enter into your personal details or anything like that. Just go over to jordanharbinger.com/course and take a look. It takes like five minutes a day. It's called Six-Minute Networking. What can I say? Five-minute networking was taken. By the way, most of the guests on the show, they subscribed to the course, they helped out with the course. Come join us, you'll be in smart company where you belong. Now, here's Drew Binsky.
[00:03:15] So I want to start with some of your wild travel stories. They are all actually pretty, they're all actually pretty wild. I mean, the first video that I watched was you visiting these — is it a tribe called the Pygmies or is it like an ethnicity? What is Pygmy actually?
[00:03:30] Drew Binsky: It's both. It's an ethnic group and tribe who live in the forest, the rainforests of Central Africa.
[00:03:37] Jordan Harbinger: Okay. Yeah. My friend, Justin Wren, who I think we talked about before the show. He's a fighter who went to visit them for some reason, I forgot now, and ends up like donating his prize money to buy them clean water and land because they get bullied a lot.
[00:03:50] Drew Binsky: Yeah, yeah. He's called the Big Pygmy. Is that right?
[00:03:53] Jordan Harbinger: Big Pygmy, yeah, that's right.
[00:03:54] Drew Binsky: Yeah. I re-looked him up after we talked about it and I had been in touch with him before about the Pygmy tribes. So we've spoken. He's a very inspiring guy. They only live in like three different countries in the central part of Africa. And they're very remote. There's only a few thousand left. It's hard to find them. You have to have the right local guides and luckily I did. And it was probably one of the craziest adventures in my life.
[00:04:17] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah, they show you — or it's you. You film yourself walking through — it's funny because TV is usually they and YouTube is usually there's no they. It's like, "Who's they? That's me, man. Holding a GoPro on my waist." But you film yourself walking through this tall grass. It looked like you went pretty far like an hour plus. I mean, what was the trek like to get there?
[00:04:36] Drew Binsky: First of all, it was hot and humid as hell. You know where we were maybe a hundred Fahrenheit, but like extreme, like June in Florida type humidity. We drove seven hours from the capital of Bangui to this little town. And I was just with one local friend who spoke English and he had a driver. So we didn't really know. We just knew the area of the Pygmy. So we went to this town, met a couple of locals and they said, "Hey, you have to stop the car here and walk an hour and a half through these weeds," that are as tall as my shoulders, as you saw on the video. And then hopefully you'll find the tribe. And if not, you could die trying because we didn't have enough water. So sure enough, we walked through the weeds. I almost gave up a few times and boom, we like went through the last tree, whatever you want to call it, tall grass. And then there were like little huts and then we just found them. And they were really shocked to see anyone, a white person, of course, but they were shocked to see any visitors. And then the story started from there.
[00:05:28] Jordan Harbinger: That's crazy. That is wild. I mean, you don't necessarily know if you're going to find anything or like what if you run into, I don't know much about this country, but were you worried about like walking into a cheetah or a freaking boa constrictor or something.
[00:05:41] Drew Binsky: And malaria, I wasn't taking malaria pills at the time. I have taken them off and on, they give you these really bad nightmares. They mess up with your REM or your sleep cycle, your dream schedule. So they give you like these terrible nightmares. And that's enough to turn me off of the pills. I'd rather take my risk of getting malaria, but where we specifically had a high risk of malaria and I had shorts on and short sleeve. And so there's mosquitoes everywhere. So that was my biggest concern.
[00:06:08] There's a lot of risks, man. I mean, if something happened to me, God forbid, the closest hospital would be back in Bangui, the capital. So I'd have to go on another seven — I'd have to walk back through the rainforest and then take a seven hour car over these dirt roads back to the city. So it's an incredible risk, but a high risk, high reward.
[00:06:24] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah, it seems like that's the kind of thing where you get carried out if something goes wrong, I mean, maybe you get carried out or maybe you just end up being buried in that little village. So who are these people there? They're a tribe. They're an ethnicity. They're in the middle of the forest, but what's crazy to me is you'd ask them if they'd ever been to town, right? Through your translator. And they had never been out of this little forest jungle village that they built. They didn't go to the city. They didn't go buy stuff. They didn't go to school. I don't even know how they got Western clothing. I guess probably, maybe people bring them there and dump off huge boxes of stuff. And they're like, "All right, this is my shirt now."
[00:07:04] Drew Binsky: Yeah, they were donated. So there is a little road and you can have a motorbike. And every now and then someone passes through from the nearby town. And my assumption is that there was a big donation and they brought them to clothes because I didn't understand the Western clothes either but they're a hundred percent reliant on the environment to live. One of the most beautiful things I've ever witnessed was one of the elderly men, he went off and he killed a goat with these like bow and arrows. They had some kind of shotguns and I guess they were donated by them as well. So they killed the gazelle. Did I say goat? It was a gazelle, which is a baby antelope and I watched it happen. And then he slung it over his shoulder, brought it back into town, gutted it with his hands within 10 minutes, had it over a fire, and 10 minutes later, cooked it and served the whole. 30 to 40 people were feasting on this gazelle.
[00:07:51] And it was just incredible, it just clicked. It just made perfect sense of how — I don't want us to use the word hunter gatherer, but this is just how humans have survived all of these towns all of this time. And it was just a really amazing sight to witness. And after they all ate, they just went on with their lives. And so it was really cool and I didn't eat it. They offered me some of the food, but I had peanuts and stuff that I had brought, and I just felt bad and eating the limited food supplies that they had but it was just really cool, man. It's such a cool experience.
[00:08:19] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah, you got kind of a front row seat to the first couple of hundred thousand years of humanity for 99 — well, for everyone, actually for everyone alive at the time.
[00:08:28] Drew Binsky: Exactly. And they were super friendly. If you saw the video, there was one moment where I said like, "What is it like if I visit, when I visit you? Because they had never seen another white person ever. And he said something like, "Well, you're just a human, just like me." And that was a really touching thing to hear because that's my biggest realization from visiting every country or every country is all humans are the same. We need a roof over our shoulder, over our heads to sleep. We need to eat when we're hungry. We need to feel loved by people around us. We laugh when something's funny. We cry when something sad. And that's something that I've realized from, you know, whether I'm with the Pygmies in the middle of the Central African jungle, or I'm in Siberia in Russia, or I'm in Rome, Italy, or I'm in LA, it doesn't matter where you are, people are always the same. It was really cool to hear that little, that young guy say that to me.
[00:09:13] Jordan Harbinger: They think that you were like albino because I noticed in one of your video shots, there was an albino Pygmy baby.
[00:09:20] Drew Binsky: There was an albino Pygmy baby. And I learned that that was from a lot of incest that is happening because it's such a small community. They need to walk like a full day or longer to reach the next set of Pygmies. And they're all so closely, genetically related. So I was told through research and also by local friends that there's a lot of incest and that's why there was three albino children in this small community that I was with. And it was really interesting. I don't know if they recognize me as an albino. I don't know if they know — I really don't know the answer to that, but they knew I was foreign. I told them I was from the US. They'd never heard of the US but I just told them that I come from a different place and I spent 24 hours with them. It was fascinating. It was so cool, man.
[00:10:02] Jordan Harbinger: They must know that your hair is dark, so you're not, you're just a really, really white person compared to them.
[00:10:07] Drew Binsky: Right. Right. And the local guide that we were with who we picked up on the way, brought a bunch of like palm wine. So you saw it in the video, they were all like up all night.
[00:10:15] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah, they were lit. They were so lit.
[00:10:17] Drew Binsky: They were all wasted, man. I guess it's like once a year for them that they brought this local wine. The wine is grown in the trees, in the jungle. So it's not a foreign substance to them. It's palm wine, which is popular all across the African continent. But dude, they were up all night drinking that thing and like beating the drum. And I couldn't even fall asleep. I was trying to sleep on the floor next to them. But literally, the video opens up at like 7:00 a.m. during sunrise. And I've just been up all night, like hearing the Pygmies, like drinking and singing and dancing. And it was just the most surreal celebration of life. It was incredible.
[00:10:51] Jordan Harbinger: They didn't just drink though. They were rolling up some doobies.
[00:10:55] Drew Binsky: I was going to announce it here. I don't know how PG-13 or whatever—
[00:10:58] Jordan Harbinger: Fine, yeah.
[00:11:01] Drew Binsky: They have their own source of weed which they get from the jungle, which makes perfect sense. And I shared it with them. This is pre-COVID by the way. They rolled it up and they smoked it out of a leaf. And I just took a couple of rips and definitely enough to feel something. It was not the strongest stuff I've ever tried, but it was — they have their own supply. And that just shows again, that we're all humans at the same man. Everyone is trying to find an alternative state of happiness. So it was so cool, man.
[00:11:29] Jordan Harbinger: Well, marijuana, from what I understand, I'm no expert at all, but it's been sort of bread — I don't know if that's the right word. Yeah, I guess it's been cultivated so that it's super strong compared to what it was even in like 1968, 1973 USA. Used to smoke the whole joint by yourself or with a friend and you'd be like, "Okay, I'm high now." If you're anything like me, you have one hit and you're like, "Okay, I hate this. Why do people like this? Everyone's looking at me. I want to curl up in a fetal position. This is not fun. I'm going home now." That's the marijuana we have now. And so I think what they have is far different. It's more natural, you know, it's just more, it's probably a 10th of the THC that we have and what we get at the dispensary here.
[00:12:11] Drew Binsky: Yeah. And what you just said is the reason why I don't like smoking, because I feel too anxious and I don't like being too high and just like out of control of my own thoughts.
[00:12:19] Jordan Harbinger: Sure.
[00:12:20] Drew Binsky: You're right. Well, we smoked with them. It was very chill and it was just a very mellow high and everybody was feeling it and they were just giggling around and some funny shots I had of them just like giggling at nothing, just giggling at the fact that we were face to face, just hanging out. When people ask me, what's my favorite travel experience, I always go back to that story of the Pygmies. And I think in my future, my evolution of like content creation and when I finished the countries, I want to find more remote tribes like the Pygmies. You know, there's a lot in the Amazon. There's a lot in Siberia and in Eastern Russia and in Papua New Guinea.
[00:12:51] And I think these are the most fun stories for me to tell them. They're the most rewarding stories I think for my audience to hear about. And I think I see myself having maybe a crew, people filming and making higher quality instead of going for 24 hours, I would go for a week and like produce this amazing 40-minute documentary in my own style. That's kind of how I see my future. And the Pygmies is a primary example of that.
[00:13:15] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah, you can call it choosing the jungle,
[00:13:19] Drew Binsky: Something like that. Yeah.
[00:13:21] Jordan Harbinger: I don't know. That's going to be one of those things that's funny right now and sounds incredibly racist or horrible in 20 years and tanks my entire career. I'm just calling that out right now. It should be okay. I can't think of anything wrong with it, but you know—
[00:13:33] Drew Binsky: You're good.
[00:13:34] Jordan Harbinger: Our discussion before the show was that — well, in fact, on that note, you went to Afghanistan, but you're Jewish and you visited the one other, there's one Jew in Afghanistan and you went and hung out with him. Tell me what that was all about.
[00:13:48] Drew Binsky: Yeah, I've actually been in Afghanistan twice has spent five weeks in my life in the country. It's an amazing place. But on my first visit, I wasn't planning to go to Kabul, which is a capital city. I was in a place called Mazar-i-Sharif in the Northeast and my local friends/tour guide told me, "Hey, did you know, there's one Jewish person left in Afghanistan." I was like, "Get out of here." He knew I was Jewish. I was like, "There's no way." So I looked him up online and he's living in a synagogue or a Jewish temple, former synagogue in Kabul. So the next morning, we booked a flight.
[00:14:17] Kabul is extremely dangerous. That's why I wasn't planning to go, but showed up. And we knocked on a bunch of doors, went into areas that we thought we could find him. And it took about an hour. Finally, we found him, we rolled up his name is Zablon Simintov about a 63-year-old man whose entire family left him for Israel and for Europe. He still has a wife and kids. They don't live in the same country. He wanted to stay in Afghanistan because he loves it so much. And immediately I walked in and there was this like spiritual connection because he'd never really met another Jewish person in the last — I think the BBC went and did one piece on him, but it wasn't Jews that physically went to meet him.
[00:14:54] So the fact that I was Jewish, he just felt this amazing connection and so did I. He didn't speak any English, but through a translator, through my friend, we were able to connect and hear his crazy life story about how the Taliban put him in prison for several months. And they burned all of his possessions and they threatened to kill him. And until now he's in danger of being killed. And I told them, "Hey, listen, I don't want to put you on camera and expose you if you don't want."
[00:15:18] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[00:15:18] Drew Binsky: He goes, "No, no, no. I've already lived through the worst of the worst. And I don't want to do that because if I don't share my story, then essentially they win and I want to still preserve my culture and I want to let the world know about it." So he was very open to sharing a story, which was amazing. But I spent a full day with him and we read some Torah together. And there's a Jewish tradition, he blew the shofar, which is like the horn of a bull. He didn't know how to blow it and I did. And so he let me do it and it was incredible.
[00:15:46] I was most amazed how he's Orthodox, which is like extremely religious and how he keeps these practices and the fact that there's no other people in Afghanistan that are Jewish. Nobody keeps kosher, you know, kosher is like the Jewish diet, but he does.
[00:15:59] Jordan Harbinger: Right.
[00:16:00] Drew Binsky: The whole story was incredible. And I really enjoyed my experience with him.
[00:16:03] Jordan Harbinger: I think Judaism and Islam have enough commonality where keeping kosher in Islamic countries, probably not nearly as hard as keeping kosher in the United States or Western Europe, because I think a halal, right? Is essentially like Islamic kosher and the rules of probably almost the same.
[00:16:21] Drew Binsky: You're exactly right. They don't eat pork, both religions, and the way that they do eat meat, beef, or chicken, it has to be slaughtered in the name of Allah in the name of God, same in kosher, same in halal. It's almost exactly the same, what you find in halat. You can find it kosher. So you're exactly right. But it still was just fascinating how he just keeps all of these, like Shabbat, if you're familiar with Shabbat on Friday night.
[00:16:43] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[00:16:43] Drew Binsky: He's the only one that's keeping this by himself in his little house. He's sitting on his floor. They don't have couches or beds. In Afghanistan and in Central Asia and Middle East, they prefer to just chill on the floor. They put like a little rug and they sit and they sleep on the floor. So that's actually how I found him. When I walked in the door, he was just sitting on the floor and just eating bread or whatever. So I don't know what a crazy cool story. And that kind of triggered this Jewish series for my channel.
[00:17:11] And I went to Turkmenistan and I found this Jewish lady who was living there. And in Ethiopia, I found this Jewish tribe. There's thousands of them still living in Northern Ethiopia and they're super religious. So I'm not religiously Jewish. I'm culturally Jewish in the sense of, I like to go to these far away corners of the world and find Jewish communities and connect with them and just be like, "Hey, what's up? I'm also Jewish. Let's hang out."
[00:17:32] Jordan Harbinger: An albino Jew has come to visit us.
[00:17:35] Drew Binsky: In Ethiopia, they may have thought so, but it's so cool to see. I know all the prayers from growing up and going to Hebrew school and having a bar mitzvah and they have the same prayers. When I was in Yemen, my tour guide was actually Jewish, but he didn't want to be on camera about it, but I can say it now, but we had a Shabbat together. And when I started saying the prayer. He started crying because he thought his Judaism in Yemen was so far removed from the Jewish of the Western world, Judaism of the Western world. And he started crying because he's like, "That's the same prayer that I know." And I was like, "Dude, that's such a cool moment." Judaism was just kind of like an offshoot of my content but it's becoming more relatable, I think, to people around the world.
[00:18:12] Jordan Harbinger: It's wild that the chief of the Pygmies had never heard of the United States and that you're finding these connections with people that live in the some of the most remote/dangerous parts of the whole world. I mean this guy, the Jewish guy from Afghanistan or who is still in Afghanistan. Do worry about that guy? I mean, once the USA leaves Afghanistan, the Taliban is going to creep in there and about a week and a half.
[00:18:33] Drew Binsky: Listen, he gave me the full consent to make the video. And I would never put him in that risk to do it
[00:18:38] Jordan Harbinger: I just mean worry about him just in general, not because of something you did, just period.
[00:18:43] Drew Binsky: Yeah. I do worry about him because Taliban is very scary. Right now, they're controlling more and more of the country. When I went the first time, they were controlling 50 percent of all the land in Afghanistan. Now, it's like 65 percent because I went back about two months ago. So I am very worried that the Taliban — when the US pulls out, which it's looking like the Taliban will control the whole country like they did before 9/11, and up until 2000 and early 2000. So it's very scary.
[00:19:11] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah, there's a major offensive going on right now that I just read about yesterday. I mean, depending on when we air this, it could have been months ago. Right? But as of what — I forget, what month it is as of February 2021, there's a major offensive and they're just pushing out the Afghan army and the police. And they're paying people to leave and if they don't go, then they're just invading and taking over the stations. And I think now it's just like, It's the writings on the wall and everybody that I know who is working in Afghanistan right now, I mean, the common refrain is the second we leave, this place is going to fall. I mean, just like, not even when I say a week, week and a half, I mean, maybe that long, they might just roll in there and meet some scattered resistance while people escape and that's it. I mean, that they're really not, I guess at the end of the day, he's going to say, look, his only defense is you already punished me for being Jewish. I was already in prison. Leave me alone. I'm an old man. I mean, that's hopefully going to fly. Right?
[00:20:03] Drew Binsky: Hope so. There's definitely a general consensus on the streets of Afghanistan. Everyone is scared of the Taliban. My local friend, Noor, who's a good friend. He's a tour guide, and it's very scary how much they rely on the US presence of being there to fight away the Taliban. And as soon as we leave, sadly— the US wants to leave so they can kind of say, "Oh, look, we made peace in Afghanistan. We did our job. We're out." But for all the local civilians and the innocent people of Afghanistan, their lives are going to be in crazy, more danger than they already are of the Taliban, just killing innocent people and kidnapping them. It's really sad, but it's just the reality of Afghanistan.
[00:20:41] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah, I think you're lucky to have gone when you went because I don't know—
[00:20:44] Drew Binsky: Yes.
[00:20:44] Jordan Harbinger: I don't think in a year or two, you're going to be able to roll into Afghanistan as a tourist who's Jewish from the United States. I think that would be a suicidal visa.
[00:20:53] Drew Binsky: Just a really, really quick note of that Myanmar, I was there one year ago today.
[00:20:59] Jordan Harbinger: Oh wow.
[00:21:00] Drew Binsky: On Valentine's day with my girlfriend at 2020, it was fun. Now, there's a coup that has come in. The military has taken control of Myanmar. In pre-2011, it was like impossible to visit. They closed the borders to tourism. Now, they've just closed the borders again to tourism indefinitely. So I don't even know when I can go back to Myanmar again. It's just crazy how the world is and just the timing of visiting countries. And I was just in Baghdad also. We can talk about that if you want, but yeah, that might be off limits again. So I don't know. I'm just really lucky with timing.
[00:21:29] Jordan Harbinger: I think also you're lucky you're traveling when — how old are you right now?
[00:21:32] Drew Binsky: 29.
[00:21:33] Jordan Harbinger: 29. Yeah. So when you become, I think it happened around like 35, 36 for me. I just went, "You know, I could die doing some of this shit, man." And then I stopped doing a lot of the risky stuff that I was doing and I stopped going to North Korea. I stopped being like, "Yeah, let's just hitchhike there through Bosnia," which I did a bunch and it was fine. And you'd get arrested by the cops and then you'd bribe your way out and you'd be laughing about it as you had a beer. Now, I'm like, "They could have just thrown us off the cliff."
[00:22:02] Drew Binsky: So much risk. I hitchhiked through Bosnia. Did you actually do too?
[00:22:05] Jordan Harbinger: I did that, yeah.
[00:22:06] Drew Binsky: I hitchhiked through Bosnia. That's the only country I've hitchhiked in, and I've been to North Korea once. We are now blacklisted to go back as a US passport holder. But yeah, I think about this stuff all the time. I mean the most dangerous country in the world by far does not even a close second place in terms of all-around risk is Yemen. Yemen's free for all. There's no law, there's no legislative there. If something happens to you in Yemen, nobody's going to bail you out. There's no US embassy. There's nobody to call. There's no system. There's no court that someone can bail you out. If you get kidnapped or something happens, you're gone in Yemen and there's no cell phone service. It only works in like the middle of the main cities, which I wasn't in any main cities. There's no cell phone service. You have to get like a burner phone. Locals use this. Like it only works to call local numbers. So I couldn't get that because if I needed to call for help, I don't have any Yemeni friends to call them with a local number. So my phone didn't work. There's no Wi-Fi in Yemen. It's another level of danger. And I went there by myself which is probably the craziest thing I've ever done.
[00:23:04] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[00:23:04] Drew Binsky: I'm increasingly realizing even more and more that dude I'm so insanely stupid for doing some of these things. But once again, I'm the only one to go into these places and make content and tell these stories. And for me, it's worth it, as a 29-year-old, maybe when I'm 35, we'll talk again and I won't be giving you things.
[00:23:21] Jordan Harbinger: You'll be going, "Wow, I'm glad I did that when I did." Like, it'll be fun and it'll be exciting. I don't regret it. I'm just like, "Okay, that was lucky." Right? It's more of that kind of thing. When I lived in Israel in 2000 — when you were nine years old — I went to the Gaza Strip with a friend of mine. Not really getting what was going on at all. I mean, I knew what it was, but I didn't know-know. And she had gone to college with some girl who was Palestinian. That girl had returned home. She's like, "I want to go visit my friend. Can you come with me?" I said, "Ah, I don't know. Maybe next time." She said, "I can't go without you because it's too dangerous and I'm not going to be going again because it's dangerous." And I was like, "All right, I got nothing to do this week. Let's go." And we drove all the way to the Gaza Strip, go through the Israeli checkpoint, get picked up by her friend's brother and father. We're driving through and I'm like, "Wow, this is really sketchy looking place." And they're like, "Yeah, it's a refugee camp and we can't leave."
[00:24:21] And I went, "Oh, okay. I kind of get it now." Like, I didn't really know what was going on. I was 20. I wasn't really paying that close of attention. I'd never really read up on that kind of thing. I mean, I'd read about the Palestinian conflict, but that was kind of it. And then I remember walking around the Gaza Strip and people would be like curious and following me around, but I was with her brother, so I wasn't really in danger-danger, but they were just kind of like, "Who's that guy?" He kept saying, "They're asking if you're Jewish, they're asking if you're Jewish, they're asking if you're Jewish," because they would be like, "What's that guy's doing here? How do you know that guy?"
[00:24:52] Drew Binsky: You're not Jewish, right?
[00:24:53] Jordan Harbinger: I am.
[00:24:53] Drew Binsky: You are Jewish?
[00:24:54] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah. It's like a German Yiddish. Possibly not sure. Yeah. And then on the older, when you go back generations, it's like Melnyk, Livshits, you know, that kind of stuff, those super Jewish names. But you know, we would talk with these Palestinian police officers and they would talk casually and I mean, scary casually, "Yeah. We arrested this guy the other day and we made him sit on a bottle." And I'd be like, "What do they mean when they say sit on a bottle?" And they're like, "They shove a glass Coca-Cola bottle up the guy's ass." And I'm like, "Okay. They literally mean that." And they're like, "Yeah, sit on the bottle, sit on the bottle. I'm like, that was like their favorite kind of torture. And I'm like, "Who are they doing this to?" And they're like, "Oh yeah, just people they catch stealing things." And I'm like, "Oh, my God, these people are — what are they doing?" They're torturing each other.
[00:25:44] Drew Binsky: It was like ISIS.
[00:25:45] Jordan Harbinger: I mean, they weren't beheading people. They weren't cutting off your arm, but the police were just like casually laughing and I'd be like, "Yeah, sit on the bottle, sit on the bottle. I know if we catch somebody, we'll make them sit on the bottle." And I'm like, "This is just creepy." And the house that I stayed in, they're super nice people, they worked for the Palestinian authority, but on the wall, they had this big green flag. And I said, is that the Palestinian authority flag? And I said, "No, that's a Hezbollah flag," and I went, "Aren't those two things kind of like, are they buttonheads?"
[00:26:14] And they're like, "Yeah, nobody knows where Hezbollah supporters. So maybe we should take the flag down." So they took the flag down and they said, "Did you take a picture of that?" Because I told them earlier, I've been taking pictures of their house. I hope you don't mind. They were like, fine. And then they said, "Please don't share the photo of the flag because it will put our whole family in danger because our dad works for Yasser Arafat, but is like supporting the enemies of the Palestinian authority."
[00:26:38] I mean, it was just a wild experience, you know, sitting on the roof, you'd see the Israeli Jeeps drive by shine spotlights on you. There was a girl in the family and so we would go outside and hang out, like all of us. And if I had to go to the bathroom, I had to walk pretty far away from the girl. You know, if you're hanging out with the girl in the United States and there's a bunch of people, you walk around the corner a little bit, you take a leak, nobody. She was like, "Go far that way because I can't really be around — I can't even be spotted with you whipping it out while I'm like within 50 yards." You know, it's just not a good look.
[00:27:11] Drew Binsky: Two days ago, not to change the subject. We'll come back to it. Two days ago, I was in Mauritania where I just came from and doing a crazy iron ore train ride across the Sahara. But I was staying at a local family's house and we were eating on the floor with our hands — amazing food, by the way, in Mauritania. It's like Moroccan food — but there were women in the house and they went to the far away room just to eat. I mean, it wasn't like the next room. Like they had to choose the most far away room in the house to eat separately than us. So, I mean, yeah, that's the same Islamic culture of what you're saying. Yeah.
[00:27:40] Jordan Harbinger: Is it because they were taking off their hijab or whatever?
[00:27:43] Drew Binsky: I never ask any questions. I don't know if they took off their hijab and their protection or if they just want it to separate men and women from eating. But I mean, in Judaism, you know, when you go to the Western wall, they pray in different parts of the wall. So it's deeply rooted in the culture. But yeah, I mean, dude, I can't believe you went to Gaza. That is like—
[00:27:59] Jordan Harbinger: Dumb.
[00:28:00] Drew Binsky: It's actually possible to go there right now.
[00:28:02] Jordan Harbinger: It's impossible.
[00:28:03] Drew Binsky: Even if you're the top journalist, it doesn't matter if you have like, there's no way to go to Gaza at all with an American passport and being Jewish. So the fact that it's so off limits, it makes me want to go so badly just to see what the hell is happening there. But I know that it's not a place I'll be going into time soon.
[00:28:18] Jordan Harbinger: I think you could go to a settlement, but that's obviously not the same thing. That's like going to an all-inclusive resort in Mexico and being like I've seen Mexico, you know. When I went to the beach there, you have to pass this Israeli like mini checkpoint because they don't want people to have free access to the ocean. But at the time, in 2000 before the Second Intifada started, it was pretty flexible. There's garbage piles on the beach, just huge because I guess stuff washes ashore from Egypt, but also they just throw things and then it comes back. And what was shocking was first of all, I was swimming in the ocean and the people would surround me and it started to feel a little dangerous because I'm trying to like tread water in waves and they're also curious they're coming near me, but they were all so, so friendly. And it was like that feeling you must have when you go to an African country and everyone's surrounding you and just trying to touch you because they're like, "Wow, look at this guy." They weren't touching me, but it was damn close. The women though would go in the ocean, but they had the full burka on and they would just walk into the water. And then walk back out with just soaking wet robes because they couldn't undress at all.
[00:29:20] Drew Binsky: Dude, I was in Dahab Egypt, which was on the Red Sea diving spot. I was there about six months ago and there was a spot for women. They were in the water and they were in the full burka, head wear. They had these snorkeling goggles on over the — I was like, "Wow."
[00:29:34] Jordan Harbinger: It's crazy.
[00:29:35] Drew Binsky: Hey, I have no judgment at all. That's their religion. That's what they want to do. But just seeing that was very, very interesting.
[00:29:41] Jordan Harbinger: It's shocking. And also, I'm laughing not at that. I'm laughing because I can't imagine a snorkeling mask works when it's over top of like a burka.
[00:29:49] Drew Binsky: I mean, they're used to it so somehow, they made it work, yeah.
[00:29:54] Jordan Harbinger: You're listening to The Jordan Harbinger Show with our guest Drew Binsky. We'll be right back.
[00:29:59] This episode is sponsored in part by DesignCrowd. Seeing your business idea come to life as part of the buzz for any entrepreneur. I know that firsthand. Nothing says you're up and running and ready to take on the market, like a personalized logo, website, and/or business card. DesignCrowd can help you get to that place. It truly takes the hard part off you if you're lacking in the creativity side like myself. It allows you to move forward with multiple designs or logos to choose from, and you can't go wrong. And the way that this works is you post a brief describing the design that you need. DesignCrowd will invite almost a million designers to submit. Within hours, you receive your first design and over the course of two to seven days, a typical project will receive 60 to 100 different designs from designers around the world. The hardest part is always choosing your favorite design. You rate the designs. You send the links to your friends. You can send it to Jen. She loves to vote on these things. Once you've decided, you approve payment to the designers and you get sent all of the design files.
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[00:32:12] Jordan Harbinger: And now back to Drew Binsky on The Jordan Harbinger Show.
[00:32:18] The one time that I almost possibly died in Gaza, actually wasn't anything to do with Palestinians at all. I was walking and she said, "If you're going to pee-pee in the desert, but don't go too far left," because there's a sewer pit that like all the sewage is in and she's like, "You'll smell it. You're not going to miss it. But you could slide in because it's sand." So I'm going to the right and in front of me, about a hundred yards, if that is the Egyptian border, which is a wall and a fence and guard towers, but to the right, is the water and then Israeli checkpoints. So I'm in the desert going to the bathroom. And I think no one can see this in a Israeli spotlight aimed right at me. And of course, now 20/20 hindsight, they have FLIR, which is like heat vision. And they can see when someone's walking towards them in the dark. There's probably an alarm that goes off and they're yelling through the Bullhorn and they're yelling in Arabic.
[00:33:08] And I'm like, I don't understand because I'm, I speak English and I'm just like, hands up, dick out. And you can see after a while that they realize what's going on and they basically come out and with the spotlight on. And they kind of like waved me off from what I can see. And I just sort of waddled back and they left us alone. But the people I was with were not thrilled because they thought, "Great. Now, they're going to come over to our house and be like, where's the guy who tried to approach the checkpoint." I think the tell was that I had my wang out.
[00:33:45] Drew Binsky: You put a very vivid scene in my head of what it was like to be yelled at, as you're peeing on the Gaza/Egypt/Israel border. Dude, that's a pretty crazy story, man.
[00:33:56] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah. I think they were like probably not a terrorist because usually those guys don't approach like with their bottoms down and basically at their ankles and their hands in the air. Thank you for reminding me of that story, Drew. I haven't told it in 15-plus years.
[00:34:11] Drew Binsky: I'm glad your listeners can hear it.
[00:34:13] Jordan Harbinger: I love going to places like that, but you're right. Like I think the original point was at one point in your life, you're going to go, "This is just too freaking scary, too freaking dangerous." Speaking of you went to Somalia, which is on my list because it's got to be amazing. But speaking of dangerous places, man, that's got to be towards the top of the list.
[00:34:30] Drew Binsky: You have no idea, man. Mogadishu as a city is the most dangerous city in the world. I said Yemen is the most dangerous country as a country. I didn't really go to cities in Yemen, big city Mogadishu— so Al-Shabaab is an offshoot of Al Qaeda or ISIS, whatever you want. They're all the same. They are car explosions. they're going into hotels with guns. I mean, they're like hardcore.
[00:34:52] So let me tell you one story about Mogadishu. So I went with my friend, Lee Abbamonte, who's been to every country in the world. He's now 42, but when he did it, he was a youngest American to do it 10 years ago, great friend and a mentor. So he came out, we did Ethiopia together, and then we flew into Mogadishu. We got our visa on arrival through a local Somali friend who was kind enough to help us out, a friend that I know through Instagram. But we show up, we stay at Peace Hotel. That's the one and only hotel in the city, that's safe. It's called Peace Hotel. To get from the airport to the hotel was one mile. It was a 20-minute drive because of all the checkpoints.
[00:35:26] Once again, one mile 20-minute drive. When we show up at the main gate, there are these like — you've probably seen them before, these bags of sand but they're like 10 tons each. So like you can't push them over. They can stop like a plane coming through. They're that heavy. And the whole thing is barricaded, but it's in like a maze. So you do the first checkpoint and then the car drives and it does like five more turns. There's another checkpoint. Five more turns then another checkpoint, all of a sudden, like where are we going?
[00:35:53] Finally, welcome to Peace Hotel, you get in. It's like this beautiful garden. There's a ping-pong table, a pool table, like a little cafe. And just like, what is going on? So. We checked in. The guy's name is, I think, his name is Hussein. Like the guy who runs the hotel, very nice guy. So he takes — he goes, "We need to do orientation." "Okay. Let's do orientation." We go down like two staircases, more like 50 feet below the ground. We entered this room. It's like straight up like a movie. There's all these monitors, we're in Somalia, there's all these monitors, crazy technology. He has a camera set up — cameras, plural — all over the city so he can see a live update of what's going on in Mogadishu. So he pulls up this like Google map thing. He's like, "Okay, get comfortable." We get comfortable. He's like, "No pictures in here." I was like, "Fine." He pulls up all of these little red dots on the map of Mogadishu. He goes, "See all these dots. These are all of the terrorist attacks that have happened within the last year in Mogadishu." The whole city is covered in red dots. He's like, "We're located here. You know, just a few weeks ago, this hotel was bombed." And me and my friend Lee, we're just like, "Dude, what are we doing right now?" it was a crazy orientation. And then throughout the trip of Mogadishu, we could only leave for like two hours a day. And when we left—
[00:37:06] Jordan Harbinger: Why is that?
[00:37:07] Drew Binsky: Safety. They didn't want us — we're a huge threat to get kidnapped. If anyone saw us there, huge kidnapping threats. So when we left, we were in a bulletproof truck, bulletproof windows and black windows. There was a truck in front of us and a pickup truck and a pickup truck behind us, both pickup trucks in front and behind had four guys and full bulletproof helmets, military guns. So there's four guys sitting on each corner of the pickup truck for our safety. And every time we would pull up to beach that we wanted to see, all the eight guys would get out and f*cking scout the place like crazy. And they had like their gun. I'm not making this up at all. They scattered out.
[00:37:43] If they would like, look over fences, like look through corners. And they're like, "Okay, you have 20 minutes to walk around this beach." And they were like guns out as we were walking and then we'd get back in the car and go to the next place. It was absolutely insane. One last note on Mogadishu, we went to this ice cream shop which is just like shisha place, you know, really cool ice cream place. This was a year ago when I was in Mogadishu, two months ago, so 10 months after I left, the whole place was bomb destroyed. 15 people died. You can look it up right now. 15 people were killed in this ice cream shop. Everything is destroyed. It's sad, man. It's very sad.
[00:38:15] Jordan Harbinger: It's a shame, Somalia — I haven't been there obviously, but I meet tons of Somalians here in the United States, whether it's New York, Denver, somewhere around LA, these are some of the friendliest people that I've ever encountered just as a culture. I'm not sure what it is, but they're all smiles all the time, generally. Obviously, Al-Shabaab is the major exception to that where they want to just kill everything that moves. What people don't realize is war zones are really expensive. And I think, journalists know this because you go there and you go $300 for breakfast in a — I can't remember like Angola or something, you know, it's just like, you'll spend a hundred dollars to get some fruit there because they can't get it in.
[00:38:56] Drew Binsky: Angola is the most expensive country, by the way, like for tourists.
[00:38:59] Jordan Harbinger: Angola, that doesn't surprise me. And what? Equatorial Guinea?
[00:39:02] Drew Binsky: Equatorial Guinea, yeah, exactly what you said. There's like as a monopoly on tourism, because there's one nice hotel. And if you don't want to sleep in a little box on the street with a local family, then you sleep in a nice hotel and it's 400 bucks a night and you pay the 400 bucks a night because that's all you can do.
[00:39:14] Jordan Harbinger: Right, yeah. And you get what you get right in that particular hotel. Well, anybody there who stays at that hotel is working for an oil company.
[00:39:25] Drew Binsky: NGO.
[00:39:25] Jordan Harbinger: CNN, yeah, the World Health Organization. So these people are not paying their own money. They don't care jack the prices up. You mentioned the bodyguard situation in Mogadishu. How much is it to have eight guys follow you around with guns all day?
[00:39:40] Drew Binsky: Good question. Nobody asked me the price about this. I think it was about 2,500 all in for three days in Mogadishu, including the hotel and including the security protection and the food. It's like an all-in package.
[00:39:53] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[00:39:54] Drew Binsky: That's about the most I've ever spent for any. That's about almost a thousand a day. I'd never spend that much money. Libya is the only other country that I had to spend that much for the visa and the tour guide and stuff. But yeah, it's pretty pricey.
[00:40:06] Jordan Harbinger: A guy I know who was on this show actually was kidnapped in Somalia by pirates and kept on a boat for — I want to say two, two and a half years and they—
[00:40:15] Drew Binsky: I don't have any stories to share like that, but that's wild.
[00:40:17] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah, good. You're lucky you don't, man. That would put a stop to your traveling, I think, pretty quick. He was lucky to survive. He got really sick because they're feeding you just crap and they're not going to give you good food. And he was so sick and he had to see a doctor and they're like, "Yeah, we'll bring you a doctor." And what they do is they call like someone's uncle who has given Tylenol to somebody one time because he used to live in Canada. And so that guy's like, "Yeah, this guy's going to die." And they're like, "Oh, okay. You should take them to a real hospital, but I know you can't cause he's a kidnapping prisoner. So, you know, try and drink water and sleep on the concrete floor and the cardboard that they give you as like a pillow."
[00:40:53] I mean, he was in a miserable, miserable situation. He got kidnapped going from the airport — he's a journalist, so he was going to do some sort of interviewing of, ironically, about Somali pirates. I'll get the episode number and I'll put it in the show notes for people that are wondering. His name is Michael Scott Moore. He was on this show earlier, a couple of years ago. He was doing a report or was going to do a report on pirates. He'd rolled to a checkpoint, a couple of guys, the technical, which is a truck, came up with machine gun in the back and they said, "Get in," and he was like, "Guess, these guys aren't with us." And his friend who was like an hour late, for some reason, he got to the point just fine and didn't get kidnapped. So he basically got intercepted during that one mile. You think how many checkpoints do you need in a mile and enough to make sure that you can get intercepted? And apparently even then, you still can.
[00:41:39] Drew Binsky: All about checkpoints, man. The reason I developed severe anxiety is because of being stuck at checkpoints. I was in one checkpoint in Yemen on the middle of the freeway. And they're like makeshift checkpoints. They have like a little rope that they attach to. These are all run by different groups. Some of them are terrorism groups. Some of them are Al-Qaeda, there's ISIS flags — like you said, you saw the Hezbollah flag. I've seen ISIS flags like waving on the street. So you don't know who's stopping you.
[00:42:03] They saw my camera. I'm also hiding my profession. I'm a journalist.
[00:42:07] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah, for sure.
[00:42:07] Drew Binsky: It's extremely risky to go to these countries at the same risk that your friend had. I was on the side of the road in Yemen. They saw my camera. I'm really smart in that I have two SD cards. My camera has two slots. So one is all my video footage. And the other one is just like photos, like selfies and just photos of my breakfast, just in case they look through my camera—
[00:42:26] Jordan Harbinger: Decoy SD card.
[00:42:27] Drew Binsky: I have a decoy SD card and I just press one button on my camera. And it goes through the slot number two. This is like a genius trick, man. If they would've seen all the shit — I was like going into villages and filming women who gave me permission. And if they would've seen that dude, they would've cut my head off on the spot. So I was showing the decoy card, but they were still suspicious. I have two iPhones for the same reason. I showed them a decoy iPhone, but they made me step out of the car, take off my shirt. Okay, take off my shirt, I was wearing this traditional Islamic like dress, this long outfit. So I had to take it off, empty all my pockets, put my hands on the car. They were like searching everything off me. They essentially thought it was a spy. That's what they were suspicious about. So they were searching for like, dude, if they saw it — I have a camera right now on my chest, which I hide.
[00:43:12] Jordan Harbinger: Oh, God, yeah, the microphone.
[00:43:13] Drew Binsky: Dude, when I travel, I don't like to clip on the mic. It just looks too stage. I wasn't wearing this mic, but if I was, man, I would not be right here doing this interview. So yeah, my point is some of the scariest moments are hiding the fact that I'm a journalist at these checkpoints in Afghanistan, Libya, Somalia, Yemen, even in Mauritania, where I just was like, dude, It's so stressful. And my biggest fear is getting kidnapped, period. And this going through these checkpoints, you're in their hands, whatever they want to do, they can do that. And the thing is that they use their phone and they call the next checkpoint. Hey, we got an American coming. Like it would be so easy for them to kidnap me is what I'm trying to say.
[00:43:53] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[00:43:54] Drew Binsky: The fact that I haven't been kidnapped is kind of miracle because I've traveled by land through all these countries.
[00:43:59] Jordan Harbinger: I think you're right. I think you're really lucky. Like I've went to Mexico, gotten a fake taxi, and that was my first, and I put this in air quotes as kidnapping because that's a green belt, maybe even a yellow belt kidnapping, but I've been in Serbia and I had it happened there but it was, you know, state security officers. And I lived there for a while so I know it's not a crazy place, but you're going to places where there are no tourists. And so you are just like, they're licking their chops when they think they can get even a hundred bucks for one of your fingers, right?
[00:44:29] Drew Binsky: Yeah. And once again, there's no US embassies in these countries for obvious reasons. So if something happens to me, who do I call? My phone doesn't work in the middle of Yemen or even in the middle of Afghanistan. It gets hard to let you know that I can't just use my phone to call for help. So I just take all the precautions I can. And in these situations, I'm very, very calm. You know, you say, "As-salamu alaykum." You just say what you can say to them, which means may peace be upon you. It's a way to say hello in Arabic for those who don't know. And I usually have some kind of headscarf on and I always have my beard because that's like — I just shaved yesterday. I have a baby face, but I had this like two-month beard, that's a travel beard. And when you travel through Islamic countries that just shows respect.
[00:45:10] Jordan Harbinger: Is your hair red?
[00:45:11] Drew Binsky: Yes, so I had this big red beard.
[00:45:12] Jordan Harbinger: Okay.
[00:45:13] Drew Binsky: I just do everything that I can in my power to minimize the risk of getting kidnapped, but I can only go so far if they want it to kidnap me, man. As I said, when you go through these checkpoints, they're like every two miles, there's a checkpoint. It's so easy for them to call the next check one, be like, "Hey, this Toyota Corolla has a American in it. Kidnap him right away." And I'm done.
[00:45:34] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah, sure.
[00:45:34] Drew Binsky: And you said a hundred bucks. Dude, we're talking hundreds of thousands of bucks and they would get it for me because I would call my grandfather and my parents and anyone who I know who has money and being like, "Hey, I'm kidnapped send 50 grand right now or I'm going to die," and so they would get that money, which is scary as hell to think about.
[00:45:51] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah. You're lucky you're getting some of these places out of your system now. And hopefully when you go back when you're older, these places are a little more stable, right?
[00:45:59] Drew Binsky: Hopefully, yeah.
[00:46:01] Jordan Harbinger: What about Eritrea? This place has been on my list for a while. It's a surprise — most people never heard of it first of all. It's kind of like the Ethiopia, the other side of the coin for Ethiopia, that used to be the same country, I think, right?
[00:46:13] Drew Binsky: Yep. I'm really happy you brought up that country. It's one of my top five favorites in Africa. The visa is extremely hard to get. There's an embassy in Washington, DC, where you have to send your passport, but you have to have a good letter of invitation. I'm sure you know a fair share of getting visas. It's very hard to get it. It takes a month to process. Apparently, they can just turn you down for no reason if they don't want to and it's pretty expensive, but I got the visa. I have two passports, by the way. That's a good travel hack. Anyone who travels a lot, you're allowed to get two valid US passports. And one of them, I keep in the States and my dad will just ship my passport to the embassy to get the visa while I'm traveling. So that's what I did, I got the visa.
[00:46:49] It's really beautiful. So Eritrea is like you're in the '50s, it was an Italian colony, which most people don't even know the Italians colonized other countries. It's not the typical Portuguese, Spanish, French, Dutch colony. It's an Italian colony, which means you have these beautiful coffee shops, these amazing plazas, these cobblestone streets, these like Italian churches. And the coffee culture is huge. Because Ethiopia, it used to be one country before the civil war in 1991, I know it was the early '90s, 1993. Then they broke into two different countries.
[00:47:19] But dude, it's so unexpectedly amazing. You're walking down Asmara, which is the capital city, which is cold. You think of like all of Africa and not to generalize, but almost generalizing, the whole continent is hot. There's very few cold climates in Africa. Asmara is cold. You need a jacket. It's really high in elevation. So the first thing you do is you're like, "Whoa, this cold wind coming here." Everyone has a jacket on, but you have these amazing like tree-lined boulevards. And these old churches that were built by Italians and you walk into these coffee shops. I kid you not, they have these cappuccino machines from the '20s, from the '20s that they're still using and it's just normal life for them. And they're still working. And I'm like, "Dude, that is an antique item that can be sold on eBay for $50,000."
[00:48:01] Jordan Harbinger: Sure yeah.
[00:48:02] Drew Binsky: It's just like a normal cappuccino that they're making and it's delicious. Coffee originated in Ethiopia. It's where the first coffee beans—
[00:48:10] Jordan Harbinger: Oh, I didn't know that.
[00:48:11] Drew Binsky: Yeah. Coffee in Ethiopia is like — as I said, it's where it comes from, but it's the same in Eritrea. So you're just hanging out. There's all the older men, they are speaking Italian. They have these old Fiats or these Italian cars.
[00:48:23] Jordan Harbinger: Oh, the ones that are like this big.
[00:48:25] Drew Binsky: Yes, like from the 1950s and before. Everything, the cars, the way the cafes or restaurants like the hotels, everything. There's like this old drive-in movie theater, and it literally has like a drive-in sign and it's still functioning with these 1940 cars. Dude, it's literally a time machine.
[00:48:43] Jordan Harbinger: It sounds like Cuba, but it's an Africa.
[00:48:45] Drew Binsky: Kind of, it's actually been dubbed as a Cuba Africa.
[00:48:48] Jordan Harbinger: Oh, okay.
[00:48:48] Drew Binsky: So it's really, really interesting. They speak Tigrinya, which is a language in Ethiopia. But as I said, the older generation speaks Italian because that's what they were taught in schools. And it's really cool, man. It's on the Red Sea. It's really hot on the coast. There's a city called the — not Aswan. I'm forgetting the name of the city, but it's really fascinating culture. And I highly, highly recommended if you like off the beaten path places.
[00:49:11] Jordan Harbinger: So there's no modern buildings. I saw on your video. There's no modern buildings. There's only stuff that is built recently. You wouldn't call modern and things that were built by, I guess, is it Mussolini, basically built these—
[00:49:23] Drew Binsky: Yes.
[00:49:23] Jordan Harbinger: —during the time of colonization. So everything is kind of grand. And it's what you think of when you think of like modern Italian cities that still have a bunch of old stuff like Rome. So it's not ancient Italy, but it's still like what you imagined to be Italian, except it's in Africa. And I mean, is it well-maintained? It seems like it would be hard to maintain something like that with very little resources.
[00:49:45] Drew Binsky: Not really, man. It's, everything's pretty normal. When you're walking around, it's also been called the North Korea of Africa.
[00:49:50] Jordan Harbinger: That's what I've heard. Yeah.
[00:49:52] Drew Binsky: I don't know too much about it and I didn't get into politics in my video because I try to stay away from politics. But yeah, if you can look up, look it up online and there's some human rights issues going on. The UN does this ranking of countries listed by human rights. Eritrea is like in the bottom five. So that says something and there's crazy restrictions on what news, that like there's one newspaper and it's like a local Eritrean news, like North Korea. And they can consume that content.
[00:50:19] It's really hard to get Wi-Fi, almost impossible. I think I had to like — my hotel had Wi-Fi and I had to pay like five bucks for like 30 minutes credit and it's really slow. So you do get these North Korean vibes. North Korean people in my opinion are very depressed and they're not happy people, but in Eritrea, it's the opposite. They're friendly and they're welcoming. And "Hey, welcome to Eritrea." It's a different feeling as far as like the smiling of the locals. Like they'll welcome you into their shop and that kind of stuff.
[00:50:48] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah. North Korea as you know, there aren't shops really to be welcomed into. They open things for tourists when you arrive and they kind of go — I mean, the person lives there generally. And they're like, "Oh." I've told this on the show before, but you knock, the woman answers the door in a jacket. She opens it, turns all the lights on, and stands there and pretends like she's happy to see you and then goes back and washes when you leave.
[00:51:11] Drew Binsky: Actually, I can speak Korean because I lived in South Korea before I went to North Korea. So I took that as a huge advantage. And I leveraged my ability to speak to the locals. That's why I did the Pyongyang marathon because that's the only time where you can like run through the streets of Pyongyang without having a tour guide with you. And I was just like, high-fiving the kids on the streets, like speaking to them, like what's going on. And it's like in the Metro, which I'm sure you took, I tried to speak to some people, which is a really depressing place, the Pyongyang Metro, but yeah, you don't get the feeling of people being open-minded or hospitable or even really friendly. Like it's very odd.
[00:51:44] Jordan Harbinger: Its' xenophobic to say the least.
[00:51:46] Drew Binsky: To say the least. Absolutely, absolutely. So it's different. In Eritrea, it's the opposite of that. They're like happy— like Turkmenistan also, is it called the North Korea of Central Asia. I'm sure you've heard about Turkmenistan.
[00:51:58] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah. We'll talk about that in a second when we're done with Eritrea because I've got questions about that crazy place.
[00:52:03] Drew Binsky: What I was going to say, as the people are very welcome — like it's a central Asian country and it's an Islamic country and people are welcoming by culture. You know, before this crazy regime has come in, that people just come into my house, let's eat for a meal and that's how it isn't Turkmenistan. And that's how it's very different than North Korea. But dude, let's talk about Turkmenistan.
[00:52:21] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah, we can. One note on Eritrea is I looked up Eritrea because I wanted to — first of all, I wanted to get one of those cool domains where it's like harbinger.er, but dot-er is Eritrea. And I went, oh, okay, I probably have to pay like a hundred dollars to some registry to get the domain. It's literally impossible because it's owned entirely by Eritrea telecom or whatever. And no one answers the email, no one answers the phone and that company is wholly owned by whatever generally CMO is in charge of Eritrea. And he's not interested in your hundred dollars for your domain name, like at all. So I'm out of luck there and what's, this is a bummer because I'm sure their dot-er, they could probably make a couple of million dollars for the regime, just selling dot-er domains but they're not interested.
[00:53:05] Drew Binsky: Very, very quick side note. The country of Tuvalu is dot-tv. So every country was given dot-whatever, dot-tv. Their number one source of income and I made a video on this is selling the dot-tv. They make five million dollars a year, which is a lot for a tiny Island nation of a couple of thousand people just by selling the dot-tv domain.
[00:53:25] Jordan Harbinger: That's funny. I always wondered if dot-tv was a country or if they made it for television. Okay. So that, that's pretty funny. I met some cab drivers back when I lived in New York. This is like 10 years ago now. And one of them told me she was — I always say, "Where are you from?" Because you get countries you'd never even heard of. You know? And she was one that I'm thinking of right now. She was from Eritrea and we had an airport ride. So we were talking for about an hour, hour and a half, because you know, New York traffic. My question is always, "Do you go back to whatever country?" Because that's when you get the stories. She said, "No, I can't go back because I do," at the time, it was like 2010, she was a blogger. That was a thing. Now, she's probably doing some other things, but she blogged about the regime and you can't do that.
[00:54:09] It's like saying, "Hey, Kim Jong-un is a fat that eats too many hotdogs." You can never go home after that. So she said that even in New York City, the Eritreans secret police were following her around talking to her friends because they have agents in New York because there is a — of course it's New York City. There's a little Eritrea for sure, even if it's one half of a block. She said there's people that she can't really talk to because they're like friends of her family, but they have connections to the regime and she says, you can't tell them anything. Yeah. She had a radio show or something in Ethiopia, and then they came after her and then she came to New York and now she's a cab driver.
[00:54:44] Just that, that regime is — if you look at press freedom index, which is, I guess, how free the press is in any given country, North Korea, I thought for sure, this is the lowest at the bottom. It's not. It's the second to the bottom. And the bottom is Eritrea because at least North Korea, I think has two or three newspapers, even though one's the army and one's the civilian government, it's still the same crap, Eritrea only one same message everywhere, government broadcasting, government print, nobody can write or do anything that's not approved. It's crazy.
[00:55:15] Drew Binsky: That's exactly right. Yeah. It's sad.
[00:55:17] Jordan Harbinger: I assume that it's a military government. Because when I went to college, actually, a friend of a friend, his dad or uncle or something was a general in Eritrea and we heard all these war stories that was before I really understood that it's possible that his uncle was a proper bastard and not a good person
[00:55:34] Drew Binsky: It's true or I don't know if it's true, what you just said. There's a lot of history that's happened in North Korea — we're talking about Eritrea and Eritrea, once again, I don't get too into politics as I travel, because once again, I don't want to just be this opinionated guy. I'm just going to experience the hospitality and the food, and learn about the ancient wonders of different countries. Well, who am I to go there and be like, "Oh, this is a messed up regime, like, blah, blah, blah." So there's always two sides of the coin, right? But there's definitely a lot of shit that's been going on in Eritrea with the regime and with neighboring Ethiopia. When I went, the borders had just shut again between their landlord and Ethiopia, because there was another scare of a civil war happening again.
[00:56:13] So at the end of the day, I feel bad for the local innocent people of these countries, like Eritrea, like North Korea, like Turkmenistan, who just want to live life and like the kids, they want to run around on the streets and play badminton with their friends, but they can't. And they want to play video games and watch American films, but they can't, and it's really, really sad. And you don't choose where you're born. And me and you, dude, and people, everyone listening to this podcast right now, you're so lucky to be born in the country that you were born in and not having to worry about these crazy restrictions and having a passport that only lets you visit.
[00:56:44] Dude. I was just in Iraq and I was with my buddy who has an Iraqi passport. It's the worst in the world in terms of countries he's able to visit without needing to get a visa. He can only visit 29 countries, visa free. And all those countries are like Syria, Egypt, Libya, Afghanistan, all the neighboring countries like Saudi Arabia. And dude, we as a US passport holder, we can visit, pre-COVID and post-COVID, we'll be able to visit 179 countries without needing to get a visa that is literally booking a plane ticket showing up and that's it.
[00:57:14] And my girlfriend, she's got a Philippines passport. She can only visit like 70 countries. So she needs to go to the embassy. Get a doctor's note, prove her bank statements, prove that she's willing to come back to the Philippines. Dude, we're so blessed. And that's the point I wanted to make.
[00:57:30] Jordan Harbinger: This is The Jordan Harbinger Show with our guest Drew Binsky. We'll be right back.
[00:57:35] This episode is sponsored in part by the Magnifying Excellence podcast. My guess is most of you listening right now are striving for excellence in your career and in your life. Most of us have never thought about the exact definition of excellence. I know I don't spend a whole lot of time trying to deconstruct that stuff myself, but the Magnifying Excellence podcast features some of the world's best from sports, entertainment, business, even a secret agent here and there. It might sound like a familiar mix of talent. Also in each episode, host — and fan of The Jordan Harbinger Show I might add — Brian Hurlburt and the guest take a deep dive into all things, excellence, getting very candid about how failure is always a part of the journey of excellence. Even for the world's best the podcast isn't a glorification of excellence, but a deep examination when the guests exclusively share their personal journeys of excellence, like they never have before.
[00:58:20] Jen Harbinger: We've added Magnifying Excellence to our podcast playlist and hope you will too. It's available on all major podcast networks and you can also visit X-L-E-T-E.com and sign up to receive a free Magnifying Excellence eBook written by the host and also receive the show's weekly newsletter. It might be the new podcast that you didn't know you needed.
[00:58:37] Jordan Harbinger: This episode is also sponsored by Microsoft Teams. Microsoft Teams is helping Priority Bicycles reinvent the way they work. When the pandemic hit, the bike shop had to close their New York City showroom. They found a way to reopen by doing virtual visits on Teams. Now, the team can meet with two or three times the number of customers than they could before. And people from all over the world can visit their showroom. Learn more about their story and others at microsoft.com/teams.
[00:59:05] This episode is also sponsored by Brother.
[00:59:07] Jen Harbinger: The P-touch pro label maker enables you to organize like a pro creating durable labels that help identify your electrical and telecom, wires, and cables, workspace, gear, and more. P-touch pro features convenient one-touch keys that make labeling fast and easy. Use over 300 symbols to help declutter your electrical wiring, workshop, toolbox, garage storage, and more. P-touch pro tackles hobbies too. Organize your camping, hunting, fishing, and sporting gear. And it's easy to use wherever your projects take you featuring a detachable wrist strap and portable design. Choose from an assortment of exceptionally durable Brother P-touch label tapes for all your labeling needs. Tackle your toughest labeling jobs with a P-touch pro label maker only from Brother. For details visit, ptouchprobybrother.com.
[00:59:50] Jordan Harbinger: Thanks so much for listening to the show, y'all. Your support of our advertisers, that's what keeps us going. I put all of the codes and all of the advertisers and the discounts, they're all in one page. So you don't have to remember, you know, slash Jordan, slash Jordan10, slash jordan20. Wait, what was this the sponsor? What's the URL? All of that is on one page at jordanharbinger.com/deals. I would very much appreciate it if you supported our sponsors, whenever you get a chance. That helps keep the lights on around here. That's how we get paid. That's why I don't sell things on the show. I'm not sitting there going, "Buy my mastermind. Come visit our thingamajig," where we charge you every month and we don't get your permission. I don't do any of that crap. Because you guys can support the sponsors and I feel like that's a fair exchange. So please, if you get a chance, do consider supporting those who support us.
[01:00:36] Don't forget we've got worksheets for our episodes. If you want some of the drills and exercises talked about during the show, they're all in one easy place as well. That link is in the show notes at jordanharbinger.com/podcast. Now for the conclusion of our episode with Drew Binsky.
[01:00:53] When I was in college, I had been doing fair share of backpacking and traveling, and I was like, "I'm going to go to Ukraine," because I'm learning Russian at the time. I don't know Russian anymore. It's become Serbian due to interference of the language. I said, "Well, what do I need to do? I want to book a ticket." And of course, they're like, "Okay, we need your visa number." And I said, "Visa number? Don't I just get that when I arrive." And they were like, "No, you have to get a visa before you come here." And I was like, "Really? I've never done that before." And they're like, "Yeah, you can't just walk into any country that you want." I remember being like confused at age 20 or 19.
[01:01:28] Drew Binsky: Americans, Canadians, and Europeans, they don't understand. A visa is basically, you have to be granted permission by a local government to their country for a limited amount of time. It can be, in Iran, I was only given 15 days. It can be 30 days. It can be 90 days. It can be a year, but you have to like pay a price and you have to prove to them that you're a good person. You don't have a criminal background. You worked for whatever company. And you're going to go in as a tourist only as a tourist and leave. That's what a visa is. And so, yeah, you're right, man. It's crazy.
[01:01:57] Jordan Harbinger: When I went to Germany as an exchange student, I stayed there for a whole year and they were like, "Oh, you've overstayed your visa once," because I hadn't left the country. I think I was supposed to leave every 90 days for like even one day or go to an office and get a stamp. And I just didn't do it once. And it was me and a girl from Thailand had both done that and they were like, "We're going to deport you." And I was like, "I'm so screwed." And for me, they were like, "You know what? Don't worry about it. I'm just going to initial this space right here with your stamp." For her, they were like, "We're going to deport you," and they had to go through a whole rigmarole to make sure that didn't happen because you know, we're in high school. It wasn't really her fault.
[01:02:32] Drew Binsky: A student visa or a tourist visa?
[01:02:34] Jordan Harbinger: I showed up as a tourist. I didn't even need a student visa because it was Germany, man. You know, they're like, "An American in Germany, we're not worried about this guy," but the Thai girl, they were like, "You're going to vanish into our country and try and work." There is a totally different set of fears. And so you do realize after you start traveling, how lucky you are, like for all the complaining we like to do in the West about how things don't work. And some of those complaints are very valid. We have it pretty good.
[01:03:01] Like the fact that I didn't even know I needed a visa to go to Ukraine. And then all I did was pay a hundred dollars for a letter of invitation, which is just a bullshit formality from some travel agency to be like, "Esteemed Jordan Harbinger is going to come bless us with his presence if you grant him this visa," and they're like, "Whatever, I'll take a hundred euros."
[01:03:18] Drew Binsky: A lot of under the table that happens with this letter of invitation and visas, dude. And to get my Libya visa, I had to go to the embassy in Rome and there's no tourist visa in Libya. They don't give you tourist visa. So I had to get a work visa and I had to be in disguise as an oil consultant to get the work visa. So I had to prove to them, I had to get a letter of invitation that I'm an oil consultant through this one company out of Tripoli, the capital, Libya that issues them. You won't believe how expensive it is. I told you it's more than paid on my trip too — I'm blanking out that country that was super expensive.
[01:03:51] Jordan Harbinger: Somalia, more than Somalia.
[01:03:52] Drew Binsky: Yeah, this was like almost four grand for like a three-day trip in Libya, just to get the formalities, to get the letter of invitation. Then I had to ditch my backpack in Tunis, in Tunisia, where it came from and I had to get a briefcase and I had to get a collared shirt. And I'm not kidding you, man. I made a video about it and I had to enter Libya as an oil consultant. And they took me in the back room and immigration and they questioned me and asked me all of these questions, which I was prepared for.
[01:04:15] Jordan Harbinger: Wait, like what, like you're lucky they didn't ask you about oil consulting.
[01:04:19] Drew Binsky: They asked me what company do I work for which I had like a bullsh*t name company. And they asked me, what am I doing here, how much money do I make, what's my plan to do in Libya. They told me like, they're going to ask you these questions, so be prepared. And then I had the number of my driver. As I'm at immigration in the Tripoli airport, they took me in a separate room. So I'm in the separate room, like sweating balls. And I had the number of my driver. So I made them call my driver and then he explained who I am and that helped a lot.
[01:04:46] But dude, I don't even remember where I was before that story.
[01:04:49] Jordan Harbinger: We were going to go talk about Turkmenistan because this is a place that's been on my list. It's a very weird place. 10,000 visitors a year, which makes it, I think the seventh least visited country in the world. In fact, what's the least? Like Nauru or Tuvalu, something like that.
[01:05:03] Drew Binsky: I think it's Nauru. There's less than like 150 visitors a year. So I went out there. I was almost one percent of the visitors for 2019 when I went to Nauru.
[01:05:13] Jordan Harbinger: Turkmenistan is like, speaking of North Korea of the Middle East, North Korea. Turkmenistan is the North Korea of Central Asia. So it's in terms of the totalitarian crazy pants leaders. I mean, this guy we could go on for days with how crazy Turkmenbashi is or was. That's the dictator's name. He gave himself that title, which I think means like leader or father of all Turkmen. He renamed the calendar months after his family or his mom or something like that, right?
[01:05:39] Drew Binsky: He changed all the names based on his family's names. He banned opera because he didn't like the sound. He banned dogs because he doesn't like the smell of dogs. He literally would — it's like the most totalitarian regime. It's like worse than North Korea in terms of like, what I say goes, I make the rules and you guys follow.
[01:05:58] Jordan Harbinger: So there is a news story a while back. I don't know if you caught this. He was visiting some university and a woman came up and smiled or something like that or he was talking to the students and she had a gold tooth, as many people in Turkmenistan have. And he said, "You know, I don't think women should have gold teeth." And apparently that month, all of the women in the whole country had their gold teeth removed and it was like, it wasn't a law. It wasn't a directive. It was just, well he said publicly women shouldn't have gold teeth. So that was as good as ironclad law, make your dentist appointment now and have that shit removed.
[01:06:34] Drew Binsky: It's like Kim Jong-un, man. I don't see much of a difference really in what you're saying. So going back to what I said, it's terribly sad for the people of Turkmenistan, but dude, if you want to know about what it's like to travel there, hit me up. I mean, we can talk about it now.
[01:06:48] Jordan Harbinger: Well, I would love to hear about your trip. I mean, you have to be on an organized tour to get in, I assume. Just like North Korea, you can't just roll in, right? You can't just show up and be like, "Hey, I want to check this place out."
[01:06:57] Drew Binsky: You can. You can get a transit visa, which is only valid for three days. And I don't know if they do that for Americans, but for EU passports, you can get a three-day transit visa and you can just roll in. But for the purposes of everybody else, you have to be on an organized tour, but it can be a private tour. It doesn't have to be — it's like Iran with a US passport. You have to go on an organized tour to get the visa. I'd hired a local company for like a thousand bucks for a few days. There was a local guide with me the whole time, but it's a really interesting place, man.
[01:07:25] Ashgabat is the capital city. So Turkmenistan is very rich in terms of natural resources. They have the fourth biggest natural gas reserves in the world, and it's like buried under the desert of Turkmenistan so that they're exporting this natural gas to China, to Russia, and they're getting a lot of money. And what do they do with their money? They import this white marble from Italy, expensive white marble. And they construct a whole city of Ashgabat and these like tall, white marble buildings that are like, there's like thousands of them. And it looks like Disneyland in the middle of the desert. And he's just like, what is it? Like, there's not that many people living here. What's going on? There's like a huge wedding banquet, like a huge room , like it's 10 stories high and there's like, how many weddings are happening? It's just very eerie. The word is eerie. When walking around, the streets are perfectly clean, but they're really quiet. Like you don't see anybody outside.
[01:08:18] Jordan Harbinger: No cars, nothing.
[01:08:19] Drew Binsky: You see white, everything's white. So white buildings, white cars, you do see cars, but there are like taxi cars, and you're just like, what's going on? Like you're always questioning, how are people living in this country? It's very, very odd. There are restaurants, contrary to North Korea. There are like signs that say restaurant here. In North Korea, I notice there's like no sign.
[01:08:38] Jordan Harbinger: No signs. There's almost no signage.
[01:08:40] Drew Binsky: Where's the hospital? There's hospital in Pyongyang but where's the hospital? There's no signs, it’s weird. So in North Korea, there are signs — sorry, in Turkmenistan, there are signs. But Ashgabat is really interesting, man. There's like big Ferris wheels that are made out of white marble and there's like amusement parks and all these statues everywhere that are just staring at you. Have you ever been to the capital of — not Kosovo, what's—?
[01:09:00] Jordan Harbinger: Macedonia.
[01:09:01] Drew Binsky: Macedonia.
[01:09:01] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[01:09:02] Drew Binsky: Have you been—?
[01:09:02] Jordan Harbinger: I've been, yeah.
[01:09:03] Drew Binsky: So there's all these statues in Skopje that are just staring at you when you're walking through the city and it's like, "Why are they spending all their money on these statutes?" It's the same thing in Turkmenistan. And you're just like, "What is going on?" But the coolest thing in the country is not Ashgabat, it's the Gates of Hell. Have you heard of the Gates of Hell?
[01:09:18] Jordan Harbinger: So is that the giant — could happen in the Soviet Union gas crater that was blown up when this — well, tell me about it. What is that?
[01:09:25] Drew Binsky: It's exactly what you — so in the middle of the desert, there's a burning fire pit that has been on fire since 1969 when these Soviet miners went through and they were searching for natural gas. And they lit it on fire for whatever reason. And there's some chemical reaction and some scientific reason it hasn't stopped burning. And it's like a huge fire pit. Like to walk around the perimeter would take you 30 minutes.
[01:09:48] Jordan Harbinger: Oh my God. Wow.
[01:09:50] Drew Binsky: Huge. I mean, I flew my drone and like I had to fly it like hundreds and hundreds of feet high just to get the full circle in the frame. And if you sleep overnight there, it's beautiful. Like at night, it illuminates the sky, but even in like rain and everything, it doesn't go out. So it's like a world wonder like, what is going on here? It's called the Gates of Hell or the Burning Fire pit of Turkmenistan. But dude, it's definitely the coolest thing to do in Turkmenistan. And one of the coolest things I've ever done in my life.
[01:10:14] It's a four-hour drive from Ashgabat. You drive in the middle of nowhere and they have these — it's a touristy thing. For the limited 10,000 tourists who go there, they have like little tents, literally, literally like a tent that you sleep in and they cook you food and stuff, which is pretty cool experience. But if you ever go to Turkmenistan, you have to go to the Gates of Hell.
[01:10:31] Jordan Harbinger: So I assume they were exploring the mine and they thought, "Let's clear this chamber of the natural gas by lighting it on fire." And what they didn't realize was that it was probably one of the world's largest natural gas reserves ever. And if there's hundreds or I mean, millions of cubic meters, or billions, even of cubic meters of gas in there, it's never really going to go out. And I don't know if they can estimate how long it's going to be on fire, but yeah, you're not going to get it put out with rain because it's a gas that's ignited and it's just rushing up from the ground and it's not going to stop anytime soon.
[01:11:02] So again, I say like only could happen in the Soviet Union because I feel like anywhere else, they go, you know, maybe we shouldn't just light this on fire because we don't necessarily know what's going to happen. And Soviet Union back then is just like, "You know what? Nah, we're just going to see what happens. It's like not our place. What's the worst thing that can happen? We'll find some gas." They can't cap it, or I guess it's probably impossible or it's too difficult, or maybe they didn't have the technology then, and now it's just, it makes more money as a tourist attraction than it does selling gas.
[01:11:33] Drew Binsky: Those are all valid points. Whatever the reasoning is, whatever's happening, it's absolutely incredible to witness and sleep overnight in the desert. And you can see like the Milky Way. There's no light pollution except for it, and then on the side of it, there's this burning fire pit. And you're just like, dude, it's like evil.
[01:11:48] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[01:11:49] Drew Binsky: My friend, who I was with had these glasses on, like just reading glasses. I'll never forget, like she was looking at it and I was looking at her and I just see this burning fire, like gates of hell in her reflection. And I was like, "Holy crap. This is really cool," so yeah.
[01:12:03] Jordan Harbinger: Are there any places that you did not like, and you didn't have a good time? And because you seem pretty positive about all these different countries and all these different cities, even crazy war zones and places that are dangerous. Is there any place where you went, "You know what? This place kind of sucked. No fault of the people that live there, but I'm over it."
[01:12:19] Drew Binsky: Yeah. Chad in Central Africa is very unwelcoming. I had huge issues with my camera and people just not even giving me the time of day to explain who I am and they're just very unwelcoming people and I made a video about it. And other countries, Brunei, it's in Southeast Asia, it's on the Borneo Island. It shares a border with Malaysia and Indonesia. It's a little peninsula called Brunei. And I was very — like, I went into the main mosque there and it's a Muslim country and they just kicked me out for no reason. And they were just not friendly people and there's nothing to do there. And it's just like you get a bad, sometimes you get a bad feeling about a place. And that's another thing, another place. There's a couple others in West Africa, Guinea is one, Sierra Leone.
[01:12:57] Once again, I would go back and give them a second chance, but I just didn't have a great experience. And a lot of this is subjective. Like it depends on who you're with. It depends on the weather. If you visit a country and it's pouring, if it's hailing for four days, you're probably not going to have a good time. And if you visit a country and there's sketchy people that are showing you around, it's probably — so there's a bunch of different variables that can make or break your experience. And some of these happened to me in these countries. So once again, I would give them a second chance, but I am very optimistic and I'm very forgiving. And I look at the world from a very positive light and 99.5 percent of my experiences have been positive.
[01:13:32] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah. I was just curious because I think, you know, in the travels that you've done, there had to have been some places you didn't like. The only place — and I loved Egypt, but I'd never felt that level of hostility anywhere else. And bear in mind, this is the year 2000. I had people corner me in an alleyway. I had people tell me I couldn't use the Internet cafe because they didn't like Jews. And I was like, "How do you even know? Like, Jew radar is really good, man, you know, nobody. I mean, how do you even know?" I had people rip me off a bunch, not even just like tourist rip-offs, but like pushing me down and being like, give me your wallet right now. Like mugged, I got mugged basically, even though it was kind of like, they pretended like they were just kidding, but then they'd still took my money. I had people sell me fake things a lot, and I wasn't even in super touristy areas. In fact, it seems like when you go to less touristy spaces in any country that people are a little nicer.
[01:14:23] It was almost the opposite with Egypt whereas when we went to smaller places, they were just like, "No, you can't buy ice cream here. No, you can't eat any food in my restaurant." And I'd never really felt that anywhere. There were so many nice people in Egypt, but it seemed almost like a coin flip as to whether or not we were going to be welcoming to any given place.
[01:14:43] What was ironic about it was we went to some sketchy underground bars, which you thought, "Okay, this is going to be like rough characters." We walked in there and everyone was super nice because everyone was breaking the law and they were probably just like, "Hey, look, I won't mess with you. You don't mess with me," but going to like a cafe, it was a coin flip if the table next to you is going to be like, "Get out of here. I don't want to see your stupid face. You know, that kind of thing happened.
[01:15:08] Drew Binsky: It's the same in 2020, I went back a few months ago for the second time, for the third time. It's very tense especially when you have a camera in your hand, you're very unwelcomed all over the country and there's a lot of checkpoints and they ask you questions. And at the airport, they confiscated my drone, my brand-new drone, which is $2,000. They took it and they didn't give it back. I have problem with the Egyptian officials and with how the country's run, even at the pyramids, man, that's the most touristy place in the world. They don't want you taking pictures. Like, what do you like, what are you doing? Like, how are you going to want any more people to come here? If they're scared to come because I can't take pictures. It's still a problem in 2020.
[01:15:43] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah. That's too bad. I mean, Egypt, again, was an amazing place, the pyramid — it goes without saying that the historical attractions are incredible. And the people that I met — I always try to emphasize how great the people were, but it's unfortunate that there are so many — in fact, it's probably a lot like the United States when you come from another place. You meet a ton of nice people and then you meet some real a-holes that don't like you because you're brown. And you're like, "What the hell?" I would imagine it's similar to come here. I don't want to give the US a pass on that sort of thing, because I've seen people getting this treated here as well.
[01:16:15] How do you find the locals to hang out with when you're in some of these random places? Like I get meeting someone in South Korea, I get meaning someone in France to help you out. What are you doing when you're in Namibia or Chad? How are you finding people to kick it with and go around with?
[01:16:29] Drew Binsky: Yeah, so my travel style is really unique in the sense of I meet locals through Instagram and I put my full trust in them to show me around and keep me safe and have helped me have a good time. So I was just literally, go on Instagram stories. You know, I built a pretty big community of eight million to this point and I was just like, "Hey guys, you know, in the next four weeks, I'm going to be in Tunisia, Morocco, Mauritania, and Libya. If you are there, or if you have any friends or brothers or uncles who are there, who would be willing to show me around, please send me a DM and we'll talk." And so basically, I'll get 50, 100, 200 messages from people in those countries. And I just kind of filter through them on Instagram and kind of see if they seem like a cool person that would be fun to hang out with. And then I call some of them and then I'd be like, "Hey, you know, I'm coming, I'm shooting content. Would you mind being in the videos? Would you mind showing me around?"
[01:17:15] And I've never failed to find a local in any country, named me a country. I mean, this is what I've been doing for the last four years. And it's great because it's a win-win. I pay for everything. So I treat them to a full, like, if we're traveling around, I'll pay for the hotels, the food, the taxis. And they get to hang out. It's a cultural exchange. We get to share our thoughts and they get to introduce their culture, their country, to the world, through my videos. And they're like a local guide and friend. So it's a very much a win-win and a lot of these local guys have become my really good friends.
[01:17:45] I just got back from Iraq in Baghdad, with a guy named Baderkhan, who's a good friend of mine. He showed me around Iraqi Kurdistan, which is a Northern region.
[01:17:53] Jordan Harbinger: That's cool.
[01:17:53] Drew Binsky: And he's actually born in Baghdad. So he hadn't been home in like five years to his hometown. So I just got back like six weeks ago. So we went through Baghdad together. It was really cool, man. So yeah, that's how I find locals through Instagram or a friend of a friend. I'm in this travel community. It's very small. People who are going to every country. So sometimes you just hit up friends like, "Hey yeah, Turkmenistan, who do you know there?" but I like to find them through social media. Yeah.
[01:18:17] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah, that's great. That's really, really fortunate. Do you make videos every single day?
[01:18:22] Drew Binsky: I did for a period of two years. I posted seven videos a week. I got burned out. When COVID hit, I didn't have enough content coming in. So I started doing three times a week. Now, I'm doing it once a week, but my videos are 20 minutes long. So I'm doing longer, no deeper dives into each story, as opposed to just like — you know, you said you saw my Turkmenistan video or whatever. Those videos—
[01:18:42] Jordan Harbinger: I saw all the short ones, I think.
[01:18:44] Drew Binsky: Those are like four minutes. It's very much like crammed, but now I'm like, I'm speaking to the camera more. I'm just being a little more relaxed and bringing people along the journey with me in my recent videos. So I think that's kind of been how I've pivoted my own content to do longer stories.
[01:18:59] Jordan Harbinger: I got to say, I saw some of the longer ones. I greatly prefer the longer format. I think it's much more interesting. I mean, when those short ones are over, you just go, like, "My head is spinning. I saw a hundred things." The longer, for me, I'm all like, if you're going to do an hour and a half long video in a country, I'll watch that thing. I mean, I think it's better.
[01:19:17] Drew Binsky: I appreciate that. As I told you at the beginning, my evolution is to do longer form content, like 30, 40, 50-minute videos. And so I appreciate that feedback.
[01:19:24] Jordan Harbinger: Your channel's good. Obviously, we'll link to it in the show notes and I like the way that you travel. I like the style. I like the way that you hang out and you're not like it's not too formal but it's also, you're not like jumping off things in every shot. If that makes sense, you know, it's not like — like there's travel bloggers that jump off rocks into water constantly. And I'm just like, this shit is so played out. You don't do that. You keep it fresh. And I appreciate that.
[01:19:48] Drew Binsky: Awesome, man. I really appreciate it.
[01:19:50] Jordan Harbinger: I'm amused to see. Actually, you use pretty much the same equipment as I do from audio gear to the camera. The only thing I have that you don't is this studio setup here with the rackmount stuff and this mic, but everything else from camera type to the task cam you're using and it makes sense, you're a hundred percent mobile.
[01:20:08] Oh, you know what I was going to ask you. I'm wondering if you ever used khat on your travels. Can you tell us what it is? Because people don't know what it is.
[01:20:16] Drew Binsky: Oh yeah. khat or chat, it's these plants that you chew, it's a stimulant, it's the same effect as cocaine to some people, but it grows on these trees in Yemen and Somalia. We're talking about the same thing, right?
[01:20:26] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah. Yeah.
[01:20:27] Drew Binsky: It grows on trees in Yemen and Somalia and they consume it like crazy. They're all the men like 90% of the men. It's exported around the region a little bit in Oman. You can find some in the Middle East and Ethiopia. You can find it in Kenya. You can find it. It's legal. It's not illegal. So it's a hundred percent allowed. The policemen are doing it. The taxi drivers are doing it. People in their homes. Those will sit and watch TV and chew khat all day. It's like a baseball player when they have like tobacco in their cheek.
[01:20:53] Jordan Harbinger: It looks disgusting.
[01:20:54] Drew Binsky: I tried it. I mean, it tastes, it literally tastes — like you think if you grab leaves off of a tree and you crunch them in your mouth. You don't swallow it, but tasting leaves is what it tastes like. So it doesn't taste good, but the effect is strong. You definitely feel like. You just drank three, five hour energies. That's literally what it feels like and they want that feeling all of it because there's no alcohol. Alcohol is banned in these countries. They're dry country. So this is their way of finding their alternate happiness and their way to get f*cked up, essentially. So it's very common. There's khat markets all over the place. There's really cheap and you take five bucks for like supply for a week. You have to buy like a trash bag full of chat. It's not like a little pill or anything.
[01:21:38] Jordan Harbinger: Right.
[01:21:38] Drew Binsky: Like, they literally like chop off the branch of the tree and they put it. And you just take it. You unravel it. And you're just like peeling off these leaves off, like on a tree. It's crazy, man. It only lasts fresh for like two days because it's, they literally take it off the tree and it expires like it can't eat it after a while.
[01:21:55] So I think if I'm not mistaken, in Somalia, because I did a story on chat when I was there in Somalia, the chat economy represents one percent of the underground economy, the chat market. That's how popular it is there. So it's really interesting, man.
[01:22:10] Jordan Harbinger: It's vial and look, like you said you tried it, it tasted like, or it had an effect like three, five-hour energies. So it's a jittery uncomfortable effect, I assume.
[01:22:19] Drew Binsky: For me, but if you do it all day, I'm figuring your tolerance goes up.
[01:22:22] Jordan Harbinger: It's highly addictive. I know that much you build up a tolerance like that. So the guy, Michael Scott Moore, who was kidnapped by Somali pirates, he said his guards were doing chat all the time. And they would get really, really upset because they would run out and they can't go buy more. They need people to bring it, but there'd be nobody for like five days. So they would start like harassing him. In fact, if they didn't get any for a while, he was thinking about escaping because they'd be rolling around and sweating because they're going through withdrawal and it's just like, not something you really want to get addicted to, I guess.
[01:22:56] Drew Binsky: No, but that's all I have there. And that's what they take for their stimulant. As I said, there's no alcohol, there's no kind of getting — there's probably not that much weed. And I don't even know, there probably is, but I don't know if they do it. So their way of passing the time is by chewing khat and it's highly addictive.
[01:23:11] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah. This is also fascinating. There's so many other things that I was going to talk about that we just ran out of time. Like you've got some scary border crossings. You stayed in a well Libya. The whole thing was a war zone. You're hearing gun shots from your hotel room. I don't think I could ignore that by the way. That's pretty crazy.
[01:23:27] Drew Binsky: Hearing by, it was the sound of bombs, from the bombs. So the bed was like vibrating every 10 minutes.
[01:23:32] Jordan Harbinger: But there's a couple of videos I'll link in the show notes such as your favorite cities and why, because some of them are off the beaten path. You know, you think like, okay, one of them is going to be Paris, not really the case, there's stuff that I didn't expect. And I liked that because we kind of slam a lot of these countries in the Western media. So I also like to showcase, "Hey, Beirut, which was on your list is one of the coolest places around. Period." And yes, Berlin is really cool and I love Berlin, but also this place in Iran is really cool. And this place in Pakistan is really cool. So I'm going to link to that.
[01:24:02] You've got your hardest visas to get. I thought it was entertaining. You've got the most interesting country in Africa. I won't spoil what the answer is. I'll link to that video in the show notes, but thanks so much, man, for coming on the show, I've really dig, travel stories. The listeners love them. So this has been a lot of fun.
[01:24:15] Drew Binsky: Jordan, thanks a lot, man. I can't believe an hour and a half of time just passed. I feel like we've been talking for five minutes.
[01:24:20] Jordan Harbinger: So kindred spirits, man. Thanks so much for coming on.
[01:24:22] Drew Binsky: Of course, man. Keep in touch. See you guys later.
[01:24:26] Jordan Harbinger: As usual, I've got some thoughts on this one but first, we talked to legendary filmmaker, Oliver Stone on why the American media is partially culpable for the state of the world, interviewing Vladimir Putin and so much more. Here's a quick bite.
[01:24:39] You weren't even drafted to go to Vietnam, right? You wanted to go.
[01:24:44] Oliver Stone: I went to Vietnam because as I tried to say in the book, partly suicidal. It was a death instinct. It was like, I have no place in the world. I come out of Vietnam and I'm completely zonked. And I'm back in civilian society. I'm free. No one's telling me what to do. I don't know a soul. So I go over to Mexico, get bombed, laid all that stuff. Get crazy a few days, come back and zoned out. And come back at midnight, trying to cross back the border at midnight carrying my Vietnamese grass, which I had smuggled back from Vietnam. Of course, I get stupidly busted, federal smuggling, charged five to 20 years.
[01:25:19] Jordan Harbinger: Oh my God.
[01:25:20] Oliver Stone: Yeah, serious.
[01:25:20] Jordan Harbinger: That's a crazy punishment. How much grass are we talking about?
[01:25:23] Oliver Stone: The two ounces.
[01:25:24] Jordan Harbinger: That's ridiculous.
[01:25:25] Oliver Stone: Maybe less.
[01:25:26] Jordan Harbinger: I heard you once put LSD in your dad's drink at a party. That's a bold move, man.
[01:25:31] Oliver Stone: Yeah. Why not? Because he needed it.
[01:25:33] Jordan Harbinger: What do you mean?
[01:25:35] Oliver Stone: His attitude on the war was f*cked. I put a heavy dose of Orange Sunshine into his scotch. Man, I really dumped it in. And he got so f*cking high. He never knew what hit him.
[01:25:45] Jordan Harbinger: Do you think you could make a movie like Platoon now? Do you think an American studio would touch a movie like that these days?
[01:25:50] Oliver Stone: No, no, not with friendly fire and killing civilians. No, it's impossible now. National security cinema read it. He goes into detail on some 800 movies and the Pentagon has worked on. You have no idea the influence, how deep they've gotten. What I've said to you at this interview is important. If you think about it, listen to it again, you'll see why suffocation is in order here.
[01:26:17] Jordan Harbinger: For more, including the lesson Oliver Stone learned when he was a cab driver prior to becoming a world-famous director, check out episode 411 on The Jordan Harbinger Show.
[01:26:28] Hope you all enjoy that. I really think Drew is an interesting guy. He does other videos on his favorite cities and why, and it's not like Paris, you know, not that there's anything wrong with Paris, but he picks Beirut, Berlin. There's a couple of cities in Iran. I think Lahore Pakistan is one of them and it's not Tehran. It's Isfahan, Iran, which is just totally random and such interesting place to go and visit. It turns out his favorite city is Prague, which is where producer Jason lives and is listening to this right now and probably shaking his head because he knows that Prague is dope. And we're going to do a company retreat and we may go to Prague. I don't know Jason though. You don't want us to go to Prague, right? You live there. You want us to go to Greece or Italy or something? Maybe we'll retreat to Prague later and come visit you.
[01:27:09] The hardest visas to get as another video that he did surprise me, surprise Iran, Eritrea, Syria, Venezuela, and Libya. He can't even tell us how he got the Syria visa. That's how shady it is to get a visa to Syria these days. And also you're crazy for going there. You notice a lot of people are coming the other way, right? I especially enjoy Drew's videos that are like what you can get for 10 bucks in Pakistan or Vietnam or Libya. It's insane how inexpensive things are in some places. There was a video where he did this in Pakistan and he goes and gets like breakfast, lunch, dinner, a massage, a camel ride, a hat, a Pakistani flag, and a haircut. And he's like, "I still haven't spent $10." So money goes pretty far — I can't even get a sushi roll for $10 here in the freaking Silicon Valley. Got to move to Pakistan.
[01:27:53] Links to Drew's videos and YouTube channel will be on the website in the show notes. Please use our website links if you bought any books from the guests you hear on the show that helps support us. It's a little bit of pennies here and there, but those pennies, they stack up. You know, we've got a lot of people listening. So please do that. I really do appreciate it.
[01:28:08] Worksheets for this episode are in the show notes transcripts for the episode are in the show notes. All the sponsors are at jordanharbinger.com/deals. And there's a video of this interview going up on our YouTube channel at jordanharbinger.com/youtube. I'm at @JordanHarbinger on both Twitter and Instagram. You can hit me on LinkedIn. I love engaging with all of you there.
[01:28:28] I'm also teaching you how to connect with great people and manage relationships, using the same systems and tiny habits that I use. That's in our Six-Minute Networking course, which is free over at jordanharbinger.com/course. Dig that well before you get thirsty. Most of the guests on the show, they subscribed to the course, they helped out. So come join us, you'll be in smart company where you, of course, belong.
[01:28:51] This show is created in association with PodcastOne. And my amazing team is Jen Harbinger, Jase Sanderson, Robert Fogarty, Millie Ocampo, Ian Baird, Josh Ballard, and Gabriel Mizrahi. Remember, we rise by lifting others. The fee for the show is that you share it with friends when you find something useful or interesting. If you'd like people who love to travel, if you know people who are really into going off the beaten path places, this episode is definitely for them. I hope you find something great in every episode of this show. So please share the show with those you care about. In the meantime, do your best to apply what you hear on the show, so you can live what you listen, and we'll see you next time.
[01:29:29] You know, the name, Michael Cohen, former attorney and personal fixer for Donald Trump, who once vowed to take a bullet for the former president, on his podcast, Mea Culpa, Cohen is on a mission to write the wrongs he perpetuated on behalf of his old boss. The podcast is raw and unfiltered shining a light into the dark corners of our current American apocalypse. Tune in weekly for a candid conversation with the New York Times bestselling author and the self-proclaimed gangster lawyer, as he sets to dismantle the Trump legacy and finds the truth and nothing but the truth as he sees it. Download and subscribe to Mea Culpa with Michael Cohen on Apple podcasts, Spotify, or wherever you're listening now.
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