INTERVIEW: Orlando Charmon

Fresh from his Gap Yah, the YouTube star has returned with a brand new book, the unsurprisingly titled Gap YaH Plannah.

He may have made millions of people laugh, but the pashmina adorning star of the video also highlights important issues. Should we really be ‘chundering’ all over the third world?

The Gap Year Travel Guide’s Sam Moir speaks to Matt Lacey, the man behind Orlando about where the character came from, and why it’s important to travel responsibly on your gap year.

Where did the idea for ‘Gap Yah’ come from?

It was written from life. I met a lot of these people at university. I use the name Tarquin in the sketch and the real Tarquin is actually a guy I met in the queue for a club in Oxford once. His gaggle of friends in front of me went, ‘Tarquin just vommed, Tarquin just vommed!’ and Tarquin was vomiting in someone’s front garden. I just thought it was right for a bit of parody.

Orlando is irresponsible on his travels but how important do you think it is that students on gap years are responsible?

Very important – you should be really responsible wherever you go. It’s just as easy for Orlando to get into trouble in Croydon as it would be for him to get into trouble in Tanzania. When you’re travelling, everything’s new, so you don’t necessarily identify the risks. You should always be responsible when you travel.

Did you go on a gap year yourself?

Yeah – I actually spent most of it in Ireland working in a Chinese restaurant, run by Romanians which was an interesting life experience. Then I also took the more clichéd trip to Tanzania but I certainly didn’t call it Tanzanah. So there is an element of self parody in there.

Where did the idea for the Gap Yah Plannah come from?

A few publishers came to me and asked if I’d thought about writing a book. It’s something I’ve really enjoyed doing and it’s allowed the character to become a lot more rounded than just one sketch. I initially wrote a chapter to see if it would work and it got a great response so I thought it yeah – it could actually work.

What would you say are the key themes of the book overall?

The key themes are our attitudes to the rest of the world, the rest of the world’s attitudes to us and how we act when we travel. To some extent, everyone becomes a bit of a stereotype of their nationality in amongst others. It’s a natural thing – you start to act up. It’s also about this completely unaware traveller who blunders around everywhere.

What advice do you have to students going on gap years?

Just plan well, think carefully about what you want to do and what you want to get out of it. Don’t just run off and do the first thing that you can think of.

Orlando’s advice for planning your Gap Yah:

Where should I go?

Three words for you: cash-lash ratio. You’re probably thinking, “Oh, this is easy – the more ‘povo’ countries will have cheaper beer.” I would say: first of all, you shouldn’t use the word “povo” (it’s “less economically developed”); and secondly, shut, you’re wrong. Many things affect the golden ratio, other than how cheap everything else is in a country.

South America

First week was spent in a Spanish language school (may as well get some CV points while I’m here). It was a bit rubbish, but at least I learnt all the important phrases – Un million de cervezas por favor (a million beers please), Estoy en mi ano de vacio (I’m on my Gap Yah), Estoy borracho (I’m lashed), Puede poner algun dubstep (Can you put on some dubstep?) – and looked around Lima, which is byand large pretty boring.

The Gap Yah Plannah is available to buy now, priced £12.99

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