Miles Routledge, a Brit who is now stuck in Kabul as Afghanistan falls to the Taliban, gained international attention when he posted his current situation to 4chan. Routledge spoke to National File about his trip, what he thinks on America’s handling of the war, and what his plans are now.
Routledge, a 21 year old physics student from the University of Loughborough, made the trip to Afghanistan at a slightly unfortunate time. Only two days into his trip, the Taliban had marched into Kabul, the capital of the country. “I’m stuck in Afghanistan,” Routledge posted. “Bit of a pickle.” It was long before he decided to share his story on 4chan’s /trv/ board, the website’s primary forum for travel discussion. His postings, which included him saying Kabul was “more peaceful than London,” and that he was engaging the “Afghanistan grindset,” unsurprisingly went viral.
there’s currently a british guy called Lord Miles in Kabul having a wonderful time. pic.twitter.com/nW4R9d6VVB
— Rimmy (@Rimmy_Downunder) August 15, 2021
In an interview with Input, Routledge said that he first realised the sitaution was getting out of hand when he saw a run on a bank. “Everyone started freaking out, stealing and looting,” he said, noting that some people were firing AK-47s into the air to try and calm the situation down. “That’s when I knew sh*t hit the fan.” After disgusing himself with a burqa, he tried to get to Kabul airport, but had no luck. He then made his way to an international safe house. with the help of locals.
Speaking to National File, Routledge expressed disbelief at some media and others doubting that his trip to Afghanistan was real. “I don’t know how I’d be making it all up,” he said. “It’s like the moon landing to some degree, in that it would be harder to fake it. If I was faking it I’d be a lot happier right now!” National File was able to verify his location at the time of the interview.
Other outlets hadn’t been too kind to the 21-year-old, with The Sun describing him as an “idiot abroad,” and The Spectator claiming he had “the optimism of Tintin but the geopolitical awareness of Captain Haddock.” National File asked him if he thought the media coverage on his story had been fair so far. “I kind of see their perspective,” he said, saying he would maybe think the same if he was at home and saw somebody else in his position. He went on to explain that he had taken a little more care with the trip than otherwise widely reported:
Back in May I spoke to four people out of the Afghani Embassy, and got quotes from them. You’ve got all the tours, with locals endorsed by the government who’ve been doing this for 10 or 15 plus years. They all said it was safe and I completely believed them, and to be honest, there’s been some famous YouTubers going there with less preparation than I had. I had GPS trackers, contingency plans, I could take every single measure I could within my budget. I kind of listened to the experts but things went south very quickly! I constantly did ask friends that were in Afghanistan and my tour guide, is this safe, will this be fine, will Kabul hold, and they were like absolutely. When Kabul started falling, everyone was shocked. Nobody saw it coming.
He described that he also went to Afghanistan because he thought he could do some good, to whatever extent that may be. “It’s a misunderstood place in the world,” Routledge, a committed Catholic, said:
I was just going there with a good chunk of change, so I took out about $500, not much, but I’m just a student and I work part time, so it’s about half a month’s paycheck for me, probably more. I went there hoping to give it to needy people, as I saw the situation’s getting a little bit worse. It was heartbreaking – I saw little girls around the age of 7 with no family, wandering the streets coming up to me crying and I just gave them a flatbread and some money and everything I could, and tried to communicate. Obviously there was a language barrier and it motivated me to do well and do good by my trip. I think that I hit a net positive in the end, hopefully.
This isn’t the first time that Routledge has travelled to somewhere out of the ordinary. His first foreign holiday was to Chernobyl, where he first cheated death by avoiding falling into some metal spikes after wandering off from the tour group. He told National File that he instead of simply going to places where it’s just “another iteration of a Travelodge,” a famous British hotel chain, he wanted to “find something interesting”:
Speaking to the Afghani people, most of them are absolutely lovely, and I’ve learnt some excellent lessons from them in general. The trip has definitely been worth it so far regardless of my situation. But I think that’s the main cause. I just wanted to have a little bit of adventure. It’s my last year of university coming up and my last summer I’ve got, so before I’m working 80 hour weeks in banking I’m probably going to go somewhere a little bit crazy, a little bit unheard of. I didn’t think it was that crazy to begin with, as every YouTuber who’s been has had an excellent experience.
The Brit slammed the actions of Biden and the American administration, saying that the decision to leave the country was far too rushed. “I don’t understand why they did it so suddenly,” he said, saying that a “slower retreat with money spent more wisely” would have been a smarter move:
Everything just fell instantly. It reminds me of every single war that’s gone on with America. They just cock it up with some degree. They try and fix it but it just gets worse. I wish America would have just negotiated during the withdrawal and set up a de facto government, because I guarantee Afghanistan was not ready for this Western style of government. They’re very religious, very based in Sharia, and obviously Islamic fundamentalism. I think they should have taken that into account. It’s like during the 1800s where colonial powers drew borders, and they never took into account the social and political structures. It’s the same thing repeating over and over again, and it’s all about money in the end.
National File asked Routledge for his plans as to how he would get out of the country, to which he claimed that he may have to bunker up for “one to two weeks” in his current compound before it’s safe to leave. “I could make a trek to the airport, but they don’t like Western clothes and foreigners in general so I don’t want to risk it,” he added, noting that there was a risk of being targeted despite Taliban promises not to harm Westerners:
The option now is to just scavenge for food if I can. The compound is technically a hotel, and there’s some rotting fruit, like this banana that’s going a bit black, so I’m just taking those and slowly eating, and downing water. I can go five or six days without eating quite easily. I did some fasting previously a few months ago so I should be fine. I’m going to wait it out and get as many contacts as I can.
However, in a since removed Facebook post from Routledge following this interview, he said that he was to be given body armour and his current compound would be soon evacuated, moving to a better location. “I’m with the best of the best,” he added. Routledge ended the interview with National File by encouraging people to give whatever they can to charity to help the people of Afghanistan. “The news will always talk about the British people, but there’s a whole population that is stuck here forever, and I want them to be okay.”