THE ODYSSEY: Review of 2010

THE ODYSSEY: Review of 2010

January 1, 2011 by  
Filed under Featured

January 2010

I started the year in fine fettle.  Having met Mandy at the pyramids in Egypt for midnight on New Year’s Eve we spent a wonderful week together before she flew home and I hit the road once again.  Before the month was out I had made it to Sudan, Jordan, Palestine, Israel, Syria, Lebanon, Turkey and Iraq.  Iraq was amazingly easy to get into and so I decided to spend a few days there.  I’m glad I did.

Countries Visited: 8
Running Total: 141

February 2010

I started February in Cyprus and then headed to Istanbul from where I was expecting to hit Greece, Italy, Tunisia and then (finally!) Libya and Algeria.  But after finding out it would be a couple of weeks before my visas came through, I decided to head back home for a bit, drum up some publicity and set off again before the end of the month.  I managed to make it to Libya on the last day of the month.

Countries Visited: 2
Running Total: 143

March 2010

March was a much better month for travel: ticking off visa nightmares Algeria, Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan in just over four weeks – not bad considering how long it could have taken.

Countries Visited: 7
Running Total: 150

April 2010

April started really well, with me tearing across Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Afghanistan and Iran in just a matter of days.  And then I arrived in Kuwait believing there was a ferry that I could take to Bahrain.  There wasn’t and the Saudi embassy was not in the mood for handing out transit visas.  Arse.

Countries Visited: 5
Running Total: 155

May 2010

Most of May was spent trapped in Kuwait, but I did manage to escape towards the end of the month and get to Bahrain, Qatar and the UAE in fine fettle.

Countries Visited: 3
Running Total: 158

June 2010

June began with a quick borderhop into Yemen, but then I wasted two weeks in Salalah, Oman waiting for boat to take me to The Seychelles.  But then, thanks for my CouchSurf host in Saudi Arabia I managed to grab a boat from Jeddah to my last country in Africa (and one that is inaccessible by land) – Eritrea.  Nice one!

Countries Visited: 3
Running Total: 161

July 2010

July was the month of Dubai.  I expected to be there for two weeks, ended up being a month.  It was hot, but by God I had a hoot.

Countries Visited: 0
Running Total: 161

August 2010

A toe into Pakistan and then a couple of weeks spent in Kerala, India looking for a clever way of getting to Sri Lanka and the Maldives without flying.  Wasn’t going to happen.  I knew I could get there, but there would be no way of getting back.  I made do with visiting Bangladesh, Bhutan and Nepal before the month was over.

Countries Visited: 5
Running Total: 166

September 2010

September was all about the Far East, starting with seven days in Tibet before taking the skytrain down, down, down to Beijing in China and pressing on to Mongolia, both Koreas and Japan.

Countries Visited: 5
Running Total: 171

October 2010

October was my favourite and most fruitful month of 2010.  Starting in Shanghai, I managed to hurtle through Taiwan, Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand, Laos, Burma, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, Brunei, The Philippines AND make it back to Bali before the month was out.  Nice!

Countries Visited: 11
Running Total: 182

November 2010

November was the polar opposite of October.  Finding it hard to escape from the seductive charms of Bali, it would be the end of the month before I skipped across Lombok, Sumbawa and Flores into East Timor.  At least I got to meet a Komodo Dragon or two.

Countries Visited: 1
Running Total: 183

December 2010

Not a great month for The Odyssey Expedition, but a great month for me as I arrived on the island of New Guinea.  After spending a week in Sorong trying to get to Palau and an infuriating week in Jayapura, I made it to Papua New Guinea on December 23.  With the cyclone season in full swing in the South Pacific, I decided it would be nice to take a sabbatical.  So on Christmas Eve I stuck my flag into the ground of Wewak airport and flew down to Melbourne for a very merry Christmas with my beloved girlfriend Mandy.

The journey to THE FINAL FRONTIERS will begin very soon.

Countries Visited: 1
Running Total: 184

http://theodysseyexpedition.com/category/


Top 10 WORST Hotels In The World!

Top 10 WORST Hotels In The World!

January 16, 2011 by  
Filed under Featured

Since I’m the only human being to have visited over 200 countries and territories of the world without flying, I feel (almost) qualified to say that something is the [superlative goes here] ‘in the world’.

That being the case, here’s a list of what I regard as the TEN WORST HOTELS IN THE WORLD: be warned, staying at these places could mean you end up dead, or worse…



The Overlook Hotel

COLORADO, USA
The Overlook Hotel

Cold, isolated, eerie – the barstaff seem friendly enough but the lifts are often full of blood, the doors aren’t axe-proof and the maze in the back garden is a potential death trap.



Grand Hotel
BERLIN, GERMANY

The Grand Hotel
Although overpriced and glitzy, it would be quite a decent place, if it’s clientele wasn’t so chock full of scoundrels and drama queens. After a few hours with these self-obsessed loonies, you’ll vont to be alone, too.



The Black Lodge
TWIN PEAKS, USA

The Black Lodge
If backwards talking dwarves, blood red curtains and scary looking guys called Bob are your thing then come along to The Black Lodge, situated somewhere in the spooky woods. If not, how’s about you smash your head in the mirror and repeat after me – How’s Annie? How’s Annie? How’s Annie?



Fawlty Towers
TORQUAY, UK

Fawlty Towers
A satisfactory guesthouse experience, completely ruined by the lousy staff – the waiter is an buffoon (who cannot speak a word of English), but it’s the manager who’s a real piece of work: an uptight, exasperated lunatic who seems hell-bent on upsetting, offending, injuring or even killing as many of his guests as humanly possible. Avoid.



Bangkok Hilton
BANGKOK, THAILAND

Bangkok Hilton
Damp, smelly, crowded conditions, no facilities – just a bucket in the corner and you have to share on the floor with the cockroaches. The owners are unhelpful, rude and frequently violent. At least it’s cheap to get in – all you have to do is shag a good-looking backpacker and allow him/her to tamper with your luggage.



Bates Motel
CALIFORNIA, USA

Bates Motel

Norman and his mother will try their level best to make your stay a pleasant one. Unfortunately, since one of them is as mad as a bottle of chips and the other is dead, I’d advise against testing out the en suite facilities…



Hotel Earle
CALIFORNIA, USA

Hotel Earle
The last place you want to be if you are suffering from writer’s block – dirty, hot, sweaty, uncomfortable, constant interruptions by Roseanne’s husband… Hotel Earle is quite literally hell.



Guest House Paradiso
DUNGEONESS, UK

Guest House Paradiso
If the location next to a leaking nuclear power plant is not enough to put you off, then the lack of hot water, flushing toilets or food should do it. The owners are a proper pair of pervy weirdos. Although if you manage to stay for 2 hours without puking, you get a special discount.



Kellerman’s Resort
VIRGINIA, USA

Kellerman's Resort
Girls will love this low budget place, but blokes will hate it with a passion.  The lack of anything interesting actually happening will confuse and annoy in equal measure. There is a crèche, but babies may not be put in the corner. And by the way, the dance floor is believed to be carcinogenic.



Le Grand Hotel
PARIS, FRANCE

Grand Hotel Paris
Not to be confused with the Grand Hotel in Berlin, this one is also a total bummer. If by some chance your wife goes missing while you’re in the shower, forget about getting any help from the rude and obstructive staff. You know what? They’re probably in on it, the cheese-eating surrender monkeys.



The South Sudanese Timebomb

The South Sudanese Timebomb

January 17, 2011 by  
Filed under Featured

As many of you worldly-types are no doubt aware, it’s very likely that very soon a new nation will be born.  South Sudan is coming. Back in 2008 when I was planning The Odyssey Expedition, I was aware of Sudan’s potential to split into two nations, but assumed (wrongly!) that I would be finished travelling by now.

And while I fully support South Sudan rising up and breaking free of the shackles imposed on them by the brutal dictators of Khartoum, it doesn’t half put my quest to visit every country in the world into quite a bit of turmoil.  I didn’t visit South Sudan when I was in Africa, I just visited the town of Wadi Halfa in the north of the country.

If the result of last week’s referendum is in favour of self-determination (as I’m sure it will be), then South Sudan will become Africa’s newest nation on 9 July 2011.

So here’s the deal.  If I finish my Odyssey before 9 July 2011, I can comfortably say that I’ve been to every country in the world.  If I reach The Seychelles (the current final country of the expedition) after 9 July, I will have to find a way of getting back to Africa to end my journey in South Sudan.  No mean feat: my ticket to The Seychelles will no doubt be a one-way trip (which is why I’ve left it till last).

So… the race is on: I have to get to all of the Pacific Island Nations, New Zealand, Australia, Sri Lanka, The Maldives and The Seychelles before my list of 200 nations becomes 201.



For Those In Climate Change Denial…

For Those In Climate Change Denial…

January 29, 2011 by  
Filed under Featured, Rants

Regular readers of my blog will know that I have a tendency to go off on tangents occasionally, usually something to do with my deep-seated animosity towards politicians or modernist architecture.

Well today is no exception and I think I’m going to blow a gasket on this one, so if you’re easily offended, please look at this picture of a nice fluffy bunny instead.

Still here?

Okay: Climate Change Deniers.  WHAT THE F— IS WRONG WITH THESE PEOPLE??  I’m quite a verbose chap, but I’m honestly stuck for words when it comes to these pitiful loons.

Conspiracy Theorists

So I’ll take it slowly and start with Conspiracy Theorists in general.  Conspiracy Theorists used to be mainly confined to their homes – fearful to go outside, jumping at shadows, boring their mum with their crackpot theories about lizards taking over the world (who then, bizarrely, make TV shows about lizards taking over the world).  Irritating, but mostly harmless.

Sadly for the rest of us, the internet then came along – and suddenly these Conspiracy Theorists had a platform for communicating with the real world (something they seem to know very little about) from the comfort of their parent’s basement and disseminating their quite mind-bogglingly stupid and ill-informed claptrap around the planet to their fellow barking-mad nutcases.

Psychologists have shown that there is a distinct personality type that consistently goes in for this garbage: idiots.

I’m distrustful of authority because I think everyone in charge of this planet is a complete and utter moron (something for which I have a mountain of evidence).  Conspiracy Theorists, on the other hand, unswervingly believe that The Powers That Be are vastly more intelligent than themselves.  The funny thing is that this is true – they are.  But only as much as Forrest Gump is smarter than Dougal from Father Ted.  But then Conspiracy Theorists, by their very nature, believe that anyone who doesn’t mindlessly go along with their pet theory is an idiot (or part of the conspiracy!) so you can’t win.

Now I don’t know what it’s like to be intimidated by a person of superior intelligence (I find them a sheer delight), but I know what it’s like to be intimidated by somebody physically bigger than me, so I can understand the root of the fear and feeling of helplessness that drives these Conspiracy Theorists to grope and squeeze their pet theory much in the manner of Pepé le Pew attempting to romance an rather unlucky cat.

Yes, I get angry that people besmirch the achievements of our species by claiming that aliens built the pyramids or that Neil Armstrong didn’t walk on the moon.  But the thing that really gets my goat is way these lone nuts and their bizarre cacophony of recycled, unresearched bulls—t is seen as harmless.  It may have been before the internet, but now they have a platform.

Homebrew Conspiracy Theories are no longer harmless.  Here’s a few historical examples of the kind of thing that happens when ill-informed lunatics are given a platform:

  • Hitler and his cronies start a CONSPIRACY THEORY that World War I was ‘caused by Jews’.
  • Senator McCarthy starts a CONSPIRACY THEORY that there are Communist spies hiding in Congress, universities and the film industry.
  • A mad imam from Nigeria starts a CONSPIRACY THEORY that polio vaccines are actually poisonous.
  • The government of South Africa propagate a CONSPIRACY THEORY that HIV doesn’t lead to Aids.
  • George W. Bush starts a CONSPIRACY THEORY that Saddam Hussein has Weapons of Mass Destruction.

What do these five case studies have in common?  They all sounded reasonable enough to a fearful and credulous mind, and they were all used to scapegoat, spread disease and/or slaughter.  No, I don’t think Conspiracy Theorism is harmless – it’s a religion, taken on faith, with cherry-picked evidence as its holy text and a pre-selected sector of society to demonise.

I don’t want them on my jury unless I’m guilty

And so I come to the Climate Change Deniers.  A quick and dirty dig first of all: a demented twittering posh Climate Change Denier of the ‘it’ll all turn out alright in the end what what’ (think George from Blackadder Goes Forth) appeared on the BBC’s Horizon this week attempting to justify his bonkers position to Sir Paul Nurse, Nobel Science Laureate and Chair of The Royal Society.

I didn’t get his name, but I gathered from the interview he worked for The Telegraph and (by his own admission) knew nothing about science.  It was actually uncomfortable to watch – like Mohammed Ali in his prime punching seven shades of s— out of a seven year old schoolgirl whose arms are tied behind her back.

But here’s what this ghoulish, cringing cretin of the Telegraph with his “quotation fingers” believes he is up against (I swear I’m not making this up)…

“…the Warmist faith so fervently held and promulgated by the Met Office is exactly the same faith so passionately, unswervingly followed by David Cameron, Chris Huhne, Greg Barker, the Coalition’s energy spokesman in the Lords Lord Marland, and all but five members of the last parliament. And also by the BBC, the Prince of Wales, almost every national newspaper, the European Union, the Royal Society, the New York Times, CNBC, the Obama administration, the Australian and New Zealand governments, your children’s schools, our major universities, our minor universities, the University of East Anglia, your local council… Truly there just aren’t enough bullets!”

Hang on a minute… so ALL of these people and institutions are wrong and a hack journalist with no scientific background is right?? What on Earth am I missing here?  Has the world gone completely mad?

When you’re fighting THE MET OFFICE, THE ROYAL SOCIETY and ‘OUR MAJOR (AND MINOR!) UNIVERSITIES’, over their peer-reviewed scientific research you really are punching above your weight.

If Johnnie’s mum really thinks that the entire parade is out of step with her Johnnie, it doesn’t take a genius to see where the error lies.

The Two Possibilities

But their outright stupidity is not what bothers me so much about Climate Change Deniers, it’s the sheer lack of mental capacity to take a breath and think… what if I’m wrong?

There are two possibilities here:

THE CLIMATE SCIENTISTS ARE LYING

or

THE CLIMATE CHANGE DENIERS ARE WRONG

Okay, so FOR THE SAKE OF ARGUMENT let’s say the possibly of these two outcomes is 50/50.  We have two choices: to act on, or ignore, the scientific evidence.  Let’s go through what the results will probably be of each action and each possibility.

CHOICE ONE: ACT ON THE SCIENTIFIC EVIDENCE

What happens if we do what the scientists of the world keep pleading with us to do – massively cut our carbon emissions?  It would mean electric cars, renewable energy, recycling and remembering to turn the lights off.  It would mean energy companies would have to invest in wind turbines, solar, tidal, hydroelectric and nuclear power.  It would mean humans would no longer suffer the indignity (and reduced lifespan) caused by having to work in a coal mine.  It would mean oil leaks and spills would be a thing of the past – the Niger delta will come back to life.  Pristine wildernesses will be preserved for future generations.  Rates of asthma and allergies would decrease.  The smog would be lifted from LA, Dhaka and Shanghai.  It would also greatly reduce the West’s dependence on the autocratic regimes of the Middle East for energy.

THE SCIENTISTS ARE LYING: If we do all this stuff and then find out we didn’t need to, SO WHAT?  Is it not still a step in the right direction?  Is not chasing clean INFINITE energy not a worthy goal to set for the sake of our children?

THE CLIMATE CHANGE DENIERS ARE WRONG: Well done, we just SAVED THE HUMAN RACE.

What if you're wrong?

CHOICE TWO: IGNORE THE SCIENTIFIC EVIDENCE

Now what if we do what the Climate Change Deniers keep pleading with us to do and ignore the Met Office, ignore The Royal Society, ignore NASA and ignore the climate scientists of the world’s top universities?  We carry on, business as usual, pumping millions of tonnes of carbon into the atmosphere year on year until all the oil runs out.

THE SCIENTISTS ARE LYING: The Climate Change Deniers are vindicated.  They were right all along!  Maybe they’ll have a party or something.  They can rest happy in their beds safe in the knowledge that they protected the profits of the major oil companies they don’t even work for and that they saved people from the tyranny of having to recycle stuff.  WOOYAY!  Meanwhile, hundreds of scientists from all over the world are thrown in jail for being part of a worldwide conspiracy to, er, DO WHAT YOU F—ING MORON?  ASK US NICELY TO TURN THE SODDING LIGHTS OFF??

THE CLIMATE CHANGE DENIERS ARE WRONG: WE’RE F–KED. London and New York find themselves 5 metres below sea-level; the Gulf Stream moves north, plunging the UK into arctic-like winters, bankrupting the nation; dozens of island states are wiped off the map along with Bangladesh and the Netherlands.  Fish die, cattle drown, food supplies are disrupted, famine, pestilence, war, death, etc.

Putting it out there

So, um, just putting it out there, but since there’s a good chance that not doing anything to reduce our carbon output will cause a thoroughly miserable future for everyone and everything on this planet, and that doing something will be a net benefit even if the scientists are lying… can we, you know, err on the side of caution?  What are the scientists asking us to do again?  Sacrifice our firstborn?

Oh no, that’s right… they want us to turn the lights off.

I’m not the first person to say this, but WE DON’T HAVE ANOTHER PLANET TO GO TO IF THE CLIMATE CHANGE DENIERS ARE WRONG.  Even if you are so naïve, so blitheringly stupid, so horrifically misguided that you truly believe that pretty much every scientist in the world is a corrupt thieving liar (and that politicians, right-wing newspaper columnists and the oil companies are on the straight and narrow!) then surely you can at least concede to me on this one.  Where else are you planning to go?  Mars?

Actually, I don’t know why I’m bothering being so conciliatory, if you are a Climate Change Denier you probably haven’t bothered to read down this far.  But, on the off-chance that you have, please be aware that if you’re wrong and if the governments of the world continue to do sod all to tackle climate change (since it’s not really in their interests IS IT?) then you are part of the greatest crime against humanity since The Holocaust.

In fact, you’re worse than a Holocaust Denier – they had no hand in actually causing the Holocaust, but you have a (very bloodsoaked) hand in causing this one.  In short, you are a very very bad person.  I cannot fathom how you can sleep soundly at night, I can only imagine that you’re too pig ignorant to understand ramifications of your strange and untenable beliefs.

What if you’re wrong?

You’re not being smart, you’re not being funny, you’re not ‘just playing devil’s advocate’.  This isn’t a game – you are gambling with the future of the human race – for WHAT?  So climate scientists don’t get any more hand-outs from the government?  Does it bother you THAT MUCH?  Are you really willing to make that bet?  A bet that, if you lose, will spell a lifetime of misery and disaster for your children and grand-children?

But maybe you don’t have kids, or don’t want them.  Maybe you think that humans are a virus and we need to cull the numbers.  Maybe you would be glad to see nations and cities washed away, refugees starving in camps for the crime of being in the wrong place at the wrong time.  But please, don’t dress up your genocidal mania as ‘healthy debate’, it’s not.

All Climate Change Deniers are doing is playing into the hands of the massive energy companies and lazy politicians.  They are Neville Chamberlains appeasing the Nazis, waving a piece of paper declaring ‘peace in our time’ when all the evidence is to the contrary.  They’re playing with the future of our children and that’s a right that they simply do not have.

So next time you run into a Climate Change Denier, I wouldn’t try to reason with them or even get them to agree with your point of view.  Just ask them this one pertinent question:

What if you’re wrong…?