2010: Odyssey Two

Well…we are pleased to announce that Graham managed – unbelievably – to get from Dar-es-Salaam to Cairo in two weeks, via Rwanda and Burundi (without flying!) and met up with his erstwhile girlfriend Mandy at six minutes past midnight on the first of January 2010 at the Pyramids of Giza where they first met 10 years ago…gripping stuff!

Our Graham is now the official holder of the world record for visiting the most countries in one year without flying. We’re hoping to count 133, but as our figure includes England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland as separate nations, as well as Kosovo, Vatican City and Western Sahara that figure might be revised down a little – we’ll have to see what the Guinness World Records people say.

We would like to take this opportunity to thank all the people who have gone out of their way to help The Odyssey get to this point – the couchsurfers, the shipping agents, the fellow backpackers, the team in the UK, the drivers (there have been many), the sailors and the helpful locals who have propelled this expedition forwards – all for no money and in their own time. There are too many people to thank to name them all here, so please click on our Heroes page to see them in their technicolor glory.

We would also like to thank Sony for making a camcorder that survived (just!) twelve months on the road as well as Dell for making a laptop that still functions perfectly after being bashed around more than one of Mike Tyson’s ladyfriends.

2010 brings with it a new set of adventures and obstacles for Graham to overcome. He has to negotiate his way around the Middle East and Central Asia, India and China, South East Asia and Oceania as well as returning (somehow) to the ‘skipped’ countries of Algeria, Libya, Seychelles and Eritrea. He has 67 more countries on his list to visit before his journey’s end and after the briefest of pauses in Egypt, he will be cracking on with them as soon as he is able.

What’s more is that the TV show is now all done and dusted. Anything Graham films this year and in the last 67 countries is his, his, his and his. What does that mean for The Odyssey? Well it means you can expect (nay, DEMAND) new videos each week up on YouTube for you to watch. We’ve got a YouTube partnership thing going, so just by watching the new vids you’ll be helping raise funds for WaterAid – and saving children’s lives! So watch them from lots of different IP addresses and send them to all your friends and family! We mean it! REALLY!

Well, it’s been one hell of an adventure so far… America, Europe and Africa are all but done, Asia awaits… everybody said that it was impossible to visit every country without flying, but if nothing else this year, I hope we’ve proved that it CAN be done, it’s just going to take a little longer than a year, that’s all…!

Keep watching it, keep reading it, and most importantly, keeping loving it!

Leo, Graham & Mandy – January 2010

He's Back!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Graham’s back in the U.K.!!!

Amidst the trickery of smoke & mirrors, and a rather cleverly laden plot, this time he managed to pull the big one by fooling EVERYONE into thinking that he was Skype-ing from Rome, Italy!

A live Skype event with Graham had been arranged for a gathering of friends in the bar area of the FACT cinema in Liverpool city centre. With only minutes having passed into the start of the event, we began to lose the ability to hear Graham properly via the wireless laptop that the lovely Anna had brought. “Can you hear me?”, came the cry from the ginger one, and before long, his voice was as distant as a distant one from distantville. Just then, a familiar face came bounding into the bar with a beaming smile and a booming voice, “Can you hear me now?!!!”. It was a wonderful moment.

Graham’s back in the U.K. awaiting the issue of some visas from London, and – as always – is making valuable use of his time by promoting The Odyssey as much as possible.

If you can help with promoting the project, and you would like to get in touch, then please do so via the ‘Contact’ page on the link above, or by clicking here – thanks.

Leo.  x

ONE HUNDRED AND FIFTY!!!!!!!!!

AMAZING!! That’s the only word to describe the fact that Graham has now reached country 150!!! All within 453 days, and all without flying and without private transport. It’s an AMAZING feat! It’s been a rocky road in parts, but ultimately, reaching the one hundred and fifty mark, means that he’s three-quarters of the way back to Mandy. Hooray! Well done, Graham.

Add your comments to this post and join me in congratulating Graham on reaching this marker.

Spread the word about the odyssey amongst your friends, and their friends, and their friends of friends. WaterAid needs all the publicity that it can get, as well as donations – so if you haven’t already donated, please please do so as soon as you can via the website links.

Graham is also a YouTube partner, which means that for EVERY unique click on his videos, money gets donated to WaterAid! Seriously…that ALL there is to it! So spread the word – it’s an easy way to donate.

Congratulations again, Graham! Keep up the good work.

Leo.

IT’S A NEW WORLD RECORD!!!!

GREAT GREAT NEWS!!!! Even though he is only three-quarters of the way through his quest, the good folks at Guinness World Records have just come through with the wonderful news that Graham has already achieved a NEW GUINNESS WORLD RECORD!!

It’s an incredible feat and an amazing journey, and it’s not over yet!

To celebrate his feat, please please donate to WaterAid…and tell your friends to donate – WaterAid need it. You can do so via any of the WaterAid donation links on this website or by clicking on this link.

Congratulations again to Graham…we salute you, sir.

TM

Trapped In Kuwait!

Our favourite ginger man is trapped in Kuwait! Graham is stuck and he needs YOUR help.

My next country is (hopefully) going to be Bahrain, but there is a problem.

The predicament/dilemma I’m in is that I came here thinking that

1. There was a ferry from Kuwait to Bahrain
2. Failing that, uou could get a Saudi transit visa here

Both of these things are sadly not true!!

The boats stopped 2 years ago and you can only get a transit visa if you’re a resident here. The only ways to get to Bahrain are: on a boat down the Gulf, transiting through Saudi or transiting back through Iran. Iran and Saudi – the two hardest visas to get in the world!!

So I’ve applied for a Saudi visa in London (which could take WEEKS to come through!) and while I’m waiting for that I’m actively looking for a boat to take me to Bahrain or Qatar or UAE. Oil tanker/Container Ship/Cargo Ship/Yacht/Speedboat/Dhow/Rubber Dingy – I have no preference as long as it’s buoyant enough to get me there!!

But so far, George Zipp – there seem to be very few container ships that come this far up The Gulf, and oil tankers (of which there are many) are reluctant to take passengers. There’s hundreds of motor yachts here (not a single sail) but everyone I speak to says that these boats just do not go out of Kuwait waters, even though there is a boat show in Bahrain this weekend!

I’ve even asked the local fishermen, which, considering what happened to me in Cape Verde is saying something!

Any help you can give me would be amazing!!

If you can assist, or know anyone that may be able to, please contact Team Odyssey via the ‘contact‘ page on the website – thanks. We’ll be forever in your debt…

Leo.

Days 466-472: A Dead End

11.04.10 – 17.04.10:

So there’s always plan B, right? Well, it all seemed simple enough. According to the Lonely Planet I could get a transit visa for Saudi as long as I had a Bahraini visa and a valid ticket from the bus station. So first thing I was up and at ‘em heading over to the Bahrain embassy. The weekend here runs Friday and Saturday, so it was open and pretty soon I had my visa and was heading over to the Saudi visa agents to try and get that transit visa. I was a bit worried it would take a few days, but the awful truth was that it wouldn’t take any time at all – they only give out transit visas for residents. As I’m not a resident, I can’t get one.

I had painted myself into a corner.

The next day I tried at the Iranian embassy to get a transit visa (plan C – head back to Iran, take ferry to Bahrain from Bushehr), but again there was no chance. In fact, the guy in the embassy was so rude that I considered dropping Iran a few places in my League of Nations, but that would have been petty.

Plan D was to get on a cargo boat, but nobody would take me without some kind of certificate of seamanship. Plan E was to take an oil tanker, but it was deemed to dangerous. Plan F was to hire a boat but it would cost £12,000. Plan G was to go with a bunch of fishermen, but that didn’t work out so well last time, plus they didn’t want to take me anyway. Plan H was to get a lift with somebody going to the Bahrain boat show next week, but nobody was going and so my last throw of the die – Plan I – was put into operation: get a full, multiple entry Saudi visa.

A transit would be no good, even if it came from London it would only get me as far as Bahrain before I had to send my passport back to London for another transit visa to get me to Qatar and then ANOTHER transit visa to the UAE. And the chances where they wouldn’t even issue the transit visa in London on the grounds that, well, why didn’t I just fly?

It would take a minimum of two, maybe three weeks. I had charged full-pelt through the amazing Central Asia and now I would be stuck in Kuwait for the best part of a month. The driest spot on Earth. No booze, no bacon, no bars, no pubs, no clubs, no dancing, no kissing, no holding hands, no old buildings, no live music, no bohemia and certainly no cavaliers.

Hugh’s dad’s company in Liverpool agreed to sponsor my visa application (there are no real tourist visas, it’s a business visa or nothing) and so I knew I’d have at least a fortnight of twiddling my thumbs until my letter of invitation came through.

But as always it was CouchSurfing to the rescue. Through Michael, my CouchSurfing host, I met the admiral Heitham (from Kuwait but living in Preston) and Josie (from California), and then through them I met the Kuwaiti CSers – a German guy called Dominic (whose place I moved to after a few days at Michael’s so as to not outstay my welcome), a Dutch girl called Jannie (whose place I moved into after Dominic’s) and a top guy from the Philippines called Ruban who was also staying with Jannie.

But first things first, I had to sort my computer out. No sooner had I bought myself a new hard-drive (anxious to rid myself of these troublesome tapes that keep getting me into trouble) than my computer went the way of the Norwegian Blue Parrot – it was in desperate need of one of those wipe-everything-and-install-everything-again malarkey moments. Well, what do you expect after 16 months on the road slutting it about with whatever naughty little wi-fi connection was swanning around at the side of the road?

On hand to resuscitate old Dell-Boy was a guy who spotted me looking lost with a computer under my arm and invited me into his workshop. His name was Abbas and he ran Tip-Top computers in the IT district of town. A Tip-Top chap too – he not only bought me lunch and dropped me at the Aquarium while my computer was being fixed, he also waved the fix-it fee and loaded my laptop up with all my favourite programmes. Hats off to ya, Abbas!!

Meanwhile, Heitham (the coolest Kuwaiti in the world) and I hung out over the week. He busted a gut trying to get me onto some kind of maritime transport to Bahrain, but without success. On the Friday he invited all of us CouchSurfers up to his family farm near the border with Iraq. We all piled into a convoy of 4x4s and headed out onto the large but deserted highway north of Kuwait City, stopping on the way to mess about in the sand-dunes and to take this picture:

Once we got to Heitham’s farm, we broke out the barbecue and I had myself a cracking night with my new CouchSurfing buddies from all over the world. See? Even in a place as dull as Kuwait you can still have a good good crazy time if you know where to look.