Favourite Blog Posts

Days 715-721: My Papua Visa Hell

16.12.10-22.12.10: You know, when I stepped out of the Vietnamese Consulate back in September I honestly thought that my days of being trapped like a cog in the bureaucratic nightmare that is VISAHELL was over. But then came East Timor, deciding just a few months ago to stop issuing visas for the trickle of western tourists that bother to visit their country overland from Indonesia.  But even after that was all sorted out, like the mythological hydra, more bloody visas were called for, most hilariously for Indonesia as described in my blog entry entitled A Red Background. And now with just 17 countries left to visit and all of them being as far-flung as you can fling a flang, I’m trapped on the border of Papua New Guinea almost having a nervous breakdown brought upon by yet another impenetrable layer of bureaucracy that makes the world…

Continue Reading Days 715-721: My Papua Visa Hell

Days 624-629: How Do We Solve A Problem Like Korea?

DAY 624: DISMEMBERMENT 16.09.10: So I disembarked (hilariously described on the ferry’s website as ‘dismemberment’)... ...onto the native soil of country number 169, South Korea – a place at pains to remind you that it’s the only divided country in the world.  Which it is.  If you ignore Cyprus/Northern Cyprus. And Ireland/Northern Ireland. And Israel/Palestine. And North Sudan/South Sudan. And Somalia/Somaliland. And China/Taiwan. And Pakistan/Bangladesh. And Mongolia/Inner Mongolia. And Macedonia/Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. And Georgia/South Ossetia/Abkhazia. And Azerbaijan/Nagorno-Karabakh. And… But pedantry aside, North and South Korea have been officially at war for over fifty years now (there was only a ceasefire, not a peace treaty) and now we have a crazy situation in which the southern half of the country is one of the richest and most progressive in the world, while the northern half is a basketcase and something akin to George Orwell’s 1984,…

Continue Reading Days 624-629: How Do We Solve A Problem Like Korea?

Day 465: Breakfast Of Champions

10.04.10: In what has to be the most touching thing that’s happened to me in the last 16 months of traversing the globe, last night on the bus from Shiraz, the little old lady (she must have been in her nineties) sitting in front of me who didn’t speak a word of English, turned around and offered me her phone, gesturing for me to listen to it. I put the phone to my ear and the voice on the other end introduced himself as Hossein. He explained that he was an English teacher in Khorramshahr and that I was sitting behind his grandmother. “She’s concerned that the bus is going to get into Khorramshahr very early – at 5am, and that you’re not going to have any breakfast. She wants you to come to her home so she can make you something to eat. Would that…

Continue Reading Day 465: Breakfast Of Champions

Day 154: You Came In THAT Thing?

03.06.09: Hello and welcome to all you newbies to The Odyssey blog. I got a little press coverage in the UK last week, so I'm guessing that some of you will be wanting to know what the hell happened to me when I arrived in Cape Verde. I'm not one to stand on ceremony, so here we go... We passed the island of Maio (no doubt first discovered by Captain Teddlis) at around 4am and pressed on to the island of Santiago, getting there about 7am. We were accompanied into port by a bunch of curious Cape Verde fishermen and once we got there, we found a friendly police boat to tell us where we could dock. Only...they had machine guns. Hmm. At this point, I thought nothing untoward. In fact, I expected to be questioned upon our arrival, but with the backing of the Cape…

Continue Reading Day 154: You Came In THAT Thing?

Day 1: Hey-Ho LET’S GO!

01.01.09: 7.30am.  Woke up to find that sand demons had filled my teeth with silica gel and that a brass band had barged its way into my brain and had started to bashing out the 1812 Overture at a volume that would make an Indonesian quiver.  Maybe not the ideal start to The Odyssey Expedition.  Then again, maybe the ideal start to the Odyssey wasn't an unbelievably hectic three month run-up, a kamikaze car ride down to London, a bust video camera, a broken tooth and no confirmation (as yet) that all this nonsense is going to be made into a television show. Add to that the last I'm going to see of my girlfriend Mandy, the love of my life, for a year. Our romantic last night - we booked a fancy hotel in London, a bottle of wine and a take out... and I…

Continue Reading Day 1: Hey-Ho LET’S GO!