Where Do We Go From Here?

I’ve spent the last couple of weeks in the Omani town of Salalah trying to find a way to catch a lift on a container ship to The Seychelles.  Three ships, the MV DAL Mauritius, the MV San Cristobal and the MV Maersk Wiesbaden have all come and gone (to The Seychelles) in this time and none could take me on board.

On Sunday I visited the captain of the MV San Cristobal onboard his ship.  The coils of razorwire encircling the deck were just a hint of what was to come… in fact, if you really want to see what I’m up against, have a gander on Wikipedia… http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_ships_attacked_by_Somali_pirates.

The problem is this: The boats plying the shipping lines around here have special anti-piracy insurance.  Part of the policy demands that the ship run with the minimum number of crew possible.  As the captain of the MV San Cristobal explained, my mere presence on the ship invalidates the insurance.

And you know how insurance companies just love to wiggle out of paying out.

So the chances of a carrier taking me from Salalah are between slim and none.

Now, here’s my Plan B.  Let me know what you think…

I skip Eritrea and The Seychelles and thunder onwards to India, China and eventually to The Philippines (via Singapore, Indonesia and Brunei).  All being well, I could be there in September.  Then I hurtle around the Pacific islands (first Palau, then the rest) as quickly as I can, getting to Australia (from New Zealand) for around December (when the yachting season ends in the Pacific Ocean).

Then I’ll cross Oz on the Ghan and take a yacht from Darwin to East Timor and back.  Maybe.  Then I’ll hitch a ride on a cargo ship from Oz that is going to (this may require me going back to Malaysia first) South Africa and stopping at The Seychelles on the way.  THEN I’ll arrive in South Africa and charge up Africa (again, but it’ll only take a couple of weeks) and FINGERS CROSSED that Djibouti and Eritrea have reopened their land border.

Or even if the border isn’t open I’ll just make a run for it.

Then, job done, we’ll hop on the next CMA CGM ship from Djibouti that is heading for Blighty, arriving to a hero’s welcome a couple of weeks later.

Yes, it’s a mad roundabout way of doing it, but I can’t see any other way at the moment.  It would have been so cool to finish the journey in New Zealand, but that simply ain’t going to happen.

If any of you have any better ideas of how I should do the Final Forty, please, comment away!!

“Graham’s World”: My Very Own TV Show Starts Tuesday!

Okay, Odyssey fans… this is it, the television show documenting my travels is being shown every TUESDAY at on the Nat Geo Adventure Channel, which is available in 40 countries across Asia and South America.  If you can get it, great.  If you can’t, you’re stuck with my YouTube videos until it gets broadcast on the BBC (fingers crossed) early next year!!

The eight episodes of season one cover the first 133 countries of The Odyssey Expedition – my journey from Uruguay to Egypt, starting on 1st January 2009 and finishing on 31st December 2009.

EPISODES:

1. From Argentina to Guyana

2. Caribbean Castaway

3. From Cuba to Tunisia

4. Arrested In Africa

5. African Rough Road

6. Congo Chaos

7. Africa Island Hop

8. Pyramids Or Bust

Hmm... are you following me?

As for the final 67 countries… (including Libya, Iraq, Afghanistan, Iran and North Korea) Lonely Planet TV have just bagged first refusal on the second series… WATCH THIS SPACE!!!

New Twitter Feed: “EveryCountry”

If you want to follow The Odyssey Expedition and Graham’s World on Twitter, you can follow me using my shiny new account name – EveryCountry – by clicking on this link:

http://www.twitter.com/EveryCountry

EveryCountry was available and I’ve been trying to change the name on my old Twitter account for ages, but Twitter has some nutso thing going on that has been stopping me from changing anything, so I’ve had to start from scratch. We apologise for the inconvenience 😉

What (Not) To Take Backpacking!

Planning a trip to every country in the world? Worried about what you should and shouldn’t pack? My advice? TRAVEL LIGHT! It’s best to have too little and purchase stuff on the way than to have too much stuff and have to carry things that you never use for the best part of a year.

Here’s A Bunch of Stuff You Can Leave At Home:

1. A Towel
Don’t do it. PLEASE! DON’T TAKE A TOWEL. Despite what The Hitch-Hiker’s Guide tells you, you DON’T need it. You’ll dry yourself with it in the morning then stuff it in your bag (soaking wet) and get on the bus/train/whatever and it will STINK. It will also double the weight of your bag. FORGET IT. Ask at the hostel you are staying at, they’ll give you a nice clean dry one for like 5p. Failing that, use your bedsheets. Or if you’re really desperate, your t-shirt. Then put it on.

2. Extra Shoes
You need ONE pair of shoes. Comfortable, light, trainer (sneaker) shoes. You are not going to be visiting any swanky restaurants or attending any film premieres in Bolivia, so LEAVE YOUR GOOD SHOES AT HOME. They will weigh you down, dig into your back and you will wear them once. Maybe.

3. Travellers Cheques
Utterly utterly useless. Just give American Express twenty quid for no reason and then spend the night in a bus-shelter. Nobody will swap the little blighters, and on the few occasions that they do, you get walloped for commission when you buy them AND when you use them. Avoid like the plague. Take some emergency US dollars instead and hide them in your shoe or something.

4. Rough Guide
Impenetrable, counter intuitive and the thinnest bloody paper in the world make carrying a Rough Guide a frigging nightmare. Trying to suss out how much the local hostel costs in the middle of the night in the monsoon rain while touts are pulling at your arms, stray dogs are biting your ankles and all they give in the book are ‘codes’ which are explained on page 132 (instead of JUST SAYING HOW MUCH IT COSTS) will have you soon using the book for something more useful. Like wiping your bum.

5. Optical Camera
Alright, I know you want to take the photos you see in National Geographic, but please, for the sake of all that is holy, TAKE A DIGITAL CAMERA. Download your pics as often as you can and put them on facebook, flickr, shutterfly or something, because somewhere, at sometime you are almost guaranteed to LOSE your rolls of film and even if you don’t, they cost a fortune to develop.

6. Anything you cannot afford to lose
Seriously, if you want to take something precious around the world with you, make it your better half. Otherwise, LEAVE IT AT HOME. It’s not just the fact that you might lose it, it’s the fact that you will spend every moment of every day worrying about it.

7. Bar of Soap
The traveller’s worst enemy, next to malaria. It’s slippy, it’s slimy and there is never a good place for it in your bag. Take liquid soap instead, or just use your wet-wipes.

8. Beauty Products
While you’re travelling, you’ll look the worst you ever have in your life. But paradoxically, you’ll also look the coolest you ever have in your life. SO WHO NEEDS BEAUTY PRODUCTS?! If you need a bit of make-up, go to a big pharmacy and ask to ‘try out’ a few of the products. Works for me 😉

9. Jewellery
When you’ve quite finished being mad… IT WILL GET NICKED! DON’T TAKE IT, leave it AT HOME. I’m looking at YOU, girls.

10. Somebody who doesn’t really want to go
This is the biggest no-no there is. You will have a miserable time, any difficulties or problems will be amplified fifty-fold, the constant whinging and whining will make you consider stabbing orphans in the face just to make it stop, and you could end up destroying a great friendship. If none of your mates want to do it, don’t drag them along against their will, go on your own instead – you’ll have a much better time. Trust me, you’re never alone for long!!

Stuff I Never Travel Without:

If you’re going to be getting on and off a ton of planes, trains and automobiles, your combined luggage shouldn’t weigh more than 10kg.  Seriously!  If you need a new pair of trousers, buy them on the way. If you finish your book, swap it with somebody for something else. All the rest is needless baggage. Now go pack your…

1. Lonely Planet
Anyone who claims that Rough Guide/Footprint/Time Out is better is a liar and a thief.

2. Sleeping Bag
Even in hot countries, a sleeping bag can be a lifesaver on overnight buses where the AC is set to zero Kelvin.

3. Anti-Malaria Pills
Malaria is one of the biggest killers in the world and one that should not be taken lightly – once you get it, you’ll have it for life.  It’s no laughing matter, take your damn pills.  Although Larium does make you go crazy.  I use Doxycycline.

4. Wetwipes
A total essential anywhere you go.  Flushable wetwipes are the best.

5. Laptop
Seriously, buy a small cheap laptop off eBay.  You won’t know how you survived without it.

6. Debit and Credit cards
The traveller’s best friend.  So far I’ve only been to three countries (Liberia, Comoros and Iran) where I had a problem using my cards – not bad out of 175!!

7. A cheap (unlocked) mobile phone
Eager and willing to have weird and wonderful foreign SIM cards slipped into it. You want one with a little torch in the top of it.

8. A decent camera/camcorder
You don’t want to come home with fuzzy shots of the Taj Mahal now do you?

9. A hat
Seriously.

10. Deodorant
Shower in a can!

11. Enough undies/socks
Critical.

12. iPod
As much as I hate the cult of the dirty Mac, music is essential and Sony have wasted the last 9 years on a FAIL of biblical proportions, monumentally failing to come up with an alternative.

13. Compass watch
Yeah I know it’s geeky but it’s great for sussing out what’s up and what’s down when you first arrive somewhere where the streets have no name.  Like New York.

14. A Secret Money Pouch
Preferably one that you stuff into your underwear – after a few days on the road, nobody’s going to search you there…!

15. A Deck of Cards
And learn a couple of magic tricks while you’re at it 😉

Hope this helps… and… oh yeah: don’t forget your toothbrush…!

The PLAN!!!

So here we are, 180 countries down and just 20 to go – it’s mad to think that I only left Shanghai just over two weeks ago, and in that time I’ve managed to visit Taiwan, Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand, Laos, Burma, Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia – and with any luck I’ll be in Brunei (181) before close of play tomorrow and the Philippines (182) by the end of this week (typhoons permitting).  But if you think I’m “nearly there”, think again.  Every single remaining state is an island nation and none of them have anything approaching an international ferry service.  This could take a looooooooong time.

A loooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooong time.

Here’s a draft of a sketch of a inkling of The Plan from here to the end of The Odyssey ExpeditionBut as always, everything is open to change.

183: East Timor

There is a Pelni (Indonesia’s national ferry service) ship that goes from Denpaser in Bali to Kupang in (West) Timur.  I’ll be crossing the border, then sitting in Dili for a few days while I apply for (yet) another Indonesian visa.

184: Palau

After returning to Kupang, I will take a Pelni ship to West Papua.  From there I hope to persuade a swashbuckling yachtie to take me to the South-West Islands of Palau: only a few hundred kilometres north (as opposed to the capital Koror which is a thousand kilometres away).  I’ll then be coming straight back to West Papua.

185. Papua New Guinea

Just a case of crossing the border from West Papua.

186. Solomon Islands

If I island-hop through PNG and make it to Bougainville, I should be able to take a canoe over the short hop to the Shortland Islands and tick the Solomons off the list.  From there I should be able to island-hop via Gizo to Guadalcanal, the main island.

And here’s when it becomes REALLY tricky…

Have a gander at this map of the Pacific Island states I knocked out on the back of a napkin…

All This And MORE!!

Take a note of the scale!!! From the Marshall Islands down to Fiji I’m going to have a cover a distance approximately the same as from Darwin to Melbourne via Sydney.  This is no Caribbean Island hop, these are gargantuan chucks of bitchin’ ocean I have to cover.

The only options open to me are hitching a ride on cargo ships and cruise ships.  Cyclone season starts at the end of this month (and continues to May) so yachts are right out.  Even if someone was mad enough to take me, it would just be too dangerous – I mean, have you SEEN A Perfect Storm?  Ygads!

So here’s the sketch of how I’m going to do this…

187. Nauru

The isolated (and isolationalist) island of Nauru is really hitting hard times these days.  The rich phosphate deposits that secured the island’s finances are now completely depleted (as of this year), leaving an impoverished island in the middle of nowhere that is going to be a real bitch to get to – it’s the only Pacific Island where you need a visa and an invitation to ruck up.  Seriously guys?  Seriously?

My hope is that I can hop a supply/cargo ship from The Solomons north to The Marshall Islands, one that stops at Nauru along the way.  But these things may only come once every few months.

188. Micronesia

Micronesia (like jungle) is massive, stretching across a vast swathe of the Pacific Ocean.  The bit I’m interested in is an island called Kosrae in the far east of the nation, which I could use as a stepping stone to…

189. The Marshall Islands

I lie awake at night fretting about ever reaching The Marshall Islands.  So far from just about anywhere they cajole and torment me in my dreams.  But if this semi-mythical cargo ship can take me there, I’d be one happy Odyssey bunny.

190. Kiribati

If a cargo ship has got me this far, maybe it can take me a little further: to the western half of Kiribati.  From there at least I know I can take a Kiribati Shipping Services ship (which comes once every couple of months) down to…

191. Tuvalu

Here I’ll have to make the decision whether to stay on the Kiribati Shipping Services ship to Fiji or swing a left to:

192. Samoa

Again, this place is a little off the beaten track, but it’s position between the US Samoan islands and Fiji means that if I’m lucky, I might be able to find something that can float me to:

193. Tonga

If I get here, the hump should be over: I’ll be on the cruise ship circuit.  Hopefully in return for entertaining the troops with tales of my adventures (and possibly the odd song and dance routine), I’ll be allowed to hitch a ride on a cruise to:

194. Fiji

Fiji seems to have the best international transport links with the region, and I may regret not coming here first, but if all works out, I should be able to stay on the same cruise ship through the Fijian islands and on to:

195. Vanuatu

And then onto:

196. New Zealand

My original final destination, things have changed a little since I failed to reach Sri Lanka, Maldives and The Seychelles.  It shouldn’t be too hard to find something to ship me to:

197. Australia

Arriving in Sydney (because I owe Alex Zelenjak a pint in The Three Monkeys), I’ll be headed down to Melbourne and kidnapping my long-suffering girlfriend Mandy for the trip across the Nullabor all the way to Perth.  If I can find a cruise that is going to Europe or South Africa, there’s a good chance it will stop at: 198. Sri Lanka, 199. Maldives and 200. The Seychelles.

Then I’m done, right?  Er, right… as long as no new nations are created between now and the end of this.  Like, say, South Sudan

Eek!

CAN YOU HELP?

If you have any contacts in the South Pacific who are involved in shipping or cruises, please pass them on via the CONTACTS page.  In return for helping me finish The Odyssey in one piece I’m willing to give plenty of publicity to any company or individual that would like to get involved.

Thanks!!

THE ODYSSEY WORLD VISA GUIDE

One of the things that holds back many people from travelling is the prospect of wasting time and effort attempting to get into countries that would quite prefer it if you didn’t bother.  However, it is a false presumption.  In more than 150 countries worldwide you can turn up without shelling out $$$ for an invitation first.

So here’s a comprehensive list of the visa requirements for British Passport Holders for every country in the world, although it may come in useful for other nationalities as well.

I’ve split the world into four main categories: No Visa Required, Visa On Arrival, Prior Visa Required and Letter of Invitation (LOI) Required.

No Visa Required: You beauties!! Note the (very) high prevalence of prosperous, confident and democratic countries in this list.

Visa on Arrival: Not quite as good as no visa at all, but much, much less hassle than:

Prior Visa/LOI required: Crikey. What a bitch. Don’t turn up without a visa to any of the countries on this (mercifully short) list of grubby and inhospitable nations.  They will fly you straight back home again at your expense because you didn’t ask their f—ing permission first.  So go queue outside their ostentatious embassies in the pouring rain for hours, pay them a bundle of fivers and then wait and wait and wait for the privilege of visiting their stupid godforsaken country.

I find the whole process quite demeaning – it’s like having to write to someone to ask if you can attend their wedding – take the hint man, take the hint – these countries are obviously not much interested in you, or tourism in general.

Many of these countries hilariously require an onward ticket, some want you to write a begging letter to come in, others want a letter off your employer or even copies of your bank statements… remember this is not to LIVE THERE, this is just to VISIT FOR A FEW DAYS.

The worst of the worst require a Letter of Invitation (LOI) – I’ve cast these down into the very lowest rungs of hell.  Not only do you have to pay extortionate amounts of money to Ambassador Ratbag for the stamp, you also have to pay someone in the country to ‘vouch’ for you.

I would actually like a list of all of the illegal refugees and economic migrants pouring out of our rich democratic nations and claiming asylum in… Nigeria? Papua New Guinea? TURKMENISTAN?? Seriously? WHAT?

I hold Australia in particular contempt for this policy – it is the ONLY rich westernised power on an otherwise quite hellish list of paranoid basketcases.

Oh, and by the way, Aussie tourists are granted a SIX MONTH stay in the UK, upon arrival, for free.  So, Australia, when you ask me in your rasping nasal tones where the bloody hell am I – I guess I’m in a country that welcomes me with open arms rather than a punch in the face and a bill of sale.

But look on the bright side, there are 150 (other, better) countries which don’t make you beg for permission to pop in for a visit…

Here’s your at-a-glance VISA MAP OF THE WORLD:

World Visa Requirement Map
World Visa Requirement Map For British Passport Holders

NO VISA REQUIRED (WOO!)

AMERICAS
Antigua & Barbuda
Argentina
Bahamas
Barbados
Belize
Bolivia
Brazil
Canada
Chile
Colombia
Costa Rica
Dominica
Dominican Republic
Ecuador
El Salvador
Grenada
Guatemala
Guyana
Haiti
Honduras
Mexico
Nicaragua
Panama
Paraguay
Peru
St. Kitts & Nevis
St. Lucia
St. Vincent and The Grenadines
Trinidad & Tobago
Uruguay
USA (but you do need a prior visa if you arrive on private boat or plane)
Venezuela

EUROPE
Albania
Andorra
Austria
Belgium
Bosnia & Herzegovina
Bulgaria
Croatia
Cyprus
Czech Republic
Denmark
Estonia
Finland
France
Georgia
Germany
Greece
Hungary
Iceland
Ireland
Italy
Kosovo
Latvia
Liechtenstein
Lithuania
Luxembourg
Malta
Moldova
Monaco
Montenegro
Netherlands
Norway
Poland
Portugal
Romania
San Marino
Serbia
Slovakia
Slovenia
Spain
Sweden
Switzerland
UK
Ukraine
Vatican City

AFRICA
Botswana
Burkina Faso
Lesotho
Malawi
Mali
Mauritius
Namibia
Rwanda
Senegal
Seychelles
South Africa
Swaziland
The Gambia
Tunisia
Morocco

THE MIDDLE EAST/ASIA
Bahrain
Iraq (Kurdistan only, entered from Turkey)
Israel
Japan
Jordan (if you enter on the ferry from Egypt)
Kuwait
Oman
Palestine
Qatar
South Korea
Taiwan
The Maldives
UAE
Yemen

SE ASIA/OCEANIA
Brunei
Fiji
Kiribati
Malaysia
Marshall Islands
Micronesia
New Zealand
Palau
Samoa
Singapore
Solomon Islands
Thailand
The Philippines
Tonga
Tuvalu
Vanuatu

VISA ON ARRIVAL

AMERICAS
Cuba (well, I got a visa on arrival, but I came on a yacht…)

EUROPE
Armenia
Turkey

AFRICA
Benin
Burundi
Cape Verde
Comoros
Egypt
Kenya
Mauritania
Mozambique
Sierra Leone
Tanzania
Togo
Uganda
Zambia
Zimbabwe

THE MIDDLE EAST/ASIA
Jordan
Lebanon
Nepal
Sri Lanka
Syria

SE ASIA/OCEANIA
Burma (but only valid for border regions)
Cambodia
East Timor (though no longer available on land border with Indonesia)
Indonesia (though not available on land borders with East Timor and PNG)
Laos

That’s over 150 countries where you can get in without asking prior permission.  Now here’s the naughty list:

PRIOR VISA REQUIRED

AMERICAS
Suriname (letting the side down there somewhat)
Cuba (but I doubt they’d turn you back)

EUROPE
Belarus (no surprise there – they still have the KGB)

AFRICA
Cameroon
Central African Republic
Chad
Congo
Cote D’Ivoire
Democratic Republic of Congo
Djibouti
Eritrea (best obtained in Jeddah – next day delivery)
Ethiopia (best obtained in Nairobi – same day delivery)
Gabon
Ghana
Guinea
Guinea-Bissau
Liberia
Madagascar (but it’s free, so can’t complain)
Niger
Sao Tome & Principe
Sudan (best obtained in Cairo – same day delivery)

ASIA
Afghanistan
Bangladesh
Bhutan
Burma (for travel into interior)
China
India (AND now requires you to leave for 60 days between visits!)
Iraq (for travel beyond Kurdistan)
Kyrgyzstan
Mongolia
Tajikistan

SE ASIA/OCEANIA
Australia*
Papua New Guinea
Vietnam*

*visa obtainable on arrival at airport with prior permission over internet

LETTER OF INVITATION (+ PRIOR VISA) REQUIRED

AMERICAS
N/A

EUROPE
Azerbaijan (no LOI required if visa bought in Georgia)
Russia

AFRICA
Algeria*
Angola*
Equatorial Guinea*
Libya (AND you must pay for a ‘guide’)
Nigeria*
Somalia*

THE MIDDLE EAST/ASIA
Iran
Kazakhstan
North Korea
Pakistan
Saudi Arabia*
Turkmenistan
Uzbekistan

SE ASIA/OCEANIA
Nauru

*To make matters worse, these visas can only be obtained in your country of origin (although it is possible to get a Nigerian visa from Ghana and an Algerian visa from Mali if you’re lucky).

Right.  That’s it.  If there are any mistakes/updates/excuses you’d like to make (this is pretty much all off the top of my head), please comment below.

How To Travel The World On The Cheap!

I’ve been stuck on the border with Papua New Guinea for the last few days, so not wanting to waste my time I made this here video for ya!

It’s set up so that EVERY CLICK results in money going to the charity WaterAid: so why not set up an auto-refresh program, such as this one for Internet Explorer or this one for Firefox, leave it running overnight and give give give without spending a penny!!

Enjoy! Share! Comment!

Here’s the link:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tAbCgr6jJ_0

THE ODYSSEY: Review of 2010

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!

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

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.