Day 515: Encounter at Farpoint

30.05.10:

UAE: The big task of the day was getting my bumper to bumper passport back to the UK so I can get a new one – if you’re keeping up, it’ll be my fourth. Mission accomplished (thank you DHL, you’re THIS much better than British Airways) I arranged to meet up with a certain Mr. Kashi Samaddar. Yep, the bloke whose Guinness World Record™ I’m attempting to beat.

It took him six and a half years to visit every country in the world. Me? I’m up to country 158 out of 200 and it’s only been 17 months.

(Although I am STILL firmly convinced it could be done in a year… if only I had a yacht…!)

Oh yeah, and I’m not flying…! Sometimes I fail to see how monumental the task I’ve set myself really is – I mean, what other world record can you set whilst still going to the pub?! But here I am, only 42 countries left to go. I just need a boost in terms of funding and I’ll be laughing.

Talking of funding, crikey I’m down to my brass tacks now. Like a Hollywood blockbuster that’s over schedule and over budget, the good ship Odyssey is in desperate need of an injection of cash.

This being the case, if any of you reading this knows a company that wants me to big them up in return for some readies (marketing is tax deductable chaps!) I’m happy to endorse anything (much in the manner of Krusty the Klown) for a fiver. Incidentally, the companies I’ve relied on most (and who haven’t let me down) to travel to these 158 countries have been Visa, Dell, HSBC, Sony, Vodafone, Vans, Levis, Coca-Cola and Lowe Alpine. Just saying…

Kashi’s colleague, Sanjeep, came to pick me up from Damien’s flat and I was driven to the Far East Seafood Restaurant in one of the swankier hotels in town. There I met up with the legend himself – Mr. Samaddar – the first guy in the history of the world to visit every country on an Indian passport. And I think I’ve had visa traumas…

You can read more about our meeting on my special featured blog entry.

Record Breakers United!

Last Sunday I had the great pleasure of meeting the legend that is Mr. Kashi Samaddar – the current Guinness World Record™ holder for visiting every country of planet Earth in the least amount of time.

Top bloke!!

What makes Kashi’s record even more impressive is that he did it all on an Indian passport – meaning that for some countries he would be faced with the nightmare of having his visa rejected for some lame reason and then having to wait SIX MONTHS before being allowed to even apply for a visa again!

Kashi treated me to an amazing seafood feast at the Far East Restaurant in Dubai and we chatted for a good few hours about our various adventures… you think I’m mad – he’s gone places where angels would fear to tread.

I asked him the questions I always get asked – favourite place (he couldn’t choose), motivation (to encourage world tourism) and how he got to North Korea (flight from Beijing). How did he feel about the possibility of me breaking his record? He was full of praise and encouragement, which was wonderful. I’ve no doubt that if I set this record the person who ultimately breaks it will have read my blogs and sussed out where I went wrong and all power to them!!

It was great to be able to talk to someone who has shared many of the experiences, the dizzying highs and the crushing lows of attempting to do something like this. He understood my drive, my motivation, my single (some might say bloody) minded desire to see this thing through to the bitter end, wherever that may be.

Kashi, like me, has seen something through all his trials and tribulations that not many people see nor understand – the world is an amazing place filled with amazing people. We do not get told this enough. Our governments and the media grow fat on the power of nightmares. Don’t let them make you live in fear, let go of that paranoia and the fear of otherness – we’re all in this together peeps – for better or worse this planet is ours and it’s the only home we will ever know.

It took Kashi six and a half years to visit every country. I’ve already got the Guinness World Record for visiting the most countries in one year without flying, if I finish the final 42 countries this year I will not only pick up the Guinness World Record for visiting every country in the world without flying – but I’ll take Mr. Samaddar’s title of fastest travel to every county in the world using any form of transport – yeah, I’ll have done it faster than people who have flown!!

I might even be able to snag the record for most countries visited in one continuous unbroken journey…!

Four Guinness World Records for the price of one? Nice! But this is no time to become complacent. When I hit the final forty you’ll see just how far I still have to go. My huge thanks to Mr. Samaddar – hats off to you, sir – you’re an inspiration to us all.

Graham Hughes

DUBAI, UAE (158 of 200)