Category Archives: Amazing Vagabonds

Graham Hughes – Every Country in the World with no Air Travel – Amazing Vagabond

Editor’s Note: The uptight folks at Guinness have finally given him credit as of January 5, 2014. Republishing now from 9 Feb 2013.

Graham HughesGraham Hughes (@everycountry )is an Amazing Vagabond. The British man is the first in the world to ever visit all 201 countries without using air transport. The task took him four years and was completed in November of 2012. At the moment, there is some controversy attached to his feat as the Guinness Book of World Records has refused to acknowledge his accomplishment because his crossing into Russia was illegal. They don’t hold with breaking the law – and yet, he did it. Early this year he crossed into Russia legally and is waiting to hear back from the uptight suits at Guinness.

Graham Hughes

Hughes was born in Liverpool, England in 1979.

graham hughesHis quest began in 2008 and was covered by a program on the National Geographic Channel called “Graham’s World”. During the course of his “Odyssey Expeditions” he was arrested numerous times and proved himself to be a regualr pain in the ass to authorities and a pretty cool guy to the rest of us. He was imprisoned in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, arrested when he snuck into Russia, and ran a blockade in Cuba.

The rules of his trip were: no flying, no private transport (a rule enforced by the Guinness World Records race regulations, which cannot condone a public race in private vehicles) and no travelling to far flung territories and counting them as visiting the motherland. For example he couldn’t visit French Polynesia and count it as visiting France.

Hughes traveled 160,000 miles in 1,426 days – all on a budget of just $100 a week. He kept costs low through couchsurfing and hitching rides with locals and cargo ships.

Best quote?

I think I wanted to show that the world is not some big, scary place, but in fact is full of people who want to help you

Although, this bit from his bio page might be a close runner up:

If you had to define in a sentence what drives him perhaps it’s the desire that years from now schoolchildren across the land will be required to learn his date of birth.

Graham Hughes Route

Greaham Hughes Route

In fact, Hughes description of his journey is worthy of quoting all by itself

It was an adventure of epic proportions. I spent four days crossing open ocean in a leaky wooden boat to reach Cape Verde, I was imprisoned for a week in Congo and was arrested whilst attempting to sneak into Russia.

I ran the blockade into Cuba, blagged my way into Eritrea, ran around Iraq with an AK-47, spent seven days in Tibet and warned schoolchildren in Afghanistan about the dangers of men with beards.

I met the Prime Minister of Tuvalu, rode on top of a 18-wheeler through the northern badlands of Kenya, hitched a ride on a cruise ship to The Dominican Republic, joined a Bwiti tribe in Gabon, screamed at the ocean in El Salvador and watched a space shuttle blast off in the USA.

I’ve fed the crocs in Australia, hunted the dragons of Komodo, befriended the orangutans in Borneo, played with the lemurs in Madagascar, washed the elephants in India and eaten live octopus in South Korea.

I tip-toed into North Korea, took the slow boat to Nauru, danced with the Highlanders of Papua New Guinea and was rescued from Muslim fundamentalists in The Philippines by a ladyboy called Jenn.

Yes, he’s an Amazing Vagabond. No doubt about that.

Lonely Planet Founder

Amazing Vagabond – Tony Wheeler, founder of Lonely Planet

Lonely Planet FounderIf you haven’t heard of Lonely Planet, you’ve never taken a trip. Tony and Maureen Wheeler were the founders of this global travel empire which is now owned by the BBC. The story of Lonely Planet is the story a story which has inspired travel writers for a generation.

Tony Wheeler is an Amazing Vagabond.

Born in Britain but raised in Karachi, Pakistan, the West Indies (Bahamas) , and the United States. He studied to be a car designer but was sidetracked by  a trip to India with his wife Maureen in the early 1972. The two of them were entranced by the ‘hippie trail’ and the next year founded Lonely Planet in Australia where they had traveled overland from Britain.

They drove from London to Afghanistan in a beat up minivan and eventually arrived in Sydney, Australia, with 27 cents between them.

The two wrote a book Across Asia on the Cheap. The book was an immediate success and even though there was no internet, they established themselves as the first budget travel bloggers (even with no blogs in the world).  The next year, the couple wrote Southeast Asia on  a Shoestring and they were off…The book is still in print and has sold more than a million copies. Enough to found an empire.

For many, that would have been enough, but the couple went on to publish the Lonely Planet India Guide in 1981. That book opened the door to even more.

Tony and Maureen sold Lonely Planet to the BBC several years ago but they are both still traveling and active. You can follow Tony’s blog at here

Lonely Planet sells six million books each year, 90 per cent overseas. Lonely Planet has printed more than 54 million copies of its 600 guides in 17 languages and has $85 million annual turnover.

Anthony Bourdain is Not a cunt

Amazing Vagabond: Anthony Bourdain is Not a Cunt

Anthony Bourdain is Not a Cunt

Anthony Bourdain is Not a cuntOne of my favorite celebrities in the world – Anthony Bourdain. I was introduced to him back in 2005 when a close friend handed me a book called Kitchen Confidential and said “Read this. You’ll love this guy.”- The title sounded like a bullshit Hollywood Madam type of book so I took it with low expectations and planned to give excuses whenever she asked me if I’d read it.

Then, one day when I had to take a dump and knew I’d be in the bathroom for a while, it was the closest thing on hand aside from a box of Apple Jacks I’d already read – so I grabbed it. Within two paragraphs I was hooked.

You see, I’ve worked in some mother-fucking kitchens. I’ve made sandwiches, worked as a seafood line chef in a high-end bullshit kitchen, been the sous chef in a southern BBQ joint, and washed all kinds of fucking dishes. I’ve smoked more dope and done more lines of coke with kitchen staff and pantyless waitresses than I care to admit. Check out this line:

I want to tell you about the dark recesses of the restaurant underbelly – a sub-culture whose militaristic hierarchy and ethos of ‘rum, buggery, and the lash’ make for a mix of unwavering order and nerve-shattering chaos -because I find it all quite comfortable like a nice warm bath.

Hunter S. Thompson was dead but this guy was still alive and kicking. I read his book and then I went looking for more. I found it. This was a guy who could write, made me hungry for food, made me feel like my adventures were pretty tame, and who was traveling the world and making a spectacularly kick ass television show where he didn’t seem to be pretending to be someone else.

Anthony Bourdain is smart, funny, irreverant, and successful. He’s introduced a whole generation of punk-rock lost souls to the joy of food and travel.  Here’s a bit of his backstory (pulled from Wikipedia and his website at AnthonyBourdain.net)

Anthony Bourdain was born  in 1956 in New York City.He graduated from the Culinary Institute of America in 1978 and went on to become a professional chef. Hi s love of food was kindled by an oyster he ate in France as a boy. It was given to him by a fisherman while his family was on a vacation there. In 1998 he became Executive Chef at Brasserie Les Halles in Manhattan.

Kitchen Confidential was a New York Times best seller in 2000 which led to his writing two more best sellers – The Nasty Bits and A Cook’s Tour. He’s written nine other books including a graphic novel for DC Comics.

His TV show : No Reservations began in 2005 just before I took that dump and found my new hero, so when I went looking for more, I found one of the most enjoyable food and travel shows ever produced. Yeah, I’m a fan, that’s why I’m writing this to introduce you to him.

I have no idea how many countries Anthony Bourdain has been to, nor does it matter. I would guess that he doesn’t even know…the important thing is that he goes, he eats, he shares, he learns, and you know what?

He’s not a cunt. He shows respect to the food, the cultures, the places, and the people wherever he goes. He doesn’t mind disrespecting blatant commercialism, celebrity, or even himself and calls bullshit as he sees it. That’s why I’m a fan and that’s why I recommend you read his books, watch his series (there’s another called  The Layover) and follow him on Twitter (@bourdain ) Google+ and AnthonyBourdain.net