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British man visits all of the world's 201 nations - without flying in a plane

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
November 27th, 2012
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Thirty-three-year-old Graham Hughes of Liverpool wanted to travel with his feet firmly planted on the soil. To this end, the eccentric Briton can now claim to have visited all of the world's 201 countries - without once taking an airplane.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Hughes says that he used buses, taxis, trains and his own two feet to travel 160,000 miles in exactly 1,426 days, on a budget of $100 a week.

Graham says he spent four days "crossing open ocean in a leaky boat" to reach Cape Verde, was jailed for a week in the Congo for being a "spy," was arrested trying to "sneak into" Russia and had to be "rescued from Muslim fundamentalists by a Filipino lady-boy called Jenn."

Hughes ended his epic four-year journey by crossing into Juba, the capital of South Sudan, which did not even exist when he set off from his hometown of Liverpool on New Year's Day 2009.

"I love travel, and I guess my reason for doing it was I wanted to see if this could be done, by one person traveling on a shoestring," he told the Christian Science Monitor. "I think I also wanted to show that the world is not some big, scary place, but in fact is full of people who want to help you even if you are a stranger."
 
Hughes has traversed the borders of all 193 members of the United Nations plus Taiwan, Vatican City, Palestine, Kosovo, Western Sahara and the four home nations of The United Kingdom - all accomplished without once stepping onto an aircraft.

The Guinness Book of World Records have now confirmed that Hughes, who filmed the expedition for a documentary and raised money for charity WaterAid, has achieved the world record.

"The main feeling today is just one of intense gratitude to every person around the world who helped me get here, by giving me a lift, letting me stay on their couch, or pointing me in the right direction," Hughes added.

While all land transport had to have either wheels, hooves or sturdy rubber soles, he crossed the seas by mostly by hitching lifts on cargo ships.

Highlights of his trip include dancing with the Highlanders of Papua New Guinea, befriending orangutans in Borneo, riding through the badlands of Kenya on an 18-wheel truck, meeting the Prime Minister of Tuvalu - and "warning schoolchildren in Afghanistan about the dangers of men with beards."

People are curious how he was able to cross into such tightly controlled countries such as North Korea, Iraq and Afghanistan, but he says they were the easy ones.

Hughes says it was far tougher negotiating routes into tiny island nations like Nauru, in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, the Maldives and the Seychelles "where there were sometimes pirate threats."

The low points on the trip were the times he was "sitting in a bus station in Cambodia at one in the morning or riding some awful truck over bad roads." He would think, "Why am I doing this?"

The lowest point came when his sister, Nicole, died of cancer two years ago aged just 39. He broke the trip to hurry home to see her.

"I'd done 184 countries and had only 17 to go and I thought why not leave it there? (...but) she told me not to stop," he added.

Hughes now says he plans to travel through Africa some more before getting the ferry home from Ireland just in time for Christmas.

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