Phase 1 of operation ‘Around the World in 800 Days’ has begun. I’m back working proper full time hours to gain some extra income and should hopefully start saving in the New Year. Emma and I are likely to open a travel bank account that we can both pay into. As of Christmas I will also no longer have the commitment of the gallery that I run, this should also help with the saving. I have moved my art studio from the gallery into my house and I’m currently working from there in the evenings, which should hopefully also bring in some extra income.
Emma has been approached by the BBC to do some consultancy work for a documentary in the Middle East which she’ll be able to do alongside her part-time work at the Field Centre. I’ll leave her to write about that if she wants to.
The research is coming along slowly but should hopefully get a major boost in the New Year. I will be travelling back out to Dubai for 3 weeks over the Christmas period, with a shifty trip to Nepal. Emma and I will use this time together to put a strategy in place to split the work load. This will also give us time to focus on an exact route. One of the main jobs is going to be sorting the logistics of getting visa’s for the various countries we want to visit. I think this is going to be a job for Emma, she loves a clipboard and a good list, she might even be able to utilise different coloured pens.
The Foreign & Commonwealth Office website has been a useful resource for finding out what countries are safe to visit and which countries we should avoid all together. Unfortunately as we are likely to be starting in the UAE we have to drive through a few of the unsafe countries to get anywhere...Well that is what I thought. Emma has come up with an ingenious plan which at first I thought was not going to be possible, after a little research (chatting to random sailors, that didn’t look at her too crazily when she mentioned it) it seems like it might just be possible. I won’t say too much now, but it would be an interesting start to an amazing trip. Let’s just say that Michael Palin would be proud.
Over the Christmas period Emma and I will also discuss other ideas we have regarding ways that our trip can benefit some of the communities that we are going to travel to. Between us we have a wide range of skills that we can utilise to help the people that we meet on our travels. All we need to do is work out the best way to go about doing this. Adding a charitable aspect to the trip will also help with funds and donations. I like the idea of finding a worldwide charity that we can liaise with in each country, logistically this would cut down the amount of correspondence we’d have to do.
Being a typical boy, most of my research to date has been how we can pimp up ‘Shero’ the trusty 4x4. I’m fairly confident that she’s up to the job after checking out several Nissan X-Terra forums and pages (all these can be found in the links section). The car is obviously going to need regular services on the trip and I’m likely to take a mechanics course just to get my ‘hands on’ skills back up to scratch. I’m fairly mechanically minded and I’m no stranger to working on cars. In my youth we used to pull apart and fix our own cars and motorbikes so I’m fairly clued up on how engines work.
I think the plan though is to try and get sponsorship in kind from Nissan so that the car can be serviced/repaired for free at Nissan garages around the world. In return we would offer Nissan advertising space on this site as well as regular updates on our travels and the cars performance for their monthly newsletters.
Until 330 BC, when Aristotle provided evidence of a spherical earth, people thought the world was flat. If this was the case our trip would either end with us driving off the edge into infinite space or we would have to drive back the way we came. There is something deeply fascinating and appealing about driving all the way around the world; finishing where we started, yet never re-tracing our path.
I have always loved maps, spending hours pouring over atlases, city plans, marine charts and off-road routes.
There is something so simple, rewarding and romantic about navigating yourself from A to B. You will never find us slaves to the patronising tones of a ‘Tom-Tom’ (although in Andy's case of living on an island 9 miles long it’s not exactly necessary). To visualise and plan our epic “around the world in 800 days” expedition I purchased a globe. My first. The enticing, spherical, ‘tea-stained’ object which looks like it was procured from Indiana Jones’ study brings the journey planning to life. It was actually from pottery barn. That’s irrelevant. Our journey has now taken on another dimension.
Circumnavigation, literally "navigation of a circumference" refers to travelling all the way around an island, a continent, or the entire planet Earth. The Guinness Book of Records and the adventurers’ society (i made the second one up, but it’s something like that) have made some rules stating what qualifies as an official circumnavigation of the world... A true circumnavigation of the Earth must: start and finish at the same point, travelling in one general direction, reach two antipodes, cross the equator, cross all longitudes and cover a minimum of 40,000km..'
For example, our respective antipodes are; the Pitcairn Islands in the Pacific (Dubai, UAE- Emma) and Dunedin, New Zealand (St Peter Port, Guernsey- Andy).
There are still associations of ‘flat earthers’ out there who refuse to believe the planet is round. In the 1870s, Christian polemicist John Hampden wrote numerous works about the Earth being flat, and described Isaac Newton as "in liquor or insane" and astronomers as “demented stargazers”. I wonder what he would say about Andy and I today.
Well we are only 2 days in and the website is slowly starting to take shape now. The links section has been updated with what we have gathered already and will continue to grow over the next 12 months. No doubt we will need to add more sections to the website with the more information we research. At the moment Emma is crazy busy with work and as she is the primary organiser/planner no doubt she will have much more to add to the site in good time.
Early this year I was suffering from a serious depression and was feeling incredibly low. I got talking to an old friend who now lives in Dubai; Emma suggested that I pay her a visit, and that the break would do me good. In August of this year I travelled to Dubai to visit her for three weeks. Emma being the adventurous type suggested we embark on a 10 day camping/road trip down through the United Arab Emirates and on to Salalah in Oman. I’m never one to turn down an opportunity to go adventuring and so we made some plans and headed out into the desert in her fully loaded Nissan Xterra.
The trip was great for many reasons; firstly Emma is a biologist and has lived in the Middle East for the last 9 years. She has a wealth of knowledge regarding the area and during my three weeks I learned an incredible amount. Secondly, the trip really opened my eyes to what was really important to me and helped put some perspective on what was causing my depression. Thirdly, I simply love adventuring, I love getting in a car and discovering new people and new places.
The trip also helped reinforce the friendship I already had with Emma and it became apparent quite quickly that we were good travelling partners.
I returned to Guernsey in the Channel Islands, where I live and went back to my usual daily routine. Last month in the middle of a Skype conversation with Emma we somehow got round to talking about where we should go on our next trip and thus was born ‘Around the World in 800 Days’. Rather than rush it like Phileas Fogg, we’ve decided to take a much more laid back approach.
Hopefully over the next 424 days our planned trip will turn from a pipe-dream to a reality. However we have many obstacles to overcome; lack of money, being in two separate countries, sleepiness (on my behalf), a lack of money (oh, did I mention that one?) and a whole bunch of very daunting research. To me, half the adventure is going to take place in the next 424 days and so it seemed fitting to start this blog now.
Firstly so it can be used by other adventurers as a resource to all the links we discover during the research period. Secondly as a way to document the highs and lows of the whole trip, right from the inception. So here it is.