Yep, although I did my best to explain to the police officers in Congo that I wasn’t a journalist, I have dabbled in the dark arts of hackism. Here is a selection of some of my best.
Akira Kurosawa’s influence on Hollywood is difficult to overstate. Seven Samurai (1954) was remade as The Magnificent Seven (1960). Yojimbo (1961) was ripped off as A Fistful of Dollars (1964). Kurosawa’s multiple-POV technique from Rashomon (1950) would be reprised years later in great films such as The Usual Suspects (1995) and bad ones such as Vantage Point (2008). Ikiru is often quoted as being one of Steven Spielberg’s favourite films. Kurosawa’s shadow reaches far over Tinseltown, and while other movies owe a debt of gratitude to the Japanese master, Star Wars owes him its very existence – which brings us back to The Hidden Fortress.
Steering clear of pricey destinations sounds like a no-brainer. We all know that travel in Japan, Norway and Australia costs a fortune, but did you know the most expensive city in Africa is in Angola? Senegal and Ethiopia are not exactly bargains either.
Before you go, check online for prices of hostels, and look up restaurants to see how much they’re charging for their least expensive dish. As a general rule, Southeast Asia and Latin America are cheap and cheerful, but even there you’ll find big differences in costs from one country to the next. Vietnam, Bolivia and Nicaragua always seem to give good value.
On the morning of January 1 2009 I took a ferry from Buenos Aires to Colonia in Uruguay. This would be the first of many border crossings as I embarked on what I knew would be the biggest adventure of my life: the Odyssey Expedition, the first surface journey to every country in the world. It would take me to more than 200 countries, 60 islands and six continents. I thought I could do it in a year. It took the best part of four.
I would be travelling alone, on a shoestring budget and with no professional support: no camera crew following in 4x4s. It was me against the world.
Hi I’m Graham Hughes, the first and fastest person to visit every country without flying. (Check my entry in Guinness World Records if you don’t believe me.) My journey took over 4 years and encompassed well over 200 countries and territories, including Afghanistan, Honduras, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Somalia.
What many people find remarkable (myself included) is that throughout this adventure, I was never robbed, I was never mugged, I didn’t get beaten up, and I didn’t even get ill. To be perfectly frank, my biggest headaches (financial and otherwise) were caused by taxi drivers, my bank and law enforcement officers.
Now either I’m some sort of red-haired good-luck bunny, or the world is not as dangerous as you might think. I was reasonably cautious, but not obsessively so. Here are some tips and pointers for staying safe that I picked up along the way.
Liverpool Live Music and Comedy Reviews (BBC)
Sorry about this, most of the gig reviews (including Morrissey, Arctic Monkeys, We Are Scientists, Bloc Party, Editors, Maximo Park, CSS and Kaiser Chiefs) that I wrote for the BBC back in the mid-noughties have been wiped from the face of the internet, presumably to make room for BBC Three. Oh well. Here are a handful that survived: