It’s been seven months since I re-booted The Odyssey Expedition after my enforced sabbatical and I’m pleased to announce that I have now visited EVERY COUNTRY in the PACIFIC OCEAN. Oh yes. That’s the Solomon Islands, Australia, Vanuatu, Fiji, Tuvalu, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Samoa, Tonga, New Zealand, Nauru, Micronesia and Palau; all without flying.
PLUS New Caledonia, Wallis, Futuna, American Samoa, The Northern Mariana Islands and Guam, and they’re not even sovereign states. That’s 19 different islands without flying in just over 30 weeks. Nice!
I could not have done this without the assistance of Swire, China Navigation, P&O, PIL, Reef, PDL, Neptune, Princess, Carnival, PAE, Anglo-Eastern, Mariana Express and Hartmann Reederei: I am very much indebted to these companies as well as the captains, officers and crews of the Papuan Chief, Pacific Pearl, Southern Pearl, Southern Lily 2, Sea Princess, Scarlett Lucy, Kota Juta and the Mell Sembawang.
I may well have set a new world record for visiting every nation state of The Pacific without flying in the least amount of time, but I don’t think that I’ll get a certificate for this one. The important thing is that with The Pacific out of the way, I can now turn my attention to the tricky business of THE FINAL FOUR.
Yes folks, believe it or not, the first 197 countries and 12 overseas territories I visited were the easy bit.
Okay, Sri Lanka shouldn’t put up too much of a fight, but after that the difficulty curve turns into a vertical line. The latest Admiralty Charts for the Indian Ocean regard both Maldives and Seychelles as within the ‘High Risk’ piracy area. Oh, and South Sudan is currently on the brink of war with North Sudan.
But that’s a worry for another day. Today it’s time to have a celebratory drink. Third Officer Michael turned 29 on Tuesday so the captain give permission for us to have a bit of a shindig once we left port today. A barbecue out on deck followed by raucous karaoke (I lost my voice through screaming too much). New company policy states that no more hard liquor can be brought on board any of these ships, but what’s already on board still needs to be drunk. And I need to be drunk too. So pass the (yo-ho-ho and a bottle of) rum and let’s get this party started in here!
We arrive in the port of Davao in The Philippines on Sunday morning. Davao is on Mindanao Island, which was the island I visited the first time I came to The Philippines. It’s funny, people always have a go at me for not spending enough time in some country, but the reality is that in the course of The Odyssey Expedition, I’ve visited over 60 countries more than once. That is, I have left and returned at a later date to one third of the countries of the world. In fact, I’ve been in and out of some countries (most notably Australia and Saudi Arabia) so many times I lost count.
Compare that with the number of countries I ‘border hopped’ – ie. just put a toe over the border… 20. Out of 197. So what if I don’t have an informed opinion about The Central African Republic or Tajikistan? I could bore you to death with talking about the politics of Comoros or the linguistic diversity of Papua New Guinea. Sorry, I’m rambling.
All you need to know is this: 197 countries visited without flying, FOUR to go.
THE FINAL FOUR.
BRING. IT. ON!!!!!!!!!!!!!!