Kiwi pair enter Asia on final leg
Kiwi pair enter Asia on final leg of All Nations Quest journey
Two New Zealanders trying to visit every country in the world in 160 days in tense security times have entered Asia in the final leg of their exhausting and epic journey.
James Irving and his cousin John Bougen have already visited every country in the Americas, Europe, the Middle East and Africa.
They are expected to end their challenging trek through 193 countries by the end of January.
Bougen said from Laos today they had entered 155 countries in 131 days. They have travelled 188, 605 km, used 80 airlines, been on 194 flights, spent 315 hours in the air and 480 hours waiting at airports and stations.
The Middle East didn’t pose any of the problems they suffered compared with arriving in Moscow without a Russian visa. They were forced to spend an impounded night in the city as they awaiting fresh documents, Bougen said.
``The drive next day to Minsk Airport, where our two swarthy, black jacketed, non-English speaking drivers, were jammed into the front seat of an ancient beaten up Lada without internal door handles, made us think that our days were numbered. Then they careered off the main road down an unlit, barely sealed forest service road. ``It was a shortcut to the dark and menacing Soviet-built Minsk airport where wolves were spotted running across the frozen runway as we were boarding our first Tupolev 134.
``Our other frightening moment was at Kinshasa Airport which is a hellhole.
``It was everything and more than what we had expected from one of the poorest, most corrupt nations on the planet.
``The stand-over tactics by anyone of authority at this once-proud but now decrepit, dirty and darkly intimidating building were of the most basic and most pathetically obvious nature.
``We escaped having money extracted by all except the chief immigration officer who with a bit more finesse basically said `no money, no passports - no exit’.
``The final insult was the pat-down frisk by an overtly gay security guard that concentrated on two areas only --our groins and back pockets.’’
Bougen said these events were balanced by being invited into the cockpit for the final 20 minutes and subsequent landing at what is reputed to be the world’s most difficult commercial Airport- Paro in Bhutan.
``Buzzing the freshly snow capped mountains as we zigged and zagged our way to the runway which was only visible at the last moment as we rounded yet another mountain in a BA 146 with 2 extremely competent, Druk Air, Bhutanese pilots.’’
Irving and Bougen are in Vientiane Laos today and need to be in Singapore tomorrow night.
The intrepid duo are supporting Save the Children charity as they attempt to travel 200,000km, spend 400 hours in the air and move in and out of 200 different airports. Their trip is costing $nz350,000 which they are meeting themselves and through assistance and sponsorship from the Flight Centre, Vodafone and Mike Henry Travel Insurance.
They are seeking to set a world record of entering all 193 recognised nations in 160 days and are expected back in New Zealand in February.
Irving was born in Christchurch and his home is in Brisbane.
Mr Bougen was born in Timaru but has spent most of his life