The most well-travelled man in the world
Thursday, December 5, 2013, 8:16 AM -
Ottawa-born Mike Bown has a pretty good claim to being the most well travelled man in the world - apparently having visited just about every country or territory on Earth.
You don't indulge that kind of wanderlust without accumulating a few experiences.
You can find 80 of Bown's adventures here, but here's a quick glance of some of the incredible places he's set foot in.
Iraq isn’t exactly the most tourist-friendly place, especially after the U.S. invasion and the resulting civil unrest and insurgency that has followed, but that doesn’t appear to have stopped Bown.
And as he was hitchhiking, where should he end up, but Tikrit – also known as Saddam Hussein’s hometown (those nice digs in the photo up above are one of the dictator’s many palaces).
He was picked up by a driver who was apparently a “big fan” of the fallen dictator, and as the two conversed in English, he noted several onlookers glaring at him.
Bown said his time in Tikrit is the most threatened he’s even felt – to the point where he wondered whether some of the locals would kidnap and behead him, as happened to a Japanese tourist in 2004.
A braver man than we.
It says quite a bit about Bown that he seems to have spent plenty of time in Somalia and STILL didn’t think it was the most threatened he’d felt.
The country’s government collapsed in the early 1991, and a brutal civil war has been raging on and off ever since.
There’s more than one picture of Bown posing with automatic weapons of some kind on his Facebook page, which details his travels. He’s visited the capital Mogadishu – one of the most dangerous places on Earth – and also made a stop in Somaliland, a breakaway region in the north.
Also, while he was in the region of Puntland, he apparently avoided being captured by pirates, who infest the country’s coasts and are a serious threat to shipping in the Indian Ocean.
We don't know about you but, as world travellers, he's kind of making us feel a bit unaccomplished.
Judging by the picture above, you’d be forgiven for thinking a bored Bown had stepped out for a jaunt to an alien planet.
That funky tree is a prime example of what awaits the intrepid traveller to Yemen’s Socotra Island.
Called the Dragon Blood Tree, it’s one of 700 or so species of plants or animals that are endemic to the island, meaning they are found nowhere else on the planet.
It’s a huge biodiversity hotspot, filled with unique wonders just waiting for Bown, and others who dare make the trip.
Volcanoes National Park, Rwanda
Here’s another country with a war-torn past, but that’s not why Bown visited.
The gorilla in the shot above, provided as ever by Bown, is more than 220 kg, with more than seven times the strength of a human being.
Bown and his group made it almost close enough to touch the creatures, which make their home in Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda (it’s named for the five volcanoes within its boundaries).
We didn’t ask him, but he must find zoos very boring places indeed.
From the jungles of Africa to the jungles of Borneo.
The thickly forested island is divided between Indonesia, Malaysia and the tiny country of Brunei, and it seems Bown has had his share of adventures here.
We shouldn’t be surprised, but it seems he likes some cave-exploring from time to time, and has spelunked in Borneo’s Deer Cave, one of the longest cave systems in the world.
But above ground, the weather turned against him as he was out watching the island’s famous Orangutans. A sudden. violent downpour left him feeling like he was having bucket after bucket of warm water being thrown over him.
He marks it as some of the most volatile weather he’s experienced.
It seems odd to write any Canadian location next to Bown’s name, given how many places he’s been to, but here he is in Okotoks, Alberta, checking in on some livestock.
Bown himself, remember, was born in Canada, but Alberta has earned a place on his list. He says the coldest he ever felt was somewhere north of Edmonton, when the temperature plunged down to around -50C
His travels include the decidedly not tropical Russia, Greenland and the steppes of Central Asia, but even so, the coldest temperature he’s ever encountered was more or less right here at home.
We’re happy Canada stood out – although at -50C, we guess we shouldn’t be surprised.