Welcome to the Join Up Dots Business Coaching podcast interview with Mr Graham Hughes.
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Introducing Graham Hughes
Graham Hughes is our guest joining us on the Join Up Dots business coaching podcast interview.
He is a globe trotting, double Guinness book of records world holder, with a story based on constant action
An adventurer, film-maker, travel blogger and TV presenter from Liverpool, England.
On January 1 2009 he crossed the River Plate into Uruguay and began The Odyssey Expedition: The first official Guinness World Record™ attempt to visit every sovereign state on Planet Earth without flying.
That’s the 193 members of the United Nations.
Plus Taiwan, Vatican City, Palestine, Kosovo, Western Sahara and the four home nations of The United Kingdom.
A staggering 201 international borders crossed by foot, bus, taxi, train, ship or canoe.
No planes, no helicopters and no hot-air balloons.
How The Dots Joined Up For Graham Hughes
So what is it that made him leave the comfort and security of a life in the North of England to travel the globe, in the hardest manner possible?
And are there any countries that once he arrived he thought…right I’m not staying here time to move on?
And did I tell you he is now the owner of his own island “JinjaIsland” which he won in a competition too?
So is he the luckiest guy on earth, or just someone that by taking huge action has put himself into positions that others would miss out on?
Well let’s bring onto the show to start joining up dots, as we discuss the words of Steve Jobs with the one and only Mr Graham Hughes.
During the episodes we discussed such weighty topics with Graham Hughes such as:
Why he got into difficulties with a few individuals on a boat to the Philippines and got saved by a Karaoke loving lady boy!
How he has achieved a Guinness World Record whilst having a great time in Pubs and meeting new friends!
How for anyone watching the television or going to the cinema he would be the most annoying person ever to sit next too!
Why as a kid in Liverpool, he loved doing puzzles and arranging things, which turned out to be a big dot to where he found himself in later life!
How you do not need to ask permission to do anything in your life. It is up to you to start whatever adventure and dream you want to achieve!
How he managed to get his own desert island off the coast of Panama by winning an online competition
The great fun that he gets from shooting at roosters with water in the midst of their Cock-a-doodle-doing”!
How To Connect With Graham Hughes
Or if you prefer just pop over to our podcast archive for thousands of amazing episodes to choose from.
Audio Transcription Of Graham Hughes Interview (Part One)
When we’re young, we have an amazing positive outlook about how great life is going to be. But somewhere along the line we forget to dream and end up settling. join up dots features amazing people who refuse to give up and chose to go after their dreams. This is your blueprint for greatness. So here’s your host live from the back of his garden in the UK David Ralph
David Ralph [0:26]
Yes. Hello there. Well, how are we welcome to Episode 116 of join up dots. There’s one word that’s been coming into my head all day today. And that is dedication, dedication to and if you grow up in the United Kingdom in the 1970s, and that will mean a lot to you anybody else on Earth, it means nothing at all. But the reason I’m saying that word is we’ve got a Guinness Book of Records world holder with us today. He’s a globetrotter with a story based on constant action and adventure. They’ll make a travel blogger TV present from Liverpool. In 2009. He crossed the river play into Uruguay. And so began the Odyssey expedition, the first official Guinness world record attempt to visit every sovereign state on planet earth without flying, and that’s 193 members of the United Nations a staggering 201 international borders cross by foot bus, taxi train ship can now canoe cat camel, whatever your thing. As long as it didn’t fly, he was on it. So no planes, no helicopters and no hot air balloons. And along the way he’s self filmed and presented a TV show claims world but a National Geographic adventure channel and raised funds for the Registered Charity Water aid. So what is it that made him leave the comfort and security of a live in the north of England to travel the globe in the hardest manner possible? And are there any countries that once you have arrived before? Why I’m not staying here? time to move on? Oh, and did I tell you he’s now the owner of his own island ginger Island love at night ginger Island, which you want in a competition to so is he the luckiest guy on earth or just someone that by taking huge action has put himself into positions that others would miss out on? Well, let’s find out as we bring on to the show, the one and only ginger scouser himself, Mr. Graham Hughes. How are you Graham?
Graham Hughes [2:18]
Hello, I’m very good. Hola because I’m speaking to you from Guatemala today.
David Ralph [2:23]
Is that where ginger Island is because I was trying to work out with you Jared was
Graham Hughes [2:27]
in the Caribbean. It’s just it’s in the north west corner of Panama. And just my book is that although it’s about 20 minutes from the town on a boat on Yeah, it’s a little 2.2 acre Island. I’ve got a coral reef out one end of the items got a mangrove forest at the other and I’m just on the entrance to dolphin Bay. And it’s called that because you’re not gonna believe this it’s full of dolphins. And it’s it’s really it’s a real sweet life at the moment it really is. But that’s me now. We’re going to talk a little bit about my journey first I thank you yeah,
David Ralph [3:00]
we are we are so so the question is just popped into my head we you know that many dolphins you’re never ever hungry than us you
Graham Hughes [3:08]
know know that great? Actually, we’re beans. Although I didn’t mean that I meant that they buy me dinner. That’s right. Yeah.
David Ralph [3:18]
Tissue on the island with with a beach ball Wilson or something. Oh, have you got some slaves and and people looking at we need
Graham Hughes [3:29]
place now. It’s now it’s just me on the island at the moment. I’ve got a coconut with a fate with a face I’ve drawn on it. That’s that’s my friend Wilson. I’ve also got a dog. I’ve got Dr. Campsie, you know, I’ve got 13 chickens, and I’ve named all the chickens and the locals make fun of me with naming the chickens because apparently not supposed to name chickens in case you have to eat them. But then I just think of that Simpsons episode where he’s eating his lobster punchy. And he’s crying as eat. And that’s what I’m supposed to do on day one of these chickens. They don’t stop going up the stairs appearing all over it grew naughty chickens.
David Ralph [4:04]
It’s so it’s so weird. Here. My brain is like spitting into different ways because on one hand, you’re you’re a Robinson Crusoe character and when you’re talking about the Simpsons and things like that, so do you actually kind of you know, do you have connectivity? Obviously, we’re talking on Skype, which kind of freaks me out. First of all, I don’t understand how that works. But do you sit there with Netflix on your island and do things like that?
Graham Hughes [4:27]
Yeah. Yes, I keep up to date with Game of Thrones and 24 and
I’m pretty I’m pretty alive. Hey, I like the idea of sort of being off the grid but still online. I’ve got solar panels for my electricity. I collect rainwater for my drinking water so yeah, I mean, I’m I do need gas and he’s coming to town every couple of weeks or so to get a new bottle of gas for the cooker and the hot shower but apart from that i mean i’m pretty self sufficient.
David Ralph [4:57]
So service it’s kind of just get to the point with ginger on. First of all, I assumed you named ginger ale and it wasn’t just a complete fluke, but it has the same name to your your hair coloring.
Graham Hughes [5:08]
No, I named it in Toronto. There’s ginger like ninja shows j&j.
David Ralph [5:13]
And what was it named beforehand? Or was it not named anything?
Graham Hughes [5:17]
It didn’t really have a name and the guy who took care of the island before me he inertia who was the guy who famously sold his life on eBay a few years ago I’m sure you’ll have him on join up the dots one day he’s a he’s a profit character and he’s a fellow Northerner he went around the world doing 100 hundred goals and hundred days when he put the island on the market he called it washes washes Island cuz His name is Ian OSHA. But then everyone thought that it was like the pop star or show reviews so when I turned off you know I can call it whatever I want really doesn’t really matter. And so I decided to call it ginger islands and ginger Ireland calm was available, which always
David Ralph [6:00]
bands out there that would have called themselves something different had the.com been available, but they just go hang on let’s get something that the dot coms available for so that’s why I’m a ginger islands kind of let’s let’s get this and then and it’s got it. I don’t know. It’s kind of captured people’s imaginations a little bit. which is which is great. He’s because you know, instantly you can see that you’re a guy who likes fun. And that that’s that says it doesn’t need ginger Island. It’s just kind of amusing name. I even laughed when I read it in the introduction. And I’ve been looking at it all week. It still makes me laugh.
Graham Hughes [6:33]
Well, yeah, actually, Ginger is spelled out is actually a town on the beginning of the Nile in Uganda, and I’m up for it on my adventure. And I remember looking at the map go wow, this place is called ginger, the spot like ninja but it’s ginger. And I met it with a with a fellow backpacker traveler type in Las Vegas, or it was a few months ago. And they had all these old maps of the world is antique maps. And he had one for he had one foot for Africa. And it was it was around the time of Isaac Newton and actually had the kingdom of Judah in right in the center of Africa. Where you can do is today. And the king was called the bomba bomba of ginger, which I quite like so I took I took it upon myself to call myself the bumbo of ginger Island until someone pointed out to me that the Spanish in Spanish bomba means water pump. Which isn’t that sexy na Really? Hey, I’m the water pump of this island. Yeah, yeah, locals Look,
David Ralph [7:35]
I wouldn’t mind being called a water pump. Depends.
Graham Hughes [7:42]
Emperor, Lord, Master. So So tell us
David Ralph [7:46]
how you actually can can you run yourself a king, or always have rules to stop you doing that?
Graham Hughes [7:53]
I’m sure I’m sure. I’m still under the law of Panama. But if I break the law, I go to a Panamanian jail. But yeah, I suppose there’s nothing stopping me from court declaring my own little my little Empire in the mangroves here.
I think that’d be quite fun. That’s something that’ll probably progress throughout the year that I’m on this island, cuz I’m here till next May. So I’m hoping to do some fun things with it while I’ve got it.
David Ralph [8:19]
Well, it’s fascinating. It really is. But let’s take you right back to Liverpool. So when you was a kid in Liverpool, the life you’ve got now? Was it the furthest thing from your mind? Or was there always that kind of adventurous spirit to you?
Graham Hughes [8:33]
I’ve always I’ve always had that adventurous spirit. I was born in 1979. So I totally grew up with Indiana Jones and that that sort of spirit of adventure. I remember seeing the Last Crusade at the cinema when I was 10 years old. And we, as a family, we we used to go on camping holidays out to Wales, you know, rumbling around Wales and also onto the continent. During the summer holidays, we went around to France and Spain and, and at the time in the 80s. You couldn’t get to half of your it’s hard to imagine now when you’ve got EasyJet and Ryanair, flying you over to anywhere you want for 20 quid, but in the 80s you literally could not go to Hungary, you couldn’t go to Czechoslovakia, you couldn’t go to Poland without visas, which are very expensive and very difficult to get. And you know, people would want to know why, why you are going behind the Iron Curtain and all this kind of stuff. And I remember, I think was about 1988 or something room West Germany, in this campervan and, and my dad wants to go over to East Germany, he wants to try and get to Berlin and they turned us around at the border. But we sort of went over the border to Turkey, let’s do a U turn. And that’s very exciting. I felt like you know as in a bit of hidden territory almost. And in the summer of 1990. So this is about just about six months after the Berlin Wall come down. We are went on a trip to to Berlin to Germany, I went to East Germany for the first time my life and I’ve still got my piece of the Berlin Wall, because back then you could get a hammer and chisel a chisel away at the wall. Still got it in a little box at home. And then we went on into Hungary, Czechoslovakia Poland. So when my friends were coming back from holiday, you know, in Ibiza or you know, some, you know, Tel Aviv or somewhere like Oh, where did you go on holiday and I was like I went to Czechoslovakia. And they’re like, could you even spell checkers of hockey, I don’t know. And so that experience at a young age very soft, my one the last of, you know wanting to go and see the world for myself and taking as many countries as I could. So as soon as I was old enough to strap a backpack on my back and head out there. I went on a five nation tour of the Middle East from Egypt to Turkey with a couple of friends mine in uni. And then after university, I worked for a few months save up some money and spent a year traveling around the world. And I went to I traveled around India on my own and Southeast Asia, met up with my girlfriend in Australia, we traveled around Australia for two months together in a car. And old Holden panel damage is just amazing. Much a New Zealand’s went to South America. And that experience really just solidified my my love of travel. And also, you know, I’m not, I’m pretty academic, I’m good at trivia and stuff like that. But I’m not a sporty, I’m a very athletic, I’m not very good at, you know, football and running and stuff like that. But what I am really good at is kind of like logistics, and sleeping on buses, and not getting ill. And those are things that are really very important if you’re going to go traveling around the world. I mean, when I did the Odyssey expedition, the whole expedition took four years. And in those four years, I went to every country in the world, on my own on a shoestring budget on public transport. And I didn’t get ill, I didn’t get a chance I didn’t get dysentery. I didn’t you know, I didn’t even get sort of upset Tommy, I was I was fired. And it was partly because I got loads of vaccinations before I left, obviously, because I’m not an idiot. And also, I took my anti malaria pills and things like that. But mosquitoes don’t seem to bite me too much. And maybe I’m just really, really lucky. But as well as not getting ill, I didn’t get mugged. I didn’t get robbed, I didn’t get beaten up or in a fight or in a, you know, any particular situation that I didn’t feel like I could handle, except in a couple of cases in Africa, which will come to you later when I got into trouble with the law. But with just general people, the general public, they just seem to go out their way to be lovely to me and help me on my way. And that was very, you know, one thing that the journey did do is it’s really reaffirmed my faith in humanity. But
David Ralph [12:55]
I think that’s true. VO Graham, I think that 99% you know, 99% at least 95% of the world’s population I lovely. And then yeah, but the 3% are not lovely, and 2% are serial killers. And I think basically,
Graham Hughes [13:13]
a serial killer ratio is that high, but yeah, I mean,
David Ralph [13:17]
it’s gonna be 3d.
Graham Hughes [13:20]
You’ve got to be very unlucky, though. I mean, most of them become politicians. So I mean, you can spot them a mile away. But yeah, I think that, uh, that that’s right. And I think that we we kind of Miss Judge the dangers of traveling the world. And, and I know that, you know, I would never give someone advice, just go out there. And I always say, do your research, make sure you know, what you’re getting yourself into? Make sure there’s, there’s a great section in the guidebooks that says dangers and annoyances, and it will it’ll list the things you know, the places that you don’t go and, and things like that now, maybe some local culture things that you shouldn’t, you know, you shouldn’t local to booze that you, you shouldn’t transgress. So I mean that there’s a few, there’s a few sort of base rules that you need to travel. But once you get out there, and you sort of, you know, what you you know, even for, I think most people are kind of surprised by a lack of hassle that they get in most places. I mean, obviously, you guys have very touristy areas, you know, if you go to the Taj Mahal in India, or you go to the pyramids in Egypt, you’re going to get a lot of hassle off, people, you know, out from the southeast. But I mean, that’s just part and parcel of the travel experience. And what’s funny is, if you read have provided us with like 3000 years, or 2000 years ago, in this great this, this Greek traveler who traveled around the world and motor party, he complains about the touts outside the pyramids, and that was 2000 years ago. So I don’t think anything’s going to change their particularly soon. But, you know, I, what can I say I enjoy travel, and knew that I could do this thing. And I found out no one had done it before. And in the end, you know, it took a few years before I got off my butt and did it. But I, I got it done. You know, he’s astonishing,
David Ralph [15:13]
though, that there’s so many countries festival because I’ve got an old level in geography. And I’ve been looking at the list of countries that you’ve been to be honest, there’s quite a few, but I don’t recognize. So did you have any of that situation where you sort of got 201 countries to do? I’ve got 200? And oh, yes, I’ve done it. And you go home and you sit on the sofa? And somebody comes up and says, there’s another country? It’s just been formed? You gotta jump? And have you had to go back out to any places because a new country sprung up?
Graham Hughes [15:46]
Yeah, I mean, first of all, I don’t even have an old level of a GCSE in, in geography. For some reason. We were allowed to do both history and geography in school for a lateral qualification level. So I, I chose history. And so I have no qualifications in Java. But I can draw a map of the world from memory, which I think should give me at least an honorary a level or something, I don’t know. But yeah, as far as sort of new countries are concerned, when I started the journey, there are only hundred 92 members of the United Nations. Sudan was one country. And after the first two years of my travels, I thought that I’d be finished in two years, and then never thought it would take so long after the first two years, I’ve been to 184 of the world’s countries, I’ve only had 16 at the time left and all of them islands in the Pacific Ocean in the Indian Ocean. And then notoriously difficult to get to because of you know, that there’s not too many ships going to narrow, and also the Maldives and the Seychelles are both within the Somali pirate zone. Yeah, somebody passed away in January 2011. I know what’s going to happen. But I thought that I was finished my would have finished my journey by then. South Sudan had an election, a referendum for independence. And it was like 99% said they wanted independence. And so in July 2011, South Sudan became a country. And at this point, I’ve been to every country in mainland Africa, which over 50 countries, and as I Well, I’ve got to go back boards. The way things ended up my original plan was to start in Uruguay, go through South America, Caribbean, North America go across the Atlantic, to Iceland, and you’re on the west coast of Africa, or the East Coast, through the Middle East, through Central Asia, to China, Southeast Asia, and then down to Papua New Guinea, Australia, and then the Pacific Islands and and finish in. In New Zealand, that would make a lovely sort of sine wave across the world. You know, if you got a map out, you could just draw in a straight line, fantastic. Straight line vocabulary. actually doing it, it wasn’t as simple as that I had to backtrack a lot to return to countries I’d already been to. I mean, I, you know, I went to 200 countries, I went to 70 of them twice, or more than twice. I think they went to Australia in the end about seven times, just because the shipping routes just went that way. And so I found myself in New Zealand, which was supposed to be the end of my journey. And I had I there was seven countries, including South Sudan that I still hadn’t visited. And they were Nauvoo, which is tiny potato shaped island in the Pacific, with a population of 7000 people. But it has a seat on the United Nations. There’s a Federated States of Micronesia, which is a bit bigger to several islands. And Palau, which I think only became an independent state in 1991 as a mother, and then there was Sri Lanka, which is remarkably difficult to get to from in India, which is ridiculous. You can probably swim.
David Ralph [19:02]
Really close. Yeah.
Graham Hughes [19:07]
But yeah, but since the Tamil Tigers rising at the time of rising at the, in the early 80s, you’ve seen the deterioration of relations between India and Sri Lanka. And they used to be for over a century there was a ferry that used to go across from India to show that stopped in the early 80s. And it’s never never restarted. I don’t know if any of the listeners here have been to India, but you know, if I just thought start talking about Indian bureaucracy, if they’ve ever had to go and get an Indian visa or to buy a train ticket in India, they’ll know what I’m talking about. So you can imagine that and Sri Lankan be Aqua sees not two different taxis are similar. So then to try and get on a cargo ship from Sri Lanka to India or vice versa is a nightmare. But I have to do it because I was in Sri Lanka got that far. I was kind of stuck there for a couple of months because none of these cargo ships will take me to the Maldives because Somali pirates pretty much you know stop play they they meant that you know if they got on board the ship the the the excess on the insurance, the anti piracy insurance with their for the roof or they might just not have space for me on the lifeboat because of the added security that they have on board. They sometimes have like four armed guards on both the ships now. It was just lucky that there was a shipping company as a cruise ship company that was going down from the Mediterranean to Australia and they were going India, all the Seychelles, so and that was Molly and Seychelles were countries 199 and 200. And it was going to Madagascar. So I managed to catch myself a Lyft on that you know hitchhiked to ride. Did you
know not that I didn’t pay for any of my
David Ralph [21:01]
Can I ask you a question in this in because there’s there’s a chap but we both know I know him through the show, but you’ve actually slept with him called Niall Doherty. Okay.
Graham Hughes [21:12]
Oh, yeah, no, yeah, like 5000 pounds.
David Ralph [21:16]
Why did he cost him so much? Because I said to him, why didn’t you just lie across and not tell anyone? He said Oh, because I I would know I had to do it. And I said, should he just you know, offer to sweep the floor or something and not have to pay you But no, it cost him about four and a half thousand dollars to get on a boat and you did it for nothing.
Graham Hughes [21:36]
Yeah, I know I feel very cheeky about that. But then those cruise ship that I got on that took me to the to the Maldives and Seychelles Niall got on it after me because I actually went to Sri Lanka afterwards. And yeah, I went to Sri Lanka, I think and he managed to get to Chicago one time and he took it to Thailand and he didn’t have to pay he saw that some are with them some advertising or something. So there were ways of around there. I don’t know why Niall spent so much money on that. But I think it was maybe Hobson’s choice or something maybe spent a long time
David Ralph [22:12]
face when you heard
Graham Hughes [22:14]
I didn’t laugh in his face. I just took it to myself that I spent so much other I look I’ll go ship.
But yeah, the cut big cargo ship companies like penile who operate out of Singapore mercy to operate our Denmark CMA CGM operate out of France, they were just fantastic. They were just so supportive, and really just wants to help me get this thing done. And it’s it is tricky getting on cargo ships, because you’ve kind of got to get permission off a lot of different bugs, you need permission off the charters, that might be CMA CGM, the owners that might be some Greek company or something, the local agents, you need permission off them as well. And also that the captain of the ship if he doesn’t want that, you all need something that you want. So I think also, because I was setting a Guinness World Record, I was raising money for the Charity Water aid. And, you know, I was, I was making a TV show for the first year of my travel. So I had, you know, they knew that I’ve been on TV, on my TV show, I begin sort of Singapore and Hong Kong and places where I needs to get ships from. I think that that’ll put me in good stead. I think we’re Niall because he’s not raising money for charity. And he’s just, it doesn’t really have a goal of doing anything in particular, except traveling without flying. He could be.
Yeah, he could have I guess you could say,
David Ralph [23:37]
you would know, you know,
Graham Hughes [23:40]
what he showed the thought it’s just turned off at a particular place, you know, where the, you know, some shipping agency, and just turned up with a bottle of Johnnie Walker Black Label and give it to the guy in charge. So they shut the door.
David Ralph [23:53]
Because the only person I remember and you were growing up about this time, so it was about 1988. And I remember my Michael Paley in the Monty Python guy. He posted around the world in 80 days. And it was it was a big show in my life, because I was right at that peak time, where I was what was Ivan 18. And I was just starting to sort of go off on holiday and go around the world and places on my own and stuff. And I remember seeing this thinking how exciting it was. But I remember as well that he had so much difficulties, even with the might of the BBC behind him trying to get agreement to be on the ships. It must be quite astonishing that you’ve done it on your own. Yeah.
Graham Hughes [24:36]
But friends and family helping me out, but it’s
David Ralph [24:38]
Graham Hughes [24:41]
No, but you know, I’ve got my own. I got my own charms, I guess. I met Michael. I met Michael Playland. Last year, actually, at the Sheffield documentary festival, I got photo with him. And I, you know, a huge fan of both Monty Python and also, around about me, today’s was a huge influence on on me and what I did, I meant I I remember asking my mom, when I was a kid, why didn’t you go to every country? And she just said, because that would be impossible. And you just need to, it’s just going around the world. And she showed me the globe, and his route around the world. Okay. And it was stuck with me, you know, why did you go to every country? And I know now I didn’t go to every country, because it wasn’t taken four years. Series
goes, Yeah, very long series.
David Ralph [25:23]
So So what did he say when you met him? Or did he know you? Or did you have to go up and say, Jimmy, lies? I’ve done something better than you’ve done?
Graham Hughes [25:31]
No, I didn’t say that. He was doing a q amp a. And I just introduced myself and said, Thank you for the inspiration. And you know, now that, you know, I’m the first person who has influence in the world without flyering. And he said, you know, well done, and that and then just afterwards, I just sort of met him at the stage door and said, Sorry, I forgot a selfie with you. And he’s like, Yeah, sure. I’ve got a picture with him. But yeah, I mean, I didn’t really get to sit down and chat with him about his adventures and stuff, which I’d really love to do. Because I like to pick his brains and what of the things that they had for during his his talk at the documentary festival Was it him meeting copy cousin, who doesn’t idiot abroad, I really love that show. But it was just kind of funny to kind of each other, obviously micro payments, very enthusiastic when he goes places and kind of fascinated by his calls just like he just doesn’t care. He just is so cynical. And so it’s kind of interesting seeing them together having a chat on video. And it was kinda like it was it was they obviously set it up this way. But it was kind of difficult, you know, with them sort of guy Well, yeah, we’ve traveled a bit this is my book. They say oh, this is my book. Yeah, should we swap books and and yeah, I thought I was quite funny but I would like to actually sit down with Michael pain at some point and then just Africa to chat about you know, the things that happened on the road that especially when you’re traveling on your own I know he’s with a small camera crew but you know, it’s pretty much lonely road out there and some of the things that happen to you and some of the things that you see it’s it’s stuff that it’s difficult for all the people to relate to you haven’t been in that same situation we live up at the end of the rings where they all just go with the poor and they were like yay and they’ve got this be Yeah, except the other three people with me who have also been through something similar. So that’s that’s quite fun.
David Ralph [27:22]
But you you were saying before interviewing today you were saying the last night you had this tremendous thunderstorm and frequently I’m now recording with light flashing around me and fundamentals going right across over my head but I’m I’m away I’m so it’s not affecting my connectivity the Skype is working last night you was in your heart or shed we basically directly overhead is it house ruining the fantasy Graham I thought you was like half in a cave or something?
Graham Hughes [27:54]
flush toilets and the other day like flushes now become riffs about least other I don’t mean I’m
not a plumber
David Ralph [28:05]
as we would think of a house
Graham Hughes [28:07]
Yeah. Like imagine like a cabin cabin
David Ralph [28:11]
while you sound while you sounding like I’m being rude to us about it.
Graham Hughes [28:19]
Suffering well last night of this film The storm I’m here on the island on my own. I’m 20 minutes from the naval town on a boat. So if the house gets struck by lightning and everything goes on fire, I’m kind of in a bit of bit of trouble. And so I was I was disconnected all the electricity. All the electrics, solar panels, disconnected the the VHF radio. And I was just standing there in the kitchen, sort of in my wellies at my underwear, just waiting for the wave at the stop it that the lightning actually struck a tree. Just about 40 meters from the house. And the trees now absolutely smash smashed in half pipe the lightning. So that’s a bit of a was a bit of a worried but yeah, the thing where you do we sort of you, you see the flash and you count the steps that you hear the thunder? Yeah, it was kind of what I was doing that but it was a flash from the straightaway. And it’s, I don’t think you’ve ever been that close to lightning and that it’s happened to me a few times in my life. But if you’re really close to lightning, I know. It doesn’t sound like a rumble. It sounds like a bank. It sounds like a bomb going off. It’s just a bank. And you’re like, wow. Last night I definitely had the source of the bank and then they
have the tree as it fell over.
David Ralph [29:36]
He’s exciting when that happens, or do you kind of go? Really, I’m alone here. I put myself in a position that I’m alone.
Graham Hughes [29:45]
I don’t know. I kind of find it exciting. I know that if anything did happen to me f1 would shake their heads, you know what an idiot was thinking. But yeah, it’s kind of exhilarating. And it’s you know that that that feeling of Okay, what could possibly go wrong? What do I need to do to stop it going wrong? I you know, it was some of the journeys that I took on the Odyssey expedition to every country in the world I you know, I put my I put my life on the line getting on these bloody things. I got on a a. fisherman’s parole got a canoe in San Diego, which took me over to the Cape Verde Islands. And that was four days of sheer terror out in the open sea in a canoe. I don’t know why now for whatever. know, it’s kind of funny now when I look back at it, but yeah, I wouldn’t do it again. Either, you know that though. The radio no satphone, no flares, I had to buy my own life jacket, which was just kept me alive a little bit longer for the sharks to eat me if it if we got over. But if we had hit a store, I’ll be you know, the W know coming back from that.
And then when we got the Cape Verde after four days,
my my mom at centre, backs to the authorities that’s having them that was coming. But she’d written anything in English and didn’t explain why it was doing it very well. And so they sort of read it as a tip off that this, you know, this people smuggler was coming to town with all these African fishermen. But he was Shutterstock landscape birdie. And I ended up spending six days in jail, along with the the fishermen, for that little escapade. And then when I got out of jail, after six days, the fishermen were flown back to Senegal, and I was stranded on on this island for another six weeks trying to kind of escape. And in the end, a nice German guy called Milan and a French guy called Sebastian came for one of the other islands in the Cape Verde chain. And they picked me up on their yacht, and I managed to get my passport back off the police. And we set off back to to Africa together, which is really nice.
David Ralph [31:54]
And then did you know that you was only going to be in there for a week in jail? Where were you already preparing to learn the hard way? Because we’ve all been there for years and years and years?
Graham Hughes [32:02]
They didn’t really tell us anything. Really. I mean, one of the things that they didn’t do, they didn’t do habeas corpus didn’t resolve it. They didn’t tell us what we were charged with anything like that. And after four days in jail, they said I’m notified my embassy or or my family or anything. So what are the police officers? Because it was a it wasn’t a jail jail. It was you know, that the holding cells of a police station. But it was pretty horrible. I mean, it was it was this tiny little room. And there were 11 of us in this room. And there was no no bad speak of it was just a concrete floor and a concrete shelf above the floor. So you have to sleep on the concrete, which has been uncomfortable. And yeah, that there was a there was a police officer, he felt that so for me, and in the end, he let me use his mobile phone send the text message to tell my family that well was and I got this phone, he kind of gave it to me on the slide. You know, he pulled me out the sound took me to the side of the room, whatever. And it
David Ralph [33:03]
came with a DD put in a cake.
Graham Hughes [33:07]
Not quite. But yeah, almost. And he said, you know, you’ve got you got five minutes. Okay. And at this point, now, I’m in jail for four days, after four days on the open seat, I still haven’t had a shower. I’m shaking and like literally shaking holding this down the phone. And it’s all in Portuguese. And it’s a it was a it was a model phone that I’d never used.
So start writing this message saying how good investors you know, and then I’m like, kind of anyone’s number. Because you don’t remember people
David Ralph [33:37]
telephone numbers. I know the internet marketing codes and stuff.
Graham Hughes [33:42]
Yeah, I can’t send a text message to my parents home number, but that at the back of my head, I thought that I might be able to remember my brother’s mobile phone number because he hadn’t changed it for years. And I just punched in and fingers crossed and then about an hour later there was I was called up upstairs into the police station because the the whole themselves in the basement. And I was putting the phone and on the phone was the you know, the British Embassy or you know the British representative saying what the hell is going on? And I had to explain the situation is like all right, okay, well, we’ll get you out of there. Don’t worry, just just stay where you are. And then within two days that they have me out
David Ralph [34:22]
so so the text message did go to your brother and he didn’t end up like dominos pizzas or somewhere
Graham Hughes [34:29]
Oh God, I still probably be in jail if that was the case. Now I did. They found his to get out which is, which is good. But then whenever the police saw me over the preceding few weeks, the sort of give me like, you know, what the hell are you doing here sort of looks at I was like, I’m trying to go to every country without flying. But the I didn’t really expect lightning to strike twice. But then I was thrown in jail for six days again. When I when I went to Congo. I just arrived in Brazzaville, the capital, and I think I learned a very important lesson lesson there, which was, you know, no matter how tired and frustrated and you know, short of temper your feeling at any particular time, if you presented with enough poverty Fager just smile, just be nice. Just do what they say. You know, if they want to check all your luggage and go for your thing, just just let them and do it with a with a smile on your face because I was in a bad mood and they wants to get for my tapes. And I was quite dismissive of them and, and it was just a police roadblock or you see a lot of the time in Africa. And I thought it wouldn’t be anything any big deal. And possibly because of my attitude I spent I spent six days in a cell in Brazzaville. Again it was a holding cell of the police station but this one was a bit worse. This was there was I was I was taking my usually when you go taken into solitary shoe laces and they take your belt in case you want to hang yourself or something. In this case, it’s not my shoes and socks. They took my top they took my to my belt. It’s on my glasses on my hat. So I was in the south from mosquitoes and all I had are really where my underwear my jeans and the toilet was just horrific. I don’t think it’s ever been cleaned since it have been installed. It was a squat toilets is
David Ralph [36:34]
lucky they took your glasses off, you wouldn’t be able to see it.
Graham Hughes [36:38]
Well, yeah, well, I could smell it. So I ended up north. I ended up not eating for six days because I didn’t want have to use the toilet. And it wasn’t until the day I got out I was taken to the yummy console’s house and we had some Bailey’s and some pizza. So I think after not eating for that long you supposed to like I don’t know have some like milk and bread or something. But now I had a decent pizza. So So you think about it. posh milk and bread. So your tapes
David Ralph [37:11]
ate the day when I film tapes. They weren’t my Kylie Minogue albums or something. Well, what will they do?
Graham Hughes [37:18]
Now they went in just the mechanics.
They were just interested when I got pulled over they went through a few mistakes and I can play them back on the screen on my on my video camera. And I was playing for them and the senior what was this was worth worth. What are these tapes and I’m so it’s just my holiday. I’m on holiday. I’m traveling down South Africa. Here’s my ticket to South Africa. Here’s my visa for Angola and Democratic Republic of Congo. You know, I’m moving on from Republic of Congo. So many countries at the same name. I know I’m moving on from here. Tomorrow, I’m getting the boat boat over. I’ve got a friend to meet his his number, blah, blah, blah. So you know, I had all the sort of work and they started looking at the tape. And there was some footage of me talking to this guy, Steve, who was a Nigerian guy who worked in Gabon down at the docks and he he owned a fishmonger store. And when I was in Gabon, I was trying to get to the small x Portuguese colony of South tonight in principle, and which is right on the equator. And I ended up staying in Gabon for about three weeks, I met this Belgian guy who had a sailboat and he said, if I could get him a GPS, he’ll go over with me. So this, this fishermen, the guy Steve for this fish store, he sought me out in his car driving around the capital of Gabon, Louisville for the day, it’s just lovely people are, you know, and try and find the GPS units. And we found one in a camping shop in the end, up back to the port and I set off of my journey. Anyway, I filmed all this and just happened to be that the past all of the footage that the police watch side of the road was Steve. And now they decided that it wasn’t Steve. They thought that it was the amusingly named Ali Bongo after the children’s magician. him. Yes. Oh, he’s now the new president of Gabon. He took over from his father Omar Bongo who hadn’t been on
David Ralph [39:25]
the 80s. magician, bloke.
Graham Hughes [39:28]
No, no, no, this is this is a guy called is, is from Gabon. Japanese. He’s his father was the old president before he is is he he died of extreme old age. And then, lo and behold, because presidencies, the worst political system, you can possibly ever have anywhere in the world, except maybe fascism, which isn’t that far away. And, you know, instead of having a federal election where some other person got selected, it was his song, because it’s not a monarchy or anything. But that happens a lot in countries around Well, the hub president you said you seem to get a lot of even in America yet. Bush Jr, didn’t you? And you know, at the moment in Kenya, because the Hoover Kenyatta is now president of Kenya, you got a lot of family dynasties. There. So anyway, they thought that this was an interview with the with the new president of, of Gabon, whose election took place while I was in Gabon. And I was like, No, no, no, I’m like, are you a journalist? I’m like, No, you’re a spy? And I’m like, No, I’m not supposed to be talking about this. This is Steve, you know, I’m trying to talk in my bad pitch in French, these guys who, you know, French is the official language in an official language in Congo, but it’s, you know, most people will speak their own native language. I mean, they don’t necessarily speak French day to day, so they don’t speak much franchise don’t speak much French, and we’re trying to communicate and it’s just, the whole thing is just a nightmare. And I lost my rag and said are, you know, through the tapes, watch the ball, I don’t care what’s the ball and you know, sat down at the side of the road. And I didn’t like that they they didn’t like that. So yeah.
Something similar happened to me a few times on the way where police officers pulled me over and wants to look through my tapes. And after that experience, I was always, I was very cheerful. I was very jovial smile. My advice, just keep smiling.
David Ralph [41:21]
Wow, what a guest Graham is and don’t be worried. We haven’t cut it short. But we’ve had so much to go through so many stories, so many anecdotes, I felt it was sensible to split it into two parts. So if you’re interested in Graham Hughes, the life he’s leading on ginger Island, and a lot of the other sort of incidents and accidents and of course, how we can actually join up these dots. Ben, listen tomorrow, when we will bring you Episode 117 of join up dots. or as we like to call it, part two with Graham Hughes. See you tomorrow
David doesn’t want you to become a faded version of the brilliant self you are wants to become. So he’s put together an amazing guide for you called the eight pieces of advice that every successful entrepreneur practices, including the two that changed his life. Head over to join up.com to download this amazing guide for free and we’ll see you tomorrow on join up dots.