Welcome to the Join Up Dots business coaching podcast interview with Mr Graham Hughes.
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Introducing Graham Hughes
Todays guest, joining us on the Join Up Dots business coaching podcast interview is Mr Graham Hughes.
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
Along the way Graham Hughes self-filmed and presented the TV show Graham’s World for the National Geographic Adventure channel and raised funds for the registered charity WaterAid.
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:
How 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!
How 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 of course you can check out thousands of podcast interviews in our archives here
Audio Transcription Of Graham Hughes Interview
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 [0:25]
Yes, good morning to you all and welcome to Join Up Dots. This is Episode 117. Hundred and 17. Or you might know it as Graham Hughes, Part Two. Yeah. If you was listening to yesterday show you would have heard the inspiring tale of how one chap left Liverpool and became a double Guinness Book of Records world holder. Yes, he was the first chat to cover 201 international borders, on foot, bus, taxi, train, ship or canoe. He travelled 190 free members of the United Nations plus Taiwan, the Vatican City, Palestine, Kosovo, Western Sahara, and the four Home Nations of the United Kingdom without one’s ever standing in a plane, a helicopter or even a hot air balloon. So how did he do it? Well, let’s find out as we continue the storey of Graham Hughes. Please, I want to play and I’d be fascinated to see if it has relevance to you. I’m also fascinated by I’ve been looking a lot about your history and how you were saved from muslim fundamentalists by a Filipino lady boy. How did that happen?
Graham Hughes [1:42]
Oh, well, you know, I was going on in there. I was on a boat, ferry boat from Santa cap, which is in northern Borneo. And I was heading over to the Philippines to take off the Philippines off my list of countries. And on this ferry, there were you know, Malaysians of Filipinos and also a bunch of guys in the Sulu islands that serious about like Sulu and Star Trek and a chain of islands that are just between Philippines and Borneo, Malaysia, Borneo, and they want to be an independent states along with the Mindanao Islamic Liberation Front. The amusingly this, it’s a terrorist group in Mindanao whose initials a mill and that’s complete to make the today’s well they used to be part of milk, but then they decided that they didn’t want to be part of milk anymore. quite amusing. And obviously people are dying and we shouldn’t laugh about these things. But if you know that the Filipino government put in a a, like a you know, an Elise force of soldiers to go and take out you know, they call them the cougar force. And I just thought be really funny just to see on the BBC News page there cougars take out Milt.
David Ralph [3:02]
Yeah, you know, this is the part of the conversation where nobody keeps listening again ago. What are they talking about mom and dad
Graham Hughes [3:14]
You can edit this. Anyway. So yeah, so I’m on this I’m on this ferry boat from Borneo to little bit, these guys get talking to me and they want to have their own Islamic State in in, you know, in the on their islands, the pseudo Island. The rest of the Philippines is very, very Catholic. I mean, it’s excessively Catholic in the night they have on Good Friday, they’d like to some of them like to crucify themselves which bit odd. And so you know, that the the suit of armour in this field, a marginalised in this in the country in which they live. And they feel like they’ve got an historical precedent for independence, which they sat me down, and we did an interview. And I filmed it with one of the guys and he’s really good English. And we have a good chat. He was just talking about, you know, they were presenting the UN with this with this, you know, dossier or whatever you want to call it. This documents that, you know, showed that suit of armour should be independent as on the other. And this interview went on a little bit it was it was sort of, you know, I was wanting to tape out to change the tape and the tapes an hour long. So I can tell you how much went on about my arm was really sore, because holding up this bloody camera, and I kind of got a bit bored. And then this girl came over to me. And she said, Excuse me, would you like to come and do some karaoke in the other room with us on the boat? Because the other karaoke room and a bar? And I said, Yeah, okay, is that all right? We we don’t hear we don’t hear that. But the the the Islamic fundamentalist guys like Yeah, yeah, show you, let’s go say we’ll shake hands and smiled. And then I went off at the girl to, to, to the bar, and, and then had a few drinks with having a mate. And then it discovered that her name is Jen, but she was born James. And I thought, Wow, I’ve just been saved from boredom from Islamic fundamentalist by a lady boy. I don’t think that’s ever happened. Before. I’m sorry, I just wrote that down on my blog in that way. And I got I got a lot of questions about that, which I’m quite proud of,
David Ralph [5:13]
you should do I found it on the Daily Mail, which kind of surprised
Graham Hughes [5:19]
start on the day with, say, I’ve never done an interview for The Daily Mail or the Sun newspaper, The Daily Mail is really irritating habit. And, and if there’s any other sort of filmmakers out there who put this stuff on YouTube, just be aware of this, if one of your videos goes viral, what the male model mirror will do. So the male will do is they’ll try and get you to agree to for them to download it and put it on their own server, which means that they get all the advertising revenue, and you get nothing. So don’t let them do that. Just Just a word of warning. Because, yeah, the Donate with my videos, and it’s kind of like Ghazi Are you serious? You know, it’s a bit like, it’s a bit like an artist giving away their songs for free to a newspaper that they don’t even think you like,
David Ralph [6:05]
yeah, so you’ve had hardships, you’ve had bad food, you’ve had bad toilets, and all that kind of stuff. You know, you should make something out of that, shouldn’t you?
Graham Hughes [6:15]
Yeah, I mean, I wouldn’t say it was too hard. Seriously, I mean, most of the time, I was having a blast of the time of my life.
You know, this was a Guinness World Record attempts. But it wasn’t like arduous, it wasn’t like going around the world on the road in the yard or climbing of Everest, where there’s a one in three chance that you might die. It was it was a Guinness world record that I could set while seeing new places and making new friends and yet the pop in. In many ways, it was kind of, you know, I didn’t want to appeal so much to people who, you know, the mindset of, you know, going to check to the south pole or something like that, because I don’t need to appeal to them, I was trying to appeal to people, possibly some of your listeners here on joining the dots with who want to go and do this kind of stuff. And kind of know, in the back of their mind, that’s kind of feasible, but they make excuses. They think, Oh, well, you know, it might be dangerous, or, you know, I’ve got this to do first or I’ll get around to it one day. And the thing is with travel is this, this, this, this, this loads of reasons you can make up in your mind to not travel. And so it’s easy to just put off and put off and put off. But once you get to a certain age, like you know, maybe 40 years old, and you got a couple of kids, and you’re married, and you got a mortgage, then travel, you know, just dropping it all for a year and going out to see the world becomes nigh on impossible. Obviously, you could take your family with you if you hadn’t have money, but again, you couldn’t do on a shoestring you know, wouldn’t be safe for the kids and things like that. So I think this is something that people need to really grasp on that a lot and do it when they can you know, do it in their in their early 20s. I think
David Ralph [8:01]
that’s right, right. I I travelled a lot when I was younger. And now I am Batman who settled down. He’s got a wife, he’s got a family, he’s got all those kind of things. And I reckon, between you and me, I reckon you would be the most annoying person on earth because I get told off by my kids all the time of going. I’ve been there. I’ve been there. whenever it’s on a film or TV I’ve seen that I’ve been up there. And you would literally be saying that in every film and every TV programme that was on wouldn’t Yes.
Graham Hughes [8:32]
I was I was watching. I just got out and I was I was staying with a guy
in in Liberia in Monrovia and got foot diamonds with Leonardo DiCaprio and Jennifer Connelly was on the TV. I was watching it and I look at thing was that doesn’t look anything like Sierra Leone, because I just spent the last few days travelling from everywhere. I was like that afterwards, it said, like, filmed on location in Mozambique. And I was like so yeah, I don’t I try not to spoil stuff. For people. I think I watch a lot of stuff where you can’t really say either, either. You know, that’s not right. But I do like it when I watch things. And I think I you know, I know where that is, like a place like capital here. And t cow. And capital given in Turkey carlon. In Guatemala, which feature in Star Wars, the original, the good one, and being able to watch that I go.
First, I try not to be too much of a football.
David Ralph [9:38]
I love it. I love
Graham Hughes [9:45]
lots of storeys, and you know, I’ve got I’ve got all these different places that I could probably think of a decent store even just named the country, I could probably tell you a little bit of a storey that happened to me in that particular country. But yeah, that’s that’s, that’s, that’s, that’s the route I’m taking at the moment I try stop that telling people facts. Although I do know all the countries in the world. I do know all the capitals of every country that I did all the flags of the world. And I was the heads of state, you know, countries the world. But yeah, I had a thing where I was on one of the one of the major stations last year, and they were testing me on which side of the road different countries drive on. And the last one they asked me was similar. And I said, Well, they used to drive on the right. But now the driving the left, they’re like no wrong wrong, the driving device. And as a quick look it up on Google. So they googled it. And I was actually right. They did actually swap over about two years ago. So there you go.
David Ralph [10:36]
You You You always will be on my pop quiz team. You’ve got to be Yeah.
Graham Hughes [10:43]
Yeah, geography, geography, movies and music and my speciality.
David Ralph [10:48]
Well, what I want to do, and Graham, I just want to play the speech that I play on all the shows, and it is called Join Up Dots for this reason. And this is the speech that Steve Jobs made back in 2005, when he talked about only being able to look back and see your path by connecting the dots. Now, and I’ll be fascinated to see whether you can actually join up the dots of your life or whether it’s been totally sort of haphazard, um, stumbles and falls trials and tribulations kind of things. This is Steve Jobs.
Unknown Speaker [11:17]
Of course, it was impossible to connect the dots looking forward when I was in college. But it was very, very clear looking backwards 10 years later. Again, you can’t connect the dots looking forward, you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something, your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. Because believing that the dots will connect down the road will give you the confidence to follow your heart, even when it leaves you off the well worn path. And that will make all the difference.
David Ralph [11:53]
Did it make all the difference to you?
Graham Hughes [11:55]
And yeah, yeah, I’m, you know, don’t normally agree. Steve Jobs says, but uh, yeah, I do agree with that one that that’s absolutely spot on. And I think that it was very frustrating for some people who knew me, especially probably my brother, Mike. The fact that they couldn’t see the dots that I was connecting, they just thought I was kind of perhaps being a bit irresponsible. But I could definitely I could definitely connect the dots. My job is to connect the dots join me to tell you
David Ralph [12:23]
know, yeah, I’ll be fascinated to see if you can actually sort of like go back to, to when you as a young kid in Liverpool.
Graham Hughes [12:30]
Okay, so growing up in Liverpool in in the 80s. I mean,
Liverpool was a really low app at the in the 80s. And it’s come on in leaps and bounds in the last 20 years or so. But, you know, I had that background, I’ve already spoken about travelling my job, my family, you know, camping, which is effectively backpacking. And then, when I was old enough, I went travelling, or when something else happened as well, when I was in university, I studied history and politics. I want to become general secretary and Manchester Student Union. I lost the vote, some might say, illegally. But I did lose by about 12 votes out of a good few thousand. So that was a bit gutting for me. And then that sort of put me on this route of what do I do now because I have my heart set on, you know, so this career In, in politics at the university. And one of the things I’d done in university is I’d set up a comedy society, and we’d put on stand up comedy nights. And we’d, me and a couple of friends had, you know, had set up, you know, sketches and skits and things, which we filmed on, on the camcorder that we bought for our society. And this was at the very, very beginning, this is sort of to this is 1998. And this the very beginning of nonlinear editing up to this point, all editing had to be done in the edit suite, which cost thousands pounds to hire for the for the day, you’re made, possibly more. Now, you could buy Adobe Premiere, or, you know, one of these things. I mean, you could use FireWire cable in order to get that footage digitally, not analogue digitally off your camera and then and then editing yourself in a nonlinear fashion, which was just absolutely amazing. And looking back now we just think yeah, that’s normal. You know, everyone’s got moviemaking and things like that. And they compete. I mean, you can you can you can edit movies on your phone now. But back then, this was a this was a sea change. And I loved it. I loved editing, I really got into it. I think it’s because I like puzzles. I like challenges. I like jigsaws and things. And editing something is kind of like doing a jigsaw, but you don’t know what the final picture is going to be. And I was really good at it. And I really enjoyed it. And so after university, I thought, right, well, this is what I want to do, I want to, I want to I want to film stuff and edit it.
And so I took myself off around the world. So as I was travelling, and I filmed all whitelist travelling, and then at the end of it, I put together videos of my my, you know, travels around the world, just to my friends, because this is before YouTube. And there was no way of putting footage This was posted on the internet. And so those things came together to travel, filming and the editing and I worked in Liverpool, I started my own company. And I worked with a lot of very talented people in Liverpool designers, photographers, all the other camera operators, all the editors and all the directors. And we had a great little community going and we all helped each other out on videos. And we ended up working on things for a lot of Liverpool bands. We even did stuff for the Arctic Monkeys, and some some of the bigger, more famous bands out there. And but in the back of my head was still this thing of I want to go to every country in the world without flying, which you know that that idea that in my head for years. And it got to a point where I think I’ve been to about 7070 countries around the world. And I was thinking, you know, I’ve really got to do this. I was I was 29 I thought if I’m going to do this, I’ve got to do it pretty soon. But obviously, I was and something I might say to talk about later, I was kind of waiting for someone to give me permission to do it in a way. And I’d taken the idea to couple of British newspapers to do as a sort of written feature. And they said no, at the same time I was I was reviewing gigs and things for the BBC website for Liverpool. So I was keeping my hand in writing, doing journalists stuff, but also making music video. So as well in with the music scene in Liverpool, I was also, you know, heading off every few months to go on travelling around the world. And so all these things eventually came together in the summer of 2008. And I went to Australia with my then girlfriend, Mandy for her sister’s wedding. And I had sold a video youtube video of me doing a bungee jump in New Zealand to Lonely Planet TV. And so that gave me an end with Lonely Planet. And I thought I’m maximise that so I put together a pitch video. And I originally did this video, actually for Mark bonus who’s one of these very inspirational guys, he he helped set up tribe wanted where a group of young lads from the UK bought, or they rented an island in Fiji and they had people come over and live with them on this tribe on this island. And they did it up the local people who live there, as well, as a great little sort of community project and market help set that up. He’s a scouser as well. And he was setting something up. And he said, you know, can you do a pitch video about travel. And I thought, well, you know, I’ll pitch this. So I made this video of me in all these different places around the world, I put loads of really cool music on it, it was very exciting. It was the graphics of all the place I was going to go to. And I also had footage of all the place I’d already been to because I don’t get to 70 countries around the world. And, and then I sent it to end up sending it to Lonely Planet and saying hey, to my contact and say, Hey, what do you think about this? And she wrote back saying, you know, I’ll you know, it’s always nice to hear from our contributors, you know, it’s a really cool video, thanks for that sort of thing. And I just thought, well, it was worth a try. And a few hours later, I got a phone call off off the girl saying she just showed the video to the head of development at Lonely Planet TV in Melbourne, and he really loves it, you know, Can I come in? Can we do a conference call or something? Where am I? And because my girlfriend sister was getting married, her house was full with friends and relatives who have come over from all over the world for this wedding. And so me and my girlfriend was staying at a friend of this friend of ours. And she lived literally around the corner from Lonely Planet HQ in Melbourne, literally walking distance. And if you know how big Melbourne is the chances of that happening are pretty remote. And and we only stay in there for one night. And it was the night that you know, the next morning needs to be at Lonely Planet. So I was like, yeah, I’ll be that night at 9am. So I headed over there. And I think everyone that I saw pitch the idea to before had sort of looked at me and gone I you know, you’ll die. I mean, there’s something will go wrong. Because you know, what if what if you know this happens, that happens, whatever. But I think the guys at Lonely Planet were a bit more open minded because they do travel books for every country in the world, including war zones. And, and he just wants to know, you know, can you? Can you do it. And I pulled out my sort of 27 page dossier that I’d already written out, which was you know exactly how to get from every country note from each country to next country without flying all the countries of the world. I had it all written off. And I had boss times and very times and what days the week this chip ran across the water and all this kind of stuff. And I presented that to him. And his big question was, can you do it? Can you do it? And I said, Yeah, I’m going to do it anyway. So if you guys want to get involved, that’s great. But you know, I’m doing this for myself, and for the Charity Water aid. And you know, if you guys want to come along that that’s fantastic. And that was a bit of a bluff, actually, because I was still in the back of my mind, I was thinking I really need support on this, I can’t really do it by myself. And then over the next few months, they they really got on board, they managed to pitch the idea to the National Geographic adventure channel who commissioned it. And at the time, though, the point where I’m at the BBC, so BBC Worldwide came on board and said they’ll distributors, and we had ourselves a green light for an eight part TV series about me and my travels, which is just credible. And so on the first of January 2009, I did that trip across the river plate in, in Argentina over to Uruguay and set up on my journey. And I think it was this combination of of the travel, the music videos, the that’s when the last I had from a young age, and all kind of came together. And I remember it sort of, you know, this thing about connecting the dots, I went to lots of music festivals and still do when it was you know, it’s lots of music festivals, I used to go away all the time. And it used to drive my older brother mad because I was living in this scholar little flat in in Liverpool, you know, without any hot water. And it’s like, Why? Why don’t you have hot water like, well, because I’m saving up for my next holiday. You me 50 quid and I’m like, Yeah, but these are my priorities. And and, and he would always get a bit upset about my priorities being sort of travel and filming stuff like that.
But I don’t think looking back now, I mean that that all that travel and all that, because I filmed everything I did when I was travelling, and presented to the camera. So it was all about holding the camera out arm’s length, and walking down the street while everyone’s staring at you, and being able to present a piece of the camera in one take, because that’s the time you’ve got to do it. And I got better and better. I’m better at doing that. And now I’m fantastic at doing that. And so that was all connecting the dots. And then I did it, you know, and it was also the fact that I had friends around the world that I’d already made before I started on the expedition that really helped. I had friends who were willing to help me out, getting on boats and things like that, because they really got behind what I was doing. And that was that was great. And that all had to sort of be set up in advance. I couldn’t they just sort of got in, as you know, straight from university and sort of on my own. There was also the timing as well. And when I was pitching this idea, sort of from 2003 onwards, I think back in 2003, there was still a lot of wars or you know, there was only just finished in Africa, in Sierra Leone and Liberia, in Congo, in in Democratic Republic of Congo, in Angola, in Mozambique, there was a lot of civil conflicts that was sort of just coming to an end. And they really needed to be over for me to in order to travel through these countries safely. And and and just to be able to get into them in the first place. Because, you know, countries don’t like it when tourists turn up and get killed. You know, it’s not, it’s not good for their tourism industry. So they tend to, you know, if there’s, if there’s a problem zone, they’ll turn you away. So I did the Odyssey expedition. And, you know, one thing led to another. And at the end of it, obviously, I got a lot of requests to do talks, and do interviews and things. And I don’t know if your viewers know this, but you don’t get paid. But they’re in this stuff. You know, it doesn’t matter how many times you appear on the BBC, they’ll pay your expenses if you’re lucky. But usually you end up a little bit out of pocket for all these interviews that you do. But then again, it’s kind of good publicity. And if someone says to you, do you want to come and do a TED talk in California for Ted active, which is a sister conference, the main one in in Long Beach, and I know that they said, you know, do you want to come and do it. And this was a few weeks before that. This was just as He finished the journey. I just said yes, because although I was it was the end of my journey. I was skinned, couldn’t really afford it as a credit card. So I thought, well, I’ll go and do it. And because I went to California, I met up with a guy called Stephanie beside me who organised TEDx Brixton. And she wanted me to come talk and tell expects to
David Ralph [24:28]
be in England.
Graham Hughes [24:30]
Yeah, yeah. I didn’t know that place ever. TEDx Liverpool, Manchester, Sheffield. Yeah, I did TEDx path University a few few weeks ago. I’m actually speaking at TEDx Liverpool via Skype, and a couple of weeks time, so that should be fun. But so I went along to TEDx Brixton. And when they’re doing the talks, they have sort of, you know, 12 speakers or whatever I’m in between the speakers, they’ll, they’ll show a video of someone else’s talk. And one of them was a guy called sees a coma. And he developed this idea of shooting one second of footage every day of his life. And he put together this video of one second in the day, and it went viral on YouTube did really well out of it, he made an app. And eventually, your the movie chef has just come out with Scarlett Johansson and Jon Favreau, he actually does the one second everyday thing in that and at the end of the movie, you see his images from the movie, you know, from the from the storey. And so Caesar was invited along to the premiere of that and everything, but I didn’t know all this, all I saw was, that’s a really cool idea. I know someone who’s got footage out from every country in the world of themselves saying the name of the country that they’re in. That’s me, because in every current show, I got it. And I actually put on myself saying, Hi, my name is game us. And I am in dot dot dot Bhutan or, or Kairos, or, or seminar, or wherever. And so I put together this video, I went for my footage, I’ve got like, over 300 odd hours, 275 hours of footage. So I went through it all. And picked out these, these one second clips me in each country, and I put it together and put it on YouTube. And it went viral. And I got like a million views. I was like, wow, this amazing. And one of the things that happens when you get a lot of views on YouTube is the quality of your adverts go up. So when you’ve got like 50 views, it’s kind of like, you know, Bob’s used car dealership down the road. But when you’ve got a million views, you start getting adverts for Nike and Sony and Samsung. And so there was an advert for Samsung competition. And it was the idea was you all I saw from the advert because another sound on but it was a guy who was on a desert island and a bottle washed up with a with a camera phone in it and he smashed the bottle and he took out the camera phone is playing with a camera phone. And so I clicked on it because I was kind of intrigued and thought, I like the idea of having you know what looks like a camera, but it’s also a phone for travelling. And it was a competition it says, you know, comment to Puerto Rico and land to you know, land to survive in the wild on a tropical island with les Stroud, that the guy to survive a man in Canada. And and and I thought that sounds that sounds great. So I just filled out the form, you know, and I was a bit cheeky, they had this big box saying, you know, tell us why you should be a contestant on this game show sort of thing. And I, I just put Google me, I was at sand. And they did. And within a few hours, I got a message from a production company x x x x x x x, we have to say in in Los Angeles, and they said, yeah, we would love you to be on the show. You know, can you make it over to Puerto Rico? And I was like, yeah, course I got, you know, I finished my journey. I didn’t have a job. I was I was living at my parents place. I’m like 35 years old, been to every country in the world. Guinness world record holder.
David Ralph [28:03]
Guinness record, what was the second one?
Graham Hughes [28:07]
There was the epic. I’ve got the record for the most countries visited in one year without flying, which is 133. And now I’ve got the Guinness world record for the fastest journey to every country, every country in the world without flying wedges, which they back in there as
I remember the United Nations plus Taiwan,
Vatican City and Palestine and Kosovo. I think
David Ralph [28:33]
so does it until somebody beats you. Is that how, yeah,
Graham Hughes [28:39]
yeah. But I’ve got certificates. And I’m the first person that no one can take the fact that I’m the first person away from me, I’m sure someone will beat me. I had a guy come to the island earlier this week called top or top your. And he’s 50 countries in so far to his Odyssey expedition. He’s trying to go to every country in the world without flying and trying to beat my time. So, you know, that’s pretty cool. But yeah, I, I took part in this, this competition. And I got through to the final eight, and we went to this island. And we had these things to do like building a shelter and starting a fire with a couple of sticks, and all this kind of stuff. And then at the end of it, it kind of came down to a public both. And the other contestants had bigger internet following bigger internet followings to me, I think and they were sort of YouTubers and stuff like that. But I think that because I travelled to every country in the world. And because I had real life friends in every country in the world. And you know, people I’ve met people I’ve come for drink, where people whose house they’d stayed at, that really stood me in good stead because it wasn’t just a one boat thing it where you could vote every day, once a day. And you could maximise your voting power by playing little video games on the website. And I’m a geek, I attract geeks, it’s just the way it is, unlike most of my like a video game call rather than over to play a video game. And so I got possibly more votes than I thought that I would get. Just because I had the core of people who are voting every day. And I eventually won by a skin of my teeth, I think it became down to about 1% of the vote or something like that. But actually, I want it and and the prize was $100,000 credit with an island broker. And so they put me on to this island broker and he said, hundred thousand dollars isn’t quite enough to buy an island outright. Boss what you could do is do a deal with this guy. inertia is the guy I was talking about earlier. He You know, he he went to he he’s been to 100 countries around the world. He sold his life on eBay. Actually, yeah, he actually sold his life on eBay, which is quite impressive. He sold his house, his car was moved about everything, all the content and introduction to his friends an interview with his job I have so this guy, you know, he really did sell everything. With that money. He did this hundred hundred dollars in 100 days thing, which was really impressive. And he he had 100 things that he wants to do things like meeting Richard Branson, and it goes Christmas islands, what’s the annual crop migration and things like this, and he managed to do nearly all of them just amazing. And then Disney bought his life storey Disney bought his life storey for a big sum of money. And with that money, he bought this island that I’m on at the moment. So I got in touch with him and he’s
David Ralph [31:36]
on eBay and save themselves a fortune.
Graham Hughes [31:41]
What he what he did, he bought this island and he got it there was no house on so he goes no buildings on it. He human, local guys cleared the entire islands over the course of three years. And made it sort of know habitable, build a house on it and everything. And he was looking to sell and I said, Well, how about this, I give you a third of the money that you’re looking for. And for that I get exclusive use of the island for a year. And, and then when the island gets sold, I get a third of whatever gets sold for so if I add value to the islands while I’m there. Obviously that’s Yeah, I already got a third of that value, you actually get two thirds of that value. So you know, your quit then. And Ian really liked this idea. And he went for it. And so he took he got the money and he spent it on a big Winnebago. He’s currently travelling around Texas at the moment in the RV doing inspirational speaking. Like I said, I’m sure you’ll talk to him on this on the show. I’m gonna get him on this. But yeah, I mean, I think like I say, We’re both both Northerners we’re both England, we’ve got this sort of wanderlust about us. So you know, we’re quite quite similar, similar characters. And yeah, and that’s, you went for I came over to Panama, in March this year. And then I spent a couple of months travelling around Central America, my girlfriend, and then we took over the army lived there for about two months, I went home back to England a couple of weeks ago, to go back to the Glastonbury Festival, a few other things. And now I’m back on the island, my girlfriend’s stay in the UK. So I’m kind of on my own at the moment. And, but it’s kind of nice. I mean, I’ve got a book to write about my travels and things like that. And this has given me the opportunity to do that. Sort of affected by distractions and things like that.
David Ralph [33:42]
I really do. I think the way that your life can join up the dots is is astonishing. Yeah. And
Graham Hughes [33:47]
did you know you make sense? If you looked at it from when I was 18, he wouldn’t, it wouldn’t make any sense whatsoever. But looking back at the age of 35, it all makes sense. All those nights out all those years festivals, all those crazy things that I went and did and went to see and it all it all went into the mix to make this make what I did possible with them. Give you an example I so I get to Dubai. And I’ve just got to Eritrea, which is like the North Korea of Africa, it’s impossible to get into it without flying. It’s very, very difficult. The border with Ethiopia is mind the border with Sudan is open but only for locals. And it’s very hard to get over there as a tourist. The border with Djibouti was open but it closed at just before I got there because a little bit of a border skirmish. And so I got that on a on a rickety old cargo ship from Saudi Arabia from Jeddah and spent the weekend there I watch the USA vs. Ghana game, I think was yesterday was gone and gone to war. And it on an old TV set in the middle of a street of my extension cord. With a with bunch of Eritreans, it was a lot of fun. I got back into Saudi peninsula. And I had to Dubai. And I needed to get now from Dubai, to Pakistan and India. And there was a cargo line that went and did this route. Welcome Dubai. It went to Pakistan, it went to India and then it went to Europe or something like this. And it did it every week. And I needed to get yourself sorted on this. But I survived on the fly day. And on Friday in Dubai Friday, Saturday last weekend. So nothing’s open. So I met with my friend Damien, who’s from Manchester, who’s working over at Dubai at the time. And he said, Come on, let’s go out for a drink. So we went to this bar called rock bottoms, which is at the, you know, to the base of a hotel or something. And there’s two pool tables there. The place is packed with two pool tables. And we’re standing there and I’m like, don’t have a record. He’s like, yeah, we’re waiting for these guys to finish. But they put more money on the side. So we’re not going to finish for a while. So go up and say hey, do you guys want to play doubles? And they’re like, yeah, sure, you know, no problem. My TV show on National Geographic adventure channel. It just started in Dubai. And when the guys are you, that guy who’s going around the world? And I said, Yeah, he goes, Oh my god, nice to meet you. Blah, blah, blah. I’m having a good chat. And we saw told my average guy because his fiance is a tray, and he’s never been there before. And he’s going to go over there in the next few months or whatever. So it’s all about Eritrea. And he said, so what what are you doing in Dubai? I mean, where you going next? I said, Well, I’ll need to go to Pakistan. They go to India and there’s a cargo ship that goes to to kvetch it and it goes to Mumbai. But I need to talk to someone you know from, like logistics guy or whatever, for CMA CGM. Because they’ve helped me before. But I’ve got I’ve got to wait till Sunday or Monday before I can get in touch with them. And the guy put his hand in his pocket, and he just said, you’re never going to believe this. And he pulled out his business card. And it said on it Bobby damage, logistics manager, CMA CGM, and I’m a, you’re the guy I need to speak. I’ve just met you randomly in a bar or Saturday, Friday night playing Pro, this is so weird. But if I hadn’t gone to the bar, I wouldn’t have met him. And it was his decision at the end of the day to put me on the boat. And he was the guy who drove me into the port. And if things have been different if I decided to stay in that night, and I met him in another, you know, situation, like going into his office or something, I turned off in my scrubs and he thought, I’d like to look at this or whatever, things could have been very different. So I like that as a sort of example of just keep saying yes, you know, because no, no great adventure ever started with the words I thought the other night in, you know, it’s that thing of always keep meeting as many people as possible because the more people that you meet, the more people out there who will be able to help your be in a position to help you along the way. I think that that’s that’s incredibly important. Just Just for life, basically. Right? If you go into every country in the world,
David Ralph [37:59]
just like have you seen Jim Carrey’s? The Yes, man film?
Graham Hughes [38:04]
No, I haven’t. Ah, Donnie, I need to watch that. I like the idea. Because it was it was a I’ve seen the book, I’ve read the book. But yeah, I would like to watch
David Ralph [38:15]
you watch it. Because it is that message is so big time. Yeah. And it’s just by the more times you say, yes. Crazy things happen. And some of them are brilliant. Some of them aren’t brilliant. But more often than not, they’re great. And just saying no, all the time. You just you stagnate, don’t you? You stagnate?
Unknown Speaker [38:33]
David Ralph [38:36]
Well, just before to the Sermon on the mic, because I’m very aware, Graham that you probably don’t realise is that you’ve just broken a new record. You might be a double Guinness Record holder. But you’re now the longest ever episode on Join Up Dots you smashed, you’ve smashed the record. So I would love this episode. I know, I know. Taylor. I’m gonna I’m gonna if you’re if you’re polite enough, I’ll bring you on for another another go? Would would you be up for that? Yeah, sure. Absolutely. I would love to have you on again. But I’ll be fascinated. I’m gonna put you on the Sermon on the mic. And I’m going to send you back in time like a young Marty McFly to have a one on one with your younger self. And if you went back to the young, the young ginger lad up in Liverpool running around probably worshipping Ian rushing Kenny Dalglish, what would you say to them? So this is it. This is you, Graham, huge on this. How are you? Oh, well, you still see a rush, I put a better team and then you’ll be even better. Right? Here we go, Oh, this is too shocking. This is a switch. I could have said drain Tranmere gotta sit around me. This is the Sermon on the mic.
Unknown Speaker [39:59]
Here we go with the speed of the show.
Graham Hughes [40:17]
So Graham, I think the main thing I’ve got to tell you is that I want you to not wait for anyone to give you permission to do stuff. I think that I try not to do that so much. But I always seem to fall into this trap of thinking, you know, I need someone to go along with me with this. So I don’t look like a loner on my own, who’s a bit mad. And I think I waste a lot of time, because I’m waiting for someone to give me a deadline, or waiting for someone to say, bye, this has to be done. So my really good advice at the moment, I think would be just to do everything that I’ve done, we’re trying to a little bit earlier. Also, I think there’s an important thing to remember as well that you know, what you what you’re doing is, is something that no one else has ever done before. And I think a lot of people are going to maybe try and take a little bit of advantage of that fact, because you’re not a businessman, and you don’t really know that much about sort of making loads of money out of stuff. So just be careful what you agree to do for free. It’s nothing wrong with sort of doing publicity and things, but if it’s going to cost you a lot of money. I don’t know if it’s particularly worth it. And you need to say to people, yeah, and I need some dosh for that. I don’t know why I’m saying this to my very younger self, I could say this to myself last year, but you know, that’s something that I should really, really bear in mind. And, and the other thing is that, you know, brilliant, you know, people sort of like the fact that you’re a bit quirky and a bit out there so make the most of that and don’t don’t don’t try and worry about your mates thinking that you’re you’re a lunatic because you obviously are willing to take and and yeah, you just need to embrace that. Embrace it.
David Ralph [42:21]
I love that and I love you Graham I love the fact that you’re quirky I every time I watch Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade I will think of you and i do i do think that people need to have adventure and they need to try things and they need to do you know crazy stuff. And the thing I like about you You tried something that was almost impossible it seems beyond belief in my mind but you can do that especially to get in the Guinness Book of Records doing that because some Guinness Book of Records are rubbish you know, did you know that the world record that the Guinness Book of Records for eating Jaffa cakes in one minute you know how many
Unknown Speaker [43:03]
see how many 666 Jaffa cakes
David Ralph [43:08]
in one minute is a Guinness record. So if you could eat seven oh, yeah, honestly, seven, you’ll be a three times record
Graham Hughes [43:16]
data how many in Jaffa cakes. I eat seven Jaffa cakes a minute, just normally. That’s my normal sort of traffic a per minute ratio. He’s on there.
I do find that funny though. It’s like, after doing all this, so many people who want to say to me are you did it wrong, because you didn’t spend enough time in each country. Or, you know, there was a point where my sister got ill and had to fly back to the UK. But then I flew back to the point where I left off and continued on my journey. And are you focused your journey because it was it was more than one journey? I know. It was one journey. But you know, I’m not a heartless creepy would go Oh, my sister’s dying. I think I’ll just keep travelling then. I actually, you know, came home to see her. And speaking about not spending enough time in each country. It’s kind of like the TV North Korea because you only stepped over the border in the in the demilitarised zone, and might well, you know, if I was being sponsored to do it, and I was actually being paid to do it, I would have quite happily spent the thousand dollars in Beijing that you spend to go to Pyongyang for a few days on I got very, very guarded tour and half of that money would go to Kim Jong on and the other half ago to the Chinese government policy. And yeah, that’s not a challenge. There’s no challenge in going to North Korea, it’s easy and unlike there’s no particular challenge to go to somewhere like even Somalia, you can go into Somaliland fairly easily. Whereas trying to get into Eritrea is a challenge trying to get to the Seychelles without flying is a challenge only get to now Vu without flying is a challenge. Because there’s only one boat that goes to the very only goes once every six weeks. And if you don’t get on that boat, you don’t get an arrow. And so when it comes down to this, and I might well, Guinness have signed off on this, they’ve said yet, that’s the world, right God, what you’ve done is officially amazing. I think well, you know, I’ve put the gauntlet down now for other people, other people to follow. And they can do it their own way if they like. But if they beat my record of four years and one month, which you could do it honestly, if you read my blogs, you’re not make the same mistakes I did. And you could easily do it in two or maybe three years. You’ll get the record, because you know I’ve set a new category now. And the challenge is out there for the sort of the next generation of backpackers to pick up the mantle and see what they can do with it.
David Ralph [45:35]
So so once you leave ginger Island, this is my last question. And I’m going to say farewell to Graham Hughes. I really don’t want to bomb I’m going to do it. What is there in your radar is is it the mortgage and the kids in that house or
Unknown Speaker [45:49]
not? So you got something else you might want to do.
Graham Hughes [45:53]
Okay, write my book, edit my videos, live on the island, get my book published probably about June next year, or come out. I back in the UK and getting a cargo ship over the Atlantic to possibly Greenland didn’t go to Greenland on the expedition because it’s the territory of Denmark. But because of the Faroe Islands and Greenland’s a big you know, it’s a big area business Big Island, so I feel bad not going there. And then from Mega to Canada, and then I’m going to go to every state and province in the US and Canada without flying as a book tour. And do a talk in each and assigning thing in each state and each province. get publicity for doing that. And then return back to the UK I’ve got another Guinness World Record attempts which I’m not going to look at it go into at the moment at the secret which I’ll be attempting next year. It’s going to be a Jaffa cakes. Absolutely. And then after that my dream job is because I see myself as a storyteller, but so many storeys to tell so many anecdotes, not just like that actually are me but also things that have inspired me to think of storeys and fiction and things like that I write scripts, and I write short storeys, and things like that. I would love some point to be able to work in Hollywood, working on scripts, and eventually clawing my way up to being allowed to direct feature films with special effects and big budgets and explosions and robots and zombies monsters. Because, you know, British directors are the best in the world like, you know, Charlie Chaplin, David lean, Alfred Hitchcock, Ridley Scott. And yet, when we make British movies, they’re always like little small kitchen sink dramas. And I might my personal opinion about this, and I’m going to piss off a lot of people in the UK by saying this, I’m sure. But if you think of a storey line of a film, and you think that it could fit perfectly into an episode of combination Street, it shouldn’t be a film, that that should be it, that should be the rule. So when you go to the cinema, it’s always something a little bit larger than life, it’s going to fill the screen, it’s got a half excitement and explosions, and things that take you out the everyday mundane stuff. But in Britain, you make 70 films a year, and the majority of them are that kind of mundane, day to day drudge of everyday life. And those storylines about a woman who is in an unhappy marriage and blah, blah, blah, you know that that’s the sort of thing that you can put into, into a soap opera,
David Ralph [48:22]
you’re going to do this, you’re going to do that. And if you’re ever, if you’re ever in the London area, I’ll have a point. I will buy you a pint.
Graham Hughes [48:32]
Okay. I’ll tell you, I’ll tell you my brilliant, brilliant, brilliant Indiana Jones script that I came up with. While I was in jail in Congo. I was there for six days, obviously, I had a lot of time to myself. And I thought you know what would be absolutely boss and an account with this really great idea for an Indiana Jones movie set in Africa. And he hasn’t been to Africa in the in the series, and the last movie was so bad I think we need to do to make our put up. And now that Disney own Lucas Film, I think that’s a possibility on the horizon. So watch this space. Wink, wink.
David Ralph [49:06]
You’re not going to tell us you’re not going to tell us a storey.
Graham Hughes [49:10]
Now because someone else might stay off me. Obviously. I’m not I’m not usually worried about that kind of thing. Because I think we’ve got and then you want to write a script write a script. It’s very difficult, but now it’s a good storey. It’s set in the 60s. It’s got Rachel vice in it. Well, someone who looks like Rachel vice Well, it doesn’t have to be Rachel vice but I kind of want Rachel vice. But yeah, it’s got Nazis in it and it’s got a it’s got old Nazis and it’s got Voodoo and it’s cool if
David Ralph [49:33]
you wouldn’t have Nazis in Africa, would you?
Graham Hughes [49:37]
You wouldn’t the 60s that they were old enough to escape
David Ralph [49:41]
Graham Hughes [49:42]
I’m not might be trying to use Voodoo to do something you know, to bring Hitler back boys from Brazil. Wink wink, nudge nudge? No, I may not mean so he’s even been the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull because he was liking the Yeah. Yeah, yeah. Yeah. But he’s, he’s like, not really the driving it. It’s the way the dynamic works between human nature of ISIS as a Mossad agent, basically, is when I tell you all this, basically he nobody listens. You know, Sean Connery was the sort of the older, bumbling guy. Yeah. In in the Last Crusade. Well, she he kind of takes that role with her. And there’s some scenes where we do a bit of a switcheroo. And and it turns out that it wasn’t him doing the Homeric thing it was it was her that was quite like
David Ralph [50:27]
so the Raiders of the Lost colostomy bag or something like that.
Graham Hughes [50:33]
No, it’s gonna be an indie movie. It’s gonna be great.
David Ralph [50:35]
Well, how can I he’s been inspired by inspired How can I connect with you Graham?
Graham Hughes [50:43]
Oh, God, so many ways. My Twitter handle is Africa at every country, it’s easy to find. If you want my websites I’ve got the Odyssey expedition calm, which is about the expedition. And you can leave comments on there or contact me for that you can go to my website, which is great David shoes.com which is today a little bit about me and that x is the portal to my Facebook and my Twitter. And also my my latest project, which is ginger, Ginger Island calm and it’s J and J a ginger like ninja with a giant sort of an ad. And it goes ginger island.com you’ll find my latest sort of adventure on my island as I go gradually, more on hinged on this island on my own and start commanding the coconut people to invade neighbouring islands perhaps or I don’t know, I’m in the middle of trying to make a game of thrones thrown the Iron Throne out of bamboo. It’s taken me a while but I’m going to make that phone. It’s going to be awesome. And we’re going to make a I’m also going to make a TARDIS out of bamboo as well. A little Tiki TARDIS bar. And there’s going to be the Hanging Gardens of Babylon five, and a few other really nerdy things that I’m going to do on the island. So yeah, if you if you tune in to ginger Island com, there’s gonna be some bad stuff going on.
David Ralph [52:01]
Did you remember when Michael Jackson had Neverland and they thought he was slightly peculiar.
Graham Hughes [52:06]
Yes, it’s the same thing. I didn’t sleep in an oxygen tent made of bamboo. And I have a monkey now that I have a monkey bought the the neighbouring island of Christabel, which the Big Island has howler monkeys on it, and sometimes you hear them how, because they obviously the voices Carrey along the way. So I can say I’ve got howler monkeys, howler monkeys, dolphins, I’ve got chickens, I’ve got I’ve got all these chickens. I just took them out the most. One of the one of the best things that I found living on an island on my own with chickens is we have one rooster. And if roosters can’t stop going comedy, it’ll do halfway through. So if you fire, say some water hose, they’ll run away, but still going beautiful day. And it’s the funniest thing that they’re just like
last note going as he runs, and that’s my that’s my entertainment at the moment. Well, that and the internet. That is
David Ralph [53:01]
the most perfect ending line to the show that I’ve had. Graham, thank you so much for spending time with us today joining those dots. And please come back again, when you have more dots to join up. Because I do believe that by joining those dots and connecting our past is the best way to build our futures. Graham Hughes, you’ve been brilliant. Thank you so much.
Graham Hughes [53:21]
Thank you very much.
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