GlobetrottingMikeSpencer Bown is finally heading home after 23 years of traveling the world and visiting 195 countries. Mr Spencer Bown, 44, could be the most traveled man in history after a marathon odyssey which has taken him fromAfghanistan to Zimbabwe and every nation in between.
He was the first ever tourist in war-torn Mogadishu, hitchhiked through Saddam Hussein’s home town during the U.S. invasion of Iraq and lived with pygmies in theCongo.
Adventurous: Mike Spencer Bown sits with a gun in Mogadhishu, Somlia, during his trip round the world
Mr Spencer Bown has lost count of the times he has been arrested but despite visiting some of the most dangerous places on Earth he has escaped serious harm or illness, other than two brief bouts of malaria.
He hitchhiked for most of his journeys and says that unlike most world travelers he stayed and immersed himself in the countries he visited.
And he has done it all with the same trusty rucksack he had when he first left his native Canada in 1990.
Mike Spencer Bown pictured with a local guide during a visit to the highlands of Papua New Guinea
Mike Spencer Bown pictured with some pilgrims in Tibet, north-east of the Himalayas
Globetrotter: Mike with Huli Wigmen in Tari Highlands, in Papua New Guinea
Mr Spencer Bown said: ‘Every day of my adult life has been an adventure.
‘I was 21 when I got thinking about my future and wondered if anyone had ever set out to see the whole world.
‘I thought if not, then why not give it a go – and I took off.’
Brave new world: Mike Spencer Bown pictured at a Zen temple during his trip to Koyoto, Japan, in 2009
Companion: Mike Spencer Bown pictured with his traveling friend Molly in Iran 2003
Wanderer: Mike Spencer Bown pictured reading a map in Koyoto train station in 2009 during his trip to Japan
He added: ‘There are more than 300 people who have been to all the other countries, but they are not what I consider real travelers.
‘They are like passengers, and theirs is a transportation feat rather than a traveling feat.’
Over the years Mike has visited Indonesia 20 times, Egypt twice, India six times, Cameroon five times, Peru twice, China three times, Africa a dozen times and Thailand nearly 50 times
Mike Spencer Bown pictured with his friend Molly in Lake Namtso, Tibet. After 23 years of traveling he is finally going home
Well-traveled: Mike Spencer Bown pictured having a party with friends he had met on his travels by Lake Namtso, Tibet
Mike Spencer Bown (second left) with traveling friends near a monastery in Reting in Lh¸nzhub County in the Lhasa Prefecture of central Tibet
He has funded his budget travels with a variety of businesses including silver dealing in Bali, exporting furniture from Java and gemstones from Africa.
He said: ‘I’ve never had a problem with money. I take calculated risks. I camp, stay in cheap hotels, live with the locals and do what they do.
‘It’s easy to make money in the third world if you know how – if you’ve stayed there long enough.
Explorer: Mike Spencer Bown pictured in the military region of Mongolia in 2009
New encounters: Mike Spencer Bown pictured in front of a Dragon Blood Tree in Socotra, Yemen
Mike Spencer Bown (front right) pictured on the longest sloping down road in the world from Tibet to Nepal
Mike Spencer Bown pictured in the desert of South Algeria in June 2013. After 23 years he is finally hanging up his hiking boots
Fearless: Mike Spencer Bown pictured during his trip to Pakistan. He said every day of his adult life had been an adventure‘The real trouble would be coming up with the $200-plus a day if you wanted to do the world on a vacation-sized budget.
‘You have to give up the idea of a vacation and live with the locals. If you have to ask how much it costs, you can’t afford it.’
During his odyssey Mr Spencer Bown has cheated death in the mountains of Nepal and had machine guns shoved in his face more than once.
First tourist in Mogadishu: Mike in the Somalian capital posing with a gun
Mike Spencer Bown pictured at the Karakoram highway which is the highest paved international road in the world and connects China and Pakistan
Mike Spencer Bown (right) pictured with a friend during a trip to Pakistan. He has spent the last two decades jetting across the globe
Dangerous: Mike in a hotel room with Mogadishu weapons lying around including this rocket propelled grenade launcherHe went on a reindeer sleigh with drunk locals from the Yakuti tribe in Russia, stayed with witch doctors in Mali and canoed past sleeping tigers in Bangladesh.
He says his most memorable moment was when he visited the Somali capital Mogadishu in 2010.
Mr Spencer Bown went there in search of the fabled beaches once described as the most beautiful in the world only to encounter hostility.
New experiences: Mike Spencer Bown pictured with local guides grilling a whole sheep in Nepal
Mr Spencer Bown hitch-hiked for most of his journeys and says that unlike most world travelers he immersed himself in the countries he visited
Wildlife: Mike Spencer Bown pictured with gorillas in Rwanda in 2010
Mike in the Congo with a Bambuti Pygmy pictured in a rare clearing in the forest
Gorillas in the mist: Mike Spencer Bown with in Rwanda in 2010 during his travels
Different worlds: Mike Spencer Bown and Molly Macindoe with the Yakuti Tribesmsn in the Russian arctic of Yakusk
Mike Spencer Bown pictured arriving at the airport in Papua New Guinea on his round the world trip
Mike Spencer Bown in central Tibet eating noodles. He said he liked to become involved with the different communities he encountered
‘Most traveled man in history’: Mike Spencer Bown pictured in an Islamic shrine in Tehran, Iran, in 2003
Far flung places: Mike Spencer Bown pictured in front of a street sign in Mozambique
Traveling bug: Mike on his second trip to Machu Pichu around 2009
Impressionable: Mike aged 16 in Newfoundland before he realised he wanted to spend two decades travelling around the world
Mike Spencer Bown pictured in a boat in Papua New Guinea during his round the world trip
Somali immigration officials regarded him as a spy before he finally managed to convince them he was only a tourist.
MIKE’S RECOMMENDED KIT – WHAT TO BRING AROUND THE WORLD
1. A mosquito net
2. An old and shabby backpack which is least attractive to thieves
3. A mango knife to discourage would-be muggers
4. Sturdy boots
5. A visa application kit and lots of photos
6. Metal cup
7. Shirt with collar for embassy visits
8. Khaki shirt with quick-dry fabric and lots of pockets – useful for impersonating officials
9. Impressive-looking business card with nice logo
10. Waterproof pack cover
Somalia was the last and most dangerous country on my list and once I was in Mogadishu I felt I had made it,’ he said.
Mr Spencer Bown had already traveled in Afghanistan on the back of a motorbike – sipping wine during a Taliban gunfight – and through Iraq during the second Gulf War.
He was detained by the CIA in Pakistan, contracted a mystery strain of herpes in South Asia and mingled with penguins in Antarctica.
Other adventures have seen him living with a Bambuti pygmy tribe in the Democratic Republic of Congo, hunting antelope and evading genocidal Hutu rebels.
But despite some close shaves he says he never set out looking for danger.
He said: ‘The most dangerous situations are not countries, but rather groups of people in areas say on the outskirts of a city who are not formed as part of a community – beware such areas.
‘Many of the most interesting places are wild indeed and they are the most likely to get you killed.’
Mike hitching a ride with locals in the highlands of Papua New Guinea
New climates: Mike and Molly Macindoe and the Yakuti tribesman in the Russian arctic of Yakusk
Traveling buddies: Mike Spencer Bown pictured with his guide in the Mongolian Altai mountains
Mike at Lake Namasto opening a cider in Tibet. Mike first left Canada in 1990 and never looked backMr Spencer Bown, who has filled over a dozen passports, ended his travels in Ireland last month where he spent a couple of weeks before heading to his mother’s home in Calgary, Canada.
After years being alone he has finally met a woman on Facebook who is meeting him in Canada.
But when asked if he is ready to settle down and end his traveling he says: ‘I’m done now – for a while at least.’
Mike Spencer Bown pictured with a wildlife guide hiking into the volcanic mountains of the Virunga National Park in Africa
Hunting Antelope in the Congo. Despite visiting some of the most dangerous places on Earth he has escaped serious harm or illness, other than two brief bouts of malaria
Mike Spencer Bown on a motor taxi in Kisangani in the Democratic Republic of the Congo
Mike Spencer Bown on a motor taxi in Kisingani. He says he has lost count of how many times he has been arrested
Mike Spencer Bown in Dingle, Ireland – his last stop before heading home to his mother’s house in Calgary, Canada
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