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 the Congo.
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.
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.’
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
Well-traveled: Mike Spencer Bown pictured having a party with friends he had met on his travels by Lake Namtso, 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.
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.
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.
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 at Lake Namasto opening a cider in Tibet. Mike first left Canada in 1990 and never looked back Mr 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.’
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