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701, 2022

Extraordinary Travel Festival Update #2

By |January 7th, 2022|Categories: Podcast|0 Comments

This is the Counting Countries Extraordinary Travel Festival Update #2 On this episode I am speaking with Charles Veley, the founder of the Most Traveled People, and Gianluca Pardelli, the founder of Soviet Tours. Charles will play two roles at the festival.  He will be a speaker, sharing stories of some of his travel adventures.  And Charles will be hosting an optional trip to Georgia and Armenia that takes place before the festival.  You can view the agenda here. Soviet Tours is one of our sponsors and partners of the festival.  The Extraordinary Travel Festival will be creating a Curated Trips of 2023.  Soviet Tours will be contributing a trip to this list, which we will discuss during our conversation.  This will be an amazing trip to the North Caucasus.   Join us in Yerevan, Armenia from October 14 -16, 2022 At the Armenia Hotel Yerevan For the: Extraordinary Travel Festival This will be a multi-day event with great and inspiring speakers And at night we will be hosting parties and dinners to have fun and unwind [...]

3012, 2021

A Year In Review 2021

By |December 30th, 2021|Categories: Counting Countries 193 Countdown|5 Comments

A Year In Review 2021.  Sitting down to write my yearend review, really feels like several different years rolled into one with the beginning part of the year being an echo of a distant memory.  My year can be broken down into four parts.  The first couple of months still found me in Bangkok into my 12-month extended Thai Covid lockdown with a great beach trip in Thailand.  In March after being away for over a year, I returned to the US, splitting my time mostly in Boston and Chicago (with a couple of roadtrips in between).  Missing travel my patience wore thin, and in August I returned to the road and traveled for over three months, finally visiting some new countries after an 18 plus month hiatus. And as always, the fourth part of my year, found me in the US for Thanksgiving and Christmas.  The year will end with a NYE back to Bangkok. Making friends in South Sudan I really had no expectations of 2021.  I learned after all of my failed [...]

2612, 2021

20 Best Photos Of 2021

By |December 26th, 2021|Categories: Photos|1 Comment

20 Best Photos Of 2021.  Here we are again.  It is my annual wrap up for my twenty best photos.  And like every other year it is not actually twenty photos, but that is a much snappier title and better for SEO.  While not as challenging as 2020, 2021 was still severely constrained by Covid when it comes to travel.  It wasn't until August when I started some travels in earnest.  You can read about my year in greater detail in my ... Thailand This was my third trip back to Koh Mak, small island near the much larger Koh Chang, near the Cambodian border.  This was my first official snorkel trip where only two other people joined this this de facto trip on a stunning day. This is the panoramic pier at the Cinnamon Hotel.  Always worth your time to take a stroll down this boardwalk. This is the Hua Lamphong train station in Bangkok which dates to the early 20th century.  In 2022, this station will no longer be an active train station and will [...]

2612, 2021

South Sudan – 145th Country

By |December 26th, 2021|Categories: Counting Countries 193 Countdown|0 Comments

South Sudan – 145th Country.  To see where I have been so far, check out my map as I count down the final 93 countries on the road to all 193 UN countries.  South Sudan is my 145th country. Check out the best 193 travel books to read! South Sudan is the world’s newest country in the world gaining its independence in 2011 from Sudan during a very lengthy civil war.  Eleven million people can be found in this north-east landlocked country.  They are mostly Christian and animists.  Despite having immense oil wealth, South Sudan remains one of the world’s poorest countries on a per capita income basis.  One of South Sudan’s claims to fame is Manute Bol, one of the tallest players ever in the NBA.  While South Sudan has its hard-earned independence, the country faces many challenges from food insecurity to a refugee crisis to political instability. The capital Juba is not exactly tourist friendly with little to see in terms of monuments and a population that is extremely angry if not outright violent when [...]

2612, 2021

Saudi Arabia – 144th Country

By |December 26th, 2021|Categories: Counting Countries 193 Countdown|0 Comments

Saudi Arabia – 144th Country.  To see where I have been so far, check out my map as I count down the final 93 countries on the road to all 193 UN countries.  Saudi Arabia is my 144th country. Check out the best 193 travel books to read! With 35 million people, Saudi Arabia is the largest country in the Middle East and borders both the Red Sea and the Persian Gulf.  The modern version of the state was founded in 1932 as King Ibn Saud unified four states.  Saudi Arabia is the home of the Islam’s two holiest sites, Mecca and Medina.  Saudi Arabia is influences by the ultra-conservative Wahhabi movement but under MBS, the young leader, the country has moved to modernized itself, including opening itself to tourism. I managed to visit Saudi Arabia in October of 2022 after an aborted attempt in 2017.  Saudi Arabia had traditionally been known as one of the most difficult visas to get.  Saudi Arabia simply did not issue tourist visas.  At that time, I had signed up for [...]

2612, 2021

Chad – 143rd Country

By |December 26th, 2021|Categories: Counting Countries 193 Countdown|0 Comments

Chad – 143rd Country.  To see where I have been so far, check out my map as I count down the final 93 countries on the road to all 193 UN countries.  Chad is my 143rd country. Check out the best 193 travel books to read! Chad is a landlocked country, located at the crossroads of north-central Africa.  Sixteen million people make their home there with 10% found in the capital, N’Djamena.  Chad is a smorgasbord of over 200 ethnic and linguistic groups with almost an even split between Christianity and Islam.  Chad is also a mix of desert, savannah, fertile grounds, as well as wetlands.  Chad was once a colony of France and gained its independence in 1960.  Idriss Deby ruled the country from 1990 to 2021, when he was killed on the frontlines fighting an anti-Chadian internal faction. I touched down in N’Djamena, the capital on October 2, 2021.  It was my first new country since March of 2020.  I arrived to witness the amazing Gerewol Festival which did not disappoint.  After one night in [...]

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