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100 countries by the age of 30

In May, the Global Society and Shackleton Society were privileged to hear from Simon Parker, a freelance reporter, documentary maker and travel writer. He started the talk by describing how he began his passion for travelling. When he was very young, he would go to his local corner-shop and buy tattered National Geographic magazines for 20p, fascinated by the different cultures and adventures which their journalists undertook. When he reached the age of 16, he felt himself yearning to achieve a greater goal in life, and so set himself the goal of travelling to every country in the world.

After getting a degree, Mr Parker found out how he could reach this goal: becoming a freelance travel journalist. His talk included several videos which he had produced. Including hiking in the Andes and bumping into a pair of llamas as well as travelling the length of India in a rickshaw.

His most impressive trip was sailing and cycling across the world: 15000 miles from China to London. The first part of his journey was sailing across the North Pacific, an experience he described as ‘truly, and utterly awful’ because he was ‘no sailor’. At one point, the closest people to him and his crew were in the International Space Station, and he lost 15% of his body mass due to his vomiting-inducing sea-sickness. The second part was a better experience for him. By cycling the width of America in 48 days he was able to learn a lot about their culture which he didn’t expect, particularly how welcoming they were when he told them his story. He ended his talk by delivering a strong message: that travel journalists are crucial so that the world can hear culturally different and new stories. While he doubts he’ll ever complete the goal he set himself when he was sixteen, he still has quite a few years to go.

We would like to thank Mr Parker for his inspiring lecture.

Max Shanagher

DATE POSTED: 02 June 2019

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