Sunday’s Inspiration: Too Busy Raising Cane? Back On The Street Again. I’m Back On The Top Again! | 10 Year Challenge

“I’m too busy raising cane. I’m back on the street again. I’m… back on the top again” – Van Morrison.

Back on the streets again…

We join fads. We cling to the popular. We need to belong and we need to be like everybody else, we want to be the same as everyone. It’s human nature. Nobody likes to be the odd one out. It’s why we jump on bandwagons. And today, I’m jumping on the “10 year challenge bandwagon”. Yep, I’m joining the popular crew for once. Everybody and their cat is doing a 10 year challenge on Social Media, so I thought why not? I’ll do it too. Here is a story in high speed of the last 10 years of this blog, and of course, my lifestyle. Hold on tight…

“You’ll never change what’s been and gone” – Noel Gallagher.

Backpacking in Bohol, Philippines, “back in the day”…

Before the 2009 start of the 10 year challenge began, there was a lot of water under the bridge. I followed the crazy shit from the word go. I didn’t obey norms at my ill-fated Grammar School in the seaside resort of Bangor, Northern Ireland, we broke the rules there, we stole an exam paper. We loved that. We later regretted it and moved on. The story finally saw its presence felt on global media in 2014.

“Teenage angst has paid off well; now I’m bored and old” – Kurt Kobain (WAY before his time).

Bangor Grammar School: First day…photo courtesy of David Gherardi.

Backpacking the world didn’t hinder, help nor nurture it. I broke both my arm and leg while trying to get a degree at university! I was a master in failed exams. I don’t even remember being at university, that much. FACT.

I was at University. Photographed at a radio function, in a bar…

But 10 years ago today, 20th January 2009 I was working in Bournemouth Pavilion Theatre selling beer at a comedy show (or a music show, or a play). For the life in me, I can’t remember the event. But this was what I looked like and did: (the photo is NOT exactly 10 years old, it could be slightly more, or slightly less, I don’t know when it was taken).

jonny blair on pavilion bar bournemouth

Working Wednesdays: Barman in the Pavilion Theatre, Bournemouth, Dorset, England.

Life moved on. I was happy that day, incidentally. Later, after a failed romance, I found a home in the land down under. I lived in Australia from October 2009.

“I want to fly and run, until it hurts. Sleep for a while and I’ll speak no words. In Australia” – Manic Street Preachers.

parramatta australia

Living in a land down under…2009

Australia was a game changer money wise. I was earning lots of money in PJs Irish Pub in Parramatta and again in my farming jobs in Tasmania, where I:

Broccoli Harvesting in Poatina, Tasmania

I travelled through 20 more countries on that cash, ended back in Australia then I fell in love with Panny Yu. I was destined to stay in the Kong with her. Truly, madly, deeply in love.

Panny and I partying in Kaiping, China

We backpacked most of Asia together. We visited 44 countries and saw ALL SEVEN continents together. Noel Gallagher said it better than I ever could, read it as it is… “A dream, a dream we asked her why, to dream a dream she never died. Wipe that tear away now from your eye”.

We backpacked Gori! This a signal from Stalin’s town…. 🙁

“This; a present from Stalin’s reign” – Artur Gorecki.

What followed was lunacy. I taught English in Hong Kong again, I worked in pubs, this travel blog made money and I lost the plot.

Teaching English in the Kong

I worked in Irish Pubs in Asia.

Those days spent backpacking East Timor, Philippines, Bangladesh and Brunei Darussalam only to be asked by fellow tourists “you support AFC Bournemouth, but why?”, “you need to try the local beer instead of a Carlsberg but why?”, “you went to Mexico and skipped Chichen Itza but why?”. “Because I want to, it’s my team”, “because I can get Carlsberg everywhere”, “Because I have seen many Aztec ruins”.

“Super, super Fletch” – AFC Bournemouth fans.

CHERRIES ARE THE TEAM FOR ME: Arrival into Brunei by boat from Malaysia.

I hated the norm.

We broke the rules. We backpacked places in China I had never heard of, nor will ever be again…

Touring Ta Pa Tsune/Taxia Village in China’s Fujian Province

Then…

…we went backpacking in Iraq.

iraq amna suraka kurdistan

All alone touring Saddam Hussein’s House of Horrors at Amna Suraka in Iraq.

Backpacking in Kurdistan, IRAQ in 2014

Leave your preconceptions behind, this is Iraq. All is well ( as predicted).

I hate joining popular movements and fads. I need to belong in somewhere I don’t belong. But I’m a huge hypocrite, aren’t we all? I still whack Oasis on my ghetto blaster every day, the most popular British rock band of my generation on album sales. I love it. I still drink Guinness and eat pizzas and kebabs weekly. It’s all popular stuff. Most popular Irish drink, most popular international foods. Jurastic blueberry chickenhead. 

More pizza!!

guinness europa hotel

Having a Pint of Guinness in the Europa Hotel’s Piano Bar

But sometimes, my journey was absurd. Ten years drifted aimlessly by…and here are some cool adjectives and photos…

Absurd.

ABSURD: drinking coffee using a spoon from a bowl in BENIN.

ABSURD: drinking coffee using a spoon from a bowl in BENIN.

“sink is full of fishes. she got dirty dishes on the brain” – Noel Gallagher.

Eccentric.

ECCENTRIC. Face to face with Einstein, HONG KONG.

“You’re turning every modern theory on its head” – Gruff Rhys.

Bizarre.

Backpacking in Kaliningrad: Top 23 Sights in Kaliningrad City

Backpacking in Kaliningrad: The crazy upside down house!

“I’m what you found, I’m upside down. You’re in the air” – R.E.M.

Unusual.

One of the Most Unusual Places I Have Slept In: The Eclectic Hotel in Vank, Nagorno Karabakh

One of the Most Unusual Places I Have Slept In: The Eclectic Hotel in Vank, Nagorno Karabakh

“Arconada…Armstrong!” – John Motson.

Peculiar.

My mate swapped his camera for a cow.

swapped his camera for a cow

Imagine swapping your camera for a cow!! The story of Julio the crazy Colombian!

“I don’t want to be a consumer” – Julio Felipe.

Wacaday.

WACADAY: Downtown Nukus, Karakalpakstan. Where is that?

“Wacaday” – Timmy Mallett.

Strange.

Northern Irishman in Paraguay

First time in Paraguay. Photo at the border.

“The streets and the thousands of colours all bleed into one” – NG.

Weird?

The crazy mistakes we make…I am so crazy and stupid that I once agreed to “date” a serial liar. She was a serial liar 🙂 Weird as she still claims “we are friends” (yes, her words).

“The days are long and the nights will throw you, away because the sun don’t shine” – Noel Gallagher.

So my 10 year journey has been “waction” packed. I didn’t expect it. As I write this from my new flat in the Srodmiescie of Warszawa city (which capitals Poland), it’s hard to contemplate all of this, what’s in my head.

“in your head” – Dolores.

They are fighting in your head.

So, a 10 year challenge, a bit harsh, but…I know who my friends are, I know where I’m from and I won’t hesitate to tell anyone that. I am from Bangor in Northern Ireland. I grew up there and daily I still love it. Oh, come and see me smile….

My homeland, forlorn….

Back in Bangor, my hometown.

And so, here is a photo from 2009 of what I looked like:

2009.

And where I had travelled to…as a novice.

I DID NOT visit South America, Central America, Africa, Antarctica, Middle East, Pacific, Caribbean – they were all unbackpacked back then…

My 2009 Map. Where I’d been.

Here’s the list in countries in order of visits since 2009.

1.Northern Ireland
2.Republic of Ireland
3.Portugal
4.England
5.Scotland
6.Wales
7.France
8.Greece
9.The Netherlands
10.Spain
11.United States of America
12.Canada
13.Germany
14.Poland
15.Austria
16.Denmark
17.Switzerland
18.Liechtenstein
19.New Zealand
20.China
21.Russia
22.Belarus
23.Czech Republic
24.Luxembourg
25.Belgium
26.Latvia
27.Iceland
28.Sweden
29.Slovakia
30.Italy
31.Slovenia
31.Cornwall
32.Catalonia
33.San Marino
And tonight in 2019, here is what I look like…

2019 Jonny Blair

And here is where I have been now.

1.Northern Ireland
2.Republic of Ireland
3.Scotland
4.England
5.Portugal (1)
6.Wales
7.France (2)
8.Cornwall
9.Greece (3)
10.Netherlands (4)
11.Spain (5)
12.USA (6)
13.Canada (7)
14.Germany (8)
15.Poland (9)
16.Austria (10)
17.Denmark (11)
18.Switzerland (12)
19.Liechtenstein (13)
20.New Zealand (14)
21.China
22.Russia (15)
23.Belarus (16)
24.Czechia (17)
25.Luxembourg (18)
26.Belgium (19)
27.Latvia (20)
28.Iceland (21)
29.Sweden (22)
30.Slovakia (23)
31.Italy (24)
32.Slovenia (25)
33.San Marino (26)
34.Hungary (27)
35.Guernsey
36.Jersey
37.Sark
38.Herm
39.Taiwan
40.Malaysia (28)
41.Singapore (29)
42.Australia (30)
43.Argentina (31)
44.Antarctica
45.Uruguay (32)
46.Brazil (33)
47.Paraguay (34)
48.Bolivia (35)
49.Chile (36)
50.Peru (37)
51.Ecuador (37)
52.Colombia (38)
53.Panama (39)
54.Venezuela (40)
55.Trinidad and Tobago (41)
56.Suriname (42)
57.South Africa (43)
58.Botswana (44)
59.Swaziland (45)
60.Qatar (46)
61.Hong Kong
62.South Korea (47)
63.North Korea (48)
64.Philippines (49)
65.Indonesia (50)
66.United Arab Emirates (51)
67.Japan (52)
68.Macau
69.Thailand (53)
70.Laos (54)
71.Cambodia (55)
72.Vietnam (56)
73.Sri Lanka (57)
74.Brunei Darussalam
75.Myanmar (58)
76.Tanzania (59)
77.Maasai Tribe
78.Ethiopia (60)
79.Jordan (61)
80.Israel
81.Druze People
82.Palestine (62)
83.Georgia (63)
84.Azerbaijan (64)
85.Armenia (65)
86.Nagorno Karabakh
87.Turkey (66)
88.Iran (67)
89.Iraq (68)
90.East Timor (69)
91.French Guyana
92.Guyana (70)
93.Mexico (71)
94.Guatemala (72)
95.El Salvador (73)
96.Honduras (74)
97.Belize (75)
98.Nicaragua (76)
99.Costa Rica (77)
100.Catalonia
101.Andorra (78)
102.Romania (79)
103.Moldova (80)
104.Transnistria
105.Bulgaria (81)
106.FYR Macedonia / Northern Macedonia
107.Kosovo
108.Montenegro (83)
109.Lithuania (84)
110.Uzupis
108.Estonia (85)
109.Finland (86)
110.Christiania
111.Norway (87)
112.Austenasia
113.Frestonia
114.Vatican City
115.Tunisia (88)
116.Algeria (89)
117.Basque Country
118.Gibraltar
119.Kuwait (90)
120.Bangladesh (91)
121.Bahrain (92)
122.Ladonia
123.Faroe Islands
124.Podjistan
125.Lagoan Isles
126.Adammia
127.Ukraine (93)
128.Chernobyl Exclusion Zone
129.Kazakhstan (94)
130.Kyrgyzstan (95)
131.Tajikistan (96)
132.Gorno Badakhshan
133.Uzbekistan (97)
134.Afghanistan (98)
135.Karakalpakstan
136.India (99)
137.Andaman Islands
138.Don’t Stop Living
139.Bavaria
140.Senegal
141.The Gambia
142.Lovely
143.Monaco
144.Kaszubia
144.Kaliningrad
145.Serbia
146.Bosnia
147.Herzegovina
148.Croatia
149. International Waters
150. Mongolia
151. Krolestwo Dreamlandu
152. San Escobar
153. Narnia
154. Malta
155. Sovereign Military Order of Malta
156. Kingdom of Romkerhall
157. Morocco
158. Western Sahara
160. Cyprus
161. Northern Cyprus
162. Ivory Coast
163. Saudi Arabia
164. Oman
165. Turkmenistan
166. Togo
167. Benin
168. Lebanon
169.Uganda
170.Rwanda
171.Democratic Republic of Congo
172.Burundi
173.Kenya
(174. – Visa Declined) Guam
(175. – Visa Declined) Federated States of Micronesia
174. Marshall Islands
(175. Unrecognised) Enenkio Island
175. Nauru
176. Kiribati
177. Solomon Islands
178.Papua New Guinea
179.Kugel Mugel
180.Wallachia
181.Egypt
182.Angola
183.Namibia
184.Zimbabwe
185.Zambia
186.Lesotho

  • I didn’t include United Kingdom, Ireland or China in this list as I don’t recognise them the way the UN does. And I forgot about some of them so the order is wrong and Kurdistan, which overlapped with Iraq, Iran and Turkey.

Countries I am not going to count yet but I have officially stepped in:
(airport – Mauritania)
(region – Republic of Srpska)
(I am their general but I have never stepped foot in – Nedland)
(TV – Donkey Kong Country)

My target is to visit 200 countries (as defined by me) by the age of 40, from this list:

The Ultimate List of Every Country (all 627 of them)

I don’t care so much any more. I wrote this after a few Guinnesses. 😉

I might update tomorrow, if I feel up to it. This is my journey, it’s never EVER yours and I don’t care who reads it 😉 That much is true, baby baby baby….

Join 15,017 Monthly Readers! If you enjoyed this article and LOVE travel and SAVING money, get e-mail updates from Don’t Stop Living – a lifestyle of travel! (It’s Free) 😉 Jonny

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