From being arrested as a spy in Iraq to getting caught amid a monster cyclone in Bangladesh to hitchhiking the Sahara, my story is crazy but simple. I’m a global nomad and I’ve been living out of a backpack, since 1988.
Hi, I’m Michael Robert Powell from New Zealand aka Aotearoa and since age 21, I’ve been traveling the world without a grand plan.
Unplanned adventures and a passion for ‘exotic’ places has led to a life of meandering overland journeys to the world’s most amazing places and well beyond, to some very remote corners.
And when the money runs low, as it does, I stop to teach English, exploring the world at a slower pace until the open road beckons again.
For nearly 30 years I’ve been living this minimalist, global-nomadic lifestyle. I’ve never had a house or a car nor a permanent job. My life remains focused on travel.
Since September 2017, my new wife is alongside me.
THE CANDY TRAIL – Traveling for the Pure Joy of Travel
In my eyes, there’s no number one country. I like everywhere. Dozens of countries are absolutely stunning. But if pushed to make list here’s some, in no particular order.
India, Yemen, Laos, Cambodia, Ethiopia, Mali, Colombia, Peru, China, Myanmar, East Timor, Bolivia, Indonesia, Iran, Jordan, Guatemala, Argentina, Georgia, Egypt, Zimbabwe, Mexico, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Mongolia, Cuba, Morocco, Thailand, Brazil, Bulgaria, Turkey, Ghana, Togo ( etc … Antarctica). And of course my home country – New Zealand / Aotearoa.
Short answer: 120+
- Albania (2015)
- Algeria (1991)
- Antarctica (2003)
- Austria (1990)
- Argentina (2002, 2003)
- Armenia (2012)
- Australia (2000, 2001)
- Azerbaijan (2017)
- Bahrain (1998)
- Bangladesh (1991)
- Belarus (2005)
- Belgium (1989, 1990)
- Belize (2009)
- Benin (2007)
- Bolivia (2002, 2003)
- Bosnia & Hercegovina (1990, 2015)
- Botswana (2013)
- Brazil (2003)
- Bulgaria (2015)
- Burkina Faso (2007)
- Burma (2001)
- Cambodia (1994, 2004-2005, 2006, 2008, 2012, 2013-14, 2016)
- Cameroon (1991)
- Chile (2002, 2003)
- China (1994, 2005, 2008, 2010-11, 2012-13, 2014-16, 2017)
- Colombia (2003)
- Costa Rica (2010)
- Croatia (1990)
- Cuba (2009)
- Ceuta (1991)
- Czech Republic (2005)
- Denmark (2005)
- East Timor (2000-02)
- Easter Island (2002)
- Ecuador (2003)
- Egypt (1995, 2013)
- El Salvador (2010)
- England (1989, 1990, 1991, 1998, 2005, 2017)
- Eritrea (1995)
- Ethiopia (1994-95, 2013)
- France (1989, 1991)
- Galapagos Islands (2003)
- Gambia (2007)
- Germany (1990, 2005)
- Georgia (2012, 2017)
- Ghana (2007-08)
- Greece (1990, 1998)
- Guatemala (2009)
- Guinea (2007)
- Guinea-Bissau (2007)
- Honduras (2009, 2010)
- Hong Kong (1998)
- Hungary (2015)
- India (1990-91, 1994, 2004, 2016)
- Indonesia – Sumatra, Java, Ambon, Bali, Flores, Papua, West Timor, Alor (1998-99); Java + Bali (2016)
- Iran (1990, 2011)
- Iraq (1989)
- Israel (1990, 1995)
- Japan (2009)
- Jordan (1989)
- Kenya (1994, 2013)
- Korea – South (2006-07, 2008-09)
- Korea – North (2017)
- Kyrgyzstan (2011)
- Laos (2001, 2008, 2010)
- Liberia (2007)
- Luxembourg (1990)
- Macedonia (1990, 2015)
- Malawi (2013)
- Malaysia (1998, 2016)
- Mali (2008)
- Mauritania (2007)
- Mexico (2009)
- Moldova (2015)
- Mongolia (2005)
- Montenegro (2015)
- Morocco (1991, 2007)
- Mozambique (2013)
- Nagorno-Karabakh Republic (2011)
- Netherlands (1989, 1990, 2005)
- Nepal (1991, 1994)
- New Zealand (1992-93, 1995-97, 2000, 2002, 2004, 2006, 2008, 2010, 2014, 2016)
- Nicaragua (2010)
- Niger (1991)
- Nigeria (1991)
- Oman (2005)
- Pakistan (1990)
- Palestine (1990)
- Panama (2010)
- Paraguay (2002)
- Peru (2002, 2003)
- Philippines (2001, 2008)
- Poland (2005)
- Romania (2015)
- Russia (2005)
- Scotland (1989)
- Senegal (2007)
- Serbia (2015)
- Sierra Leone (2007)
- Singapore (1998, 2001)
- Slovenia (1990)
- Somaliland / Somalia (2013)
- South Africa (2013)
- Spain (1991)
- Sri Lanka (2001)
- Sudan (2013)
- Sweden (2005)
- Syria (1989)
- Tahiti (2002)
- Tajikistan (2011)
- Tanzania (2013)
- Thailand (1994, 2001 x3, 2004 x2, 2006, 2008 x2, 2010, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2016)
- Tibet (1994)
- Togo (2007)
- TransDniester Republic (2015)
- Turkey (1989, 1990, 1998)
- Turkmenistan (2011)
- UAE – Dubai, Sharjah (2005)
- Ukraine (2017)
- Uruguay (2002, 2003)
- Uzbekistan (2011)
- Venezuela (2003)
- Vietnam (1994, 2010)
- Wales (1998)
- Western Sahara (2007)
- Yemen (2005)
- Zambia (2013)
- Zimbabwe (2013)
Arrested in Saddam’s Iraq by the military; accused of being “a spy” (1989)
Drugged, abducted, robbed, ditched in Siberia, Russia (2005)
Hitch-hiking the Sahara Desert, from Algeria to Niger (1991)
Carnaval; mugged at knife-point(s) in Rio, Brazil (2003)
Travelling solo overland from England to India (1990)
Caught in a deadly bus accident – Iran (1990)
Amid a cyclone that killed 138,000 people – Bangladesh (1991)
Trans-Siberian route, Beijing to London (2005)
Caught in a war-zone around Angkor in Cambodia (1994)
Amazing Antarctica + whisky & iceberg on New Year’s Eve (2003)
Robbed, while suffering dysentery in Pakistan (1990)
Swimming with seals in Galapagos Islands (2003)
Amid riots in Indonesia (1999), Israel (1990), India (1990)
Horse trekking in Colombia thru FARC guerilla territory (2003)
Flash-flood danger in Morocco (1991)
Skydiving in Argentina (2002) + solo parachuting in New Zealand (1992)
Slow boat down the Niger River to Timbuktu, Mali (2007)
Hitchhiking the Himalayas, across Tibet to Kathmandu, Nepal (1994)
Hitching with Australian Army Blackhawk to be the “first tourist” into new East Timor (2000)
Actively participating in a voodoo ceremony in Togo (2007)
Yeah, sometimes. When I’ve done a large road trip moving for many months I find it nice to stop somewhere new and foreign and fun, unpack my bag, and either have a holiday or teach English awhile to get into a routine, a slow rut, get restless, get bored and then hit the road refreshed for more intense travels.
Travelling and working in China in Beijing, and the provinces of Liaoning and Shandong; travelling England and Ukraine; travelling overland from the Caspian Sea to the Black Sea – across Azerbaijan and Georgia; traveling North Korea; working in Shenyang, China.
Travelling Thailand, Cambodia, Kuala Lumpur, India, Indonesia; visiting NZ; living in Shenyang, China.
Working in Linyi in China & travelling Shandong province; travelling overland around Eastern Europe :: Bulgaria, Macedonia, Albania, Montenegro, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Serbia, Hungary, Romania, Moldova, TransDniester Republic, Moldova, Romania, Bulgaria.
Living in Linyi in China & travelling Shandong province; visiting New Zealand; travelling Cambodia & Thailand.
Chillin’ in Thailand + Cambodia; travelling overland across Africa: Cairo to Cape Town :: South Africa, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Malawi, Tanzania, Kenya, Ethiopia, Somaliland, Ethiopia, Sudan, Egypt; living in Hangzhou, China.
Living in Hangzhou in China, travelling around Zhejiang province + Shanghai; hanging-out in Sihanoukville & Phnom Penh in Cambodia & in Bangkok, Thailand; traveling in Georgia & Armenia.
Travelling across Central Asia overland :: Western China – Qinghai & Xinjiang provinces, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Iran, Armenia, Georgia; living in Taian, China; travelling around China: Henan, Shaanxi, Shanxi, Shandong provinces.
Living in Taian, Shandong, China; travelling overland in South-East Asia – Bangkok to Taian :: Guangxi, Guangdong, Fujian, Jiangxi, Anhui provinces of China, Vietnam, Laos, Thailand; visiting family in New Zealand; travelling Central America: Panama, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Honduras, El Salvador, Honduras.
Travelling overland across Central America :: Honduras, Belize, Cuba, Mexico, Guatemala; artist lifestyle – chillin’ 2 months in San Pedro La Laguna at Lake Atitlan, Guatemala; travelling Guatemala & Mexico; visiting Tokyo, Japan; travels in South Korea, while working in Gwangyang.
Travelling around South Korea; travelling the Philippines & Hong Kong; living in Gwangyang, South Korea; visiting Bangkok – Wellington, New Zealand – Bangkok; travelling Cambodia, Laos, Thailand; Ghana, Togo, Benin, Togo, Ghana.
Travelling overland across West Africa :: Ghana, Burkina Faso, Mali, Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Senegal, Gambia, Senegal, Mauritania, Western Sahara, Morocco; working in Seoul and travelling in South Korea; holiday in New Zealand & Bangkok, Thailand.
Working in Seoul, and travelling around South Korea; solo art exhibition in Wellington, NZ; chillin’ while making art in Phnom Penh for 5 months, Cambodia; visiting Bangkok, Thailand.
Chillin’, living, making art & travelling in Cambodia; overland travels in the Middle East :: Yemen, Oman + UAE; the Trans-Siberian route – overland rail journeys from Beijing to London, stopping and travelling in China, Mongolia, Russia, Belarus, Poland, Czech Republic, Germany, Denmark, Sweden, Holland, and England.
Artist lifestyle for 6 months on the coast of Cambodia in Sihanoukville; also making art while living in a 400-year-old Portuguese church for 6 months with local family on the Arabian Sea island of Diu – India; chillin’ some weeks on Koh Chang island, Thailand.
Xmas in NZ; overland travels in South America :: Argentina, Peru, Ecuador, Galapagos Islands, Colombia, Venezuela, Brazil, Paraguay, Argentina, Bolivia, Argentina, Uruguay.
Antarctica +travelling around South America :: Argentina, Paraguay, Argentina, Chile, Argentina, Uruguay, Argentina, Peru, Bolivia, Chile; Easter Island, Tahiti; New Zealand; East Timor.
Working for the United Nations Peacekeeping Forces in East Timor, travelling & living in different districts every 6 weeks for 2 years; trips to Australia, Singapore, visiting Bangkok – Thailand (x6); travels in Burma; Laos; Sri Lanka.
Working in East Timor for UN; trips to Australia & NZ & Philippines; across Indonesia to East Timor by ship to Darwin.
Drifting around outer Indonesia :: Papua, Flores, Alor, West Timor, living / working in Bali & Jakarta; visit to Singapore; travelling from Penang – Malaysia and across Sumatra and Java, Indonesia.
Working & living in Bahrain (6 months) & southern England (Bournemouth & Folkestone); travels in Wales, Turkey, Greece.
Down and out in Nelson, NZ; hitch-hiking trips around Southern New Zealand.
Reclused; still travelling in my head – writing my 2nd travel MS/book in Wellington, NZ, while on the dole.
1995 – 94
NZ; overland travels across Asia – Bangkok to Delhi :: Thailand; Cambodia; Vietnam; China – Yunnan, Sichuan, Gansu, Qinghai, Tibet provinces; Nepal & India; overland travel in East Africa – Nairobi to Cairo :: Kenya, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Egypt, Israel; NZ.
1993 – 92
Writing my 1st travel MS/book while on the dole and/or working in Wellington, NZ.
1991 – 1989
Working & enjoying London in summer – to travel the other months:
1991: Hitching the Sahara Desert & Africa – overland from London to Lagos :: travelling Nigeria, Cameroon, Niger, Algeria, Morocco, Spain, France.
1991 – 90: Overland hitching travels – London to India :: also travelling in Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Pakistan, Iran, Turkey, Greece, Yugoslavia (Macedonia, Bosnia, Croatia, Slovenia, Montenegro), Austria, Germany, Luxembourg, Belgium.
1990 – 89: Travelling overland around the Middle East :: Turkey, Syria, Jordan, Iraq, Israel & Palestine.
Working in London; visiting France, Belgium, Holland.
Working in Edinburgh; travelling in Scotland & visiting Amsterdam; arriving in London from New Zealand, after graduating at age 21.