I love my passport and I am very lucky it is a British one, this gives me a good chance of getting into most countries with the bar minimum of hassle.

I am however struck by the problems the relay pairs have had getting across borders. I think up to now, (they got across the pacific last night) they have been refused entry to 5 or 6 countries, including China – now that is a huge detour.

I found myself wondering why they hadn’t stuck to the original route (see the header image); Mr Palin managed it, so why not this time. Well he had to cross the Persian Gulf between the middle east and India and then cross India. Unfortunately the sea crossing Mr Palin did is not very safe and pretty much impossible to do on the Dhow as demonstrated in 80 Days Revisited and even if you do manage to get out on the water it hugely dangerous thanks to pirates.

Pirates are quite a serious problem these days, there are unfortunately they seem to be increasing their attacks on shipping.

On top of piracy on the high seas there are other more pressing problems on land, this is where politics rears its head – which it does frequently. In the last few years Thailand has suffered with social unrest that briefly crippled the tourist industry, Russia invaded Georgia, the Middle East large areas of Africa and the Indian sub-continent continue to be less than safe. All of this depresses me – I’d love to visit these places.

Paperwork is a serious issue and failure to get a Visa could well be disastrous, Ewan Mcgregor and Charley Boorman demonstrated a large scale overland trip around the world is possible in Long Way Round, another great travelogue/challenge – but they took longer than 80 days and I think there may have been some flights involved on the way. Plus I don’t think I would like to ride a bike around the world.

Charley Boorman continued the madness with London To Sydney: By Any Means and Sydney To Tokyo: By Any Means.  In the second instalment they have unfortunately been plagued by problems and forced to fly, this even happened in the first adventure. The idea of both was to avoid flying, and politics, border control and the weather spoiled this.

21 years ago Mr Palin had to overcome some pretty big obstacles – but now it seems almost impossible.