Dubai: Lao Tzu, an older contemporary of Confucius, who once said that a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step, would be happy with Kashi Samaddar, an Indian who set out on a mission to promote peace and tourism.
For Samaddar in his 50s, it all began way back in 2003 on October 28, when he was denied a visa from a southern African country because of his nationality.
Feeling humiliated he made a promise to himself that he would travel to all the countries in the world as a mark of defiance.
"My Korean colleague and I were travelling to Brazil via Johannesburg, South Africa, for a two-day business meeting. In those days, as per the local law, transit passengers with onward/return tickets with hotel bookings were permitted a short stay visa on arrival at the airport."
When we arrived, "the visa was given to my Korean colleague and I was stopped obviously because of my nationality.
My colleague who knew a well-connected South African tried his best to get me out of the airport but with no success."
Samaddar spent two nights at the airport. His Korean colleague who was new to Johannesburg knew very little of the place and missed his flight to Brazil.
"This left me thinking as to why I was rejected on grounds of my nationality. I checked with friends and found that nationalities of the whole developing world has high or low visa problems and genuine travellers are suffering for long. So I decided to travel to all these countries."
Samaddar said he did it all on his own without taking any help of funds or sponsorship. His favourite sports are golf, snorkeling, scuba diving and table tennis.
On May 27, 2008, Samaddar became the first person in the world to visit all 194 sovereign states.
All throughout his travels he just had one mission and that was to promote travel, tourism and peace. It took him five and a half years to complete his travels.
On August 15 this year Samaddar, who is currently based in Dubai, was certified by the Limca book of Records and also the Guinness Book of World Records as the "fastest person to travel all 194 Sovereign Independent states."
When he visited all the sovereign states, he approached the record books. The authorities verified his travel records and that also included documents, boarding passes and hotel receipts.
The first country he visited was Uruguay and the last province was Kosovo in Serbia on May 27 this year.
Samaddar spent all his life savings on his travels. "I spent about Dh2.45 million.
"My wife accompanied me to some countries and she has been all along with my close family and friends, supportive of my idea to travel around the world."
Samaddar has come across many cultures, traditions and people with unique ways of life. Wherever he went he made it a point to mingle with people from all walks of life, colour and creed and spread the message of peace.
"All the countries that I visited had something unique and beautiful.
"Some of the great destinations that I would suggest are Copacabana Beach in Rio Di Janeiro, Brazil, the Kovalom Beach in India, Colonia at Micronesia- Margarita in Venezuela and Mala Mala at Nadi Fiji."
"The towns at the foot of the Alps, Andes or Himalayas are just magnificent. I came across breath-taking views at Black River, Amazon."
He said he is concerned about global warming and that he saw the Arctic icecaps melting.
Book hotel in advance over the Net or a travel agent
Get sufficient sleep before flight if possible
Drink plenty of water or juice when on board
Don't take paracetamol and sleeping pills
Keep money in two or three different places
Don't carry your wallet in back pocket