Millennial Adventure! (part 1)

28 June was such a treat. I caught up with billionaire and travel extraordinaire – Jim Rogers and Paige Parker over an exclusive interview! Their spirit of adventure has seen them journey off the beaten path (at the turn of the Millenium) in not just one city but the world over – covering 116 countries over 6 continents, and 245,000 km – setting Jim’s 3rd Guinness World Record in the process and Paige’s maiden one!

Jim and Paige have journeyed roadless deserts, swamps and war-torn cities, and been stranded in snow storms, travelling to places with no water, no electricity, carrying their own toilet seat…

Talking to them, here’s what I uncovered about their Indian Jones-like Millennial Adventure which inspired the Travel and Discovery exhibition at Science Centre Singapore.

Sudan

Why the Millennial Journey?
Jim Rogers (JR): All my life I wanted to go around the world in a motorcycle. So I did it in 1990, 91 and 92. But because of the nature of who I am, I could see interesting investments and so I would make them! But that trip which was wonderful, wasn’t enough. So I decided that I should go again at the turn of the Millennium, because nobody had ever been around the world at the turn of a Millennium. So I set out to do it. So I wanted to go again, to do it right, at the turn of the Millennium. I had already done it in a motorcycle, so I’d do it in a car – a convertible – sports car. But it was natural for finding investments – that’s an ancillary benefit.

Paige Parker (PP): But the truth is, we went in a convertible because of me!

How did you plan for it on the move?
Paige Parker: Well, I think we knew enough that we had to have a visa to China, we knew we wanted to cross Russia in the summer. You can’t plan too much because you do have to get the visas along the way. And as far as the car and the trailer, one night we just piled everything we thought we’d need in a pile in the bedroom and we measured it and that’s how we came up with the dimensions for the trailer.

Jim Rogers: That’s not much you can plan. You never know when there’s gonna be a war, or an epidemic or something that’ll close borders.

You seemed to have experienced all of that …
What happened along the way and what kept you going?

Paige Parker: I had second thoughts.
JR: Daily (chuckling).

Paige Parker: Not daily but I mean when we were held at gunpoint, when you’re stuck in the desert for 3 weeks, and covered and it’s over 40 degrees, there’s no bathroom and there’s no shower and there’s just hoping that one day the boat would come and you can get your car on it… I mean you start to think, ‘You know I had a really good job in New York. I don’t have to be here.

Jim Rogers: Well the 3rd day, we got trapped in a blizzard in Iceland. She [Paige] was ready to go home.
Paige Parker: I was just.. I could not believe I had put my trust in this man.

Iceland
3 Jan 1999 – Egilsstaðir, Iceland

In Paige’s journal: “I did not bargain for this! Jim warned me of Russian bandits and malaria in Africa but not a drive over a towering mountain in a horrible Icelandic blizzard. I nearly panicked facing white blindness so dense that even with my face plastered against the windshield, I could not see the front-end of our yellow Mercedes. Driving steeper and higher, we crept along, as thick snow darted and pelted our car. No snowdrift markers led the way around the winding road. A slight turn too far right would take us off the mountainside, too far left would have us hit the massive peak, and no matter how we veered, we stood a chance of hitting oncoming trucks. Driving perfectly was a necessity.

“No!” Jim screamed, as we sank left into a snow-bank, which rose to mid-thigh when I jumped from the car wearing tennis shoes, like a fool. “Get the shovels,” I yelled as we moved towards the trailer against fierce wind. Shoveling frantically to clear the tires, with new snow replacing old faster than we could shovel, we realized we could not salvage this situation as darkness fell almost instantly in the middle of the afternoon.

A rescue squad arrived for us in a few hours. By now, I feared I had frostbite. We secured our car before riding back, shivering in blankets, to Egilsstaðir. Jim and I held hands in silence, sorting through the last five hours. We had a powerful machine, but we were not experienced drivers. To make it around the world, we would need much more than luck. Looks to be one hell of a road trip.” 

Then at that night, when we were finally rescued, we got home, and he was like ‘Ah Cheers. This is what it’s all about.’ I was like ‘What!! You know, you think this is fun? And I was scared for my life!”

Look out for Part Two of this interview!

You can also check out the Travel and Discovery exhibition in the Annex Foyer at Science Centre Singapore! Enjoy the pictures taken at its launch!

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