Intrepid adventurer Andy McGinlay believes he is the world’s most fearless tourist.
While most of us are content with a package vacation or a relaxing beach break, the 34-year-old is on a one-man mission to holiday in the world’s most dangerous countries.
The teacher, who currently lives in Saudi Arabia, is addicted to extreme backpacking and has ‘holidayed’ in North Korea, Syria, Iran, Iraq and Afghanistan.
Andy, from Glasgow, says: ‘I never feel more alive than I do when I step off the plane into some far-flung war zone or despotic country. It’s a dangerous cocktail of adrenaline and the sense that I’m going somewhere nobody else has the balls to – I live for this feeling.
‘After former President George W. Bush made his infamous ‘axis of evil’ speech, I knew right then I had to visit every one of those countries – Iran, Iraq and North Korea – and I did.’
In 2010, the British daredevil took a much needed break in Syria but was arrested on suspicion of spying and was interrogated inside the military intelligence HQ.
And when he was enjoying the sights and sounds of vibrant New Delhi, the then 20-year-old was kidnapped and transported to Kashmir where he was held for 10 days and forced to smoke opium.
The adventurous Scotsman stumbled into the middle of a political uprising in Bangkok, Thailand, in 2010, where he filmed gunfire and explosions.
He also recorded a man saying he was going to loot and burn down a shopping mall which was then set on fire – Andy was subsequently questioned by the police who used the footage as evidence.
Political uprising in Thailand? Just up Andy’s street
In sun-drenched Afghanistan, Andy drove past Osama Bin Laden’s old house and filmed American Blackhawk helicopters being shot at while he climbed Kabul’s beautiful mountains.
In 2012, he vacationed in Iran – which he says was more difficult to enter than North Korea – and wandered across the border into war torn Iraq.
However, the travelling enthusiast admits that many of these maligned states do not live up to their infamous reputations.
‘Many of these so-called dangerous countries do in fact turn out to be quite friendly and almost the opposite of our perception from western media,’ he says. ‘They receive so few visitors from the outside world, the tourists who do venture there are made to feel extra welcome.’
And while most air travellers live in fear of extreme turbulence, the frequent flyer says it gives him a thrill, describing it as ‘like being on a roller-coaster’.
Andy has already visited 91 countries and says he has no plans to give up his hazardous hobby and settle down in one place anytime soon.
‘After getting hooked on the buzz of travelling to these abandoned, war-torn or tyrannical outposts, I made it my goal in life to visit 100 countries which I am very nearly finished doing,’ he explains.
‘I’ve invested so much of my life into travelling and there’s nothing else I would rather be doing, so I expect to continue my journey long after the big 100 and well into the future.’